Monday, August 29, 2005

You ever wonder if anyone is watching? Like ... right NOW. It's nearly midnight and my house is dark. Two of my three kids have moved away. The third is locked into his room for the night. Debbie is asleep. Bailey is hidden under her blanket in her little "Bailey Cage." So it appears to be just me and Tess. Oh, Tess is my laptop. Her name is short for "testosterone." You do not want to know why.

But here is what I mean. There is a really cool verse in the bible known as Hebrews 12: 1. It says "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

I want to know what that means.

You know what I like to do? Ok, this is weird. I admit it. But it's true. I like to go to the car wash. The automatic one next to the hand held ones. It's not the kind that pulls you through but the kind you put a few bucks into and then drive into the bay. Then this machine walks around you and washes your car. I like to do it in my Mustang. And I put in the extra dollars to make it do that "triple shine quadruple buff up real sharp" kind of wax. When that stuff spews out on my car it reminds me of what it would be like to be in an exploding bubble gumball factory. It's all sorts of colors and hit hits your car in the most beautiful essence of foam. And here is where it gets really good. It totally covers the windows. So when I do it, when I pay the price, I find myself surrounded in beautiful colors and TOTALLY invisable to the world. I timed it today. It lasts less than 40 seconds before the high powered rinser thing comes around and re-exposes me to the world.

But, oh what a wonderful 40 seconds!

What is it in me that makes me like to be invisable? Incognito? There and yet ... unseen? Really, I am not sure. Maybe it was growing up in the suburbs of a mega-city like Chicago. Maybe it's being a minister that gets a lot of phone calls and visits. I just like being alone sometimes. Completely alone. Invisable to the world.

And then Hebrews 12: 1 comes along. I wish I knew what it means. I mean REALLY means. I have all sorts of theories. Yet I am not positive about any of them. I did not play a lot of sports when I was young. I loved sports but I was not particularly good at them. Baseball was my thing. I am sure I was quite mediocre. But I do remember that every now and then ... not often ... but occasionally ... I would do something that just took my own breath away. Like once, I hit a baseball that went so far it cleared our ball diamond, crossed the street, snuck between two houses and landed on the fly in a back yard. I don't know how far it was but it was far enough that I didn't run around the bases. I watched it go, land, bounce, and vanish from my view. The center fielder stood still and watched as well. So did both teams. The pitcher stood especially still. He was my 40-something next door neighbor. He was an iron worker who was home early from "walking the high steel" on the construction of Sears Tower in Chicago's loop. His name was Jack. Jack told me later that it was a curve ball that actually curved. He was impressed but since I did not realize that it had curved ... well, I probably tried to put the bat where I thought the ball was going ... and I missed my aim. Fortunately the ball did too and I totally lucked out and hit the longest home run in our playground history.

And then there was the time I was playing centerfield for our church softball team. Again, I was not that good. I played because I love the game and they needed 10 guys. We were playing one evening and this guy on the opposing team hit a huge fly ball to deep left-center field. I went after it. It was a total given that the ball would drop and probably roll for a home run. For some reason I just honed in on it as though I actually knew what I was doing. To this day I remember running and watching the flight of the ball. It was like some computer kicked on in my head and just guided me laser-like to the place where the ball should drop. I never looked at the ground. I didn't look around to make sure I wasn't about to collide with the left fielder. I just ran. Then I stuck my glove out. I felt the ball smack into the webbing. And it held. As I looked toward the infield I remember seeing the base runner stop just past second base. He just looked at me like he didn't believe that I had actually caught the ball. Somewhere in the back of my head I heard my team mates going crazy. Hey, it was the best catch I ever made. I am now fifty years old and I still remember it. What a feeling ...

Hebrews 12: 1 talks about this "great could of witnesses" that's out there somewhere cheering us on. Who are they? Are they angels? Are they christians that have already departed planet earth and are now watching to see how the game plays out? I am not sure. I sometimes wonder about them though. Do they ever go nuts over a "play" that I make? Or do they look at me and say, "Man, he must be tired. He can barely run to first base." When I really "nail one" for the Kingdom do they go bonkers from their perch in the stands? I wonder.

Whoever these witnesses are they have seen my good and my not so good. They have seen my ugly and my uglier. I wonder what they think these days as I try to walk out some of the hardest things God has ever asked me to do. I know they are cheering "for" me. But am I doing anything to make them cheer "because" of me?

Man, I hope so. You see, it matters to me. It really does. I want to hit one "out of the park" for my King. I want the stands to "go crazy folks, go crazy!" But I worry. I am really tired at this particular moment if my history. Mentally. Physically. Certainly emotionally. I hope they are not praying for a rain-out so that we can start over again from scratch.

What if my parents are in the stands? Or the guy that baptized me? Or my favorite college professor who taught me so much that he actually came to remind me of C.S. Lewes? Is he in the stands? Is Moses watching? Paul? (Oh man, no, not Paul!)

What about Jesus? He must be there. He'd most certainly come to my game. Wouldn't he? He'd cheer. He is my coach. He is my manager. He is my owner. He would come to my game.

So excuse me for a second. I need to speak to my great cloud ...

"Hey, guys! Thanks for coming! I am so glad you showed up. I need the cheering section. Do me a favor, will ya? Let her really RIP and ROAR for a while. Maybe even loud enough where I can kind of hear you. That would be so cool. I am a little bit deaf these days. So, if it isn't asking too much ... could you please cheer really loud? Thanks."

Ok, that's all. I was just wondering about it. Somebody is up there listening. I have to strap on my spikes again in the morning and run a good race. See you at the track...