Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Just Want Jesus to Come Back

Jesus, I just want You to come back. Come back to us.

I feel the blow of an unkind word and know that it was spoken in sin and out of the speaker's history of bearing the brunt of other sorts of blows. I shouldn't be spoken to in such a way, yet Jesus shouldn't have been spoken to the ways he was, and he took it silently and meekly. I give up the right to be treated with dignity and consideration, because the One I follow didn't demand such treatment.

Come back. Why have you been gone so long? Come back to us.

Sin has dug its claws into those I know, and torn them. They walk with limps, broken in soul places that should be full of joy. It's all in the spiritual realm, though, and none of it visible on the surface. When it does appear, others just shake their heads and say, "Oh, he has insecurity issues," or, "She needs to grow up a little." But I say it doesn't have to be this way. Saints don't have to be walking wounded; and sin's remnants don't have to control our present or our future. Neither do the injustices we suffered. But this takes You, Jesus. You. You are the only One who is able to both identify and to heal what is veiled to human eyes.

I wish You would come back. Jesus, please come back.

Children in Bangladesh are purposely hurt in order to elicit more sympathy (thus more money) while they beg. Infants are drugged and passed from beggar to beggar.

It won't be right until You come back, Jesus.

Believing women in China often cannot marry, because there are far more female than male Christians. They share the Gospel; they lay down their lives to spread it; they pray for husbands.

We are lonely until You come back. Jesus, won't You come soon?

Relativism hanging on the coat-tails of individualism and tolerance enters the church and feeds on its weakest, newest babes. Sin is tolerated; the great freedom of repentance is not preached; her heel is wounded, wounded.

Jesus, I just want You to come back. Nothing can be finished until You do.

***


Merchant Band sings a song that almost always makes me cry by the ending bridge, which runs something like this:

Lord have mercy, cause it's my only means
to find You here with me, to find You here with me

Life is not right until You split the skies
The Spirit and the Bride cry, "come"
We long for the day when You make all things new
We want to be with You

I can't find this song online, but here's a good substitute: I Can't Wait

Monday, November 24, 2008

Foolish Reason

Reason only goes so far. A childhood friend who is on the opposite side of the political & spiritual spectrum from me recently commented that although he'd be totally open to debate with me, he realized he has no need to. He's right. The affection I've had for him and his family ever since I was little will never change, nor will his for us. He's super intelligent, so the conversation would definitely be a good one, but a pointless one. It doesn't matter what he believes or does or if I never see him again for 40 years...at the end of those 40 years, if he needed anything (including a kidney) I'd give it.

As I sat still thinking over his comment, I began to wonder about reason in general. If reasoning with one another (and you know I love a good, strong debate) was really the way to arrive anywhere, all the intelligent people in the world would be the happiest. Assuming people could get over themselves and be objective in debate, countries would eventually be run perfectly and consensus would quickly be reached on all the major problems of the world...how to end the HIV epidemic in Africa, whether big government or small government is best for the economy, what the perfect stuffing recipe is for the Thanksgiving turkey. Sadly, all the less intelligent people (I'm talking pure genetics here) would be the, well, sad ones, as they wouldn't have been able to use their reason to run their lives and their finances in the best possible way. But look around. Most of the happiest people aren't from those super-intelligent classes. In fact, the majority of happy people come from amongst those who have less and do less.

Life would be supremely unfair if reason was what made it work. As expected, a bit of scripture popped into my head:

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
(1Co 1:26-29)

What is weak, and foolish, and low? Love. (I know, I'm treading on the toes that view love as the highest of all high things. While it is that, it is also the most delicate and despise-able of all high things. Strong and weak at once.) Love displayed itself most fully in the cross, an object of scorn for many extremely intelligent people.

Do you ever have conversations in your head in which you completely confound and rout the wicked or the unbeliever by the elegance, intelligence, and undeniable logic of your argument for God? I do this almost instinctively when I think about issues up for debate, like abortion or creation or the very existence of God. For a long time I've clung to the reality that "the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:20) and have let it instruct my reaction in conversations that would naturally raise my ire. But I have not considered things one level deeper...down to the question of whether I should even be debating or conversing. (The scripture before James 1:20 actually instructs us to be "slow to speak".)

Back in that 1 Corinthians verse Paul says he was sent to preach the gospel "not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." He says "the world did not know God through wisdom," and even more revealing, says that God set it up that way because of His own wisdom! I'm glad He's so smart. Imagine if it was wisdom that reveals God to us...imagine if it was wisdom that makes us happy...imagine if it was intelligence that solves our problems. The world would be a pitiful place...let's coin a new term...an intelligentsiocracy. (Sam informs me that meritocracy would be the better label, as intelligentsia's connotations are rather negative. But I like the fact that it has negative connotations...that's partly my point!)

Perhaps I will consciously lean more on love and less on reason to convince people of the truth. I am not giving up on reasonable and enjoyable debate. I am just letting my hope rest in something real rather than in my own ability to out-debate someone. Where is it? It is in the foolish, foolish, foolish, foolish love of Christ. What hope!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Getting Ready for Sam


You know how sometimes it seems you're going to have to wait forever? And you go along quietly, quietly, not seeing the thing you hope for. Then without fanfare, it is around the corner - in fact, it appears - and you were almost unprepared for the suddenness of its arrival. Things often happen this way in my life. Though I usually feel surprised by the actualization of the hope, my heart has been unconsciously and mysteriously softened, so that it is easy to reach out and embrace a reality that would have been strange and foreign to me had I not had to wait for it.

