Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Lack of Knowledge, or the Hating of God?

A few days ago I met a man who took the beauty bait and entered into a long discussion on God (whose existence he does not acknowledge) with me.  For several hours as we talked I silently asked the Spirit for direction - logic and arguments and reason would not bring light to him, so completely was he decided in his mind and so highly did he hold his own understanding.  Yet as much as I asked, Jesus did not give me the one prophetic word, or right tack, to use to convince him that God existed or even that it was worth investing time into the question.

I found it an exercise in frustration - and at the same time joy.  I love getting to proclaim aloud the truth about Jesus, especially to people who think I'm ridiculous and openly insult me because of it.  Yet, the longer we talked the sadder I became - I don't often meet people who seem to me to truly fall into that category of the wicked who are "bound and determined" to be eternally lost.  

As I prayed for him, I found myself asking an unusual favor of God (the queen can do that).  Though this man had rejected the multiple messengers the Lord had already sent him, would the Lord for my sake sovereignly reveal Himself anyway?  Simply because I asked?  (For Lucy's sake, in the Last Battle, Aslan speaks to the self-blinded dwarves.  But I wanted even more than that - I wanted his full salvation.)  

Several currents were constant in me as we talked.  First, I was intensely frustrated by my inadequacy as an apologist.  All the statistics and details and knowledge of other religions and memory of how to counter certain arguments -- these were gone from my mind.  Second, I was excessively disappointed by the silence I heard in answer to my prayer for prophetic power and understanding.  I desperately wanted to know what the real root was to this man's blindness.  If only I could get at that directly and address it.  Why wouldn't the Spirit just tell me?    

In the days since I have thought much and prayed often over him.  Remembering our conversation, it became clear to me that although the man claimed not to believe God even existed, he had exhibited an extremely deep and personal hatred and anger toward God.  He did know God was real - he simply hated Him.  And instead of understanding that God went to the extreme measure of dying to save him from a condemnation he was already subject to, he blamed God for carrying out any judgment at all against sin and wickedness.

To my shock, today, Allan Hood preached a sermon on this exact subject - almost detailing word for word the content of my conversation with this man.  Eerie.  No, not eerie.  Divine.  And yes, I was right -- there are two basic realities that man did not understand, and Allan delineated.

1.)  Man hates God.
2.)  God loves man.

Apologetics and prophetic insight were not what would reach this man, because the root of his blindness was not a lack of knowledge or a lack of physical revelation (he had already spent much of his life studying the beauties of nature, which themselves reveal the existence of God if one has a heart to perceive).

The truth is the dead spirit of man hates God.  It is utterly devoid of the life of the Spirit of God.  To pansy around the reality of death - that something is dead - means to leave it to that death.  If we, as believers, are not clear on the stark difference between life and death, between God's kingdom and Satan's kingdom, we will not be able to lead the dead ones back into life.

This is a subject the Lord has been harping on in my life for the last year. In the novel I'm working on I wrote quite a while ago this line - "A woman cannot marry a corpse" as the heroine takes a final stab at explaining to an unbelieving man why she cannot enter a relationship with him.  Mike's recent sermons on Romans, on walking in the Spirit, have been highlighting and solidifying this distinction - the great gulf between the Spirit and the flesh, life and death.  It's something we must be entirely clear on in order to truly preach the real Gospel.

I'm thankful for the object lesson this conversation was, and the way the Lord followed it up with a clear confirmation of what He's been teaching me.  I am more determined than ever to walk this way - according to the Spirit, able to explain the difference between life and death.

And at the same time my heart longs for this man - he is more than an object lesson, he is a creation of the Almighty, and I will be satisfied with nothing less than his eternal salvation.  Apologetics and prophetic insight are not what will pierce the blackness of death.  Only the mighty Spirit of the living God can do that, and intercession is the one great tool I have to effect the lifting of blindness off his heart -- Lord, make me an intercessor!




Saturday, May 22, 2010

An Egg is an Egg

A fictional scenario...

