Thursday, March 6, 2014
I’m wondering if you,
have to fend off cynicism.
I don’t want to become a cynical person.
I believe God calls us to remain open-hearted, hopeful,
and expectant that He will work,
that people can change,
and that light is still more powerful than the darkness.
He tested me on this recently,
and I nearly failed.
I know a family struggling with poverty
and had noticed that none of the children have bedding,
they slept on bare mattresses.
When I mentioned this at church,
one of the amazingly talented sewing ladies
whisked me up to the sewing room and gave me a bundle of artistically crafted quilts,
one for each child.
The quilts were dazzling.
I knew the love, the work, the art that had gone into making them.
Their beauty was undeniable
and for just a moment,
I worried about bringing them to this family.
I don’t know them well.
What if they didn’t appreciate them?
What if they didn’t take care of them?
And yet, I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit
that He had shown me both a need
and a provision for that need.
After all, these were His quilts.
It frightened me that I had paused.
Years ago, I wouldn’t have.
It was a warning to me that I need to press into God’s great heart
And have Him wash the grime of cynicism from its lens.
Yesterday, I visited the family.
I brought their favorite food and the quilts.
Let me tell you,
these children didn’t even notice the food.
“What are those blankets?” they asked? “Who are they for?”
“Well, it seems there are the same number of blankets as there are children in this house. Would you each like to take one?”
Their eyes widened, their mouths dropped open and they ran forward each to receive a blanket.
There was no arguing over whose was whose.
There was no complaining about color or style.
Each child ooed and aahhhed as they hugged the quilts, ran the material over their faces, wrapped themselves in them, explored the patterns, named the colors they had, named the symbols or pictures on theirs.
For twenty-five minutes, these small children danced with their quilts, exclaimed over them, and rolled themselves up in them.
“Mine is so beautiful!”
“Mine is soft!”
“Is it really for me to keep?”
“Can I really have my own blanket?”
“Mom, I have a blankie! I finally have a blankie!”
"Are these real?"
"It's so pretty. It's so pretty."
After 30 minutes, they reluctantly set them aside to eat their dinner but it was clear by the way they dashed through the meal to race back to the quilts that they were hungry for something greater
For something lovely to call their own.
Their mother cried. Their father laughed to see their joy.
I wept when I reached my car.
I thought how my cynicism had nearly robbed them of the moment.
They have long lives ahead of them
But maybe a touch of beauty, warmth, and grace
stitched by the loving hands of a Jesus-loving woman
and given to them from the heart of God
will make a difference.
Maybe a blankie can be a life raft in rough seas.
Maybe a quilt can warm a soul.
Maybe a beautiful pattern and bright colors can give a child a glimpse of God.
Maybe a poor child and a beautiful quilt can soften a heart in danger of growing hard.
I think so.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
It’s been with us since the garden,
the desire to deify ourselves,
to create little kingdoms over which we rule,
to control people, circumstances, and even
the greater God.
And you have to admit, we’re pretty cool.
Humans have amazing capabilities
and tremendous achievements across the board.
Sometimes, I want to worship us, too.
We’ve all felt the draw, haven’t we?
In the presence of a great leader, artist, musician, healer, or beauty,
our hard-wired bent toward worship makes the static, ratchet alarm
of a Geiger counter detecting the source of a possible target of our devotion
and without the warning of God’s word, we might just bow down
to our own reflection.
I see that syndrome at work in this ad, airing in Rhode Island,
designed to promote the Cardiovascular institute at RI Hospital:
Their tag line: “Our experience prepares us for yours – it may be miraculous but it’s anything but a miracle.”
In other words, don’t thank God for the outcome, be sure to thank us, the humans wielding the scalpels.
Does that scare anyone else?
I get it. In my lesser moments, I want to be worshiped, too. I’m a glory stealer.
That’s often, admittedly, why I stand so close to God
– for the hope, perchance, that some of the admiration aimed at Him might fall on me.
But, as amazing as we are in our moments of greatness –
The heights of our arias,
The pinnacles of our careers,
The tops of our game,
The firsts in our fields,
it’s easy enough to draw back the curtain and expose the Oz of our existence
simply by turning on the evening news.
Countries invading weaker nations.
Meth-head parents leaving their children to wander alone, hungry and cold, in the woods.
Murder-suicide among the rich.
Sex-trafficking among the poor.
And us, the little gods, lacking for answers within ourselves.
No match for the problems we create,
Never mind for systemic woes or catastrophes of nature.
We are so small.
