Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Take the Pain

"I'd like to tell you it gets easier. It doesn't. If there's any comfort, it's getting used to the pain, I suppose."

The 2017 movie is Wind River, written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, and starring Jeremy Renner as a veteran tracker with the Fish and Wildlife Service. He's a father whose daughter died (sometime in the past; before the action of the movie). In one scene, he is talking with the father of a young woman who was just found dead and passes on the words of a grief counselor he met at a seminar.

The counselor came up to me after the seminar. He sat down next to me and said something that stuck with me....He says, "I've got some good news, and I've got some bad news. The bad news is, you're never gonna be the same. You're never gonna be whole. Not ever again. You lost your daughter and nothing's ever going to replace that. Now, the good news is, as soon as you accept that, and you let yourself suffer, you'll allow yourself to visit her in your mind. You'll remember all the love she gave; all the joy she knew."

The point is, Martin, you can't steer from the pain. If you do, you'll rob yourself  -  you'll rob yourself of every memory of her; every last one. From her first step to her last smile. Kill 'em all.

Take the pain, Martin. You hear me? You take it. It's the only way you'll keep her with you.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...it is both acceptable and necessary to grieve a loss. I am grateful that, as a Christian, I "do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope." (I Thessalonians 4:13)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Sun Began to Rain

And now, ladies and gentlemen, before we get to some real thought-provoking content, let's start the second side of Larry Norman's In Another Land with a fun little ditty full of apocalyptic imagery and vaudeville toe-tappingness.

A thief fell out of heaven with some loaded dice
But the lamb rolled a seven back to paradise
The bread was finally leavened so I had a slice
And the sun began to rain

Water swelled from fountains and then turned to wine
Rocks fell from the mountains in a chorus line
He came in tails and top hat and He looked so fine
Yes, the Son began to reign

A fox snuck in to steal away the grapes
But the man who ran the vineyard shut the gate
So he could not escape

And now we'll live forever in another land
Everything is ending like it first was planned
Did you get your invitation to come play in the band
And let the Son begin to reign
©1976 Beechwood Music Corp.
J. C. Love Publishing Co.

Truth is..."The Sun Began to Rain" seems like a cute throw-away tune, but it still elicits a feeling of hopefulness and implies a desire for the listener to accept God's invitation. Life here on this planet will not continue the way it is forever. God is going to bring all things to their correct conclusion. Do you want to spend the rest of forever with Him...or without Him?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Comedians in Cars Getting All Superior

The history of comedians goes at least as far back as the court jesters of old...although I think when God created the platypus He was ROFLOL.

Partly because of that background of speaking truth to power (veiled in laughter), today's comedians  -  and stand-up comics in particular  -  have no problem in expressing their opinions. After all, that's pretty much what most stand-up routines are...a person gets in front of people and tells them things that he thinks are ridiculous: "This is what I think. Isn't it crazy that the world is like this? Look at such-and-such. That's so stupid!"

It's not a huge leap, then, for a person to start thinking his thoughts about things ought to be agreed to by everyone. [Of course, I recognize that I think that about the thoughts I express here, too.]

Case in point: an episode of Jerry Seinfeld's Web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, in which Jerry is having a conversation with Ricky Gervais. Most of it was fairly interesting and mildly amusing, but there was one little interchange between the two men that I haven't been able to ignore.

I really think the death penalty is too depressing to even think about. I don't - I mean I don't agree with it that the state can show that sort of form of violence.

What about abortion? Do you agree with that?

Yeah, but that's different, isn't it.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

First of all, the period at the end of "that's different, isn't it" is intentional. He wasn't asking a question. He was making a statement and assuming agreement.

Secondly, just so there's no misunderstanding, I, too, don't agree with the death penalty. I know there are philosophical arguments in favor of it, but they don't persuade me. The moment I take someone's life, I take away that person's opportunity to choose Christ...which is exactly the opposite of what I ought to be about.

Thirdly, and most importantly, yes, Mr. Gervais, abortion is indeed different from capital punishment. In the case of abortion, we are 100% sure that the person being killed is absolutely innocent.

Truth is...there is a stereotypical alignment of attitudes about these two issues. On one side, it seems that those who support the availability of abortion generally think capital punishment is wrong, and on the other side, pro-life proponents are typically viewed as being in favor of capital punishment. It seems to me that either of these stances is illogical.

As a side note, it may interest you to know that Seinfeld responded to Gervais in a way that I thought was going to bring the whole episode to a screeching halt: "I guess, uh, you can just arrange things the way you like them...when you're rich...famous...like you."

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Evening News

During the second evening of my recent Silence & Solitude retreat, there was a particularly boisterous bird outside my cabin. (Don't believe me? Listen to this.)

That bird's enthusiasm inspired this poem:


From the tops of the trees

The news is being tweeted:
"The sun is setting!
God is good!
I'm here! I'm here!
Life goes on!"

     What joy that bird finds

     Just in being a bird
     The breeze through its wingtips
     The promise of Spring to come
     On this still-snowy April evening

Like a flash, the herald flies

The next tree needs its news:
"So crisp! So clean!
Oh look at the sun!"

     What a lofty pulpit

     What an urgent gospel
     Would that I could preach so clearly

The benediction from one twig higher:

"Until tomorrow, farewell!"

     God is good

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is..."Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!" (Luke 12:24)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

I Am a Servant

How do you declare a firm commitment to serve the Creator of the Universe and at the same time admit you don't have what it takes to be able to do it?

If you're Larry Norman, you write a song/prayer like "I Am a Servant" and close out the first side of your album In Another Land with it.

I am a servant, I am listening for my name
I sit here waiting, I've been looking at the game
That I've been playing, and I've been staying much the same
When you are lonely, you're the only one to blame

I am a servant, I am waiting for your call
I've been unfaithful, so I sit here in the hall
How can you use me when I've never given all
How can you choose me when you know I'd quickly fall

So you feed my soul and you make me grow
And you let me know you love me
And I'm worthless now, but I've made a vow
I will humbly bow before thee
O please use me, I am lonely

I am a servant getting ready for my part
There's been a change, a rearrangement in my heart
At last I'm learning, there's no returning once I start
To live's a privilege, to love is such an art
But I need your help to start
O please purify my heart, I am your servant
©1974 Glenwood Music Corp
Strawbed Music

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.  -Romans 7:21-25 (NLT)