You gotta be …

You gotta be
You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day

I understand why people stop reading the news. ¬†Not only do I not trust major news outlets (and many of the ‘minor’ ones) but the news is so depressing that I find myself tuning it out in frustration.

Major shooting here, another one there — and just hang on, there’ll be another one soon. ūüė¶

Father kills mother and children. ¬†Children try to kill mother. Mother’s boyfriend beats child to death. ¬†Toddlers put their brother in the oven.

I realize that our 24/7 exposure to everything that happens as soon as it happens means we hear things that would¬†once¬†have passed us by, and that hardly any of it is “new”. ¬†We just hear about it more.

Suppose I wouldn’t mind hearing if I could do something. ¬†I pray, of course, and (despite the mockery of the New York Daily News) that’s no small thing. I understand in theory why convents and monasteries were created to pray for the world and those in it — I could spend all day praying. ¬†But I want to do more, and due to time, resources and personal obligations, I can’t.

Never has the world needed Jesus more, and never was it so likely to reject Him. ¬†I used to be able to talk to people who didn’t believe and at least get a courteous or neutral discussion going. ¬†Now, it’s a matter of anger, insults and rejection, almost without exception. ¬†Things, as Dr. Dimble said, are coming to a point. ¬†There’s no “give” any more — except in the worst way imaginable.

Lord Jesus, come quickly. ¬†It’s only going to get worse. ¬†And in the meantime, please give me courage to do what is right in YOUR eyes, not mine. ¬†I don’t have any interest in being Laodicean.

You gotta be …

 

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Sowing in the Seeds of Love …

It is not an easy thing to be an evangelical, conservative ¬†(oh, hey, let’s call it what it is — fundamentalist) Christian these days.

For one thing, I don’t think there’s a more misunderstood word, applied to matters of faith, than Fundamental(ist/m). ¬†The radical Islamic movement has had it applied to them, or has co-opted it. And for that matter, so have many who claim to be my co-religionists — but whom I wonder about, since their agenda doesn’t seem to be about loving, caring or saving souls, but to promote political agendas that don’t seem to have a lot to do with the faith we supposedly share.

What “fundamental” means to me is Jesus Unabridged. Fully Lord, fully God. Compassionate, wise, loving. Honest (how could He be otherwise?), which means that when He saw behavior He didn’t like, he called people on it. ¬†That’s loving, too. ¬†How loving is it to let people continue on in the wrong way and not try to direct them to the right way? Loving, also, to the point that He was willing to endure physical torture and the torture felt by the only One who could — separation from His Father, from whom He had never been separated, because he bore the sins that separated us, the sinners, so we didn’t have to be separated any more.

I don’t always succeed in sharing my faith as I ought. ¬†Too often, I am a coward, unable to speak out when it’s called for. ¬†And quite often, when I have given the courage to speak, I get what seems to be the (rare) unhostile reaction to faith in the 21st century, something along the lines of “Well, I’m glad you found something that works for you and good luck with that, but it’s not for me.” ¬†I hope I live my faith — I do my best to show other people Jesus that way, too — but even that doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.

Today, I read a post by Canadian blogger David Kanigan. ¬†It contained a quote given to a writer named Victoria Safford, from her book “The Small Work in the Great Work”. ¬†Ms. Safford and I don’t see eye to eye on some things, but I loved this quote and it made me want to write this post:

‚ÄúYou know I cannot save them. I am not here to save anybody or to save the world. All I can do ‚ÄĒ what I am called to do ‚ÄĒ is to plant myself at the gates of Hope. Sometimes they come in; sometimes they walk by. But I stand there every day and I call out till my lungs are sore with calling, and beckon and urge them in [] …”

This, in many ways, is true of me and of every other person who has accepted Jesus’ gift of eternal life. ¬†We cannot save anyone. ¬†That is not why God put us here ¬†— we are told that, especially by Paul, in I Corinthians 3:6-7:

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

We are here to serve and to plant and to water. It is God who saves.

So I stand — not at the gates of Hope, but on the way to Heaven. ¬†That is what *I* am called to do, as I walk along the way, knowing that those I would call out to may, like Ms. Safford’s friend’s patients, join me on the road or turn on their own way. I pray that nothing will stop me from calling out until my heart is sore with calling, as I beckon those that I love, and that God loves far more than I do, and urge them onto the narrow path. ¬†I especially pray that I will show a Christlike nature and not give anyway one any reason¬†to say that I am a hypocrite, to let how I express my faith and live my life counter the words of my heart.

Sola Dei Gratia

T is for Today, where I need to live …

Being as how my life isn’t perfect, I have a tendency to live in a fantasy world.

Not literally a fantasy world — one with dragons and kings and noble quests — just one where I live a quiet life in Montreal, writing and going to the March√© Jean-Talon and to a terrasse on a summer night.¬† It’s a quiet, ordered life I live in my imagination; one with no hassles or unpleasant surprises.

And of course, even if I did live that life, it wouldn’t (COULDN’T) be as good as I imagine it.¬† Real life has a way of turning even the best expectations upside down.

Besides, as Professor Dumbledore told Harry: “It doesn’t not do to dwell in dreams and forget to live.”

We need to be where and when we are. If you’re like me, dreaming, you’re wasting time.¬† Even if your life’s not perfect, there are things you’re here to do (I firmly believe that) and if you spend all your time “somewhere else”, you may be missing out on a fantastic opportunity to be of service to someone standing right in front of you who you don’t see because you’re looking at that other world.

So, for today, (and as many “todays” as I am granted), I will make my best effort to be where I’ve been put and live the life I’ve been given.

