Saturday, June 16, 2007

He Did Good

Thanks Dad. I miss you.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Life Between The Dashes (or "How I Learned to eat dirt for Jesus")

Today a really dumb thing happened. And I had nothing to do with it. I was not even in the county. I saw it on the news and mentioned it to my wife. Turns out she was driving through the Illinois interstate highway system making her way to downtown St. Louis when she ... literally ... ran across the dumbness. She said it was difficult not to see.

It seems that in the early morning rush hour a semi-truck was driving down I-55. He was south bound which means he was heading toward the mighty, muddy Mississippi. His route would take him to Missouri and the beautiful ... if strange ... St. Louis Arch. You know the one. "The Gateway To The West." So this trucker was hauling some kind of industrial grade paint. Evidently one of the barrels turned over inside his trailer and sprung a leak. The paint flowed out of its holder, out of its trailer, and colored one entire lane of the expressway bright orange. For miles. It looked sort of like this. Well, actually it looked exactly like this...

To me it is just kind of funny. To the people driving behind him it was a lawsuit waiting to be filed. Can you imagine cruising to work on a muggy summer morning with the sun at your back, maybe some morning talk show on the radio when SUDDENLY your lane turns orange ... and so does your car? Can you further imagine what that would be like if you were taking advantage of the weather by dropping the top on your spiffy convertible sports car?

Oh my.

You know, I actually wish that life were a little more like that. When you are driving down the interstate you have a pretty good idea where you lane is. The state highway department goes to all of the trouble to paint these big white lines like huge "dashes" along your route. They even use reflective paint so that you can see them better at night. You don't want to straddle those white lines. Chances are you'll get squished from both sides. No, you want to stay between the dashes. That is where the driving is the best. On the highway life is best lived BETWEEN the dashes.

Oh that it were as simple and as clear in the rest of life. True, there are "dashes" to lead you through the moral issues of life. You might call it the law. You might call it the bible. You might call it the "Ten Commandments." You would be right on all counts. But there are precious few reflective dashes to help guide us through the daily decisions that you and I must make in order to best fulfill our purpose in life. Yes, I do believe that we are created with a purpose. None of that random chance stuff for me. It takes more faith not to believe in God than it takes to believe in Him. (Yes, that is my opinion. But it is also my blog. So get over it.) I want to get from the point of my creation (aka: birth) to the point of my graduation (aka: death) by the proper path. That would be the one God desires that I travel.

And, alas, the dashes are sometimes few and far between.

I have been praying lately and God has been listening. He has not been answering (yet) in any fashion that I have been able to discern. And can I be honest here for just a second? It is beginning to irritate me. He told me to ask and that He would answer. It's all in the bible and pretty easy to find. But get this. Psalm 16: 11 says, "You make known to me the path of life (the dashes!); in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forever more." Pretty cool, huh? I think so too. But back up the paint truck for a minute. Before you go getting too exuberant on me look at Psalm 10: 1. "Why, O Lord, do You stand afar of? Why do You hide yourself in times of trouble?"

I hate it when He does that. Some would read those two verses that are written so closely together and say, "Ah ha! A contradiction in the bible!" Those people don't understand much about God's ways. A person who has gotten to know God would say, "Ah Ha! Sovereignty at its best!" The author (or author's) of these two chapters was experiencing God on God's own terms. He will paint dashes on your road sometimes and the cruising comes easy. A mile further down the road things turn to gravel and seem to stay that way forever. And it is all because God is going to do what He is going to do and you don't get a vote. Sometimes walking with God brings joy unimaginable. Sometimes walking with God brings frustration beyond comprehension.

Right now? I'm praying for a spiritual truck to spring a leak and paint God's path for me an unmistakably bright orange. It doesn't happen very often. And right now would be a really good time for it. Gravel gets old after a bit. Dust filters up through your floorboard and into your nostrils and onto your tongue. The windshield gets dirty from the inside and you start to wonder if you strayed off the trail. A bright orange path would be quite a welcome sight these days.

But if it's going to be gravel ... it's going to be gravel. Keep walking with God and you will learn to eat dirt with the best of them. I never played much football. The extent of my pigskin career was frequent Sunday afternoon games with church friends back in the Chicago burbs. I was never big enough to block. (I weighed 125 lbs. when I married Debbie. don't worry ... I got over it.) I never had a good enough arm to quarterback. So I would occasionally get the ball handed off to me or thrown in my direction down field. And on those sunny fall days I learned a valuable lesson. When you are holding the ball and focused on the goal line NEVER LET YOUR FEET STOP MOVING. We were stupid enough to play tackle football without pads or helmets. I don't advise it. I never did like getting hit. So, no matter what happens .. KEEP YOUR FEET MOVING. Stop for just a second and you are a goner. And that is when it really, really hurts.

When you are following Jesus never stop. If you don't know for sure where you are then just keep walking in the direction He pointed you in the last time you heard from Him. If the gravel turns to orange pavement, lucky you. But if it stays gravel ... well, if it stays gravel just eat the dirt and keep your feet moving.

And never forget ... you may not know where He is ... but He most certainly knows where you are.

A Taylor Update

This evening I received an e-mail from Taylor's mom, Tanya. As you may remember, Taylor is a nine year old little girl battling Leukemia. She lives in the suburbs of Chicago. The good news is that Taylor has been in remission. (See. I told you God listens to our prayers.) I'll leave you with the e-mail from tonight and then trust you to "hit your knees" yet one more time on her behalf.

"Hello Ron,
Hope all is well.. I updated Taylor's caringbridge site as to whats going on, please get the prayers going, we will be heading back to Chicago tomorrow for the doctor's to decide if they want to start chemo...REMISSION!!!!!We have to pray she's still in remission!!!!!I will try my best to keep her caringbridge site updated..Thanks again for all of the prayers...Have a blessed night!"