And yet, He has designed us for a greatness of our own
when we remain in proper relationship to Him.
Can you see the beauty of the design?
Isn’t it more inspiring to trust in Him
than to trust every aspect of our fate to men with the scalpels
or power ties
or gold medal Oscars
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
The order matters, loved ones.
The object of our worship makes a difference.
Don't offer your complete devotion to humanity - we can't even save ourselves.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
This post won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
Downton Abbey, a British Masterpiece Theatre import to PBS,
has captivated and entertained many of us for four seasons now.
I daresay, most of us tune in because we love to watch a great dame in action.
Whether it’s Dame Maggie Smith
delivering her dry, withering, witty commentary,
or Shirley MacLaine unashamedly acting the brash, brazen American,
or Penelope Wilton playing the compassionate foil to Dame Smith’s acerbic pomp,
we cannot get enough of great dames.
They’re fun to watch in action off-stage, too, these older women
who inhabit their own space,
speak their minds without editing,
and say aloud those things many of us find too naughty, too honest, or too frightening to voice –
Lauren Bacall, Kathleen Turner, Tyne Daly, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Julie Waters, Cher, Kate Mulgrew –
Actresses - personalities, no longer lithe or wan enough to pull off the ingénue roles but
too larger-than-life to enter a room without stealing the show,
exploding with throaty laughter, received with small gasps,
and surrounded by spectators afraid of missing
a punch line or an anecdote,
living vicariously through women who appear to have learned
how to celebrate themselves
and how to cultivate an allure that bubbles from within
with the power to override the external ravages of time.
Gutsy, funny, smart, loud, confident, fiery, and compelling are
these women, these dames,
but almost always
saying, defending, or promoting something completely opposed to Biblical truth
which begs the question:
Is there a place for outspoken, snarky, opinionated broads in heaven?
Can a dame ever find her place following in Jesus’ footsteps?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve encountered some tough church ladies.
I know older, godly women with the confidence of bull elephants and more opinions than a room full of movie critics
but I have to say that most of them aren’t very funny,
and they don’t carry themselves with the freedom of the aforementioned dames.
Still, I’ve seen a few portrayed on screen.
The women of Steel Magnolia and the women in Tyler Perry movies are women of faith and yet they manage to exude confidence and color in their characters.
There are some dames among them.
This gives rise to hope there will be some dames in heaven.
Why does this even concern me, you ask?
Because I appreciate women of all personality types
and I see the fingerprint of their creator on women of modest and reserved demeanor
as well as those who are loud and laughter-prone.
And I know that many of people who don’t follow Christ
wonder if there’s a place for them in the family of God – they look for others of their kind in our midst.
Will God love me with a nose piercing?
What if I have chronic acne?
Will He use me if I was born a little person
or will He call me to ministry if I’m freakishly tall and my hair frizzes in the rain?
Will Jesus ask me to follow Him if I’m a loud, brassy broad prone to speaking my mind and picking up the pieces later?
Yes, there is room for us all around His table.
Yes, we are all welcome and
yes, He asks us all to be willing to change to better reflect His image
but we’re still us – we’re still unique – He’s that talented.
I think that church culture has not provided wide berth for good, old fun-loving broads
but maybe this is the day.
Maybe this is the time when we can welcome them to the table.
Maybe believing writers and filmmakers can give us more characters like Clairee Belcher and Alice Pratt
– women of substance, flair, comedy, and character who seek to serve Christ as they embrace the rollercoaster ride of real life –
so we can imagine these women worshiping beside us forever.
God loves smart women. Abigail, King David’s wife, was intelligent and beautiful and God provided well for her.
God invented humor.
God loves it when we embrace His design and inhabit who we are – not the sin that’s crept in- but His original vision of us as individuals.
Jesus died to save loud, smart-alecky, earthy broads as surely as He died for dames more demure.
And we need to become a hospitable place for women who don’t fit inside our little boxes
– women weren’t designed for boxes –
God gave us curves, not angles.
So what can you do?
Do you know a dame, a Christian broad who fits the bill? Encourage her to keep on being her Christ-like self.
Are you in the arts? Create characters the reflect her. Help us see where she fits in our family.
Do you have an inner dame you’ve been stifling thinking her appearance would make Jesus scowl? Let her come out and play. That dame was His idea.
I know they’re out there. I’ve ended with some videos of very funny Jesus-loving ladies below but if you know one – tell us about her!
There’s a place for loud, smart-aleck broads in heaven – I know because Jesus has secured one of those spots for me.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
They have us surrounded.
