Friday, April 18, 2014

This Much

Sometimes it's the things I've known longest, the things most taken for granted, that break me widest open...

Like there, opening arms as if to a long-lost friend, pausing with abandon-joy to savor the song that is the sea-- the crashing sound of surf, the salt on the breeze, the endless blue.

His words come out of nowhere, His tone utterly casual. But His eyes twinkle.

So, you know how much I love you?

No, how much?

This much.



Standing on the edge of this expanse as endless the circumference of a circle, my heart gives way, before a truth I already know.
He loves me, this much.

And the salt in my eyes then doesn't come from the sea.
Or does it?



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Love and Hate [Marks of a Pure Man]

Or woman. 

Verse 9 of Psalm 19 reels me in, as it were, silently gesturing for attention. I pause before words I’ve known for always, wait. I roll the list over. 

"Law, Testimony, Statutes, Commandment, Fear, Judgments; Law, Testimony, Statutes…"

And I realize fear stands alone. 
The sole emotion. 



Fitting. For a God relation to Whom is not governed or driven by emotion, but is certainly incomplete without it. 

But emotion, you know, is volatile, and classically resists regulations. Which means a proper emotional response to God must needs have its fair share of counterfeits. 
Yet, this response is called “clean,” “the beginning of wisdom,” “fountain of life,” “instruction of wisdom,” one which “tendeth to life”…

It’s Proverbs 8 that arrests my attention though, with its use of the same word for “fear.” 

“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” (Pro 8:13)

Another strong emotion. 
Fitting again, I suppose, to define one strong emotion with another. 

But both love and hate come easy. (Emotions after all.) Too easy to stand alone as a measuring mark for wisdom… Even if you only count the love for what is beautiful, and hatred for what is not. 

Every sane person loves the pure, and despises pedophilia. 

Nope. Not true. 

Actually, most sane people despise pedophiles.

The pure man (the "Fearing" man) loves right, hates sin. 

The rest lust after the beauty that results from right, 
and hate sinners. 

Herein lies the regulation.

It’s not love or hate. It’s who or what.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Too Many Options [Lessons on Pruning]

I tell you, sometimes it doesn’t take an expert... 
I hadn’t the foggiest clue how to make it right, but I certainly knew something was wrong.

This chaos of twigs and buds, of bark and branches. 

I stop on my tour through the arbor— this little haven brother and I baby like a pet. He’s tending to the turf today, I’ll address the apples. 

Here we are, spring upon us, leaving again in a day, and these trees each look like a teenage boy with a bed-head. Something needed to be done yesterday, by someone. And if that someone isn’t me, it won’t be anybody. 

So I watch a string of pruning tutorials on YouTube over lunch break. 

Afterwards, armed with clippers, I chop into the fray until trees never before trimmed look something like the ones in the tutorial. I work down the row, and slowly the motley crew starts looking almost like a brotherhood. And something like trees again. (Instead of bushes.) 

Then down the mulched trail I bungle, bundling branches until I’ve got almost all my arms can handle. From 8 little trees. 

When I toss them down on the little burn pile, I pause to finger fuzzy little bud starts, built last year. And suddenly, it strikes me. 

These branches I just lopped, they were viable, every one of them. Each would have had leaves and flowers this year, maybe even fruit. In fact, there was nothing in the world wrong with them, just… there were too many. Too many viable options.

So, once a year we go through and observe, reassess, mark the best, and get rid of the rest. Not the dead rest, the promising rest… 
That’s how we make the best stronger. 

I wonder would could be, if once in a while I set out to have God do the same for me?


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Melt Me

This. Just this...

That the truth might flourish, that healing streams might flow.
That spring might find blankets of flowers, where once were blankets of snow.

That a trillion crystal prisms might surrender winter dreams
To become the drops of water that make up the lakes and streams...

That I might be less.
That I might be nothing.

That the purposes of Grace would flourish, if need be, at my expense.

Melt me.







Sunday, March 23, 2014

Empty Schemes

An exercise in futility.
The blueprints for human empires, built on the strength of the flesh.
God laughs, in fact. That's what the Psalmist says. Because He of all People knows how futile it is for creation to lay designs apart from the Creator.

Again the same two-day-old question haunts me though-- "...The people imagine vain things." (Psalm 2)

Who are the people?

Empty Schemes.
My plans, without God.

But "Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as your possession." Psalm 2:8, (Amplified)


Friday, March 21, 2014

To Be Ignored

So, I slip past familiar words I've read a hundred times, quoted more. This fitting start to the hymnal of the old world--
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, not standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful..."
Like a grade school teacher I ask the right questions, wait for the answers. (myself also the pupil.)

The scornful? Probably scorners. Skeptics. Profane men that divorce God from His creation, make the truth about life a lie, set themselves above the law of the universe, claim progress but at the same time destroy meaning by destroying origin and destiny... Yeah, don't mind them.
Ungodly, same thing.