I made eggs for the woman living with me. She thanked me breezily, savoring their taste. I like putting a tiny bit of milk, salt, and cheese into a few beaten eggs. It brings out the taste. The next day, she returned the favor, making not simply eggs, but what might be called an omelet, for it had vegetables cut up into it. Pleased with the result, she made eggs again the next day, improvising a little more with extra spices and one less yolk. Over the next few months the vegetable component of the eggs she cooked increased. Once she discovered tomatoes, and how nice they tasted slightly warmed, that became the predominant ingredient. But tomatoes make eggs watery. Her solution, I noticed was to begin using a bit of flour in the mixture with the egg. (Yes, we were down to one egg, and mostly vegetables, which she would set before me every morning with the happy comment: “Here are your eggs.”)

The vegetables had to be sautéed before going into the mixture, and she began experimenting with a little meat. Meat in the morning, she said, could be a very helpful protein boost. She tried ham, bacon, ground beef, and chicken, settling on the chicken as the nicest, lightest option.

“Here are your eggs,” came the cheery greeting each morning. Actually, it was mostly chicken and tomatoes, with piles of sautéed zucchini, mushrooms, scallions, and red bell peppers heaped over the top. Oh, and an egg, mixed with quite a bit of flour in a cream sauce, to pour over at the end as a sort of gentle concrete. Except, without the yolk part. There was enough protein in the chicken, she decided, and getting rid of the yolk might cut down on some cholesterol.

But of course, cream doesn’t go very well with vegetables like those, at least not in my taste-bud world, nor in hers. So before another week was gone, so was the sauce. And, um, the egg white that had been in it.

“Here are your eggs.” She happily laid the plate before me, a wonderful conglomeration that reminded me of a chicken cacciatore.

I suddenly laughed. “Actually, this isn’t eggs. It’s yummy, but it’s technically not eggs.”

“Yes, it is.” Her voice carried a tinge of huffiness. After some back-and-forth she expounded on her thoughts. “The term ‘eggs’ is a name, really, for nutrients in the morning. It means breakfast, basically. This is eggs,” and she pointed again to the cacciatore.

“In the context of food, ‘egg’ is an unfertilized reproductive body of a chicken or fowl, consisting of an ovum – a yolk – and its envelope. Chicken cacciatore is not an egg.”

“You’re being offensive,” she said quietly and politely, restraining anger. “There is chicken in here – and those eggs you’re talking about come from chicken. Which makes this more truly an egg than your supposed egg itself!”

I looked at her in wonder, very surprised. This had been happening over the months, I suddenly realized, and it had never occurred to me to correct her morning “Here are your eggs” statement, for it had never occurred to me that a human brain would be capable of calling one thing, another thing.

I must confess, I think I stuttered. It wasn’t over the stupidity of the statement. Many stupid things are said every day. It was over the fact that she actually believed what she was saying.

I tried once more, kindly slipping to the refrigerator, pulling an egg from the carton, and bringing it back to the table. I laid it next to the cacciatore. “This is an egg,” I said. “An egg is an actual, real thing. Your wonderful dish is simply not it.” The red mass of veggies and meat laid in a great, steaming pile next to the cool, oblong, white shell I had set down.

Anger in her movements, she whipped the plate away from me and I had no breakfast that morning, whether egg or cacciatore. I was a bit preoccupied – concerned, would be the word – as I made my way to work. How was her mind when it came to other things? Was this some strange sort of senility? She was only 36.

A horn honked behind me. Oh – I hadn’t seen the light turn green, lost in thought as I was. As I looked up and pressed the gas, a grocery semi-truck turn left in front of me, having decided not to wait any longer. I slammed on the brakes. The car stopped in time for me to watch, in slow motion, the huge advertisement plastered on the side of the semi. A Beaver-Cleaver family, in retro dress, gathered around the kitchen table. With healthy smiles on their faces, and succulent heaps of red cacciatore on their plates, the caption read: “Every good day starts the right way. Eggs!”

* * *

Sounds like an episode of the Twilight Zone, right? Well – perhaps not as exciting. I watched an interview last night between Jennifer Knapp and Larry King, then went to bed thinking about the ridiculous hijacking of the Christian church. There really are people out there (a lot of them, actually) who are not followers of Christ Jesus yet insist on calling themselves Christians. There are multiple reasons, on Satan’s part, for using this particular strategy – I won’t go into them here.

