Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ordinary Days

Think about it.

Stop and think for a second about the day your life changed.

Maybe you got a new job. Or lost an old one. The day you started college, or the day you graduated. The day your first child was born. Or the day your last child left home for the first time.

Maybe you met the person you would spend the rest of your life with. Or you signed papers that said you didn't want to spend your life with that person anymore. Maybe it was a day spent at a cemetary...

Or maybe it was the most ordinary of days.

If you pause for a minute, and you choose to retreat into your mind... you will remember a day.

An ordinary day. You hit the snooze button, not wanting to get out of bed. You took a shower, maybe. Dressed accordingly for the weather. Got in the car, turned on the ignition. Headed wherever it is your normally go.

And then there would be that day. The day that changed things forever.

A day it rained a little harder than normal. A day the roads were unusually slick.

A bright September morning, a doctor's appointment.

A cold day in March, the first day of spring.

The first day of June.

A warm Sunday at the end of September.

A Tuesday night or a Thursday morning at the end of March.

We expect holidays, an anniversary, a special occasion, or a birthday to be significant milestones in our life.

But what happens when an ordinary day turns into a day you will never forget?

When you get in the car one Saturday in May, covered in paint, and lose control on a wet country road.

When the bright September morning was suddenly filled with xrays and talk of surgery, and ashes filled the sky in New York.

A cold night in March when something died, and even though it was the first day of spring, it began to snow.

A warm night in June when a family sat down and altered the course of all their lives.

A sunny Sunday afternoon, eating lunch with a group of people that would become a family. Meeting the one who would become my favorite. My love.

A Tuesday night, opening the mail. Plans shattered, new options explored.

A Thursday morning. Angels began to dance.

Even the ordinary days are extraordinary.

Remember that as you roll out of bed on this day.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jesus and Hybrids

I was driving to work this morning, having just left the hospital where I drop off and pick up files. The sky was gray, but no rain had come yet. I didn't want to go to work, or school. It was a morning to sleep.

I was almost to work when a big old SUV pulled up alongside of me. I let off the gas a little, and the SUV kept going. North Carolina tags.Just a few seconds later I was beside the SUV again. I felt someone looking at me. So I turned to see who it was.

In a big old tan SUV with North Carolina tags sat a man who looked more like Jesus than anyone I have ever met. He had a beard halfway down his chest and his hair was matted and completely wild. He just stared at me, slowing down as we got to the stoplight. Not a creepy stare. Just steady eye contact. This wild man with a gaunt face and intense eyes just stared at me until I turned into my office parking lot.

I got into the office and laughingly told my coworkers that I had just seen Jesus driving down the road. Nettie looked at me and shrugged. "Maybe someone's trying to tell you something." I smiled. Amy looked at me and I knew some criticism was coming. I do not like to take criticism with my breakfast. It was way too early for that. But it came anyway. And not the way I'd expected.

"Well," she said. "I'd say that if Jesus were here today he wouldn't be driving at SUV." I almost choked. "He'd drive a small, economical car. Probably a hybrid." She laughed, but was completely serious.

I shook my head and said, "You're right. He probably wouldn't drive an SUV. He'd ride a bike. Or the bus."

She didn't like that answer very much. And so all day Tuesday, I thought about this. I laughed a little, wondering if this hippie man with a gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle from North Carolina knew what he got started....

And I was frustrated. How many of us think this way? That Jesus is just like us. Clean. Pale. Upper middle class. With good teeth. I remember Him telling us that we never know when we are entertaining angels. I remember Him saying that what we do for the least of these, we do for Him.

There's not a blessed thing wrong with driving a hybrid car. I like them. But I think, if we met Jesus today, He'd be riding down the road on a bike, wearing beat-up Chuck Taylors and a flannel shirt. He wouldn't have a dental plan and he might be a little leathery from all that work in the sun. But He would smile at you. He would want to take His lunch break with you, because He thinks you're special. But when you eat together, you might not want to sit downwind. My guess is He wouldn't have been able to shower for a few days.

