Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ah, waiting...

After switching off the ignition I sat in the car for a good minute wondering where the strength would come from. It had to be mustered in order to open the door, gather my things, board the elevator and ride it to the first floor, change into scrubs and clip on my name badge, signifying another night at work had begun. Poor sleep has left me more than exhausted the last few days, and truthfully, complaining and grumbling about my shift. While I still hold out that evenings and weekends off is worth the sleepless, cold, lonesome nights in the x-ray department, nights like tonight make it harder to convince myself. Lack of interaction with anyone who isn't in pain or intubated drains me even more, making me reconsider returning to school, if for no other reason to feel like I was learning something new. It is not a new dilemma: tired of the hum-drum, longing for something more, yet not completely settled on what 'more' looks like. It is a cycle of questioning that continues, the answers seemingly just out of reach as they sway back and forth, teasing and tiring me more each moment. The waiting has a hideous effect. And yet, is there anything else to do?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dirty Hands

Again, out of Luke, I was encouraged and challenged...

When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching Him and what kind of woman she is - that she is a sinner.” Luke 7:39

As I read about this Pharisee’s honest thoughts, I cannot begrudge him for it. The blinding reality is that I might react the same way. I’d like to think I wouldn’t, but my own preconceptions flare up when I don’t want them to, and I catch a glimpse of my own judgmental being.

I do not know what sorts of sins this woman had committed, but in verse 37 the author says about her that she was ‘a woman who had lived a sinful life,’ indicating that this was a well known fact about her. Maybe this Pharisee was looking down on her due to his own self-righteousness, but it doesn’t negate the fact that she had done enough to get her noticed as a sinful woman. Yet there was also something in her that recognized her own depravity and was repentant for it. No one told her to ask Jesus to forgive her, but her own realization of her unholiness compelled her to weep at His feet. To offer the best she had in remorseful apology. In this “clean-freak” society, over-ridden with religiously zealous and fanatical people, even being touched by someone who hadn’t undergone the correct religious ‘cleanings’ was abhorred. Being so focused on the law the Pharisee was obsessed with the fact that she was touching Jesus. It was not only against the cultural norm, but it was also unlawful. Thankfully, however, God was not intimated by her uncleanliness. Just the same as today He is not appalled by our dirty, messy lives. He doesn’t wear bright white clothing and run away in disgust as we approach Him with muddy, gooey hands. He embraces us and loves on us. Forgives us and welcomes us.

I imagine it as something like this scenario. A mother dressed in a her business suit, complete with a white blouse, ready to hop in the car and go to a business meeting. Her son is called in to grab his things so he can be dropped at school and to her great surprise he has spent the morning making mud pies, getting much of the “filling” on his clothing, face and hands. In excited triumph he presents to his mother his masterpiece. Two outcomes may come.

The first: a screech of horror and a reprimand at his irresponsible behavior and actions. Didn’t he know better? Didn't he understand that they would be late because of his antics, and even more than that, he would stain the carpet with his muddy footprints? She barely touches her son, keeping his dirty figure at arms length as she orders him to the bathroom to wash up. His excited countenance slowly drops, as he walks away dejected and painfully embarrassed. He had just been playing, making something that he thought was pleasant and good. He had done the best he could, but it wasn’t good enough for his mother’s expectations.

The other choice she has: a delightful laugh and embrace of this beautiful gift her beloved has presented to her. Her clean white shirt, prepared appearance and put together day would just have to wait. Her child has offered her the best he had to give, and loving and accepting that best was much more important than keeping face with those ‘higher-ups’ she was meeting with today. This moment was about loving on her boy, no matter how messy, muddy or grimy he was. She saw through that dirt covered face to a piece of her very heart and she adored this little child in front of her. Instead of anger for the mess he’d made, she lovingly inspected the art work, inquiring about the ingredients and process to create such an incredible offering of love. His eyes brighten, recognizing her acceptance, and he begins the joyful task of telling his mother all about the adventure he’d been on. He excitedly cleans up and gets ready for the day, not wondering at whether he is liked, but knowing in the deepest parts of himself that he is deeply and graciously loved.

Often I’m afraid I treat people like the first scenario, wondering why they have made such a mess of things. Didn’t they know better? Why would the continue to make such poor decisions, getting more and more grime splattered all over their lives? I judge and ridicule, demanding they march right to the bathroom and fix the mess. And they had better not stain the carpet on the way. And yet, in stark contrast, Jesus extends love and grace. He treats us as the second scenario describes, seeing the mess we’ve made, our childish attempts at making or doing something lovely, and instead of rejection because of our dirty hands, he scoops us up in a joyful embrace. He accepts us as He patiently teaches us the things we have yet to learn. He is patient and kind, and sees through our grimy, mud-spattered faces to the sons and daughters He immensely loves. It is a love that did not make sense to the Pharisees and religious zealous of old, and continues to challenge us today. And I am thankful for such a love as this...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

In My Distress...

