Monday, April 23, 2012

To surrender a precious dream...

More journal stuff... skip it if you don't like emotional writing.

            As he sat on that mountain top, he watched a sunset so beautiful as to bring him to tears. The sight was the very manifestation of peace, serenity, and glory: the untainted majesty of it took his breath away.  Almost everything about this moment was perfect: the sight of God’s art in the sky, the smell of raw earth, the invigorating feel of the warm, summer-like wind that made his clothes whip around his body and filled his lungs with the wonderful taste of nature’s pure air; and even the powerfully peaceful sound of silence amidst the wind.  

And that was just to the west. 
To the east was the sheer edge of a cliff face that would carry him down to a forest that appeared quite small from the altitude of this giant rock.  As he directed his gaze to the far horizon, he saw an indescribable panorama of countless acres of countryside.  He watched as the shadow of his mountain covered more and more of the landscape, and marveled at the beauty of the patches of light caused by the shifting clouds.
He wept for the sheer beauty of it all.  He couldn’t take his eyes off of either sight, and found himself spinning in slow circles to take as much in as he could before the moment ended.  The world was washed in shades of purple, red, and orange as the sun produced its dazzling show of lights in its descent. He had his camera with him, but sensors and glass were no match for all that there was to see, and the senses that just had to be experienced.
Surrounded by all this, and close bursting with emotion at what was unfolding before his eyes, he turned to draw his love to his side, to sit and drink up this moment with her, and share this wonder of God with her; but there was no one.  He suddenly found himself overwhelmed by a sickening sense loneliness.  The most beautiful sight he had ever seen, and it had to be contained within the limits of his own memory?  All the beauty around him turned into an empty theatre: it was all there, but no one to turn to and laugh, cry, or silently hold:  though he knew that God was on that mountain with him, he felt absolutely alone.

To surrender a precious dream is a fearful thing, but he learned that night that he could not hold on to what was not his.  God had not promised him that he would ever have a companion, and yet he treated a precious gift as an inalienable right.  He knew that night that he must surrender that dream if he wanted to love God fully.  If God would bring someone to him, it would not be because he had earned her, but because God in His divine providence had chosen him to be one of those fortunate enough to receive such a gift.  Until that moment, if and when it ever came, he would focus on nothing but his growing his love for his Savior into an unquenchable passion that could last a lifetime.  This love would be the foundation for fulfilling the call he hoped to receive.
As he settled into the reality of his commitment, he felt peace.  The sunset turned to stars, and he knew that his love had been replaced where it belonged.

To surrender a precious dream is a fearful thing, but to pursue anything but the full measure of the glory of God’s love is a wasted life.

Friday, April 6, 2012

a Taste of Atmosphere

            Have you ever noticed how you can be eating something delicious, while standing by something nasty, and almost every time, the nasty smell spoils the delight of whatever you’re eating?  If you think about it, it would seem to defy logic: smell is a sense of the object.  To put it in simple terms, little pieces of whatever you’re smelling enter your nostril, and your brain says, “oh, that’s a rose!” or “ew… that’s the skunk the dogs killed.”  So, scent is a microscopic amount of the subject’s matter.  Yet somehow, it often has the power to overwhelm the taste of something that you have large amounts of in your mouth, where 60,000 sensory buds are tasting it at the same time!  How that happens is something I don’t quite understand.
            But think also on how smell can compliment taste:  you put the right scone with the right cup of tea, and your early morning hours just got sweeter.  Have the right scented candles burning during a meal, and the atmosphere can be delicious as well as the meal.  Put the right type of grass in your freshly cut lawn and you will never taste better lemonade.

            Can you see where I’m going with this?  You can be spending time in the Word, and in prayer, devouring every word and every moment, but if you put yourself in and around places that spiritually stink on a constant basis, you’re tainting with rancid beer what could be made complete by the flawless wine of the Word.
            Do not let my meaning be mistaken for avoiding the lost and sinful: we are inescapably called to reach out to them and love them as Christ did.  I’m not talking about the mission field.  I’m talking about the general atmosphere of your home, your church, and wherever else you devote your time.  We should be striving to surround and saturate ourselves with the grace and peace of God at all times, and in all places.

            Now that would be dining with the King.

To Die Well...

There is no greater love than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
Sacrifice.  We’re all called to it in one way or another, but I believe that men are specifically wired for it.
For me personally, this is the quality of a man that touches me the most…  
As a young boy, the scenarios played out in my differently than they do now.  I would imagine myself driving a burglar out of the house, or beating up a guy who stole a girl’s purse.  But now, having grown beyond childish fantasy and realized the reality of my duty as a man…  the thought of giving my life for something…  what would it be?  A day rarely passes that I don’t think about it. 
Will I die in an explosion saving a woman and her child from a car engulfed in flames?  Will I throw myself in front of a truck to save a child playing in the street?  Will I die protecting my family from an intruder in my home? Will I take a bullet to the head while standing between a sick thug and the woman he intended to rape?  Will I give away the last parachute or life ring?  The last piece of bread? The last ounce of water?  Will I freeze to death having given away my last piece of warm clothing?
Will I sing songs of praise as I am burned alive for refusing to deny the One who endured far worse for me…….?
Do these questions scare me?  No.  I would give anything to die like that…  To die so that someone else might live… the thought shakes me and sends tears streaming down my face.  But more than that, so much more than that, I want to die a martyr.  To die for the overwhelming love of Christ, and the honor of bearing His Name and image; to be counted “among whom the world was not worthy”…  I can’t even imagine…  That would be dying well.
For me, some things are easier on a larger scale.  Like speaking:  I would feel far more comfortable standing on a stage in front of 5,000 people than 10.  It’s the same with sacrifice.  I know beyond a doubt that if my life were required in an emergency to save someone else that God would give me the strength to surrender it.  If a grenade dropped into the middle of my squad, you better believe that I would drop and wrap that thing in my arms against my chest to save them.  Yet somehow I lack the motivation to die to myself daily and live for Christ and others in the small things.  To read my Bible and pray:  what am I really giving up?  Forty five minutes of sleep?  There are thousands who would give their lives for a page of that Book, and I treat it like watching C-Span - boring, monotonous information.  
My sister asks if I’ll play with her.  My excuse?  I don’t have one.  I usually make something up.  I more or less lie to her because 10 minutes of Legos is more than I can handle, even though I know very well that just ten minutes would make her week!
I suppose it’s my long-term vision taking priority over my short-term choices and investments.  It’s a weakness. 
What would you consider the greatest thing you could die for?   You faith?  Your wife and kids?  If you say that you’re willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for your Savior - your life - are you not willing to give up anything less important?  Your thoughts, your dreams, your anxiety?  Your time?  
If you say that you’re willing to surrender your life for your family’s sake, are you not willing to surrender your pride, your rights, and your comfort for their benefit also?
           You show me a man who can lay down his pride for his faith and family, and I’ll show you a man who will not hesitate to lay down his life, also.
These are heavy questions, and I need to weigh them as well.  I’ll not be getting sleep tonight.
~ 2:12am

A healthy blend...

I don’t post very often because I always feel obligated to post complete thoughts.  You know; if I post a thought that happens to be about, say, pride, I feel like I can’t just mention it without developing this whole theological essay about it.  I suppose it’s the perfectionist in me, wanting nothing left unsaid or unclear.  I think it’s mostly a good thing, but sometimes, I think it hinders my ability to just express my thoughts and my heart, because I try to push as much “literary excellence” in a post a possible, making it sound more like a term paper (just shorter) than a personal blog post.  I want to have a healthy blend of both.