Where the Wild Things Are

Although the road was circuitous and much misbehaving happened from start to finish Abraham’s descendants eventually did flourish like the stars.  Eventually.  But at any pin prick point in time, Abraham and Sarah were a mess.

 

Yesterday I suggested that all glory and no guts is not the story the bible tells.  Even though there’s tons of glory (which we all love).  Before we get too hopped up on miraculous signs and wonders, heed the words of Jesus:  “Unless you see miraculous signs and wonders, you won’t believe.”  John 4:48, CEB.

 

We can argue over whether this was Jesus taking a shot at someone, or Jesus gently correcting, or Jesus just telling the truth.  But there is no argument over the gist of the quote.  Jesus isn’t a fan of a big show of religiosity or loving God in the hopes he will show you a shooting star.  He aligns himself with his Father: do justice, embrace faithful love…walk humbly with your God. BECAUSE GOD IS GOD…not for trinkets and magic show tricks.

 

I consider this as I stand at the edge of the fight and consider my options with the lightning fast processing of a big a** computer – or maybe an iphone.  I am NOT going to get in the middle of all that shouting nonsense.  I am not responsible for changing someone else.  I am able to think creatively.  Just because I can think of 100 things I want to do but probably shouldn’t doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to be done. And then, like a shooting star, it comes to me. I spin around and rush back to my car, throwing open the back hatch, and thank my lucky shooting stars that I am messy and I hoard books I love.  I rifle through the Target bags and dig under the area rug that I must return this week.  I toss aside my bible and my big book.  I ignore my grandson’s pretty blue sweater that I have been looking for going on ages – will it still fit him?  And there, shining like two little beacons of light I find them.  Two freshly minted mostly undamaged books of “Braving the Wilderness” by Brene Brown, her latest publication which I have already read cover-to-cover FOUR times.  She has some language in there about politics and people and conflict and bravery that are just so good.  I grab them, slam the trunk, and return to the scene of what I think is a crime.  And I say, as calmly as a person can who knows she might be called crazy in two minutes, “Excuse me.  I have a gift for each of you.”  Gifts are always something that create a pause. I stand between them and have just enough room to extend my arms and hand each of them the book.  I say, “I hope this helps your suffering.”  And then I walk back to my car and drive off. 

 

I totally forget to vote. 

I don’t know if this was good or bad or right or wrong or just crazy.  I do know it was so upsetting that I had to go home and sit for 15 minutes to calm down before going BACK to vote.  I just hope it helps.  I hope it is more reflective of doing justice, loving faithfully, and humbly walking than my frozen state of non-doing last year.  Of course, if you see these two guys yukking it up on Facebook about how that crazy old lady with the really cool boots did that totally insane book giveaway which effectively caused them to stop their public disagreement and what a nut job she was, please don’t judge her.  She was trying to be brave.

Glory and Guts

With what should I approach the Lord
        and bow down before God on high?
Should I come before him with entirely burned offerings,
        with year-old calves?

7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
        with many torrents of oil?
Should I give my oldest child for my crime;
        the fruit of my body for the sin of my spirit?

8 He has told you, human one, what is good and
        what the Lord requires from you:
            to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.

~ Micah 6:5-8 CEB

 

 

That night at Laity Lodge a group of us huddled in the parking lot hoping for a miraculous sign. Like a shooting star.  We got not one, but several.  Oh happy day!  We appropriately celebrated, counting our lucky stars and even remembering to thank God for his glorious works.  So yes, there is glory to be had.

 

But then Pete and I returned to our ultra-modern, super comfy, fancy digs and I complained about a particular person who got on my ever-loving last nerve. Woe is me.

 

The glow of glory fades so fast.  Maybe it’s just me, but if I am sustained only because by signs and wonders, I’m not going to persevere in my faith. I’m going to burnout much like those shooting stars.  For onlookers, a shooting star is tantamount to a miraculous sighting, especially for folks who live in suburbia and rarely see more than a small sample of what the skies hold each night.  From the star’s perspective, it represents its last hurrah – rapidly moving through the sky as it enters the earth’s atmosphere, burning up as it displays its glorious plumage of wreckage while we mere mortals clap and cheer.

 

Thanks be to God that he demonstrates himself not only in the glory but in the guts of simply taking the next right step.  I step out of my car, head toward the voting booths and freeze as I witness the shouting match.  I watch the five little guys display various responses to their fathers’ bad behaving.  Mostly they look scared but a couple are nervously giggling.  In a split second I wonder if they are embarrassed or if this will turn into a tall tale about how my dad can beat up your dad. And I think that for times such as this, we all need adult supervision.

Shooting Stars and Other God Things

In October I saw a shooting star.  It was awesome.  We were in Texas on a retreat at this place we go called Laity Lodge that is freakishly perfect and beautiful.  And dark, really dark, at night.  The view of the stars is amazing and every time we visit I make Pete stare at the heavens for a long time at least one night while we are there. 

 

And I wonder about what in the heck Abraham must have been thinking when God said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you think you can count them.” He continued, “This is how many children you will have.”  (Genesis 15:5 CEB) And then Sarah was barren.  How do any of us make sense of that?

 

Russ Ramsey says in his book Behold the Lamb of God that every story God tells is filled with glory – and of course, how can I argue with this?  It’s true!!!  But it is also chock full of strange things and mundane acts that continue to highlight the reality that we both bear the very image of God while simultaneously demonstrating our willingness to litter and call each other naughty names.

 

This is key information.  The volunteer ballot bearer, the well-heeled woman in her finery, the two dudes practically coming to blows over the best selection for Commissioner of Revenues for our county and even cowardly me who did not step in and defend a decent woman…we are all both fully human – in both the best and worst sense of that word.

 

This absolutely MUST impact my choices.  I must find grace for the mistakes made – even my own… I must find a way to love who God loves and support what God supports. I need to ask the kind of questions that guide me toward the light.


What does the Lord require? ]

With what should I approach the Lord and bow down before God on high? Should I come before him with entirely burned offerings, with year-old calves?

~ Micah 6:6, CEB

 

It isn’t about what we want to do or need to do or should do or shouldn’t.  There is no one-size fits all response. But there are responses to be made. This God who invites us to look up and admire his handiwork is the same God who encourages us to be transformed through his mercy.  I want that life. 

 

….to be continued