Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eagles and Wings

I've been thinking about eagles lately - and our faith.  If you've ever had the opportunity to view an eagle on the edge of a precipice or a cliff, it's a stunning sight.  The eagle sits perched, very high above the earth, sovereign and sturdy.  Then, seemingly without word, the eagle tips forward and drops.  A full grown eagle can weigh up to 60 pounds.  60 pounds of bird drops about 50 feet to the earth.  Then, an incredible thing happens.  The eagle begins to spread it's wings.  The spreading of the wings begins slowly at first - emerging from the side of the bird like two automatic doors on slow mode - extending out.  The bird continues to drop.  The wings keep getting extended.  One foot, two feet three feet, four feet - the wings spread.  The bird keeps dropping.  And then, at five feet the eagle's descent begins to slow.  He hasn't stopped his fall quite yet.  The wings, extended at five feet are only a baffle against the wind and the air. And then, as if another button is pushed inside of the eagle, the tips of the feathers begin to get extended - like five long fingers on each side.  It is only when the wings are fully extended, and the feather tips are extended that the bird finally begins to take flight and soar.  It's a majestic thing to behold.  Swooping upward, the bird reaches it's wings even further by extending it's shoulders to the distant horizons.  The eagles soars!

Now, here's the thing.  God has made us humans like eagles - in one important respect.  We too must extend our wings as far as possible if we are to take flight.  Like the eagle, our descent, our fall (our FALL) continues to happen in our lives, every day of our lives, unless we use every inch of the wings that God has given us to fly with.  

What are our wings?  Our wings consist of faith, hope, love, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, trust, trust, trust, positive feelings, ambitious concepts, inspiring dreams, trust, trust, trust...

Most people go through life with their wings at half extension.  Or, they extend their wings fully, only to quickly pull them back into their body - ashamed, or afraid to take full flight.  Or, at full extension, we constantly wonder if our wings are "out there too far" "maybe there are holes in the wings somewhere" "perhaps our wings will break off".  And so, we fly with an inner trepidation that makes flying much less possible and certainly less enjoyable.

It is only through Christ (through our faith - trust) in God that we can actually have the strength to fully extend our wings - our lives.  The book of Isaiah says, "those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles..." (Is. 41:31).

Ask God to help you extend the wings of your life further than they have ever been extended.  I have recently come to the conclusion that as an eagle/human, I have only been flying at half extension most of my life.  Full flight comes through trust.  Trust me, Trust God, the fall you are experiencing will come to a halt, and your true flight will begin.

All for Now,

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Window Pane Away...

This morning I had a bit of a traumatic experience with my 2 year old - Haley.  While putting Haley in her car seat, I accidently allowed her to grab my keys, and in the process inadvertently lock all of the car doors.  Haley was on the inside - Daddy was on the outside

For a good 10 minutes I tried to communicate with my 2 year old.  "Haley, will you please unlock the car?" "Just push the button on the door, push the button." "Haley, just reach down an open the car door handle."  Beaming with a smile, Haley was thoroughly enjoying the experience.  With me safely on the outside, and her a window pane's distance from being punished, Haley took advantage of the experience.  She actually opened up an entire packet of gum and began to inhale a huge piece of Hubba Bubba (maybe inhale isn't the right word).   

All the while that Haley was on the inside of the car, a commotion was developing in the parking lot.  People were overhearing my pleas to my 2 year old and were convinced that I was an abject parent and that they must intervene.  In fact, one woman, a self proclaimed parking lot protector, offered to call the cops.  "Shall I call the police?" she asked.  "No, it's under control" (It really wasn't under control, but I wanted to make it look like it was...).  Before I knew it, this well intentioned "do gooder" was delivering my license plate number to the Paso Robles - DMV."

Fortunately, about a half hour later, and a packet of chewing gum longer, Haley was freed from the confines of my car, when she figured out how to open the door on her own...none the worse for the wear (the same cannot be said of her father).

This somewhat traumatic experience made me wonder if God doesn't feel the same way about us at times.  Does God feel that He wants to communicate with us, but that we are just as innocently (sometimes not so innocently) oblivious to God's pleas for connection?  Does God care about us as much as I care about my daughter, and is He as worried about our safety as I was about Haley's safety?  Is the substance that separates us from the full love of God as thin and yet sometimes as impenetrable as a pane of glass?

The answer to all of these questions is "Yes".

My word for the week?  Let God connect with you today.  He is worried about you, and is trying to get through.  God is actually less than a window pane away.  Also, don't let your 2 year old play with the car keys...

All for now,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Bloom is off the Prayer

Many of the people who speak with me about their "Spiritual Life", complain that they are suffering from a lack of theological excitement; that there is nothing new in their Spiritual walk; that there is nothing fresh in their faith.  One man recently said, "I have no more mountain in my top."  My recent conversations have led to an increasing sense that people are looking for "highs" in faith that may not, in fact, exist.  Maybe they need to be more in touch with the "lows".

Recently, I have been reading about the life of Martin Luther (originally Luder).  The primary driving dynamic in Luther's life was a fear of God - more specifically that God would condemn him to hell.  While this daily and perpetual fear of damnation may seem strange to us in our modern world, Luther was plagued by such thoughts.  Luther lived every day of his life with a petrifying fear of being condemned by God - even though he was a relatively holy person.  In order to minimize his chances of being sent to a fiery eternity, he spent every moment of his life in worship, prayer, meditation, penitence.   Luther would literally spend hours in confession with a fellow priest, confessing every tiny confession of his day ("Dear Lord, I did not remember to pray before breakfast...and when I did pray, it wasn't in total adoration..."). In response, Luther's confessor would tell him to "lighten up"  - that his confessions were not real confessions and that he had, in fact, done nothing really wrong.

The juxtaposition between the recent connections I have had of people who feel no loftiness in their Spiritual Life and the depth of despair that Luther felt and which drove him into deep prayer, made me begin to think that the primary problem with modern Christ followers is not that they are not in touch with the "highs" of faith, but that they are not in touch enough with the "lows" of faith.  Maybe what is needed for people is a fair and healthier measure of fear.  Soren Kierkegaard wrote a book called, "Fear and Trembling."

If we were to be more in touch with the fears of our faith perhaps the "Bloom would be off the Prayer" but our prayers would be more real...and maybe our highs would feel more "high".

All for Now,