Just an idea.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Doodles and Scribbles

Yesterday evening was wonderful.
The work day had lasted eight hours too long. The sunshine had been tempting me through the blinds (that my coworkers repeatedly close, so only stripes of light get through). Someone had turned the thermostat up to 75 degrees... I had office fever. And when 3pm rolled around, I bolted out of the building.
I rolled down my window. Turned up the music. Drove home with my arm hanging out the window and got things ready for dinner.
I spent half an hour on the phone with an old friend.
I ate a good dinner with my roommate.
And then we drove to the park.
We were outside for hours. Walking laps around the park... slowly, but deliberately. Only stopping to smoke cigars she had brought home from Seattle.
We drove away with the windows down and went to Coffee Times to get drinks. We sat down at a table together and a book on the shelf behind me caught my eye.
"The Very Giant Book of Doodles". Taro Gomi.
I opened it.
It was a very giant book of doodles.
Not your average coloring book.
There were animals. The instructions were to put clothes on them. There were people with dialog bubbles. "What are these people saying?"
I turned the page.
Most of the page was black. "What is in the grass?"
There was a page with a squiggly line.
"This is a mountain. Draw a mountain climber."
And for some reason... I almost started crying.
Turned one more page.
It was blank.
"Draw something beautiful."
I almost bought the book. A twenty dollar coloring book. Somehow, I had been touched by a coloring book! It took me a minute to figure out why.
And then my roommate said something that made me realize.
She made a very offhanded comment on how smart my children would be. How much they would love to learn, how creative they would be.
And I realized how easy a coloring book like this would be for a five year old. When asked to draw something beautiful, he would not sit back and contemplate how to draw something beautifully. Instead, he would pick up a crayon and draw a flower. And it would be beautiful, because flowers are beautiful.
We are too analytical.
Too cynical.
Somewhere in the process of growing up, a wall went up between our brains and our creativity.
We made things complicated.
The beauty of life is in the doodles and scribbles.
I think I may go back and get the book for myself... tear down that wall separating me from my imagination.
And then, one day, when I have kids...
We will sit down with crayons and draw a mountain climber.
And a flower that is beautiful.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Today has not been a good day.

The reasons are numerous, but even as I sit down to write, they feel silly. Petty. Unimportant.
But my day was still bad. And so here I am... trying to make it better. Talk it out. Tell you what I’m learning. Tell you how short I’ve fallen, how far I have to reach.

I told Larry about my struggles. We’re told to seek wise council. He’s the closest thing I have. He told me all this sounds like healthy emotional struggling.

And then he said something wise.

"The struggling is what makes us feel alive."

I cried today. I don’t cry a lot. When I do, I’m embarrassed. I try really hard to control it, to keep the tears from getting out of control. I managed to only let a few tears be shed today. But that’s not a healthy practice. We cry for a reason. There’s a purpose behind the tears we shed.

So we started talking about church. Or... "the Church". Or "going to church". Or all of the above. We talked about spreading ourselves too thin. About recognizing when we are spent. When what we have has been used up, our resources, wisdom, words are depleted.

And this is what we came up with.

We are the church. That’s not a new idea. The church is not a building. We are the church. You are the church. I am the church. They are the church. We are not many churches. We are one church. One body. One purpose.

What is our purpose?

Do you even know?

We are sick of the way the Church behaves. We have misrepresented our Jesus. We have been horrible ambassadors, leaky vessels of His love.

This is not a new idea either. We know we are sinners. We know we are not pure.

We just forget.

We forget that it is grace, and only grace, that separates us from the whore. From the murderer.
From the abuser.

We haven’t come up with a new idea yet. How is it that we all know these things... and yet fail to remember?

We get wrapped up in religion. In the "politics" of religion. Consumed with ideas of righteousness and purity... holding others to higher standards than we hold ourselves. There are a few of us who have abandoned so-called "religion". We declare that Christianity is not about the steeple or the translation of your Bible. And then... we woke up one day and had turned spirituality, had transformed our non-religion, into a religion all unto itself.

A change has to be made.

I went driving this morning. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I began to pray out loud.

And I prayed until I’d reached Wal-mart.

Prayed for you. Prayed for me. Prayed for the Church. Prayed for my broken family. Prayed the way I usually pray.

And then I asked Him to show up.

The way things are, just aren’t working. The way we think, the way we love, the way we seek Him... just wasn’t working anymore.

I told Him we expected Him to be here.

Not just hoped. Not just believed.


We are spread thin. In the process of loving others, we’ve forgotten to love ourselves. We’ve forgotten to love the ones we stand beside.

We’ve broken commitments and promises... we’ve begun something wonderful, with ambition and passion, and let it fizzle out...

Far too often, we forget our purpose. We forget why we were created in the first place.

And more often than not, we behave like whores. Like Gomer. We are sinners. He has loved us, taken us in, shown us grace. And we run away again... returning to our promiscuous behavior and lying in another’s bed. We are cheating on our Christ.

A change has to be made.

On an individual level.

No more blanket statements.

No more "church-wide" commitments.

No more holiday offerings.

On an individual level, a change is required.

You must change.

I must change.

I must know, love, and be committed.

You must know, love, and be committed.

If you do, and I do, and they do so...

That will be enough.

I encourage you, today, to remember.

Remember you were created to bring Him glory.

Whatever that looks like...

Bring Him glory today.