I’ve been planning it out for a few days now. Not exactly what I’m going to say to this person that has so purposely pushed my buttons, but the tone I can’t wait to use and the words that I know will hurt the most. I might not even say it to the actual person, but complain to someone else. Pour out all my anger and hurt so that someone, anyone, will know just how rough I have it. I cry in my alone moments, I remind myself of how difficult and complicated my life is. How the world is just unfair to me. I haven’t yet had the opportunity, the right moment to strike. And I read…
Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
“Ok, I can do that. I do that all the time, God.”
Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD. (Psalm 4:4-5)
“Well, I try to trust you, but it’s kind of a vague word with very little practical action for me. Sacrifices… I’m not sure about that. We don’t really sling dead animals on an alter anymore, but there is that whole thing about sacrificing time and money and all that.”
Then I had one of those moments where I look at a passage of scripture that I’ve read 2 dozen times and suddenly see it with new eyes, new revelation.
Being angry, and not sinning, is a right sacrifice. Trusting that God can handle what I think I get to meddle with is a right sacrifice.
This is rough. This means that if I want to offer a sacrifice to my God I have to shut my big mouth and let Him deal with both of us. He is devoted to caring for this person that I want to blast with my own self-righteousness.
“On your bed”… chew on this commentary, it’s pretty meaty.
“In the silence of night; in solitary musings on our bed; when withdrawn from the world, and from all the promptings of passion and ambition, and when, if at any time, we cannot but feel that the eye of God is upon us, the mind is most likely to be in a proper state to review its plans, and to inquire whether those plans can be expected to meet the divine approbation.”
This is a greater sacrifice for me than opening my checkbook or rearranging my schedule.
I had an ordinary day yesterday. I hit the snooze button 3x because I was listening to my boys get their own breakfast and chit chat over pancakes and get their laundry out of the dryer and it was just too wonderful to interrupt. And I was lazy. I made dinner early and felt awesome. I spent an hour alone with my oldest child, listening to him talk about computer programs and gaming strategies. I went to my friend’s house and curled up on her couch and she listened to me spew out my frustrations and successes without interruption. I watched grown adults pelt kids with dodge balls. I had a heated argument with a fourteen-year-old over socks. Socks. I fed the dogs, fed the dishwasher, fed the dryer, fed my family. How blessed I am that these things are ordinary and how shameful that I consider many of them a burden.
As a Jesus follower that is the only logical conclusion I can come to.
I have many thoughts on the death penalty, but here is just one.
During Jesus’ Sermon On the Mount he tells his followers,”You know that tradition that says if you kill someone, with or without intent, you will go before the judge? Well from now on if you’re even angry with someone you’re going before the judge.” (my dorky paraphrase of Matthew 5)
(scratching my head)
Sometimes it’s easy to take something challenging our Shepherd says and think, “Well, he couldn’t have meant it THAT way, he must have meant…”
Well, what if he really does mean what he says?
Are we SURE we want to be judge?
One of the most intense sections of The Shack for me was when Mack was invited to sit on the judgement seat. Who is he judging? Um, only God himself. God, who let’s murders live. God, who created man with the ability to perform evil acts. God, who lets children be tortured and serial killers roam. He panics, saying he doesn’t have the ability to be such a judge, to which the response is,
“Oh, that’s not true. You have already proven yourself quite capable.”
There are so many powerful parts of that story, but this is the one that shook me to the core. It was one of the many pieces of truth that eventually turned my heart towards radical non-violence.
“You know that tradition that says ‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth?’ From here on out, don’t even stand against that evil person. I’m telling you to remain completely vulnerable.”
Are we sure we want to be judge? I wouldn’t take a million dollars to kick God off that seat, put on a black robe and hold the gavel. How many times have been angry even in this last week alone? How many times have I heart murdered my own family?
My question wasn’t ‘does she deserve the death penalty?’ The truth is that none of us are getting what we deserve.
That’s called mercy, my friends.
Things have changed since my beloved’s were babies, toddlers, seven-year-olds. I used to watch their drowsy, chubby baby cheeks and feel like my heart was going to ooze right out of my body. I used catch them singing to Bear In the Big Blue House and pile bath bubbles in a cup and I’d strap them into their car seats thinking it was going to last forever.
