Friday, July 18, 2008

Too tense to tango

I wasn't doing anything when I noticed it. Nobody was messing with me. I wasn't speaking or teaching or in a heated debate. I was just ... sitting. Just being. And I was tense. I mean REALLY tense. Like I was expecting a punch to the gut. You know what I mean. You've found yourself like that before. Stressed with no real reason.

I tried a little self-analysis. What is it that's making me so tight? What happened that left me tense and ready for "fight or flight." And what does it all mean? Why and what. It occupied my mind for a few minutes with no real results.

And then it hit me. Okay, that is a bad choice of words. Nothing "hit" me. Then it OCCURRED to me.

I am either too stressed or I am not stressed enough. Too tense or not tense enough. But my current level is totally inappropriate.

Here's the deal. I am a Christ follower. I believe everything Jesus said is true. I trust Him. I believe that He is alive today and living in me through the presence of His Holy Spirit

Now, if I am right, then I am way too uptight. If Jesus is who He said He is then I've got nothing to worry about. Nothing to stress over. He knew well in advance about every situation, every sin, every defect of my life. He figured it all into the equation before I was ever even born. And He went to the cross and died in order to take care of my every situation, every sin, and every defect. None are excluded. If I blow apart and commit some horrible sin later today or in five years, Jesus already knew and had already paid for it because I am His. If my life situation blows apart and I find myself alone and destitute, Jesus already took that into consideration and He has provided all I need to get through it. And so if I am right about Jesus then I am WAY over stressed.

And if I am wrong? If Jesus didn't do all of those things? If He was just kidding? If His sacrifice and grace are not sufficient? Then I am WAY under stressed. Because I am in deep trouble and nothing is going to fix that. I have an expiration date and it is quickly approaching. There is nothing I can do about it. So I really ought to be more tense and stressed than I am.

But my current stress level? Entirely inappropriate. I can think of no circumstances under which living life moderately stressed is appropriate. Jesus was who He said He was and did what He said He did ... or not. I am either over stressed or under stressed. But the middle of the road isn't a viable option.

Well. That's what I learned today. So I thought I would share it with you. Now all I have to do is figure out how to put it into practice. I have to learn how to dance when I should be dancing. That ... is where I always blow apart.

Pray for me and I'll pray for you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Maybe anorexia isn't always a bad thing ...

A long, long time ago in a garden far, far away, a woman picked a piece of fruit from a tree and she ate it. It was a very bad decision. I do not know if she ate the entire piece of fruit or simply took a bite. No difference. For all I know she may have cleaned off the entire tree. Again, no difference. The damage was done. She had eaten fruit from the only tree on planet earth that she had been forbidden to eat from. The only one. The single tree. That one.

And I am really hacked off at her about it.

Her culinary indulgence launched the human race into a downward spiral that continues this very moment. The woman's name was Eve and she had disobeyed God. There you have it. The first sin. God said, "Don't eat it" and so, naturally, she ate it.

Ladies and gentlemen, the score at the end of that fateful day ...

Sin - 1
Obedience - 0

I've spent too much time wondering why Eve wasn't a binge eater. Why wasn't she one of those people that makes an entire chocolate cake and eats it in a single sitting? God never said anything about eating a chocolate cake. Why wasn't she inclined toward greasy cheeseburgers like I am? They may give me a coronary but they won't condemn the human race. Why wasn't she anorexic? Lots of that going around these days. What if Eve had this idea that "thinner is always better" and forced herself to stay away from foods altogether?

No. No. Eve had to eat fruit. Eve had to eat THAT fruit. And it was so unnecessary. Such a horrible decision. You know the rest of the story. With the entrance of disobedience came the reality of sin. I wasn't even born yet and I was already condemned. Fair? No. Reality? Yes. But lest I get to cocky, every time I sin I reinforce Eve's original decision. When it comes to sin I'm not anorexic either. These bad decisions are why people come to my office with screwed up lives looking for solutions. They are why people wind up in the hospital with rebellious bodies that have turned on them. That's why cemeteries are full.

I imagine that Eve was a "hottie." She was the perfect woman, set in God's perfect garden, living with God's perfect man. Naked. Without shame. And yet she had to mess up the human race with FOOD. Think about that one for a minute. Never turn your back on a "hottie." They have a way of burning you.

Fortunately, God had/has compassion on us and sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for our sin. That's the good news. The bad news is that things in this world are still screwy till this very day. We still live in and with the effects of sin. And it won't go away until we do. And we won't go away until we physically die or Jesus comes back. That's just the way it is.

