The Fog Of Life

The sun through the trees and the fog

The sun through the trees and the fog

Life is not always clear-cut, Maybe I should say it is rarely clear-cut. I find much of life seems like a fog. Sometimes it is the difficulty of making decisions about school choices, finding a job or a profession. Relationships can be foggy and health issues, especially as we age, can add to the fog. Losses like the death of a parent, sibling or child bring the fog of grief. This fog of life is not always full confusion, but it is a lack of clarity and can range from a general discomfort to intense trauma.

The teen years with our now grown children gave plenty of fog, some of it dense.

(The following events are retold with Kathryn’s permissions and edits.)

More than a decade ago our daughter Kathryn attended a one year high school class reunion/party about two hours from home. The plan was to stay there for the night. My husband was away for work and I was home alone that weekend. Then came the thing every parent dreads.

Three AM, yes, it was literally three AM call when my cell phone rang, but I was in such a dead sleep I could not get to it before it stopped. The caller ID said it was Kathryn. Trying unsuccessfully to not panic, I spent the next several minutes calling back and missing her, praying frantically the whole time. My heart was racing and my fearful imaginations seemed to have no limits. Finally, we connected. She was calling from about an hour from home. She was safe, but she had fallen asleep at the wheel. The car was totaled on a tree at the side of the road. Thank God for airbags! Fortunately, someone saw her, called the police and stayed with her until they arrived.

Once I knew she was safe and the officer told me to come get her, I had already dressed so I climbed in the car. With 60 long minutes to get my head and heart in line with God, I had a lot of questions for Kathryn and for God. I was truly thankful she was well and safe. A car is a car. It was not the problem, (at least not in the predawn hours.) When I arrived at the meeting point I remember hugging her and never wanting to let go! We sat on a bench until I was ready to turn around for the 60 minutes home, with the officer sitting guard over us in his cruiser until we were ready to leave.

The ride home was good. We talked for a while, but I let her succumb to sleep as I fought to stay awake now that the adrenaline had subsided.

This event had a good ending with Kathryn safe. We still had things to talk about, but sometimes the natural consequences are enough.

I am grateful for the times when the light of God, like in the photo, shows brightly through the fog. Not all the events of the teen years had such positive endings, at least in the short-term. I think it is safe to say though, that the many foggy circumstances we faced during that season look a lot clearer as we look back.

I encourage you to keep moving through the fog of life. God did not cause it. The brokenness of this world makes it. Don’t give up. Keep seeking the face of God even when you feel abandoned. He is more interested in you getting through than you are.  He will eventually burn the fog away! Let’s take to heart the words of Jeremiah from Lamentations 3. (emphasis mine.)

16 He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
and made me cower in ashes;
17 my soul is bereft of peace;
    I have forgotten what happiness is;
18 so I say, “My endurance has perished;
    so has my hope from the Lord.”

19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

I close with Kathryn’s practical admonition she shared with me as we talked about this post. “No one thinks they will fall asleep at the wheel…so please take care to not drive when you are tired!”

 

“The Glory Of God Is Man Fully Alive.” – Iraneus

Last Sunday we celebrated the Resurrection. He is Risen indeed and His victory over death is the basis for our hope.  Today we are back to facing life, day in and day out. What does it look like to be fully alive? I will not argue for or against Darwinism, but I think the image reminds that us becoming fully alive is a process as we allow our Creator to transform us. The fancy word is sanctification. I’d like to explore just a few evidences of living a fully alive life.

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Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” The growth of these characteristics in our lives is one evidence of coming fully alive. I know I am still growing in these, and Abba faithfully gives me opportunities to learn. They are not often easy lessons, but when I learn a bit more the result is sweet and is aptly called fruit.

When we live increasing into loving and inviting relationships we are learning more of what the Trinity looks like. God the father, Son & Holy Spirit live in complete harmony. We, not so much, however, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 ) Knowing that disagreements can make me stronger gives me hope as we learn to deal honestly with our with others through our brokenness and differences. In all of this the ever-present Holy Spirit gives us wisdom, grace and comfort.

1 John:”18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.” The more we are able to accept the perfect, and infinite love offered to us, the freer our hearts become. That is when we really begin to tap into being fully alive. That infinite love calls us to be the unique individuals we are created to be.

Yes, we live to bring glory to God. But we can not do it without allowing God to love us first!

Struggles and failures are certain, but we go through them. That is how we learn,  becoming conformed to the image of Christ in the process. This truly brings glory to the one who is present with us in every challenge and celebration!