What struck me last night, as it often does, is how unmovable truth is. Whatever is said, whatever is claimed, doesn’t change reality. One could keep one’s dead cat in the house for days and days after it had been run over, and continually say that it is alive. Tell your friends and family it is alive. Talk to it like it is alive. But that cat is dead, dead, dead. Sorry to say it, but no amount of make-believe on your part is going to change the dead deadness of that cat.

If God grants that His power would flow through me, I’ll be perfectly happy to come to your house and raise that cat from the dead. But until I do – that cat is DEAD. Truth doesn’t change depending on what’s in our imagination at the moment, or on our tongue.

I am looking for the day when the church as a whole will adhere to scripture. I’ve sometimes wished that we could call another of the great old councils, and let the Body of Christ at large publicly disavow as ‘Christians’ every institution, organization, and denomination that does not adhere to the basic tenants of Scripture. But as I think of it, I realize that this era of double-talk may naturally draw to an end when persecution of Christians arises. On the other hand, it’s possible the liberal pretenders to the name will succeed in utterly hijacking the word (Christian), and real believers will be prosecuted and killed as the ones pretending to the name. I can’t predict at this point. Which means right now there is nothing I can or should do except speak the truth – even if that requires boldness and a willingness to be hated for it. So here, friends is the truth (not from me, but direct from the Holy Spirit through the apostles):

1Jo 3:4-10 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. (5) You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. (6) No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. (7) Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. (8) Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (9) No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. (10) By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

I love Mike Bickle’s distinction between sincere believers who repent when they fall (which we often do) and on whose record of sin God presses “delete”, and fake believers who use “grace” as an excuse to cling in love to their sin and continue in it. (The word “fake” is mine, not his.) These are two very different hearts, and will be treated two very different ways in the final judgments, just as they are treated two very different ways in scripture. Read the above passage with that understanding. Let condemnation be out of the question for the former (believers), and let conviction be deep for the latter – those who are, according to this passage, “of the devil”. I’m sorry to call them such, but it is the truth, and if no one says it out loud, we will all be guilty of having watched them race toward a long and painful existence of separation from all they were made for, and of having done nothing.

Just the Facts

All I could think were the words: "Do not be deceived. God is not mocked."

I was cutting dead wood out of the rose bush out front, and in the process discovering why most women wear gardening gloves for such activities. But these dead pieces have been bothering me for a year, all interspersed with the living, green branches. I'd finished pulling out the creeping vines that keep trying to take over the front garden, and happened to stick my hand in among the roses, and once a dead twig snapped off I was all in - no stopping for gloves.

But that was not the genesis of the scripture running through my mind. I accidentally cut off two good roses in the process of pruning. One feels quite bad about accidents like that, and has to apologize to the rose that is and the little buds that will never be. It reminded me of why the Lord said he was delaying his judgment until the end (Matt 13:24-30) - so that none of those that truly belong to him (wheat and/or roses) gets accidentally pulled out of the ground along with the wicked (weeds and/or dead wood). Well, there was a huge difference between the dead and living branches, and the determination in me to get out all the dead stuff was unstoppable, even by multiple, painful thorn-attacks. I just couldn't wait until Fall, when no roses would be endangered by my prunes.

"Don't be deceived," I heard over and over in my head, mostly thinking about the gang of teenagers that has started to make our street their hang-out, "God is not mocked." What is dead will eventually burn. That's all it's useful for. Pride certainly makes our brains turn off, for people end up thinking (without ever getting around to verbalizing it) that God IS mocked, that He WON'T follow through, that choices for evil will have no evil consequences.

I think this gang is dangerous - there is a brazen sort of pride in the eyes they use to defiantly meet mine every time I drive past them and into my garage. And I'm sorry to say my imagination has a pretty good idea of what sort of havoc they might be able to wreak around here. But in the end, the stories will all be the same, and my general feeling is not fear but pity. The dead, stay dead. And if possible, get deader. And with those branches out of the way, the living will flourish. (You should see the bush now - very pretty!) Am I going to tell them this?