I wish Eve had been anorexic. I wish she had taken a pass on that fruit. It would make today a lot easier. The air would be clearer. The water would be sweeter. Nuclear weapons would not exist. Neither would bullets. The planet would not know a hospital or a cemetery. Medicine? No such thing. Work-out? Why bother. Your body would be perfect. Like Eve's. Like Adam's. And you would be naked. And not ashamed.

But noooooo .....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A simple reason to worship

It's all about the sun.

It's big. Really big. It's bright. It's round. It makes my mood improve dramatically. I am admittedly solar-powered.

I am also developing this habit of going out onto the balcony of my apartment on clear evenings and watching the sunset. I do not really understand why but it is mesmerizing. It isn't like a drama is unfolding. I know it is going to happen. (Tonight I watched it go down and then returned to the living room where Debbie was watching "House" on her laptop. She asked where I had been and I told her "watching the sunset." She asked, "Did it go down?" I assured her that it had not. "No, it bounced off of the horizon and went back up. Strangest thing I ever saw." Yes, I did get "the look.")

All winter long it was impossible to see the sun from my northward facing balcony door. That was the only window I had. So from my move-in date of November 4th through ... oh ... about mid-March I could not see the sun from my apartment. Not once. Not at all. Now it sets at about my "ten o'clock" if I am looking straight out toward the lake. So it's made major progress. And you know what bothers me? I know that sometime between now and November 4th the sun is going to hide from my balcony again. It may only be mid-July but in the back of my mind I know that winter is coming. It's out there. It's waiting. (insert heavy "sigh" here.)

It occurs to me that when I am watching the sunset, I am not really watching it set at all. It is (according to astronomers) standing still. I, on the other hand, am flying backward at (living at mid-latitudes) somewhere between 700 and 900 miles per hour.

Can you believe that?

At the equator the rotational speed of the earth is approximately 1,038 miles per hour. So if the earth were to suddenly stop spinning, the atmosphere would continue moving, and everything would be wiped out by incredible winds.

All of this is going on and I have absolutely no sense of movement at all.

I say all of that to say this. Don't you dare tell me there is no God.

Game. Set. Match. Case closed.

Monday, July 14, 2008

She Takes My Breath Away

Sometimes life just is not fair. It's been a tough week for one of the best people on the planet. Unfortunately, the old idea that if you are good life will be good to you and only bad people have bad times ... well, it just isn't true.

My wife is one of the reasons why I breath. What I mean is that she's the one that makes even rainy days seem a little bit sunny. I use to think she was perfect but then I found out she isn't. Since then (and that happened a looooong time ago) our marriage (aka: friendship) has been even better. You see, if she were perfect then she probably wouldn't want to hang out with me.

That makes sense.

Asthma has been pretty good to Debbie this year. It seems that the climate we have relocated to has been much friendlier to her lungs. Less heat. Less humidity. Less of whatever it is that triggers her desperate gasps for air. This is a very good thing. A thing we are both grateful for. I hear that it's been a nasty spring and summer in St. Louis. Tons of rain followed by tons of heat and air crud. I'm glad she's not in that. I'm glad she's done so well. But the last few days haven't been quite as good. No, nothing like some of her past years. We haven't darkened the halls of any hospitals. (Thank you, God!) But she has gotten reacquainted with her nebulizer. She's lost her voice a few times. And her toes keep turning blue. Yeah, blue.

You know, I can't imagine what that must feel like. I mean to have to fight for every breath. To have to look down at your feet for a clue concerning how much oxygen is in your system. That stinks and I hate it for her. But I'm so glad that she keeps winning the battles. Living on the lake is something that she loves. Last night was a rather cool night and she asked if we could open the sliding balcony door in our bedroom so that she could hear the waves crash into the shore all night long. I hesitated. That meant turning off the air conditioner that we count on to help filter her air. I slid the door open and it felt cool and clean. The breeze, while not strong, was coming from the lake. So I complied and listened to her breath while she listened to the waves. She did just fine. At two in the morning I closed the door and turned the air conditioning back on. No reason to take chances while she is sleeping.

I know that most of the people that read my blog also have active prayer lives. So I'd be really grateful if you'd pray for her. God has done wonderful things in our lives and we are tremendously grateful. Every day is a gift. And it would be really nice if she would be able to breath her way through them all with me.

Thanks. It means a lot.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stupid Picture Chronicles #23

I left a yellow piece of paper under his windshield wiper. Just for fun...