Thursday, May 29, 2014

R U Waiting 4 Godot?

I have a student who has a part in Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett's absurdist play about two men who wait and wait for someone named Godot to show up.  Godot never shows so it is all for nothing!

Over the years since the first production in 1953 many have speculated widely and wildly on what Beckett was trying to say.  It could be argued that not even Beckett knew.  He was known to say that it did not mean this or that but never - as far as I know - to explain what it did mean.

Another playwright, William Shakespeare, wrote:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow ...
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.
— Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)

Ah! The despair of life that concludes that all is darkness, hopelessness: waiting and waiting and waiting endlessly, strutting and fretting and then is heard no more ... signifying nothing!  With such a view, life in NOT worth the living! There is no light. There is no hope.

Tomorrow a precious little 6-year-old boy named Matthew will go into surgery.  He has a large brain tumor in a very difficult place - right in the center of his brain.  If I had the view of Beckett in Godot and Shakespeare in Macbeth, I would be in total despair. So would Matthew's parents, brother, sister, grandparents, and others!  I don't know what the future holds for Matthew.  I don't know what the surgeon will find.  I don't know WHY.

And, it is not the least bit glib to say what I DO KNOW: 

There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!  --Abraham Kuyper

Tomorrow morning in a hospital room in Atlanta and in an operating suite in the same hospital, God Himself will show up!  And, He will shout, Matthew is MINE, and I love him with an everlasting love!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Comfort for Dis-abled Heart!

A number of years ago I drove from Richmond up to Northern Virginia to watch two of my nephews in a wrestling match.  I had never been to a wrestling match before so had no idea what I was getting into.  It was a regional competition so there were many competitors there.  As I sat in the stands looking out over a pretty large gymnasium, it occurred to me that the wrestlers resembled worms wiggling after a spring rain ALL OVER the gym floor!  Except that my nephews were somewhere in the mix, I could hardly imagine being there.

As I understand it, the object of the match is to maneuver your opponent in such a way that he cannot twist out of your hold and actually is pinned to the mat for a certain count.  In professional wrestling there are throws that apply techniques involving lifting the opponent and throwing or slamming him down.  I am certainly no expert, but none of it looked like something I personally wanted to do.  It wasn't even something I was all that eager to watch on any regular basis!

This morning I ran across a verse in John 14 (The Message). I'm thinking that my limited experience with wrestling may provide some clues to the meaning:  Don't let this throw you. You trust God, don't you? Trust Me.  These are the words of Jesus (vs. 1).  He spoke them to His disciples on the night before His crucifixion.  Quite possibly He spoke them as they walked along following the Passover meal they had eaten together on that Thursday evening.  They were on their way to a garden of olive trees tucked away on the western slope of the Mt. of Olives. 

I don't know if the words follow chapter 13 in exact sequence. Perhaps so; perhaps not.  (Note:  Chapter and verse divisions were not part of the original text.)  Chapter 13 ends with Peter's declaration that he wants to follow Jesus wherever He is going. Jesus tells Peter that he actually can't follow Him where He is going.  Peter is most insistent that he does want to follow the Master and that he is actually willing to die for his Master.  Jesus' response, Really? You'll lay down your life for me? The truth is that before the rooster crows, you'll deny me three times.

Chapter 14 begins, Don't let this throw you!  It struck me today that perhaps Jesus is referring to Peter's vulnerability and dis-ability to even stick up for Jesus in the few short hours of that night.  Perhaps Jesus is already encouraging Peter - not that it's okay not to stick up for Jesus, but that there will be life beyond that failure!  And the next words explain WHY:  You trust God, don't you?  Trust me.

For my dis-abled heart today I took comfort.  Life beyond failure is beyond me, but it is never beyond the ability of the One who is worthy of all trust and His Son Jesus!  When I trust Him with it ALL - all the failure, all the pain, all the seeming success, all the confidence, all the dis-ability THEN the implied promise is that it is never the end but rather the opportunity to begin again - not because of me, but because of the One who loves me and died to set me free!  Don't let this throw you! You trust God, don't you? Trust Me!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Hawk and the Sparrow

After church today I stood in the parking lot watching a red tail hawk on the hunt.  I don't know if it's the one that lives in our yard - could be since it's only about 2 blocks away.  All at once after flying in his lazy-seeming circles, he swooped with razor precision down to the prey he spied! It was majestic!  We marveled at the beauty of this creature God made!

Jesus talked about birds - the ones in the field and the air and especially the sparrow. 