This all might sound rather harsh, but if we do not understand it, we become as lulled to sleep as the dead ones are. Two more craigslist people have slipped through my fingers without hearing the gospel today - it's about to drive me mad. I am desperate for God to quicken me with compassion over the lost's plight, and with the skill, energy, and words to engage them with the truth. This evening's bush-pruning was a bit of an answer, I think. The chaff will really be burned, the dead branches will really be broken off. The lost will really die. We all need to realize this - myself most of all.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Capacity

Waiting can either increase or decrease our capacity. It depends on what we do while we wait. Running amok, turning into intense self-focus, going blank and hopeless, or harboring a smoldering, quiet anger – all ultimately sabotage our own wait, shrinking our soul’s ability to fully experience and receive the thing waited for when it finally presents itself to be enjoyed. Why? Why and how, after a long time of dreaming and desiring, could it be possible that we actually are less able to perceive the joys of what we desired? It has to do with the way the human heart is designed. In our all desires, there is found one root. Each hope is like a beam coming off one overwhelming, irresistible orb. What we so want, if we were to look as deeply as truth goes, comes back each time and in each form or manifestation to one thing – one center – one great desire.

It is God.

We want to be perfectly loved, with no selfishness or self-righteousness involved. We want to perfectly love – someone who is worthy of utter adoration and worthy of our effortful attempts at it. We want to be fully ourselves, and no one in the world can tell us who we really are, and cheer us and help us all along the way to become that, except God.

A song I adore says it like this:

To be passionately loved
And to passionately love
To be naked, unashamed
And happy in one place
To have all of your attentions
Surrendered to the truth
And be bathed head to toe
In the blood saved for you
To be eager to release
And the first one to repent
And to never even notice
When hours are spent
To come boldly to the throne
While all of life ensues
And be helplessly in love
With the blood shed for you
To be held like a baby
And to hold on like a baby

And so it happens, that while we desire all the normal and good things God created for us, we can do it in such a way that either embraces or shuns Him. In our minds we think they can be two unrelated heart events, the subtle shunning of God and the constructive desiring of good. The Christo-platonic philosophy of our culture separates God and physics, God and the physical. But I propose that in shunning God, we turn to “off” the very source of the capacity we were given to desire and perceive good. The second flows from the first. With the first dead, is it any wonder that we see people receive their secondary desires (those things they believe erroneously to be their primary desires) and with those things gained and grasped in their hands, they themselves are sucked down into destruction and disappointment and bitterness?

Life can read like a French novel.

And if one can’t read French, a good translation of basically every modern movie out there will suffice. At the end of most, were we to be honest, once the hero and heroine have kissed or the world has been saved or all the orcs’ heads cut off, we find ourselves emotionally poised on the lip of a deep, and blackest of black, chasm. The finale is hollow, the package is empty, the heart is still yearning for something eternally good and eternally truth. And something for us, not for the fake people in the story.

On the other hand, if one spends the time of desiring (of waiting) on a quest to broaden the heart’s openness to the core One desired, to discover the voice of eternal Joy Himself, I believe one will find at the end of the wait that in increasing our heart’s familiarity with and capacity for ultimate good, we are more fully able to recognize, receive, and experience the temporal goods.

This is the exact opposite of the wisdom you find inside every newspaper, on the cover of every magazine, and in the minds of every American neighbor, so watch out. Telling such truths might get you labeled a fanatic, and using reason and intelligence to reveal God might be called mindless religion.

But that doesn’t matter. In the end, you’re happier, you’re whole, and you’ve an eternity to spend delighting in Delight Himself and in all His beautiful beams.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Pangur Ban

I often have little conversations in my head – remember, I’m a novelist. This morning as I was brushing my teeth it went like this:

“I had such a great cat.”

“What made it great?”

Pause.

“I loved it.”