You feel it, too, don’t you?
Them and their opinions.
You know who they are.
The people who know things – for sure.
For instance, they know what movies we should attend
and which ones we should boycott.
They understand all proposed bills and laws
in all the states
and how we should respond to them.
They even know how Jesus wants us to spend our time,
money, energy, and voice.
And they’re everywhere.
I don’t know about you but
sometimes I read a blog leaning one way about, say, the Noah movie or
the Son of God flick,
and I think that blogger makes sense,
until then, I read a blog with a different view,
and that one makes sense, as well.
I’m not a double-minded person
but it’s easy for me to see through other peoples’ eyes
and appreciate their perspective.
This has its drawbacks.
Some issues aren’t this way.
There are some divisive topics on which I have a clear position,
I know where I stand.
You know how I’m sure I’ve reached certainty on those topics?
Because I believe the same thing whether I’m surrounded
What you believe when you’re alone – THAT is what you believe.
This is true of Christians and non-Christians alike.
Getting off away from the crowd, social media, political pundits, and spin-masters
sorts us out
in way that can’t happen when we’re in the press of the horde.
Jesus frequently drew aside to lonely places.
Imagine you’re surrounded by crowds who worship you, want something from you, are waiting breathlessly for your every word.
Imagine there are also, in the crowd, people who hate you, suspect you’re from the devil, plot to trip you up, expose you somehow, destroy you eventually.
And imagine there are also a handful of followers who truly get you as much as any of them can but you know they have no idea what lies just down the road.
How do you manage that kind of stress?
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Mark 1:35 (ESV)
We have to get alone.
There have to be regular times when we shut off the noise,
mute the voices,
and face our own solitary selves.
What we believe when we’re alone is what we believe.
Are you drowning in the opinions of others?
Are you weary of choosing sides about movies, scandals, celebrity lifestyles, or political soundbites?
Does your head spin with so many messages about what you should be doing that all you’re really doing is reading the messages?
Talk with God.
Listen to God.
Just sit or walk with your thoughts.
Time alone is the remedy.
Time alone is the purifier.
Time alone is the strainer through which to drain the noise from the nuggets,
the fallacies from the facts,
the clamor from the claims that will weather the test of truth.
It’s uncomfortable at first,
to draw apart,
But we aren’t called to be comfortable.
And when the initial discomfort falls away
like a nightmare dissipates with morning,
then the quiet culls through the babel
and your soul finds rest in God alone.
Your mind can fix on truth.
Your thoughts are free to recreate.
You know what you believe.
Am I alone with this? What do you think?
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
The man looked at me across his rickety kitchen table
in the sparsely furnished cement block apartment.
We were discussing the things that trip him up and cause him to fall off track.
I saw a flicker of hesitation cross his face.
“What are you thinking?” I asked.
“No, it sounds stupid.”
“Just say it. Let me be the judge of stupid.”
He laughed. “Does it sound weird if I think one of the things that trips me up is when things start to go right?”
“Tell me more,” I said.
He went on to describe how failing and living with problems feels so familiar that when life starts to improve, something in him can’t handle it
and he sabotages his own success.
We do that, don’t we?
Detonate C-4 beside the walls of God’s work within us and through us.
I’m not a fan of Marianne Williamson but there’s truth in her quote:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
Those of us who comprise the modern church
too often run from the power of our own stories.
We play down our lives,
we undersell our experience of God,
we reduce our understanding of the Almighty God to “that’s just my opinion.”
To which I say: SO WHAT?
Every day I encounter airwaves exploding with the stories of other people.
People spouting their opinions, their experiences, their understanding of life
without apology or hedging or self-doubt.
And it’s somethin' powerful.
But their stories don’t dominate the day because they’re true
or because they’re the most compelling
or because they’re particularly talented communicators.
They rule the day because we aren’t even showing up.
We’ve let an evil bully utilize his under-bullies
to silence us,
to sit us down,
to put Baby in the corner.
He’s convinced us through them
that we hurt people just by sharing our own life experience.
That we don’t deserve a turn at the mike.
That in this world,
every person’s story is valid and worthy
We’ve believed a lie but I’m here to say it’s time we came back out –
out of the corner,
out of the shadows,
out from under the bed,
out from behind the pulpit, the pew, and the sofa of small group –
out to the great wide world,
out into the light
to engage in the revolutionary act of telling our own stories.
When I was a little girl, I heard a man on television tell an arena full of people
about a man named Jesus Christ.
