Oh great God, please watch over me as I walk today’s path. I humbly ask that you take control of everything I encounter. If it be trials, hardships, or disappointments, use them to make me better; to make me more like You. If it be blessings, then help me to recognize them and rejoice in them with a grateful heart. Whichever comes my way or crosses my path, may I lay down in peace tonight, and be thankful.
Friday, November 26, 2021
I’m sitting in the hospital with Tammy, the sound of the ventilator clicking away like a slow second hand on a clock. It’s hounding me with Time’s relentless push through another painful day. I stare out the window at the blue sky and ponder the reality of a day lost. What a lousy way to spend what looks to be a perfect day. A day that could have been spent walking and holding hands under the blue sky, or talking with family, or enjoying a meal and a TV show. Maybe popcorn and Hogan’s Heroes while we lay in bed and wind down the end of the day.
Instead, we are in the hospital. I’m waiting, watching, praying and trying to muster faith. She, hopefully, mercifully, is sleeping and won’t even remember these days. But as soon as I thought of these days as wasted and lost for us, I heard a familiar voice inside my head. God can give me back these days ten-fold or more. I know it’s true. Maybe these days in the hospital are like seeds. Days spent here will reap many days later. For every day we spend here, perhaps we will get 100 more added to the number of our days. Wouldn’t that be just like God?
The doctors, nurses, and hospital workers are all a part of this day too. So who knows, maybe the intersection of our days spent in the hospital with their lives here may be something of eternal value. Then it would certainly not be days wasted. It would be days invested in order to reap eternal rewards.
Any day that is spent in the center of God’s will cannot be a day wasted.
The spiders have taken over. Last year, we told the exterminator not to kill the spider that had made a home just off our front porch. We liked to see the web and enjoy watching nature do its thing. Well, nature did its thing. A lot. This year we have a zillion garden spiders all around our house. And it’s fascinating.
If I am honest, I have to admit that just like most everyone else, the spiders scare me. They are small monsters hanging in a sticky web, ready to pounce. I suppose I could take a big stick and knock them into oblivion. Or spray them with some powerful bug spray and watch them shrivel and die. But I just can’t do that. I respect them too much.
When I see their web, I marvel at the design and wonder at the accomplishment. How did this spider get a single strong strand of fiber to stretch from the peak of my roof to one corner of his front porch pearch. Another strand stretches all the way to a single leaf of a green bean plant, growing in my front yard. As I picked the green beans a few days ago, I touched it, and was amazed at the strength I could feel in that tiny taught strand.
So, when I walked out the front door on my way to work this morning, I said hello to the spiders, and with a little fear and trepidation, quickly ducked around their webs and headed for the car. As I drove away, I contemplated the odd combination of fear, adoration, and wonder that these spiders inspired. It occured to me that it could be a small example of what it means to fear the Lord, which the Bible says, is the beginning of wisdom. And if the “fear of the Lord” is where wisdom starts, maybe respecting a spider is not a bad way to get started.
I’ve never really liked the story from the Bible about the two guys on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24) Something about it just didn’t seem right. These guys were disciples, Jesus comes along and walks with them, and they don’t even recognize him. It makes them sound clueless. Dumb. Like not sincere followers. If you read the story carefully though, you will notice it really wasn’t their fault. The Bible says that their eyes were kept from recognizing him. So was Jesus playing a joke on them? That doesn’t sound right either. These are the reasons I never liked this story, until this morning.
This morning, it was different. As I read through the story again, I gained a new perspective on the blessing Jesus shared with these guys. He wasn’t playing a joke on them. He was blessing them. They were kept from seeing him as Jesus. But why?
Imagine two walks, the one they had, and the one they would have had if they had recognized Jesus from the start. If they had recognized Jesus when they met him on the road, they would have been in awe. They would have worshipped him. They would have feared his power and praised his greatness. It would have been wonderful for sure, but it would not have been at all like the walk they had. What if Jesus wanted something different?
Imagine the walk they had. Three guys met on the road and walked along together talking about their experiences. The new guy taught them about the scripture in a new way. They listened, they discussed, they questioned and contemplated together. No one felt on edge, on their guard, off balance or unworthy. They were just three guys walking and talking together as friends, discussing the recent events and the history of their faith. Perhaps that is exactly what Jesus wanted.
After all the events he had just been through, a quiet walk and talk without all the hype was the way Jesus chose to relate those events to his disciples. He was Lord and Master choosing to relate to them as equals. As friends. And because he kept their eyes from seeing him in all his lordly glory, they experienced him as friend and confidant.
I wonder, could it be this very story that provides a hint as to why God doesn’t make himself more visible? Why does God not powerfully show himself to the world and prove he exists? Maybe, possibly, could it be that the unapproachable blinding holy light of his glory would keep us from seeing the close companionship of a loving friend and father?