Understanding that God is aways with us and always working on our behalf allows us to forgive ourselves and others. Then we let go of offenses. Living freely with our assurance and security flowing from God’s love for us is the foundation for living fully alive. Increasing openness to the love of God intensifies the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. It also expands our courage to step farther into our destiny…becoming fully alive.

We are all intentionally unique. What might “fully alive” look like in your life?

*Image taken from Free internet images

Resurrection: Foolish or Wisdom? Fiction or Fact?

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.- 1 Corinthians 15:14

I was a skeptic. As a teenager raised partly in the Church and partly not, the story of the God who became human was fantastic, foolish fiction to me. The resurrection made absolutely no sense to me. Reading Voltaire, Sartre, and other philosophers in my private school curriculum only made me hopeless.

Like the sunrise after a storm, Jesus is resurrected.

I grew up hearing the Easter story and remember distinctly, at a very young age, deciding it couldn’t be true. But the emptiness and the hopelessness that followed set me on a search for some sort of fulfillment. It ranged from people pleasing to alcohol to athletic performance, smoking and generally trying to fit in and be “cool.”

In my quest to find nice cute boys my mom convinced me to attend a local church youth group. At Christmas time that year we went caroling to the homes of older members of our Church. It was a Currier and Ives snowy night complete with the hush of the gently falling snow and the glistening from the reflection of the street lights off every flake.

We had meaningful conversations with many of the elders throughout the evening.  These, with the hush outside, helped me  to be open to what happened next. When we came to the last home, a slender woman with white hair opened the door, and we sang some traditional hymn to her about the birth of Jesus. I do not remember which hymn, but I do remember, even now, the wistful sparkle in her eyes as we sang about Jesus. It was clear to me that she knew something I did not. It was also clear to me that I wanted to know what she knew. In the end it turned out to be who she knew.

That night changed my life forever because I prayed as honestly as I ever had, to know what that woman already knew. Quickly, I had an internal and eternal shift. I knew in my being that Jesus was a historic person who is alive today. It still seemed fantastic, but I began to pursue God above being “cool.”
My desire to know more about “Church” and the Bible became a hunger. I began reading the Bible. I also started to pray and see answers. In time, I discovered Josh McDowell and Evidence That Demands A Verdict. That book gave me the facts historically proving the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is fact and not fiction.
I now realize that the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is the turning point in human history.
Every year billions of people around the earth celebrate the High Holy Days we come to this weekend. At first glance it may look foolish. The death of “The King Of The Jews” on the shame filled cross at the city dump. God in His wisdom turns it to our advantage. At the moment Christ died on the cross Luke tells us, “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” (Luke 23:44-45)
The darkness represents the false victory of the prince of darkness. The tearing of the  curtain in the temple, Mark 15:38 tells us ,was from top to bottom. A human did not start at the bottom to tear it. God personally tore away the separation between Creator and created.
Good Friday we commemorate Jesus, the Prince of Peace, passing through eternal death so we, the created, do not have to. After three days in the tomb, we celebrate Easter, the resurrection of the Prince of Peace who gained victory over death forever. The even better news, the Good News is, that victory is ours, freely given when we believe.

Palm Sunday To Deep Lent On The Way To Victory

The story of Palm Sunday is the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem for Passover. In the end, the triumph was not what his followers expected. I chose this photo of palm trees in a storm for a reason. Palm Sunday is a happy anticipation of the coming of The King. Winds of change were definitely in the air, but the spiritual storm that occurred over the next week marks the most important pivot in human history.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey over a road covered with palm branches, people were expecting political change by this king of the Jews. Few if any understood that Jesus was coming to over throw the prince of darkness. The winds of change were about to blow like never before.

As we move into deep Lent, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter in the Church calendar, my church has services every day. It becomes increasingly intense. Wednesday night is the Tenebrae service. Two Cantors sing through scripture and the history of deep Lent as candles are progressively extinguished until we are all in the dark to contemplate our lostness without Christ.

Muandy Thursday is the reminder of the Last supper.That Thursday night service the Pastors/Priests wash the feet of parishioners. A few years I as asked to be one of the people to have their feet washed. It is a prophetic act that mingles honor with humility. It was deeply touching in ways I did not anticipate.

Then the shocker, “Good Friday,” the day the King of the Jews was nailed to the Cross. A death of shame…that leads to the ultimate VICTORY of the resurrection.

What are you doing this week? Not all of us have the option to go to church everyday, or want to.  What can you do to mark the path from Palm Sunday through The Cross to Easter Victory?  I’d love to know how you hope to mark Holy Week.