When he finished preaching, he said that anyone listening could follow Jesus,
the son of God,
and be forgiven and freed.
I responded to that message and decided then, in front of the black-and-white televised Billy Graham Crusade
to go to Jesus “just as I am” and follow Him for the rest of my life.
And that was just the start of the story.
There’s more. Miracles and madness. Anxiety and adventure. Obedience, failure, forgiveness, and redemption.
and there will be a new chapter tomorrow
and tomorrow without end.
I have conversations with the Creator of the Universe.
He informs my daily life.
He calls me friend.
He makes my life a story worth telling.
My story is one of hope, struggle, freedom, and the process of daily transformation.
Whatever else my story is worth, God tells me it’s worth telling.
You can argue with my beliefs but you can't tell me I don't know my own story.
If you’re a follower of Jesus – your life is also a story worth telling.
It’s a lie that telling your story will needlessly hurt people.
It’s a lie that telling your story is old-fashioned, wrong, uninteresting, judgmental, oppressive, or ineffectual.
It’s a lie that your story is too small or lacking in drama to be meaningful.
The Creator of the Universe authored your story
and He trusted you to tell it.
It is one of His gifts to you – this light that carries on the beam of your voice.
It’s not your call to withhold it out of fear
or on the notion that no one will listen
or that it will make others angry
The truth is that you do more damage
and make more room for darkness
by staying silent.
Who convinced you to sit down and shut up?
Who stuck you in the corner and denied you a turn?
He had no right and the only power he has is the power you’ve given him.
What’s your story?
It’s time to come out and SAY.
Monday, February 24, 2014
We all come from somewhere.
As I visit families in crisis,
I enter neighborhoods lined with estates,
homes with second-floor decks, ocean views, and
hybrid luxury vehicles.
I also visit streets with names infamous to all caseworkers and
local police, streets that house transient populations who can move
in the middle of the night
and aren’t attached to possessions or credit ratings.
People come from both those places.
I come from a small town, a village in a rural town in a small state.
People in neighboring towns don’t see it for the gem that it is.
They don’t have high expectations for people who come from there;
but the residents have made it a cultural value
not to care what others think
and they don’t argue when underestimated.
It works in our favor more often then not.
Funny how I’ve learned to appreciate that each place of origin has strengths and weaknesses.
People from the ritzy neighborhoods have nice homes, cars that start all the time, and space to hide their trash
but often the hiding doesn’t end there because keeping up appearances is as mandatory as lawn care and neighbors are not so much support systems as they are lifestyle props.
And while people in the rougher neighborhoods wait in a lot of lines and their kids have learned not to ask why the cable is out,
there’s often help and a shoulder to cry on in the house next door and neighbors aren’t so quick to judge.
So, does it matter where you came from?
Knowing where we come from is a secret source of limitless strength.
Not our street address,
or our birth family,
our nation of origin or
strength lies in tracing our genesis back to the time
when we were an idea
in the mind of God,
to the moment of our individual big bang.
That is our place of origin.
At some moment, outside of time,
the Almighty Creator
of the solar system, the human brain, and the seven seas
had a thought
and it was you.
You originated in His mind
like the plot of classic novel,
the vision for an artistic masterpiece,
the scope and movement of a world-class symphony,
or the blueprint of a cathedral.
When He called you into being,
He had a plan for completing
whatever He had begun.
Appropriating that knowledge
can make you strong
when people are looking at you funny
or crush your soul beneath the toe of their boot
or place a fist in your solar plexus.
Jesus fixed this thought in His mind
before the hour of His betrayal
and it fueled His actions.
“During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:2-5
Do you remember that you came from God?
Do you have the assurance that you are going back to God?
This is the formula for strength, for service, for endurance that stretches the length of the road you
must travel to reach your destination:
Our Father’s great heart.
I don’t come from a preferred neighborhood,
a low-rent district,
or a podunk town in the boondocks.
You don’t come from a family of note,
A broken home,
Or the wrong side of the tracks.
No way, baby.
We come from God.
And if we’re following Jesus,
We are going to God.
This is our truth,
Where are you from, loved ones? There's strength in fixing your mind on the truth.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
We hold onto things.
That’s just what we do.
As if we fear drowning in the high surf of modern times,
we grab whatever floats past on the
next wave, the closest current,
and hold on as if that is the one thing that can save us.
Even if a rescue boat rows near
And offers us safety if
we will only pry loose our grip from the flotsam
that we believe is keeping us afloat,
we risk refusing true rescue
all for the item in our grasp.