The sparrow is no red tail hawk!  I doubt many would ever stand and marvel at a sparrow, but Jesus did - so it must warrant doing!  He said, Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care. (Matt. 10:29)

Just the fact that Jesus chose to single out the sparrow from all the other thousands of types of birds tells us something important!  If what Jesus said is true, and I'm pretty doggone sure it is - THEN the implications for you and me are pretty impressive!  If God can take time out of His "day" to notice the goings-on of sparrows, then that means even the least of us are under His watch and care ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE!  That's awesome for sure!

Today I wouldn't have stood marveling for quite a few minutes if a sparrow had been flitting around here and there.  I stood and marveled as the hawk soared and swooped!  In retrospect I am so thankful that I don't have to be a hawk doing spectacular stunts in the sky to get God's eye on me!  I have His Word, His promise that assures me He cares totally even for the tiny sparrow.  Because His eye is on the sparrow, I know...I know...I know (Can't you just hear the rolling, throaty contralto tones of Ethel Waters?!) He cares for me ... for you!!! or, as she sings, He watches we!
Now THAT's something to stand and marvel about - that God's eye is on the sparrow and on me and you - on we!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Love is Down and Dirty!

I just saw this picture on Facebook.  I don't know how it got on my feed as I don't know the person who posted it.  I do know a person who liked it.  I was astonished!

It's just so wrong!  We see a person in need. The question about worthy is the one we ask in our heads. We MUST stop; we HAVE to stop!  We cannot love UNLESS we stop and DO something!  Loving is what we do in our hearts!  We put hands and feet on the feeling!  We do it anyway because we MUST!

Perhaps the picture means that we shouldn't evaluate whether we love by the worthiness of the one we need to love - OK, I'll give you that!  But I crawled up on my soapbox because it is so typical to use our evaluation of "worthy" as an excuse!  It's really all the more reason to love well!

The story Jesus told about the man beaten and left for dead by a gang of thieves - that's what it's all about.  The men who asked the worthy question in their heads crossed the road and passed by not getting their hands dirty and not even letting the blood and pain bother their eyes!  The man who stopped, gave first aid, and took the injured man to a safe place where he continued to provide care into an uncertain future, he didn't ask any questions.  He got down and dirty, crawled right into the mess, and showed what love looks like! 

DUH! I get the strong impression that's exactly what we are supposed to do: get down and dirty, crawl right into the mess, demo what love looks like!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Batter Up!

It's spring or almost spring! That means May flowers, spring showers, and baseball among other signs of spring! That is especially true in Pittsburgh when the Pirates are really on their game!

One essential of playing baseball is the batter.  Without someone up at bat, there isn't much of a game. Actually there is NO game at all!

I'm not planning to play baseball any time soon, but I find myself up at bat all too often!  There are many variations on this theme: there are two kinds of people in this world - the batters/players and the bench warmers!  I don't care who you are or what you do; you are one or the other!

It's the people who aren't afraid to get in the game, to take their turn at bat, to play their position who make a difference in the game of life!

Once a lady in Pittsburgh (native Pittsburgher) said to me, O, I know all about you Southern girls!  You just take to your bed for three days when you get a little headache.  Now, mind you:  She hardly knew me and SHE CERTAINLY DID NOT KNOW ME!!! 

Well, after I picked my jaw up off the floor, I looked her straight in the eye and said, O, you must not know there is more than one kind of Southern gal - There's the Southern Belle and then there's the Steel Magnolia!!!

It is so interesting from a people-observation perspective and also so sad from a Christian world-and-life-view that there are actually Christians who find being a bench sitter good enough, thank you very much!  I don't think so!  The Apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 3:17:  17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  My Jesus and His name deserve MUCH more than warming a bench!  ONLY my best will do, and that's my best in EVERYTHING!

Now, bench warming is much less risky!  Chances are that bench warming will net you FAR less criticism on a grand scale, but it also won't get you to 1st base!  It won't even get you up to bat!

I don't care where you live and walk; it's a choice: Batter Up! or warm the bench!  There isn't much wear and tear to bench warming.  Batting, pitching, catching, running the bases and the field cost: time and energy and can tug on your heart big time! BUT that's where the game of life is played - IN THE GAME - NOT on the bench!  Being a player participating in the game may be messy and challenging, but it's worth it every time!  Especially because that's the ONLY way to do EVERYTHING in the name of the Lord Jesus to hold Him up before the watching world! Just sayin'!