I'll have to think more about this. We've come to the surprise end of a 5 1/2 month stint of separation from Sam. He's coming home in less than 48 hours, and what pleasure it's been giving us to get ready for him. Arden got a trim on her bangs...

A swath of fabric has been painted with our joy (and acrylic paints which sort of stained the driveway underneath :)

Dora painted the heart.


The rain held off for us...

And we ended with everyone but Genevieve's hand prints.


Ahh, a red-handed Arden. How appropriate is that?! We have tons yet to do, but that will keep us nicely busy all day tomorrow, and then ... comes Sunday!

Little Petersons

I took Arden to Lanikai beach a few days ago. We just needed to get out of the house, and I hadn't been swimming since before Genevieve's birth. Besides deciding to behave like a laughing angel, that little Binjy decided for the first time in her life to ham for the camera!!


The pictured sunglasses here are not my fault (wail!) ... I saw the Binjy go into my room. Two seconds later I discovered the destruction she had wreaked. Half of Aunt Mamy's favorite sunglasses in one spot, the other half in another. These "buggles" are Dora's extra pair, which I borrowed.


Genevieve wears lots of socks. Mostly on her hands. Here she is, practicing for her grown-up destiny: boxing.


Sweet sisters. They were both holding still enough to get a photo shoot in, which is unusual!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Praying for Our Appliances

The Lord is good to those who seek Him ... and that includes those who seek Him for very practical reasons. Sam comes home in a week!! It's shocking and exciting, and seems still so far away to Dora, and so soon to me. In the meantime, the appliances have started breaking. A few days ago an, um, shall we say "object", accidentally went down the garbage disposal. A horrific noise ensued, followed by the low, grinding hum of a motor burned out. Dora pulled out the object (ok, it was a pint-sized baby spoon of Arden's) and tried the switch several times. Nothing but that low, burned-out motor sound! We looked at each other with raised eyebrows. While I began wondering if the landlord would replace it or he would, as with the ants, say that it was our responsibility, from Dora's lips came this whisper: "Jesus, please fix our garbage disposal."

Yea! That's right! Sam's the one who would normally take something like this in hand. And in the absence of Sam, why wouldn't Jesus step in? We might as well ask.

Yesterday I absentmindedly used it. It wasn't until after I was done with the dishes that it dawned on me: it had worked!

That's not all, folks! Last night an odd blinking appeared on the dishwasher (which was full, ready to start, and oh-so-smelly). None of the other buttons worked, the cancel button didn't work, and no matter what we tried, the thing would not turn on. Oh boy. Dora pulled out the user manual, which described every possible problem but the one presenting. After many tries we gave up. This morning I wandered upstairs in my glasses, made tea, munched on some cereal, and chatted with Dora. Partially through my bowl I realized that the dishwasher was open, no longer smelly, and half-way unloaded. Oh, said Dora, last night I asked Jesus to fix it, and when I got up to nurse Genevieve in the middle of the night, all the lights were normal. So I turned it on.

Jesus fixes appliances! I love this partly because they're way more black-and-white than human bodies. He designed our bodies to heal and repair themselves. When He intervenes and heals them Himself, it sometimes seems like He just speeded things up. But when He fixes a scrap of metal and wires, that otherwise would have sat rusting until it hit the junkyard, it seems so, so, unnatural.

In other news of the unnatural... a dear friend sent Dora and I a sample bag of sugar-free Jelly Flops, which are Jelly Belly mistakes from the factory store (like two beans squished together or something). I ate a few and really disliked the sugar-substitute taste, sugar being one of my favorite things when done right. Dora, who doesn't mind it so much, finished off the bag. Now, these are jelly beans, remember. This morning I was greeted with this news: "Those jelly bellies made me so gassy!" Come to think of it, yesterday I felt a bit of the same. Hmmm. She googled it, of course, and discovered this was a common theme in comments about sugar-free Jelly Bellies. Then the back of the bag was retrieved and read. There in the fine print, was something along these lines: "Warning, may cause stomach upset. Every person reacts differently. We suggest you start with 8 or less beans."

These are JELLY beans, JELLY! Super unnatural.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Baggers

I've returned to the world of online! Two days without internet service was a hiccup that quickly exposed how closely connected I am to what the internet supplies -- instant access to information and to people. Wow. If my grandmother could live in my shoes...

On an unrelated subject:

The reason we pay grocery baggers is for their skill in bagging, right? They know to put the bread on top, the cold things together, the heavy stuff nicely distributed throughout the bags. Not at the commissary, it seems, as evidenced today when I unloaded the groceries and groaned aloud on the way up the stairs. It’s a good thing I’d worked out earlier in the day, or my arms would have decided they were definitely too weak. But I’m in the mind-overcoming-body mode, so the bags made it up the stairs. However, that scripture about doing everything without complaining – didn’t quite make it up the stairs with me.