Monday, May 28, 2012
And, not just old, this year, my birthday is coinciding with so many different and life-changing events. In two weeks we are moving from Paso Robles to Colorado Springs to take up a new pastoral call and to live in a new place. This will singly be the most significant spiritual and professional move of my life. No pastoral call I have had before has meant as much to me as Highlands Church has; no future call will offer more opportunity and sheer Holy Spirit embed possibility as the one in Colorado Springs. If there was a time to shift proverbial life gears in one's life, 40 might just be one of those moments. As another pastoral friend observed, a New Church Developer like me in Moorpark, California; "Who knows if you were not born for this time and this place?"
Also, two months from now Star and I will be having our second baby. This baby coming into our lives by natural means is a miracle upon miracles, the kind that only God Himself could have brought. A baby of this dimension coming into the lives of an "older couple" (think Abraham and Sarah) is actually the sort of miracle that God would normally have marked with a celestial happening in the sky, like a star or a comet or something. Come to think of it, there was a momentous lunar eclipse in the sky last week, wasn't there? Probably no connection to my specific life, but you never know:-).
And, as it happens, my birthday this year also falls upon the exact day of Memorial Day, May 28. I have always loved the debate about the exact origins of Memorial Day. For over 100 years there has been an arm wrestling match between two cities in the southern part of America over who actually started the day. Both cities have the name Columbus (Columbus, Georgia - Columbus, Mississippi) - and both cities flank the great Mississippi river, like proverbial stopping points of Huckleberry Finn. The story on the beginnings of Memorial Day goes that years after the Civil War, when families were still mourning the loss of their loved ones, women from the town walked from their homes, strewing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers. On the first Memorial Day there seems to have been a reminiscence of times gone by, of lives lost, of relationships changed, of things passed away, of being around "a long time", and yet moving beyond that "long time" - to something new, reborn even.
Before I close this meandering blogpost - maybe it is a condition of old age - I want to quickly reflect on what all of this means. Or, to put it in the terms of the Israelites in the book of Joshua - "What do these stones mean?" In short, I have no idea. But this I am sure of - I am grateful that God has been with me for these 40 years, He has blessed me as much as Abraham himself, I am amazed at what He has done through a fallen vessel like me, and flummoxed that He seems to have more in store for my life - and yours, as those who know me, and work with me, journey together, after this elapsing of, "a long time..."
All For Now,
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
This past weekend my car broke down. Well, "broke down" isn't the precise definition of what happened - my car's ability to accelerate disappeared completely, making it almost impossible to drive. My car could drive, as long as it had previously developed enough speed by going down a mountain pass, and was able to coast for a long distance, and had a strong wind at it's back. It turns out the fuel pump was defunct and thus unable to get gas to the engine (I will refrain right now from a more obvious theological point and blogpost about the need to be connected to God's Word and how that is our fuel to our engine...). The repairs department said that it was a relatively easy fix, but that their shop didn't have the necessary car part, and that I would have to drive my car two hours (or tow it, at a cost of $1,000 plus from their shop to another fix it shop). I decided to risk it, save the money, and coast...(I'm very Scottish that way).
As I coasted my car from one fix-it-shop to the other, I suddenly became very nervous. What if my car breaks down completely, right here in the middle of nowhere? What if my car just blows up? Aren't fuel pumps the thing that carry fuel? Isn't fuel combustible? Isn't mine malfunctioning? What if nobody ever hears from me again? What if I become homeless? (Did I mention that I can let my imagination run wild at times?).
But then, an incredible thing happened. As I was coasting along with my flashers on, a tow-truck pulled up along side me, and then he pulled right up in front of me, seeming to escort my dilapidated car down the road. The draft behind the tow-truck actually helped me to drive more easily. And then, miracle upon miracles, that same tow-truck proceeded to drive in front of me for the entire trip to the fix-it shop, over two hours away. Honestly, I felt like Air-Force One being escorted by an F1-11 to an airport runway. I felt like a little ugly ducking, being escorted through the skies by a great flock of white swans. And I discovered once again, an abiding truth about faith and life:
God Will Send a Tow-Truck
One of the main difficult truths about our lives is that hardships will occur - bad things will happen. Sickness will infect, wars will erupt, violence will ensue, famine and droughts will decimate, tornadoes and tsunamis will engulf, hatred will enflame, cars will break down. These are tough realities of what it is to be human. Jesus himself promises us and is realistic about the fact that these things will happen; "The rain will fall on the just and the unjust" (Matt. 5:45). Why these life challenges must befall us is a much debated question. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do bad things happen period? Depending on where you fall on the theological spectrum of these questions, your answer will surely fall somewhere in between random happenstance and sovereign determinism. The spectrum of explanation for why hardships occur in human life falls somewhere between the well worn maxim, "(grey matter) happens" and "God allows all things to happen for a reason."
However, in the midst of our difficulties, God's promise is that He will provide. God will produce manna in our wildernesses. God will make springs shoot out from rocks. God will send doves with olive branches in the middle of floods. God will give us pebbles and sling shots in the middle of wars. God will send earthquakes to loose us from our prison cells. God sent a savior to live with us in the middle our messed up existence.
God Will Send a Tow-Truck
I would love to end this blogpost by saying that after the tow truck escorted me to the fix-it shop, he then rolled down his window, winked at me, tooted his horn, and said, "God bless you, my son, now your safe and sound." But that didn't happen. And that would be embellishing the story beyond reality. In truth, God helped me and my fuel pump depleted car to make it to the fix-it-shop in one piece. And along the way, God gave me the assurance that He was providing for me in the midst of the journey.
All For Now,