11 October, 2009

Codepoke to be Wed

There are several praises about which to be thankful today. That Dana said, "Yes," is the first and greatest. (So as not to create unnecessary suspense, the second is that I'm gainfully employed - praise the Lord indeed. The third must remain unspoken and it's not yet an assured thing.)

I love how life doesn't do what we expect it to do. I expected to be deliriously happy, and I am. I expected to feel like I'd reached this decision only after giving due consideration to every angle, and I have. I expected to feel both doubt and confidence, and I do. What I didn't expect was to feel so deeply humbled.

It's a strange thing. I feel like I've got so much more understanding than when I first married, but I still feel more like the fool of Proverbs fame than ever. Solomon talked about the wise man, the evil man and the foolish man. The foolish man was more naive than evil, and that's how I feel today.

The cliche artist in me rushes to rejoice I've found the trailhead to wisdom, but the bruised 45 year-old man in me looks at scripture and history and the great cloud of witnesses who have believed before me and mutters something about shutting up and getting on with it.

The Lord has blessed me with the love of a precious woman who treasures the same things I do, in a completely different way than I ever could. I love her joyfully and thankfully and look forward to a life of many mistakes as we start all over again from the middle.

Thank you Lord Jesus.

Thank you, my friends, for supporting me over the years. You made a rich difference.

05 October, 2009

The Flaming Sword

The age old question of whether we should pray for healing, or pray for healing if it's God's will, came up in Sunday School. The specific question was why God could will not to heal us.

It's always a tough question.

There are too many wounded people whom I love too much to answer that question lightly. The teacher was gracious enough to actually allow some silence after asking the question. I am often impressed by her, and this was one of those times. Anyway, in the silence I ran around the mulberry bush a few more times, but the way the question was asked brought me to a new place.

Could God will that we not be healed? It is actually His will that we die. There's a tree somewhere on this planet named the Tree of Life, and that tree has an angel standing in front of it with a flaming sword. That sword is there by the will of God, and it's there to make sure we die.

Genesis 3 is not really explicit about why we should not live forever, but it is explicit God will not allow it. It might be because He's too merciful to allow us to debauch ourselves and destroy ourselves for any longer than 70 years. It could be to preserve us from His wrath. It could be to preserve His glory. The one thing of which we're certain is our pain comes as an outflow from Adam's sin. God is handling the introduction of evil into our world in the most merciful and loving way possible. Maybe sometimes we underestimate the terrible power of the unholy, but Jesus paid a terrible price to cleanse us.

Yes, God might will us to remain wounded. If He does, He does so tenderly and with love, like a good mother helping a child to throw up so it can all be better in the morning.

Whatever might happen, our Heavenly Comforter stays with us all through the night.

04 October, 2009

You're OK With Us

That's the motto of AMSCOT, a local predatory lending chain. It's also the starting point of many a lost young person's descent into drugs. And it's the call of the highest minded voices in our land. Black, white, muslim, buddhist, male, female, gay, straight, rich, poor, brilliant, challenged, native, foreigner, poet, worker, blue collar, white collar, red state, blue state.

America means, "You're OK with us."

Should that motto work for the church, too?

03 October, 2009

Scarred for Life

I have no patience these days with the Nietzschean cliché, 'That which does not kill us makes us stronger.' I’ve found that the deepest pain holds no meaning. It is not purifying. It is not ennobling. It does not make you a better human being. It just is.

All the worst pain does is reduce us to our most primal animal. We want it to stop. We want to survive. It short-circuits any sense of self, diminishes us to a bundle of biological reflexes.

NYTimes blog by way of the Fibromyalgia Blog.

I'm ashamed to add words to such a statement, but I've felt pain too. I've felt pain just like that - not recently, but those feelings. Since those days I've said, "That which does not kill us scars us for life."

And I'm scared to say anything about these words because there are those I love who are in that place right now. How dare I speak words into their pain that they cannot feel now? But I do remember. Really, I do. I remember and I think I would have wanted to hear both the words I've quoted above and the words I add below.

You're alive.

Ecclesiastes says a living dog is better than a dead lion, and pain taught me how right Solomon was. I wanted to be a noble lion in noble pain, but I survived because I realized I was a humble little mongrel held in the hands of the Living Lord. He preserved me because He loved me, and I lived because I finally found that grain of trust in His love.

I bear scars I'll nurse until I die, but only that long. There is a glory of life and trust, a love of God and man, my pain taught me and by which I'll be carried through all eternity.

Surviving such pain cripples us. Finding God scarred exactly as we were scarred, exactly because He loves us, metamorphosizes us. Pain cripples, but love transforms. The work love does with pain is divine.

Cry out to God and believe. His love for you is stronger than your agony. It is.

Jesus is.