Oh. She had her little quirks, and she wasn’t snuggly with anyone but me. And thinking about it, I guess she wasn’t all that more unique than any other cat. (Except, she never did get the being-born-in-the-wild out of her, and she did occasionally take week-long vacations from the house, and…well, I wouldn’t want to bore anyone.) But, when that phrase came, “I loved it,” I suddenly felt a tiny bit of the agape that the Lord God has for us, as ones He created.

Within the relationship of belonging (as the creation belongs to the creator) there is something that makes the belongee exceedingly precious and beloved. I wonder if this is part of how love develops in arranged marriages. It is definitely part of parental love toward helpless, red, and wrinkly little babies when they are born. They are yours, and that makes them more important than any other creature in the world.

I was thinking about Pangur (she was lost into the wilds of Chicago about 5 ½ years ago) because of the cat she was named after: Pangur Ban. Years ago I read this poem, written by an 8th century Irish monk and scribe. Being a writer myself, it fit perfectly:

I & Pangur Ban my cat
'Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

'Tis a merry thing to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit & find
Entertainment to our mind.

'Gainst the wall he sets his eye,
Full & fierce & sharp & sly;
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

So in peace our task we ply
Pangur Ban my cat & I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine & he has his.


Last night I discovered that an animated movie has been made about this monk, which is supposedly very good and which is not playing in my vicinity (The Secret of Kells). Which is too bad, as tomorrow is my birthday and I should have very much liked to see it…a movie with Pangur Ban and his monk. (On the movie’s website you can hear a little song about Pangur Ban.)

I’ve always thought I might name her Pangur Ban when I am able to have a cat again. In the meantime, I will just consider this: that it was my love for the first Pangur that made her so special. And that whether or not I am ever satisfied with the words I scribe, it is the love of the Lord God for me that makes me a delight.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Surviving Firsts


I have survived several “firsts”.  Yesterday I was happily minding my own business, reading on the loveseat in the upstairs office and sipping coffee, when it started sprinkling.  Suddenly, the closest thing to a tornado I’ve ever seen came whooshing down, bending the trees sideways and making the air itself gray and difficult to see through because of the amount and speed of the water pounding through it.  The noise of tree branches flying through the air began whacking the west side of the house, and I jumped to my feet, realizing the glass might shatter.  A “micro-burst” imploded car windows at the Dunn Bros. Coffee shop, smashed Ian R.’s house with a tree, flung the 8-foot fence between our yard and the neighbors to the ground, and yes, knocked over the porta-potty at the Red Bridge Road construction site. 

Forward-thinker that I am, instead of heading for the basement, I quickly changed from my pj’s into presentable outside-clothes.  (Please don’t do the math, anyone who happens to live around here.  Sometimes I write late, and rise late :)  My reasoning was solid – sirens sound when a tornado is coming, and so until I heard them, I had time to dress.  And one wouldn’t want to be found by rescue workers in one’s basement just in one’s jammies!  Or have to run to help a neighbor in one’s robe!

Later, when Elizabeth called to make sure I was okay, and said that she and the kids had been huddled in the bathtub, and that their yard and greenhouse were decimated, and that YOU OFTEN CAN’T HEAR THE TORNADO SIRENS IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD, I realized I had made, shall we say, a “poor choice”.  Why, when I moved here, did no one tell me the wind would be louder than the sirens?!? 

Anyway, “before they call, I will answer.”  God said that, and always means what He says, so I was fine.  Even when I happily tugged down the huge branch that was hanging from the electrical wires heading to the house.

I spent the whole day without power.  Our house has tons of candles – which come in very handy in such situations – and a fireplace that works even when the electricity doesn’t.  I couldn’t open the fridge though, or use the stove, or, with my car locked in the garage, do my needed grocery run, so I subsisted on chips until walking to Elizabeth’s for some take-out Chinese.  Their pine tree has a rip in the earth forming a semi-circle around its root base.  Another minute or so of that high wind, and it would have toppled. Our little few-block-area was the last to be re-lit. The power finally came on after I’d survived the evening, fortified myself against being alone all night in a dark house (with some me-and-a-guitar worship), and snuggled down into bed.  Something disturbed me, and I opened my eyes to find all the lights in the house has suddenly turned back on.  All.

