Saturday, June 15, 2013

Favorite People

Have you ever had favorite people? I don't mean that you play favorites with them, or that they are necessarily "better" people. But that there are people in the world whose very presence can make life better because of the way their personality or behavior triggers some joy in yours. 

I'm not explaining this well.

I know a man, almost like a second father, who I can talk to, who, even if he doesn't give me any advice is just so mellow and ok with things that after I talk to him things are better. I am more at peace. I can sit with him in a corner of the lawn and we can say nothing, and it's  good. These are God qualities; God is like this. And so I appreciate these God qualities in him. 

There are also some boys I know that make me laugh with the antics they come up with. Who thinks of making a race out of drinking a whole Cream Soda and then running up and down the yard? It's almost as bad as the people who intentionally try to swallow cinnamon. And yet, that enthusiasm, thrill in the simple things in life, and the "what if", are all God qualities. God loves the creative and strange and, honestly, who else would have come up with giraffes and platypus and moose and hissing cockroaches. Can't you just see God's enthusiasm?   

There is so much to see and taste and, while I don't recommend drinking fish and creek water, how often do I miss the thrill of living the life God has put in front of me because I am unwilling to sit in silence with God? Because I am unwilling to revel in his creative enthusiasm? When I enjoy these qualities in others do I remember that God is maker and manifester of these qualities?

How about you? Do you have favorite people? How do they remind you of God?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Love in the Bamboo Forest

The tall young man had his arms wrapped around her, her back to his chest. He leaned over toward her ear and said, "You are so important to me, I love you." She didn't seem to respond and half a moment later she had broken free and skipped off to see something else, maybe the lights in the bamboo forest; he followed after. I was sort of disappointed in her. She couldn't just enjoy her place in his arms for a moment?

And then it hit me.

That's how I so often treat God. 

He speaks love to me, wraps me up in his love, cares for my every need, and instead of resting in that love I am always pushing on to something else. Sometimes it is even something good and beautiful I move towards. Its just that I forget to say thank you, I love you, too, or even acknowledge the lavish outpouring of his grace upon me. I have become so accustomed to his love that I take it for granted. And that's what I need to remember, that it has been granted to me, a great and precious gift, one meant to be enjoyed.

So, now what? A good reminder, sure, but how can I remember in the future? I'm sure it has to do with being thankful, seeing God's gifts. But I honestly don't know. I'm foolish. I will forget. But, for now, I remember and am grateful. God bends down to earth and tells me that he loves me and cares for me and I am so happy.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Hands Open, Face Up

Just over a year ago I was grieving on the beach in Turkey. Yeah, I know, if you've got to be grieving the Mediterranean is a pretty great place to be. But even in a great and lovely place I needed God to remind me of his presence and his love.

I sat and sifted sand and pebbles looking for sea glass. I prayed.

God? Can I find a piece of sea glass? I know you love me. But can you show me your love this way today? 

And I dug and sifted and spread out the warm rocks. And yes, I found a piece of sea glass. I rejoiced over that one piece of sea glass, but I didn't stop looking for more. It wasn't that the one piece of sea glass wasn't enough. I already knew God loved me. But I couldn't help asking for another.

God can I find more sea glass? Please?

And I did. And I reveled in each one and God and I were happy together. I was basking in his love and he was full of joy at my asking and at my joy in receiving his love. It was all so simple and found in little smooth bits of trash.

That love was a child-like, father trusting, contented love, the kind of love that is free and joyful and humble. There was no presumption, just trust.

I wish I lived like that always, hands open, face up.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Can the name “Jesus” be said out loud?

I was reading an article when I came across those words. "Can the name 'Jesus' be said out loud?" Wow, really? This is what some people are wondering these days?

The person was writing saying that "People of Faith Should Oppose Official Prayer at Graduation Ceremonies". And while I feel that that lie has circulated enough over the years, I felt that the earlier question was both more real and more poignant. She hit at the heart of the issue, the true core: Jesus. No talking to him, no talking about him. If we pretend really really hard, maybe he won't exist.

Lots of people are willing to talk about God, spirituality, or religion. Using these words we can easily assume whatever definition we want and put those concepts into our worldview puzzles like pieces of putty, forming them into shapes that fit the hole we think we have open. But once you mention Jesus, you are dealing with a concrete historical figure that made serious truth claims. You can't mold Jesus nearly as easily because he said things and did things that are pretty significant. You are limited by certain facts of history (although some try to change those, too). And the mention of Jesus also draws lines between religions, specifying down to Christianity itself, and our pluralistic society doesn't like that either.

As much as the people who are asking this question think they are preserving "secular" culture, they are really showing their fear. Even the name of Jesus has power. The name of Jesus cannot even be spoken without his power being made known in the world. We do not limit the saying of the names of other great men in the world. No one questions the naming of Einstein, Ghandi, Socrates, or Alexander the Great. But, Jesus, yes. Why? Because his name matters.

What do you think? Should people say the name of Jesus? Who do you say he is?