I’m playing “hooky” today…
Yesterday a friend called and asked if I would crew for him Friday (today) as he is moving his boat to a marina that is a six hour sail away…six hours under sail with a 10 knot breeze under blue sky and a temp in the low 80’s. H-m-m-m. So I quickly assessed my options:
A.) Keep my two appointments and tackle the remaining six things on this weeks to do list.
B.) Punt on the appointments and the to do list and set sail.
C.) Reschedule the appointments to next week and knock out the to do list Thursday night.
My decision, Option C…by the time you read this I should be somewhere in the middle of the bay headed south. I think it was author Annie Dillard who said: “Spend the afternoon, you can’t take it with you.”
We are an Easter people living in a Good Friday world.
As I reflect on all that has happened in the world at large and in my own little corner of the world since last Easter I am reminded of this quote by writer Barbara Johnson: “We are an Easter people living in a Good Friday world”. You understand this because you live in the same world I do…sometimes it’s just simply excruciating. Whether it is yet another senseless act of terrorism or a tsunami or a tragic car accident or a sick child or the death of one you love who had so much more of life yet to live. Things that are hard to reconcile with a universe created by a loving God.
So yes, we live in a Good Friday world. But that is not the whole story. We are an Easter people.
Easter, the resurrection of Jesus, reminds us that terrorism, tsunamis, accidents, sickness and not even death have the last word in God’s universe. Easter is the promise that after darkness there is light; after the deepest heartbreak there is the possibility of joy; and even after a devastating loss there is hope for life abundant.
May I remind you that Jesus totally understands Good Friday…a whip, rods, crown of thorns, betrayal, nails. May I also remind you He took it all for you, because He simply couldn’t stand the thought of heaven without…you. Honor Him today and every day of your life.
And may I remind you it may be Friday but Sunday is coming! Easter! And we are an Easter people!
Imagine sitting alone under a sky strewn with stars as you listen to the steady rhythm of gentle waves washing onshore.
Well, that was my experience one night this week as Jacque and I slipped away to our favorite haunt on the Atlantic coast of Florida.
Jacque took a book and went to bed, I took the opportunity to be alone with God in the sanctuary of creation. At one point I began praying for a close friend who is listing severely to one side with challenges that seem not only unjustly large but unfairly numerous. As I started to pray I found myself at a loss for words. Ever been there? Stirred to a place so deep there is not adequate language to capture what you feel. So I simply began to pray a five word mantra: “Oh God, please help ____!” and then again…”Oh God, please help ____!” Over and over and over again, not as vain repetition but as the cry of a soul for the sake of another soul. Sometime after midnight I arose from my chair and my eyes fell on the Big Dipper in all of its glory. With the limited star navigational skills I have, I used the Big Dipper to direct me to Polaris…the North Star. Polaris, the one constant that lets you navigate with some confidence.
Scripture says the heavens declare the glory of God. It did for me as I stood there eyes trans-fixed heavenward. A realization settled into a place deep in my spirit that the God who put Polaris in place and keeps the earth’s axis at such an angle that it always tilts north to this one star…is the same God who can and will keep my friend afloat. Such peace I felt at that moment. And so I whispered another prayer as I exited that holy place I was in: “Thank you Lord…Thank you Lord”. Then I went inside committed to doing my part to help my friend and quite confident God will do His.
For a guy who is seminary trained…some of my most effective prayers seem to happen when I am at a loss for words. As St. Francis once said: “Pray always, when necessary use words.”
You do know don’t you that there is a huge difference between meeting a train and making a train…right?
Recently I read something by Seth Godin which drew that distinction to my attention and it sort of got my attention. If you are trying to make a train…10 seconds too late is too late. (Jacque and I almost found this out the hard way once in Italy.) The consequence of not being on time is a painful one.
On the other hand, if you are going to meet a train, well…10 seconds is no big deal is it? Neither is 40 seconds or even a handful of minutes. Anything beyond that can be a bit annoying if not downright uncivil, but you get the idea.
Far too often, we treat our responsibilities as meet, not make. So we not only show up a bit late…we also show up a bit short on both preparation and quality but full of excuses and explanations. Jesus once said it this way: “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.”
I am not a match-maker…I don’t work for any on-line dating service…and I’ve never been accused of being cupid. But I did sort of arrange two blind dates this week.
Blind date arrangement number one was on behalf of a close friend who knows I know a business leader in town who she thinks is a hunk and would make a nice match for her daughter. (Get all that?) So it was a simple conversation with the guy, a web address where he could check her out and “vuala” they met for dinner. All I did was tell the guy about her and where he could find her and he is doing the rest.
Blind date arrangement number two was on behalf of another close friend who knows I know Jesus and he thinks Jesus and his brother would make great companions. His brother has had people try to argue him into becoming a Christ-follower, others leveraged guilt, and some used the think of the benefits package approach. All to no avail. He has a real interest in Jesus, but not so much with certain aspects of the Christianity he has come to know. So I sensed what the guy really needed was not a lesson in theology, not a moral diatribe, nor a sales pitch…but an encounter with the person of Jesus. So after a great conversation with this great guy, I suggested he should get to know Jesus for Himself. And he agreed. So he bought a Bible and is reading the Jesus story in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Over the next few months we will be drinking coffee and having conversations about what he is discovering about Jesus. All I did was tell the guy about Jesus and where he could find Him…and I think Jesus will do most of the rest.
At the heart of things, knowing God is about more than presenting theological truths, or moral tenants, or philosophical ideas…as it is about a relationship with a Savior who lives and interacts. I think once you really get to know Jesus…you find yourself wanting to follow Him.