Two dogs are more trouble than one. They fight, they vie for attention, they eat twice the food and make double the mess. You must take two walks or take one walk with both hands holding tight to two leashes, which promptly get tangled and twisted. It’s weird. I now have two big dogs and double the trouble, but if you asked me if I was willing to give one away, I would say no.
Attachment is a strange thing. We can get attached to dogs, to people, to places and things. We can get attached to habits and ideas and perhaps, even our miseries. We get comfortable. We get used to life a certain way and we fear any changes because we prefer what we know to the unknown. Maybe I won’t like that new house. What if the new job is even more miserable than the one I have? It’s the opposite of the “grass is always greener” syndrome. It’s the “what if the other grass is even more weedy” syndrome.
There are some people that are always looking for a change because they think it will make life better. There are other people that are always trying to keep things the same, because they are afraid the change might make things worse. I doubt that either extreme is good. I probably lean toward the latter rather than the former. The right attitude is probably somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, moving to the middle requires either more, or less change, depending on which side you are on. And for either of the extremes, that’s a difficult move.
I have been thinking about success lately. Some people have it, some people don’t and I am often uncertain of the category in which I belong. In trying to figure out if I had it – indeed if I even wanted it – it became apparent to me that I must first discover what it is.
I think we often equate a successful person with successful actions. A person who is very good at something, who can accomplish great things, is often considered successful. But I think a man who can often accomplish what he sets out to do is not necessarily a successful man. Hitler was a successful leader (he managed to rally millions behind his loathsome cause), but does that make him a success? I think not. The two things can go together. I can be a successful manager AND a successful person, but I do not believe I need necessarily be both.
I suspect the world is full of people who think themselves a success when all they really are is a failure with a talent.
Proverbs says to trust in the Lord and don’t rely on your own understanding. I think I often try to do the first part while ignoring the second part. It’s more like “I’m trusting you Lord to help ME figure it out.” One big problem with that approach is that it leaves no room for God to do something bigger than I can understand.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NET
Here is a headline from today’s tech news…
A Wisconsin company will let employees use microchip implants to buy snacks and open door
The article, found here, explains that employees will have chips implanted in their hands so they can purchase snacks and gain access. Here’s a snippet from the guy who provides the technology: . . . Westby speculates on a future where RFID chip technology is used for “your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities,” . . .
That was just published. Now compare it to something published around 2000 years ago:
The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He also caused everyone (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave ) to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast – that is, his name or his number. – Revelation 13:15-17 NET
I will let you draw your own conclusions, but consider what a little more hacking and identity theft might do to public opinion regarding implanted chips.
I heard on the news this morning about a law passed by the state of Mississippi. It was a “religious freedom” law that assured business owners that they could refuse to serve those that would cause them to violate their religious beliefs. This post might not be like my typical post. While I firmly believe practicing the homosexual lifestyle is a sin, I also have come to realize that I am a bit cloudy on the above mentioned law. So, the rest of this post is dedicated to questions that came to mind as I considered it . . .
Does the government have a right to dictate who I must employ or by whom I may be employed?
If I sell a product or perform a service, am I working for my customer?
If a predominantly Muslim country passed a law that Muslim shop owners did not have to serve Christians, would I be OK with that?
Should a gay man who owns a sign company be forced to rent a sign to a preacher who wants the sign to say “Repent! Homosexuality is a sin!”
If I sell a product or service, be it wedding cake, flowers, or a gun . . . Am I responsible for what the purchaser does with it?
Would Jesus the carpenter have refused to build a table or a bed for a gay customer? What if he knew what it would be used for? Would it make a difference?
Is it just me, or is it a little difficult to answer these with a consistent world view?
If you have ever read the Bible through from cover to cover, you will find there are parts that are boring. If you disagree with me, you either have not read the whole Bible, or you are dishonest with yourself. Parts of it are boring. You know it.
The parts in particular that I am thinking of today are the long lists of names. A list of “begats” going all the way back from Jesus to Adam. Are you kidding me? What about the lists in Nehemiah of all the people that worked on rebuilding the city. Lists of carpentars, stone masons, priests, musicians . . . the list goes on and on. Maybe somebody at some point wanted to know all this stsuff, but why is it in God’s Holy Word? Why is it so important that we have to read it? Why couldn’t it just be in some ancient filing cabinet at the Bethlehem county court house?
I’ll tell you why. Because most of us will never be an Abraham, Moses, Peter or Paul. Most of us will just be like one of the names on that list. The carpenters and plumbers, computer programers, stay-at-home moms, check-out clerks, bus drivers and cooks. We are the people who do our normal jobs every day for the glory of God. God wants us to know that we’re an important part of His story. And every one of us is an important name on His list.