Now they scoff at Nick Jr. and take too long in the shower and fight over the front seat.
They are still my beloved’s. When I see her laughing with a group of trendy-dressed school friends, their heads tossed back in utter hilariousness, my heart swells. I’m clearly not the only one who thoroughly. She shuts her door when she gets a phone call then tells a friend she can’t come over because she’s hanging out with her mom. I want it to last forever.
He is hunched over in front of his laptop, mouse button clicking, fingers effortlessly finding the right keys, click, click, click. He is in his own world where numbers and objects replace unnecessary words and I relax in knowing that he doesn’t have to interact with someone if he doesn’t want to. I give him his space, and I know it’s a sacrifice that translates as love. He excitedly tells me about a computer program and I barely grasp what he is saying because my brain doesn’t match the complex firings inside his. I want to yell as loud as I can, “My son is brilliant!”
As soon as I read the word ‘again’ the lyrics of Thank You For the Cross drift through my mind.
Sometimes I forget about the cross and I need to look again.
When the image of it becomes too familiar, I look again.
When I self-condemn and forget he extinguished sin ONCE AND FOR ALL, I look again.
When I see my brothers and sisters lashing out in anger, I look again. I hear him say, “Forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” I’m humbled by his mercy and I’m broken inside.
When resentment threatens to become more than a passing visitor, I look again. I marvel at his saving grace and I’m full of praise.
I look behind shaded eyes and see the highest of all kings in the most vulnerable position imaginable. He calls me his ‘friend?’ That is too absurd to understand.
Thank you for the cross, my friend.
My daughter is 10. She knows a lot of Justin Bieber lyrics. She knows how to style side-swept bangs and make a bowl of raman noodles. She knows how to make her guests feel welcome, Skype a friend, walk the dog.
There are other things she doesn’t know, things she’s only lets me tell her about in small pieces, manageable nibbles of the whole thing. When she wanted to know about babies I would tell her one small thing and then ask, “Do you want to know more?” Often the answer was, “Ew! No!”
She heard the references of abortion during our last presidential campaign. We were sitting on the couch curled up in a fuzzy blanket and I told her that “Sometimes when a woman gets pregnant she realizes she doesn’t want the baby. So… she does something to get rid of the baby. Do you want to know more?”
I always think I’m going to be ready for these kinds of conversations, but then they pop up out of no where and I find myself stumbling over thoughts, wondering if the words are coming out right and then analyzing what I said afterwards.
Her 5th grade class started reading The Giver by Lois Lowry and she couldn’t talk about it enough. I ended up buying the Kindle version so that she can read ahead, outside of class, and so I can read it also. I want to know about this book that has so taken my daughter captive (and also because several reviews I read online tagged it as ‘controversial.’)
The story takes place in the future, where the government has so taken control that there are no more mistakes, pain, lawlessness, etc… In fact, no choices at all really. Families are not families. They are individual people put together by the leaders. Children’s jobs are to learn to be productive citizens, adults contribute by working or making more babies, and when they are no longer able to do either they are sent to live in the House of the Old until they are ‘released.’ Basically, anyone who does not contribute to society or breaks the code of behavior is ‘released.’
11 year-old Jonas and his friends aren’t sure what being ‘released’ means. It doesn’t seem like anyone else does either. All he knows is they disappear. Perhaps they are sent away somewhere pleasant. Like a permanent vacation. His assigned father works in the infant nursery, where babies are kept till they are 1 year-old and are assigned to a family. He makes remarks that babies who will not, for various reasons, be fit for placement are ‘released.’
Through a series of events, Jonas is given permission to watch a video of a ‘release.’ It turns out to be a recording of his father ‘releasing’ an infant.
“His father turned and opened the cupboard. He took out a syringe and a small bottle. Very carefully he inserted the needle into the bottle and began to fill the syringe with a clear liquid.
Jonas winced sympathetically. He had forgotten that newchildren has to get shots. He hated shots himself, though he knew that they were necessary.
To his surprise, his father began very carefully to direct the needle into the top of the newchild’s forehead, puncturing the place where the fragile skin pulsed. The newborn squirmed, and wailed faintly.
… He pushed the plunger very slowly, injecting the liquid into the scalp vein until the syringe was empty.