When my daughter was a toddler, she dragged her cotton blankie everywhere.
It was that particular compilation of threads that
held her together when
the waves of toddlerhood loomed high.
One Sunday, we were in the “quiet room” in the back of our sanctuary
where families allowed toddlers to wander a bit
as they listened to the sermon.
Hannah was several steps from me when I noticed her blankie wrapped around her legs
She was close to toppling into the glass window separating us from the rest of the worshipers.
I tried to free her from her entanglement
but she resisted,
vehemently gripping her blankie
as if she feared I’d chosen THAT moment
to rid her of all her security
and might just destroy the blankie without warning.
The more she fought me, the tighter the blanket wound around her
and her frustration reached a pinnacle of volume
that defied even the insulating glass of the quiet room.
I had to swoop her off her feet
and take the blankie by force
to save her from herself
and her chosen source of peace.
Hannah’s blankie illustrates for me
that we all have an innate, internal understanding
that we’re at risk and that we need to be saved.
When, however, we panic like drowning men,
And grab hold of the first item or person or idea or philosophy that comes along
thinking that will be our salvation;
we risk sealing our fate beneath life’s rough waters
rather than freeing ourselves from them.
And when Jesus or someone representing Him
rows up alongside us and tries to get us to release our grip
from that which can’t possibly save us
to our own harm.
Jesus told the Jews that freedom was found in Him.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8: 31-32
And it is.
It comes with words like forgiveness, grace, release, redemption, and love.
But it also comes with instructions to
let go of all else,
and on the side of the lifeboat, are also words like obedience,
Jesus asks us to let go of other ideas, philosophies, habits, relationships, and idols
we think will keep us afloat
so we can appropriate the salvation that is only found in a life with Him.
Sometimes, even once we’re in the boat,
we lean over the side and try to drag other items in
until He yanks them from our hands
and tosses them overboard where they belong.
We all hold onto things.
Much of this life with Jesus is about letting everything else go.
Scary at the moment of release
but freeing once we experience the relief
of leaving our entanglement
and walking freely with the God of the Universe.
How about you? What do you have in your grip? What could you gain by letting go?
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I am not a fan of elves,
you know, the ones in The Lord of the Rings.
When one of the movies in the trilogy is on TV,
the scenes featuring the elves are when I take
my pee breaks.
I’d sooner wed Gimli the dwarf than to have tea with the elves.
One of my favorite literary stories is about the Inklings.
This was the group of writers associated with the University of Oxford, England
that included C.S.Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
Another Inklings member, Hugo Dyson, is said to have responded to Tolkien’s manuscript by
"lying on the couch, and lolling and shouting and saying, “Oh God, no more Elves.”
Despite my abiding love of LOTR and admiration for Tolkien, I probably would have hung out with Hugo Dyson.
People, all people, can grate on one another.
I believe one of the surprises we’d find if we met them in person
Is how annoyed we’d be by some of the disciples,
Or countless other heroes of our faith.
It’s easy to get along with them now – you know – because they’re dead.
But if they showed up at church with us every Sunday,
it would get on our nerves the way John always sang the wrong harmony on the hymns,
or how Peter always had to tell a long, detailed story before getting to his prayer request,
or how Martin Luther was always so down in the mouth and serious.
Heroes are amazing people
until you get to know them week after irritating week,
then you start to notice – you know – stuff.
But knowing that kind of makes me more open to the ordinary, annoying people
I worship beside week after week.
People get on my nerves and I get on theirs. (Oh, I can tell. I see the looks.)
It’s sometimes tempting to think that I should go scout out some better people to sit beside
but then, God Gibbs-slaps me upside the head
and I think how I’d have felt sitting around a table with the disciples.
John always having to make sure we all knew he beat Peter to the tomb – like THAT was the important headline.
Peter, who does he think he is acting like he’s in charge? I remember him denying Jesus.
And Thomas, my goodness, enough with the questions already!
And Joseph of Arimithea, I suppose we’re all supposed to be impressed with his big gifts at the end of Jesus’ life but what’s with being a “secret” disciple! How do you get that deal?
They were human, like the rest of us, with quirks, weaknesses, and unique personalities.
I know me.
Two weeks of hanging out with them and I’d have been looking into the group of disciples forming in the next town over, asking Jesus for a transfer.
And yet, Jesus entrusted them with the gospel
as He has all the rest of us flunkies who followed in their footsteps.