I did get to spend the day writing a chapter of my next novel in longhand.  It reminded me of Perpetua days.  I wrote much of that book without a computer.  And then I got to spend the evening realizing why people went blind in the olden days.  Writing to the constant flicker of firelight is hard on the eyes.

The second “first”?  In need of a kosher sweet wine for a Passover recipe I’m making tomorrow, I headed to World Market, thinking they might have something from Israel.  Nope.  Nor anything kosher.  Sigh.  Did they know where I might find that?  Yes, indeed.  And the very friendly wine-section-employee seemed to take great delight in describing to me in detailed, hushed terms – as if it was a secret between us – where exactly to find:   

Lucas Liquor Superstore!  

Argh!  The closest I’ve ever come to setting foot in a liquor store was the Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s Marine Mart.  The Exchange and the Commissary didn’t carry alcohol, but at the Marine Mart it unapologetically comprised half the stock.  I once needed a burgundy cooking wine and had to wander its aisles in confusion for a very long time before finding some stuffed into a corner.  Cooking wines are not a Marine staple, I gathered. 

Anyway, sunglasses securely fastened, I texted a confession to my sisters (having to peek at the sign to remember how to spell ‘liquor’ – I kid you not) and marched myself into a liquor superstore.  I’m sure I was blushing.  In Chicago, those places are the seedy, gross doors you hurry past while trying not to see the people lingering inside.  The windows are filthy inside and out, their neon signs blinking steadily come snow, rain, or heat.  Drunks with paper sacks wander in their vicinity, and every customer disappearing through those doors brings a sigh of pity to your lips.

I sometimes get a little independent, and don’t ask for help.  But this experience was like being ushered through a war-zone in a bubble.  I wasn’t even through the sliding doors before I realized a man in a red shirt was walking toward me.  “How are you?” he said.  “Can you help me find something?” I answered, not missing a beat.  “A kosher, sweet, red wine.”  And we were off…  It’s a good thing I asked, too.  I have never seen a grocery-store sized warehouse stocked with only alcohol.  Wow.  At the far end of the last shelf he bent over and showed me a few bottles, muttering that he wasn’t very familiar with Passover wines.  I lost all shopping skill, grabbed the two he’d pointed to though I only needed one, and said I would take both.  Anything to get out as fast as I got in. 

I instinctively held them out to him, hoping, I think, that like a clerk at a nice department store he would take them from my hands and carry them to the register for me.  I didn’t want to walk back through those aisles holding bottles!  But he just smiled, oblivious to my discomfort and happy to have helped the customer. 

Seeing as I’d survived two firsts, I went for a third and finally returned the glass milk jars to Hyvee that have been clinking around in my trunk for months.  Turns out, all you do is give them to a cashier. 

On my way home, I discovered that apparently no one has had the guts to turn the Red Bridge porta-potty right-side-up again. 



Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Very Real Problem


“Do not fear.”

How many times does the Lord say this?  In both the Old and New Testaments, He takes pains to reiterate the point to the thousandth power.  Do not be anxious.  Do not fear.

It strikes me that He wouldn’t say such a thing if it weren’t true.  While we intellectually assent, in our hearts we actually operate as if He’s giving us a platitude.

God:  “Don’t be afraid, as it will just generally make life feel worse.”

Me:  “But there is a flesh-eating monster coming at me.”

God:  “Feeling anxious about it will just make your last moments alive stressful.  Try to relax.”

I have to say, re-reading what I just wrote is making me laugh really, really hard.  What a big, fat lie we have believed about God!  Perhaps I should stop talking in the plural and just take responsibility for my own ridiculousness.  What a lie I have believed about God.

Reality is more along the lines of a Mission Impossible movie, where the hero never dies or is defeated, no matter how many bullets he takes, and the girl is always saved. 

If the Rescuer says not to fear, as the girl being rescued, the response that most accurately takes into account His undefeatable strength and His determination to save alive the one He loves, is for me to say, “Ok, I won’t be afraid.” Response number two would be to start training my eyes on Him while the flesh-eating monster charges, watching to see what adventurous plan and strength-requiring feat He will come up with to keep that monster from getting past Him to me.  Because the fact is, He will come up with a plan – one that probably seems outlandish, too risky, potentially fatal, and requiring absolutely too much trust on my part. 