You skipped one.
Did I?

Pray tell, who are the sinners?
These others thrown in with those whose companionship, counsel, and cowardice I should avoid?

How about me.

I am a sinner.
And insomuch, my counsels to myself should be ignored.

I take counsel from, pleasure in, strength of,
gain wisdom through, live life by,

the benevolent law.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ten Years and What Matters

Something stirs and I turn left at the end of the paved pathway flanked by lawn in winter colors. A left that takes me right away from my accustomed quiet corner. Away, but towards something strangely and warmly familiar...



I think I might find it... Through wispy grass and a forest that's since been thinned.
True as the sunrise, there it is. The top stones have tumbled down the hill a way, but the foundation is still here. It only takes a moment, and a ten-year old altar has been restored.

Ten years.

Ten years ago I encountered God for myself on this hillside as a boy, and we struck up a friendship that has become the reason I breathe.

Much-Afraid gathered homely little stones.
I just build the altars.
At every page turn, I've turned, built another.

I stand and look, thoughts afar. Reaching back for what sort of prayers I prayed here, who my friends were when last I knelt here, what my goals were when I left here to build new...
And I remember. I remember the next...

I stop to count.
Seven altars. Ten years.
I'll find them all today.

There's something priceless about the remembering. The whole trek will take me an hour and a half. To all the places witness to the forever moments in my experience. The hallowed ground where God was always waiting to keep an appointment, where I trembled and triumphed, and learned to trust Him absolutely.

I wander and emotions sometimes flood, but after I've been up and over, down the draw and past ground I haven't covered in a decade, one question throbs--

Not whether or not I found my dreams.

I want to know whether or not I've fulfilled His.

Take it from me, 10 years later.
This is all that matters. 



Monday, February 17, 2014

Everything is Nothing

From Philippians 3--
"But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ..."
Until everything else is nothing, Christ is not everything.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

All Is Enough [in Ninety-Six Words.]

Out of the blackness of night, and the wonder of the morning, this thought--

All of human fullness is emptiness. Still, we have the audacity of inviting God in, to inhabit some corner. Or even three corners.

The Holy God is far too great, far too deep, far too beautiful to fit in the corner.

Holy God looms too large to fit in all eight corners of three-dimensional infinity

But then this miracle. When suddenly no space in my small heart is reserved unto myself; reserved for my use...

It is enough. 
All becomes enough.







Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Notification Center, and the 5 Questions [Do I Love Jesus More?]

I figure my phone deserves to rest at night. So, unless I'm "on call" for someone, it slips into airplane mode at or around 2100.

Unremarkable practice.
Albeit, the implications of this simple habit have recently opened my eyes to a stubborn and surprising reality, and caused me to be confronted with this question I'm now passing along.

- - -

There are a good many factors that go into making a day great. And also a fair few that can ruin a good start. I've found one of them. It's those first 60 seconds after the alarm sings...

I reach for my phone; sigh all content. Blink, blink, blink away the last of sleep. (I was only half sleeping.) A swipe of the phone sweeps Waves into memory, until tomorrow this time. Another swipe and the little machine reaches out to the invisible, to start downloading the day.

Do I?

If I'm brave, my feet are on the floor before it starts to buzz. Notification Center all alight. I have friends on every inhabited continent, so in my world it's always day somewhere. Maybe they liked my last photo on Instagram?

That right there is where it starts. I can predict with almost unerring accuracy the sense and sensitivity at my disposal in the day to follow. By who I check in with first.

It's such a little thing. 
Yes. But these little things are pledges of allegiance, of which we're sometimes quite unaware.

And anyway, don't knock little things.
(Bullets are little things.)

- - -

The 5 Questions. (Time for a self-test.)

1. At the start of the day, which comes first: Facebook Notifications, or an hour of Scripture? 
2. At the breakfast table, does the prayer come from a heart actually full of gratitude, or does it sound suspiciously like yesterday's?  
3. At school, which drives harder: Desire for grades, or desire for God? 
4. At home, which seems sweeter: An hour of entertainment, or an hour of intercession?  
5. In bed, which lingers longer: The frolic of the day, or thoughts of heaven?
- - -

I've learned a day is worth too much to lose, by reefing through notifications before I've read my Bible. And not because my notifications are my enemy. Because at the end of the day, my priorities are making a statement to myself. 

So, I won't anymore. And I've found, I no longer care to. I'd rather meet God first, declare to Him and to myself that in Him is my greatest pleasure; would rather let the whole world wait, make notifications come and stand in a line at attention for an hour, while I take my time.

Oh, and it's not that I don't care. If you sent me a text at 0200 this morning, I can't wait to read it.
But...

I still love Jesus more.



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