Of all Jesus’ miracles, the greatest one is the miracle of inspiring us to love one another
and the best way to see this happen, is to commit to love one local body of believers,
knowing it won’t be an overnight process,
knowing you’ll wrestle with irritation, frustration, and annoyance,
knowing you’ll be the source of someone else’s irritation, frustration, and annoyance,
knowing that someone will drone on and on and on about the stinkin’ elves,
but knowing, also, that the most awe-inspiring moment
is the one when Jesus shows up in your midst
and love claws its way
out of the dirt and natural fertilizer of everyday human interaction,
life rising out of the ashes of our fallen human ways.
We request and expect God’s power for all kinds of everyday miracles.
Why not look for Him to work the miracle of uniting the dwarfs and elves
sitting beside you on Sunday morning?
And you never know, one day an elf may just become your best friend.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Today I’m thinking about how quickly things can come apart,
how little it takes to unravel something it took years to create,
how with one little click we can delete the work of a lifetime,
with a single bad choice, undo the good of many right ones.
Maybe I’ve overdosed on the Olympics -
that two-week cautionary tale about how even with talent, conditioning, coaching, and hours of practice
an athlete can have
a bad break,
an off day,
or unfavorable conditions
and wind up off camera watching the medal ceremony from the stands.
Maybe it's on my mind because I read a book by Phil Vischer,
creator and founder of VeggieTales.
Me, Myself & Bob is the story of how VeggieTales came to be
and then wasn’t.
It’s about how the man who was the founder of Big Idea lost it all in a heartbeat, a breath, a single gasp.
Mr. Vischer is transparent about the pain the loss of his company caused to those who believed in it.
One day, there were creators, animators, artists, businesspeople, sales reps and support staff who believed in a cause, were part of a vital team and felt God had called them to a particular work.
The next day, they received pink slips and it was all over.
The Big Idea was suddenly just a scrap of paper blowing around the courtyard of the mall while a man in a lawsuit sat on a park bench looking dazed and confused.
Just like that.
Maybe I’m thinking about all of this because I’ve been reading Mark 14 where Mark captures,
the breakneck speed at which the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ
came to a bone-splintering, blood-spilling halt.
Just like that.
One minute, twelve devoted disciples are enjoying a Passover meal with the man they know is the Messiah.
They’ve seen miracles, heard the truth, glimpsed the Kingdom come.
They’re on the inside, the ground floor, the breaking news
But suddenly Jesus is talking about betrayal and denial.
He mentions leaving.
He can’t sleep and He’s annoyed with them because they can.
“He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them.” Mark 14: 33-34
Men with swords arrive with one of their own isn’t who they thought he was.
Things get very real very fast
and they abandon Jesus so quickly that one of them runs from the garden naked.
And just like that, Jesus is alone before the authorities.
Judas betrays Him.
Peter denies Him.
The others abandon Him.
Lies and corruption rule the day.
An innocent man is sentenced to die.
Just hours from a warm meal, intimate fellowship, and visionary prayer
He falls beneath the boot of an earthly power
and is crushed
None of them saw that coming.
Jesus wasn’t defeated when His earthly ministry was broken – in fact – the brokenness was part of the plan.
And brokenness may be part of God’s plan for us (and maybe that's why I'm thinking about all of this
my own brokenness)
And so, brokenness may be God's plan for us
but that’s not easy to read because we don’t know when our resurrection is coming.
But Jesus’ brokenness wasn’t easy either
not for Him,
not for those who loved Him.
It’s only in telling the whole story
that the pain becomes bearable.
While it was occurring
with thorns, whips, nails, humiliation, and soul-crushing separation from God
it was unendurable.
And while we may be called to brokenness, suffering, and earthly pain,
Jesus’ suffering secured a gift for us – one that
He was denied in that final moment –
The promise that we will NOT be alone.
NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” Romans 8:35
The strips on His back.
The nails in His hand.
The thorns on His brow.
The spear in His side.
The blood that flowed – His blood -
Purchased the scarlet cord that keeps me tethered to the heart that is my eternal home – Jesus Christ.
Nothing will sever that cord.
Nothing can unravel that work.
No click will undo what He has done in my life.
No bad choice will overcome His work within me.
No loss will be greater than the gain of knowing Him.
I know this by faith and I know it by experience.
We can face the brokenness of our lives knowing that the same Spirit that restored Him to life,
resurrected the Messiah and Coming King –
that same Spirit lives and works in the midst of our broken lives.
One day, the brokenness and the unraveling and the bad choices and the loss and the death will all be over –
just like that
and LIFE will come at us fast –
everlasting, eternal life,
and it will stay forever.