Ahh, there’s the rub.  Too much trust on my part.  I recently read a book where the girl had to climb on the hero’s back and hold on while he lowered himself from a cathedral’s tower using only a thin rope.  (I began to think she must have been a very small girl, and he a very strong man to manage such a thing.  But that is the privilege of authors of fiction…being able to write, well – fiction!)  Anyway, maybe a man couldn’t really do that.  But if we were to think of God’s feats in our lives (be they physical or spiritual) in a physical picture, that would be a pretty accurate one. 

God: “Hold on to me, while I do something impossible and hair-raising.”

Me: “You mean that flesh-eating monster isn’t going to get me?  There’s only You and three feet between him and me.”

God: “Of course not.  I told you not to be afraid of him, didn’t I?”

Someone once described fear to me as a tiny little demon in the dirt raising a big cloud of dust.  I needed to stop believing what it said about how big it was. 

But let me say this.  Even if it’s a huge demon, or circumstance, or enemy…raising a very real problem…God is sure to win.  We know it because He told us not to be afraid.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Is That What I'm Thinking?

Someone is writing a biography about someone (I won't say who) and it has started me thinking...

I don't know how it is possible.  Without being God, no one - even if they were to pour over my journals and novels and blogs and facebook posts, even were they to interview all my closest friends and sisters and relatives and roommates - no one would be able to actually perceive, much less understand, the inner workings of my heart or of my ongoing conversation with God.

I know this because I am barely capable of understanding myself, myself.  And when God is completely gracious and gives a little word of enlightenment, my reaction is usually, "Oh!  Is that what I'm thinking?  Oh!  Yes, I think it is!"  (This is all very Biblical:  Jer. 17:9; I Kings 8:39.)  Added to that - the number of times I'm near a journal and have the time and umph to write said revelation down, is very few.

Then, when one IS journaling, the hand simply cannot keep up with the spirit and the mind, and ends up recording every tenth thought or so, so that there is no paper record of the split-second interactions with Jesus that brought one to Thought #10, then Thought #20.  A biographer would be left to speculate in the worst of ways, devoid of most the pertinent information.

For all these reasons, I think it prudent to request - please do not write a biography of me when I'm dead.  Thank you.  Unless you're only interested in "on such-and-such a date she went to school; on such-and-such a date she went to China" and that sort of thing.  Very boring, I warn you.

When I meet Perpetua in heaven (or on the Millennial earth, whichever one I end up in first) I am very glad that on the back of my little book about her is not the word "biography", but "historical fiction".  I did my best by her, based on as much understanding as the Lord and nature would give me through her own writings, her political/geographical/economic context, and my own observances of how God works in hearts.  But as far as writing a true biography, tracing the true movements of an individual human heart - I think only the Lord Himself is qualified to write that about any of us.  This is why we may be often surprised when we meet our famous men during the eternal years and realize how very different they are than we thought.  We might even discover that autobiographies are among the worst of the bunch for giving real insight into the person canvassed.  For what man can know his own heart?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Rules of Civility

I am going to start compiling a Rules of Civility.  (Thanks, President Washington!)

Always thank the hostess.  This is mostly for the men, who I am sure have never realized the sheer amount of labor that goes into the nice meal or dessert or event they just enjoyed.  Sometimes it involves a whole day of cleaning, a few hours of getting to the grocery store and back, another hour of cooking, an additional hour or so of decorating, a half-hour of getting herself gussied up, and a few hours last week of thinking up the plan and sending out invitations to...you!

Always carry a very heavy Swiss Army Knife.  And actually, this is mostly for the women, who never know when they may need to have a tiny pair of tweezers on hand for emergency eyebrow-plucking.  And it works for fixing cars and turning screws and cutting boxes open and all sorts of other things.  Mine even has a thin pen, and a corkscrew so small I'm not sure I'd ever be able to get the cork out anyway.

