This past Saturday, my son brought home a little puppy who is quickly wagging and nipping her way into our hearts. Last night we elected a new president. It’s bizare to think about, but I wonder which of the two events that happened this week will effect my life more? Of course I know the presidential choice is a much bigger decision than our decision to adopt a puppy. The president of the USA affects the whole world. But that’s not really the question I asked. My question is which will effect me personally more? I really don’t know. But I’m trying not to underestimate the power of the close by, everyday little things; how they effect me, and the effects I can have on others. I probably will never make even a small impact on the world… But I can make a big impact on my neighbor.
My hero of the Fall is the Spider Lilly. They shoot up from the ground, bursting forth with color and life when everything else is drying up and hiding from the coming winter. As I get older, I notice a tendency to want to sink in my cocoon and hide from the world at times. I don’t want to be like that. I want to be like the Spider Lily, bursting out with life, being a blessing to others even as winter approaches. While the tree leaves are turning their muted colors of drying death, the Spider Lily explodes with the vibrant color of life. He is not afraid of the coming cold. With his fiery red voice he simply tells Winter, “Not yet. Life is still here!”. And what a beautiful life it is, made all the more special because of the time of its blooming.
I’m sitting on a plane, waiting on a guy to finish making a repair, so we can take off. He’s “fixing” the problem with . . . tape. It doesn’t even look like duct tape. It looks more like packing tape. Is it just me, or would it make you nervous to fly on a plane that was just repaired with packing tape?
For some strange reason, it reminds me of the pregnancy test I saw for sale at the Dollar Store. I don’t trust million dollar airliner repairs done with packing tape any more than I would a pregnancy test I bought at the Dollar Store.
Some things just don’t fit well in the philosophy of the-cheaper-the-better. I want my doctor to be the one people pay a lot to get. I want my airline mechanic to use the best, not the quickest or cheapest method to repair the plane, and if my girl feels she needs to take a pregnancy test, I certainly want her to pay more than a dollar for it.
Some things are too important to take the easiest or cheapest route. I can’t tell you how to know what those things are, but I can tell you to be on the look out for them.
“Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Matthew 7:13-14 NET http://bible.com/107/mat.7.13-14.NET
I’m sitting in the middle seat of a B757, enduring a 4.5 hour flight from San Francisco to Atlanta. Somewhere one or two rows back from my luxurious accommodations in seat 40E, a young child has been crying or whining for most of the trip. I can relate.
The kid is uncomfortable, tired, board, and he doesn’t understand what is going on. The parents try to console the child. Daddy holds him tight. He provides food and drink. A blanket. Tries to entertain at times. Other times, he is stern, letting the child know he needs to quit whining and crying. Still he screams and complains, spouting a high pitched call to “Daddy” then screaming unintelligible baby objections for all the world to hear. It doesn’t solve his situation. It only makes him and those around him more miserable.
Eventually, our 4.5 hour trial will be over and things will be good again. I’ll get out of my cramped middle seat and the young child will be back home with his toys. The kid will stop crying for awhile and the Father will smile. He knows His child does not understand. He foresees the day when His child grows up and learns to endure the trials with patience and grace. But for now He loves him anyway. And works to get him ready for the next middle seat.
I saw a car with teeth. Well, not really teeth. Just the semblance of teeth. They weren’t real teeth and they didn’t work like teeth, but they looked like teeth. I took a picture. Now, when you look at the picture, you can see a car with teeth. Well, not really. You really see a picture of a car with a semblance of human teeth. To see an actual car with real teeth would be very inriguing, and I guess, quite rare.
I want to be a real Christian. Not a picture of a Christian containing some semblance of a Christ-like attribute. A real Christian, with teeth.
While on a recent hike, I saw an old tree clinging to a cliff. Really it was the remains of a tree, since it had obviously died some time ago. At first I was inspired by the beauty, then I thought about the fact that it was just the remains of a dead tree. The issue wasn’t really the tree, it was the location. Had the tree lived and died somewhere else, leaving such a scrawny carcass of a tree, it would have been underwhelming for sure.