P: Poems, Prayer and Promises (apologies to the late John Denver :))

Poems: I used to write poetry way more than I did prose. I think it’s a teenage thing, when you’re all full of angst and you write what is usually bad poetry to vent to the world to show off your “pain” that no one understands (and of course, your budding genius). Now, I’m more comfortable with haiku and micropoetry of various styles.¬† I have a minimalist streak that is happiest writing short-form anything. Occasionally I branch out (and there are a couple of longer-form poems on my writing site, De Mon Esprit!)

Prayer: There’s a new journal in my life — I pray for people when I run into them in RL or online and they ask, but I also pray for people when God brings them to mind.¬† I love a story I once read, where C.S. Lewis talks about how he was planning a haircut, then decided he wasn’t going to bother, but kept being nagged by the feeling that he really should anyway.¬† He gave in and finally went to the barber shop.¬† The barber gasped and told him, “I’ve been praying all day that you’d come.” He needed to talk to Lewis and ask for prayer (as I recall).¬† When the Lord really brings someone to your mind, often it’s a prompt to pray for them. My intention is to keep track of things in the journal so someone I promised to pray for won’t get lost in my frequently unreliable memory.

Promises: They’re important to me — I want to keep the ones I’ve made.¬† Sometimes that’s easier than at other times.

G is for God, who I love, trust and believe in…

When I was seven years old, I died.

Oh, obviously I was brought back.¬† I had some sort of infection and was given a LOT of penicillin.¬† One Saturday, after a booster shot, my body said “No more”.

My mom and I had just got home, about 10:30 or so, and I started itching.  Itching.  ITCHING. Enormous weals formed on my arms and legs and my mom promptly called the doctor, who said, bring her in now.

Our hospital was about half-an-hour from our home and mom drove as she never had before.¬† I remember getting about half way and then I don’t remember anything until about 4:00 p.m. when I woke up in the emergency room and the doctor asked if I was ready to go home.¬† Naturally, I said yes.

The only real short-term side effect was a sore breastbone, which I didn’t understand (at least not until much later).

My one lasting memory (aside from the crazy ride towards the hospital) was of a beautiful meadow.¬† Only I didn’t really remember it as such — only that I kept looking for it, if that makes any sense.¬† I think I’ve spent my whole life looking for it — and deep inside I know I won’t see it this side of eternity.

The reason I’m telling you about this is that the other long-term thing that happened is that I have no doubts about the existence of God or that there will be an afterlife. I’m a little afraid of dying, but I’m not afraid of Death at all.¬† I know the Author of every breath I take and one day I’ll get to see Him again.

Peace to you, and a blessed Easter.  He is risen, indeed!

And we’re off! (with some musing about Agape)

Today is Palm Sunday — the commemoration of the day the Gospels tell us that Jesus triumphantly entered the city of Jerusalem
(in the face of the temple officials looking for him, and not in a good way). 

It’s usually considered a celebration. But today I thought hard about how Jesus knew the depth of that celebration; that the people who were shouting “Hosanna” would be shouting “Crucify Him!” not even a week later.

I think those of us who have been Christians for a long time tend to have heard the details of Easter, Christmas, etc., so often that we stop really listening to them. We say that God loves and He sent His Son to die for us. However, I wonder if we ever really understand what that means.¬† It’s more than even the punishment He suffered before the Sanhedrin, before Pilate and on His way up to Golgotha.¬† It’s more than the physical punishment on the Cross.

First, there was the separation between the Father and Son to be endured.¬† People sometimes speak of how someone else is “a part of them”.¬† With the Trinity this was literally true — and that unity was shattered when Christ bore our sins in expiation.¬† I don’t think any human in this life is capable of understanding that pain; our deepest griefs are but shadows of it.

Second, we are quick to say that Christ came to earth to live among humans.¬† Again, I think we parrot this line without realizing what it means. I think C. S. Lewis put it best: “The difference between Einstein and an amoeba is nothing compared is nothing compared to the ontological gulf between us (as dependent creatures) and our eternal self-existent Creator.”¬† We can’t really understand what Jesus gave up to move from Creator to created.¬† Yet he did it, because He loved us.

The next time someone glibly rattles off John 3:16 to you or around you, stop for a moment and think about those things, about what the agape love of the Father asked of the Son, and how it was willingly given — for you.¬† The cost was great, but His love for you was greater.

Getting Closer to my Home …

Well, yesterday’s trip was interesting. When I got to Burbank Airport and checked in, etc., etc., I no sooner sat down by my gate when the person behind the counter announced that the flight had been oversold and that they needed eight volunteers (shaddap, Kirby, jes’ shaddap!) to take different flights.

They offered a travel voucher, a free cab ride to LAX and (to me) a flight directly to Chicago (bypassing the connection to/from Dallas) and getting in to Cleveland a half-hour earlier. Such a deal! ūüôā

So I took it, got a courteous cabbie who really booked to the airport (I left Burbank at 11:25, give or take and had to catch my flight at LAX at 1:25). Still, it all worked out and I got into Cleveland at 11:30 pm.

All my flights to this point were either commuter jets or DC80s — the flight from LAX to ORD was on a 737. I regret to report that it really wasn’t much better except that I got a whole can of Diet Coke instead of just a cup and there was a movie. Woohoo! (Hee)

So now life goes on. I got a call this morning about a potential new situation, so that’s a good thing. As for all the other witches’ brew of emotions I’m struggling with right now — my mind and heart will heal with time. As with any process of healing it will take time and it will hurt, but I will survive. I’m a lot stronger than I feel as though I am right now, and I have to remember that. (Thanks, Lord.)

p.s. The really funny thing is feeling like an “old pro” after five plane flights. I can be so silly! ūüôā