Never despise a gray hair.  It probably means the one sporting it has survived life experiences you haven't yet.

Always thank the Lord if you enjoy something.  We forget that He did it all, and that every good gift came from Him.  When a beautiful sight spreads out before you, say "thank you"!  When an artist comes up with a great melody and you  just have to sing along, say "thank you"!  I am NOT being religious.  When your husband brings you flowers every Shabbat, you say "thank you", don't you? 

Which, in turn, leads me to...

Always bring your wife flowers on Shabbat.  No explanation needed.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Pasta Pick Up

Have you ever played pick-up-sticks with angel hair pasta?  I just did.  Praise God for that scientific advancement: boiling things. 

I have not been having great luck today with food.  Although I did successfully doctor up a cup of decaf at the local coffee shop, I had flashes of imagining myself, the floor, and the condiment bar covered with milky brown liquid.  Something in me knew, just knew, that today might not be the greatest non-klutz day.

A quick tortilla-with-cheese to tide me over until I could cook the meatballs ended in a very burnt quesadilla - which I only realized by the odd sound that started to fill the kitchen. 

And then...then the almost-full but not-quite-as-unopened-as-I-thought box of angel hair ended up in a great crisscrossy pile on the kitchen floor.  All I could do was laugh.  And laugh.  In fact, it was the most pleasing sight of the whole day.  I am suddenly understanding one of the reasons babies make messes - and we thought it was underdeveloped dexterity! 

I did throw out the very last handful I gathered - a nod to propriety.  And now I am super-full from just a small bowl of meatballs w/pasta.  Which, by the way, has been the state of my stomach (super-full from smallish meals) ever since I prayed against a demon of sugar on Sunday.  No, I'm serious.  (Repenting for gluttony of sugar accompanied the prayer, of course.  Just thought you should know, in case you're planning to try it for yourself.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

One Way or Another?

Snowing. Freezing. Driving?

No, I thought, I’ll just go to the Sun Fresh. It’s small and expensive, but the closest grocery store to my house. But there is only one road that goes from here to there, and when I got to the intersection, a white police van was blocking the way, lights flashing.


Wasteland to the right (well, a windy road that I have never followed to the end since it seems to lead past oddly populated ponds, electricity compounds, and graffiti’d underpasses). To the left – Walmart. A very far-away Walmart, when the snow is blowing and the roads treacherous.


To the left I went. Odd, how the Lord takes a day and flips it around on you, as if you’re not really the one in control. And odder still when you find that your heart just easily follows him, without the usual frustration over changed plans.


Besides the fact that I forgot to buy the chicken (a central ingredient when cooking Chicken-and-Wild-Rice for dinner guests), it turned out to be a very successful shopping venture. I recognized my check-out clerk as the same one who’d had a cold several months ago and who I’d said I’d pray for. (Not that she had asked, you know. But what can a clerk say if you offer to pray for them? The customer is always right.)


I asked if she was the one; she sort of laughed, obviously remembering it, and said yeah, and that she had felt a bit better. I’m a little slow on the draw sometimes (comes from having once been shy), and it wasn’t until I was already at the doors out that the Lord reminded me He had detoured me miles out of my way in order to re-meet her. So I abandoned my cart to a door attendant who said she’d look after it (she didn’t) and ran back to the counter, interrupting the next customer to reiterate to this young girl (in case she hadn’t already realized): the Lord LOVES you!


It was as I entered the doors of Starbucks down the road, not willing to brave the cold ride home without a latte, that I remembered the chicken. Too many cute men had smiled at me in Walmart – can I blame my memory lapse on that? So, armed with instructions from the barista on how to bake broccoli (with olive oil in a 375 oven for 15 min.), and yet another smile from a cute baristo (is that the male form of barista?), I headed off to Hyvee…where a very handsome butcher seemed quite keen on assisting me. The thing is – a butcher?! Remember Fiddler On the Roof?


Back to the moral.


1.) Don’t let men distract you from chicken.

2.) Watch for God – what seems like inconvenience to you might actually be an invitation to do some heavenly damage (good damage, I mean, to colds and sad hearts).