The real splendor of this little tree was not the beauty of its withered remains, but the testimony of those lifeless crooked limbs. A weathered wooden testament of a life lived in a difficult place. A life lived where cold winds whipped over a rugged landscape. A life lived where every ounce of growth had to be carefully rationed between leaves reaching for the sun and roots clinging to any small crack or crevice in the rock.
If this dead tree had been somewhere in the middle of the forest, I would most likely have never noticed it, but having grown in the rugged, difficult place, it left a legacy of beauty. The Bible says that trials make us better people. I’m sure it’s true, even though if given the choice, I would prefer not to grow on the difficult, rocky cliff.
A few nights ago I went outside for a walk and Sam followed me out to look at the stars. When he looked up and saw that the clouds had different plans, he grumbled. “Why is it when I don’t want to look at the stars, they are shining bright, and every time I DO want to look at the stars, they are not out?” He turned and marched back in the house, mad at a universe that was obviously conspiring against him.
As I continued my walk, I thought about Sam’s problem and wondered how the stars might answer his indictment. I suppose they might very well say, “Why is it, Sam, that every time we go to the trouble to shine, you never even come outside and look up?” Sam’s problem, I thought, was that he expects the universe to conform to his desires instead of just enjoying the blessings whenever and wherever they are provided.
The thing is, it’s not really just Sam’s problem. It’s my problem too. It’s a problem we all have. We spend our lives complaining when the stars don’t shine on us. Maybe instead we should be looking up expectantly every chance we get, and praising God for every twinkle.
Since when did safety become the ultimate value? I hear it all the time any more. It’s the theme of our TV shows, our laws, our society. It seems to be the one thing that overules everything else. No lie is too devious so long as it keeps a “loved one” safe. No law is too obtrusive if it will “save” a life. Since when did safety become more important than freedom? Why do we assume physical death is the worst that can happen, and therefore justify avoiding it at all costs? Why do we assume an early death is a “wasted” life? Because we have believed a lie.
Don’t get me wrong. I do value phisical life. But I don’t think it’s the ultimate goal. I don’t see it in the Bible. I don’t see it in the nature of God. I don’t see it in the life of Christ. In the Bible, I see God who would wipe all but one family from the face of the earth just to keep darkness from completely taking over. I see God allowing many lives lost in battle to prove the iniquity of one man’s disobedience. I see whole regions of people wiped out for God’s cause, including the children. Were those childrens’ lives lost? Or were they saved from something worse? I see all kinds of examples of people living dangerously, good people dying, because they weren’t kept safe.
We have become a society where saftey is the ultimate goal. We give up our freedoms for it. We give up our adventure for it. We give up our lives for it. We make saftey first and try to protect our children from the danger of anything. In the process, we make them afraid of everything. There are things worse than physical death, but we have believed the lie. We make physical safety the noblest value. And so, our spirits dry up in a slow, agonizing death, while our bodies live out a long and wasted life.
News Flash: If you are wanting to avoid the worst kind of death, the best saftey policy can be found in a 2000 year old book. Check out the part written by John. Section 3. Subsection 16
Yesterday I flew on an airplane to arrive at a city where I went to a hotel and rode the elevator to my room on the 10th floor. As the elevator doors closed and I zipped upward, I thought about what was below me. Hundreds of feet of air. But it’s not scary because the doors close, the elevator music plays, and I feel nice and safe in a small little enclosed box. I can’t see how high I am or the big drop below. In the airplane, it’s even worse.
We board a plane and sit in our little rows of seats as if we are in a miniature movie theatre. The doors are shut, sometimes even the window shades are pulled, and we pretend to relax while hurdling along at 500 mph. We are 35000 feet above the ground, held up by thin air. In fact, the air just outside the closed window shade is so thin it won’t do you any good to breath it. It doesn’t really matter anyway because at -40 degrees, it would probably freeze your lungs if you did take a breath. And since that -40 degree air is blowing at a constant 60 mph (even if the plane were not moving through it) it would probably freeze the rest of you pretty fast too. Yet we sit inside sipping a Coke, eating pretzels, reading a book, and pretending the inside is all there is. We can ignore the insanity of the harsh environment outside because we are inside. Meanwhile, we bet our life that a million things that could go wrong, won’t.
I don’t know which is more crazy. To fly in an airplane? Or to live a life so inwardly focused that you don’t notice the insanity around you.