A simple obedience resulted in a chest-pounding, respiration quickening, stomach wrenching experience as the whole world faded away and the veritable funnel of focus zeroed in. Like a twister eliminates everything in its path, so the words from up front removed all other noises, sights, and awareness. All of a sudden I was alone in the room, standing face to face with the overwhelming reality that even what I have tried to brush aside as trivial or ridiculous is important to my Father. As the explanation came forth of what was directed to be done, my nausea increased. It was for me. What was being said was overwhelmingly for me. And I had thought that it wasn't worth praying about, just a stupid series of dreams that would recede in time. Instead I was offered prayer, love and hope. Tears silently rolled down my cheeks as the heaviness was allowed space to weigh in. Even in tiredness and sleep, I have been seen. I am known. And He cares...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Undocking the Boat

I 'journaled' about this passage a few days ago, shared it with some wonderful people in my life, and today felt like adding it here.
When Simon Peter saw this [huge catch of fish] he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Luke 5:8
Unfortunately I may never know the impact of this catch in its cultural context. However, I can imagine that for a merchant man like Simon Peter, after a long night of work, he was dubious about this escapade’s success. This was his livelihood, and by obeying what Jesus said he was potentially putting it at risk. Other gospel’s indicate that he had been with Jesus before (John 1:35-42), and yet did he completely trust the Rabbi? He decided that he must do what was requested of him, even to the point of putting the nets he had just finished cleaning back in the water.I can almost smell the thick salty air and hear the splash and thud as the nets hit the water, a sweating, alert Simon Peter letting them down in his expertise and almost instinctual habit. What would come of this simple obedience? What would be bought back up with the nets? I have to imagine that Simon Peter was wondering things like this. And then I can almost see a little nod from Jesus as Simon, shrugging his shoulders, begins the arduous task of pulling the nets in. But wait! There’s some resistance... And then the expression of sheer joyful astonishment as he realizes what a bounty he had captured! I can completely identify with what he does next: beg Jesus to leave! I would probably be thinking something along the lines of, “If He really knew who I was, and how undeserving I am of this grace, He wouldn’t bother.” And yet Jesus’ response come in complete calm, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” (vs 10). And I believe Simon Peter knew the truth and assuredness of his Master’s words. I believe if he had any doubt it was now replaced with exuberant joy and expectation, realizing it wasn’t his strength that would get the results Jesus’ statement had just promised, but rather it was by adherence and obedience to the gentle commands of such a magnificent Teacher. And what of us? What of me? Do we follow the gentle urges, relying on and thus giving full glory to the One who orchestrates it all anyway? Or do we see the clean nets, the stored gear, the docked boat, the things we have done to get results we think we want, and silently ignore the call out to the water? It might be inconvenient, require some sweat and pull us back out when all we really want is a little rest (I’m sure Simon Peter was tired!) but it also WILL be worth it. It will come back to us tenfold, not only in veritable “fish in the boat” but also in the growth our Spirit undergoes when we completely obey His call. I’m not trying to promote a ‘work hard and you’ll be rewarded' mentality, but obedience to God has a direct positive correlation to our growth, maturity and ultimately our joy. So much, it cannot be overlooked. I want to learn from Simon Peter’s obedience. To agree to undocking my boat, to trying again what I’ve possibly failed at before, and to do it all in complete obedience and submission to Christ.

Friday, January 7, 2011

An Interesting Theory

A couple weeks before Christmas we made a surprise trip to Portland. In that time we visited Powell's. Its a phenomenal bookstore, filled up to the gills with delicious reads and rare jewels of the book kind. I believe I found one such gem.
We were in the Sports section, scouring the shelf for a biography for Babe Ruth. Randomly I thought it would be interesting to read of the early life of such an American icon. I never did buy a Babe Ruth book. Instead I stumbled upon a book with an interesting title, How Soccer Explains The World. Pretty bold statement, I'd say. I was instantly intrigued. Quickly scanning the back cover only heightened my curiosity. Ok, fine. I'll get it.
SO GLAD I DID! I'm not completely infatuated with current issues or obsessed with globalization subjects, but the way that Foer compared a game I love (soccer) with these very real situations in various countries around the world was compelling. Not to mention, any book that requires me to use a dictionary to understand a significant amount of sentences is very satisfying to me, in a twisted sort of way. So the long and short of it, I loved this book, recommend it, and hope to one day be able to write with such a mosaic lexicon as Foer does.