Archive for the ‘Happenings’ Category

But Lord….

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

During an aerial ballet representing the quest of the Magi to follow the star that led them to Jesus, a young Ohio woman fell onto a concrete floor as two thousand worshippers watched in shock and grief and prayers for her well-being. Hours later at the hospital, she died.

But Lord!

You blindsided us here.  How could this happen? Did we do something wrong? What is going on? Lord, why aren’t you answering my questions?

Look in the Book.

“I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm… when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness.” (Job 30:20-22, 25-26)

OK…I see there’s nothing new about my despair. Nothing new about my resentment. So I look a little farther.

“Master,” the disciples asked Jesus. “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither, but that the works of God might be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day.” (John 9:2-4)

Nothing new about the urge to blame somebody either. But Jesus told His friends,  “No blame here, fellows. This is not about that man. This is not about his parents. This is not about your opinion. This is about God and His work. ”

“But Lord,” I asked, “does your work cause such pain?”

“I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jer. 29:10-12)

“But Lord,” I said,  “I see the harm. I feel the pain. I hear the crying. I don’t see hope or prosperity or joyful dancing. I see tragedy – ”

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;  I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt … you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.” (Jer. 3:3-4)

But Lord …

“… in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”(Rom. 8:28)

Am I hearing that right? God works in everything for our good, if we love Him? No matter what happens? How can we believe that?

“Many therefore of his  [Jesus’] disciples, when they had heard this, said, ‘This is an hard saying; who can hear it?’….From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, ‘Will ye also go away?’

“Then Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:60,66-69)

If I love Him…then I trust Him. If I trust Him…how can I not believe that? No matter what, our Father works in everything that happens for our ultimate good…even when I don’t understand.

Tragedy.
Oh my God! How can this happen?

Prayer
Father God, fix this
.

Death.
Father God, where were you?

Doubt
Father God, I don’t understand.

Recrimination.
Father God, where were you?

Despair.
OH MY GOD! HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN?

Brokenness.
I AM. I AM HERE.
I KNOW. I KNOW YOU.
I AM. I AM LOVE.

All That Glitters…

Friday, July 7th, 2006

“We had realized the American Dream and were living a very expensive lifestyle, where it is difficult to turn off the spigot.”
– Kenneth Lay (1942-2006)

The spigot was shut off on July 5. Life, no matter how full of accomplishments or adorned with beauty, is ultimately futile and disappointing unless it is God-focused. The tragic death of Ken Lay–once highly respected, now disgraced–and widowing of his wife Linda–once ensconced in luxury, now bereft of lavish lifestyle and life companion–reminded me of a verse (The Perfect Couple) I wrote some time ago…

Careful attention to every detail marks him as a meticulous man.
From precision in slitting open his mail to eclat even opening a can.
Every hair smartly styled, every muscle controlled,
Shoes gleaming like bright mirrored tables;
His immaculate shell neatly houses a soul mired deep in muck from the stables.

Perky, pert, professional–the blending of two worlds.
She does it all and does it well, from charts to stylish curls.
Her softly tailored slate-grey suit
Accents her light grey eyes;
Her poised perfection’s absolute–and every day she dies.

What you see ain’t always what you get. Dr. Lay’s obituary reports that the bereaved family takes “comfort in the knowledge that he is in the loving presence of the one true Judge.” Attorneys argue that Lay’s death will wipe out his criminal conviction on conspiracy and fraud charges. Former Enron employees and shareholders voice strong opinions about his death, some even suggesting that the whole thing is a dark conspiracy to help the “deceased” avoid paying the devil his due.

Fortunately, a blind hog doesn’t have to weigh in on such already weighty matters. In the apparently smooth and well-tended landscape of expensive lifestyles where many–like Ken Lay–have experienced life and death, God has scattered, among the lush green weeds and glittery debris, one or two meaty acorns: half-buried nuggets of wisdom for a blind hog to root out.

  • All men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall… (see I Peter 1:24, Isaiah 40: 6-8). Lavish lifestyles, powerful friends, even the “middle-class luxuries” of the American dream are at best fragile flowers.
  • The Lord redeems His children from destruction, crowns them with love and compassion, satisfies their desires with good things, and fills them with joy in His presence… (see Psalm 16:10, 103:4,5). The only things that satisfy come from God.

The Lord says to us, “Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you…sure, solid, enduring love.” (Isaiah 55:2-3, The Message)

Even a blind hog can learn from the Enron morality play.