… As he continued to watch, the newchild, no longer crying, moved his arms and legs in a jerking motion. Then he went limp. His head fell to the side, his eyes half open. Then he was still.
… His father loaded the carton containing the body into the chute and gave it a shove. “Bye-bye, little guy.” Jonas heard his father say before he left the room. Then the screen went blank.”
I read this section before my daughter did, and I knew it was going to be time to tell her the whole truth about abortion, and I was sad. One evening I was sitting at my sewing table, she was at the computer, and I heard her chipmunk voice,
“Mom. We read chapter 19 today.”
I dropped my project and sat her on my lap. This time I did not feel I was stumbling over my words. Thhey were coming out exactly right.
“What Jonas’ dad did to the baby in the nursery? That’s what abortion is. Only in real life the dr. does it while the baby is still in the mommy’s tummy. These people kill babies, but they aren’t bad people. They’ve been told it’s ok, and, just like for Jonas’ dad, it seems normal. They don’t know what they’re doing. But we follow Jesus and it’s never ok to take someone else’s life. Ever. And we need to protect babies.”
And then it seems like she is the one stumbling over her thoughts, wondering what the right words to say are.
All she said was, “Oh.”
On September 22nd I had to have my sweet doggie put to sleep due to complications of myasthenia gravis and megaesophagus. (Big words, eh? They make me sound smart.) She was my 30th birthday present and my precious little baby.
I mean, I loved this dog.
Saying goodbye to her was utterly tragic. I got to hold her for awhile first. She still had her IV inserted, listless from 7 days without food and water. All I could think was, “This is the last time I will see her wag her little tail. This is the last time I will feel her fuzzy ears. This is the last time she will look at me with her chocolately brown eyes.” There are only a handful of times when I have been so broken-hearted.
Mixed with my tears, however, was a nagging guilt that I didn’t have the ‘right to grieve’ over this. Part of me acknowledged that my heart was torn in two, but a larger part of me felt pinned under the guilty feeling that grieving over a dog is silly. Maybe even stupid. People are starving, children are trapped in sex trafficking, someone is losing their wife to cancer… and I am crying. Over. A. Dog.
But here’s the thing… death is wrong. Death is the evidence that something is not right in the universe, that something has gone terribly awry.
Death is the antithesis of life.
I have every right to grieve over the loss of life.
I lost my niece a few months ago. She was born and died at the hospital, gone before mommy and daddy could bring her home to dress her, bathe her, tickle her little toes. It wrecked me, made me ask questions I couldn’t put into words.
I lost my nephew many years ago. He was born and died at the hospital. He was 15 oz. and his head fit in the palm of my hand. He was perfectly formed… fearfully and wonderfully made. While my sister was unconscious I cradled him, dressed him, counted his fingers and toes. He was pink and slightly warm when I first took him, and cold when I handed him over.
It wrecked me.
For years I believed I didn’t have the right to grieve over him because I wasn’t his mother. He wasn’t my son. I believed I didn’t have the right to grieve over my niece either… because I didn’t carry her for 10 months, didn’t choose her name, didn’t rearrange my life around her life.
Recently the inevitable happened… I broke. In my mind I was holding my little nephew again, closed eyes and dainty little mouth, unmoving chest, raging against Jesus, yelling at Him, “THIS IS NOT GOOD!” and he so gently says, “I know. But I am good.” I just argue, crying out over and over, “But THIS is not good!” and He just replies, over and over, “I know. But I and good.”
I cry so hard and for so long that I break the capillaries under my eyes… that I end up vomiting. Jesus says to the lukewarm Christians in Laodicea, “I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” The literal translation for ‘spit’ is ‘to vomit’ and ‘to reject with extreme disgust.’ I am like Jesus, I have to get this out and away from me.
I reject death with extreme disgust.
“Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:
NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;– to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.
(signed) G. Washington
View #1 – Jesus Christ is the the son of God.
View #2 – Jesus Christ is not the son of God, but was a great teacher.
[Jesus says] who do you say that I am? ” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 16:15-18)
“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
View #1 Jesus Christ tells the truth and is the son of God
View #2 Jesus Christ is a liar and is therefore a terrible teacher.
One of my favorite quotes of all time,
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.” C.S. Lewis