Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Time to Celebrate

"So... there is just this stuff that squirts water at us?" My oldest sounded less than enthused. She'd never been to a splash pad. Neither had I for that matter.  

"Basically," I responded with some enthusiasm. "Let's just try it out. I've heard it's really great." And so as the temperature made its inevitable ascent, we 5 piled into the van for an adventure 30 minutes away. 

Let me just say the kids were totally impressed. We drove up to an enormous jungle gym coupled closely with the satisfyingly wet splash pad. Kids screaming as they careened through walls of water, little boys laughing recklessly as they sat on streams of water shooting from the ground. It was all hilarity and mayhem, and my kids fit right in. 

It's not lost on me that in the past days we have been celebrating, laughing even, while our nation mourns, while we shake our heads and wonder at the depths of depravity all around us. We have prayed. We have called for justice. And then we have smiled as our kids run abandoned through a park of water.  

We celebrated on Sunday as well. My husband celebrated 10 years in the pastoral ministry and the church banded together with funny t-shirts and prayers and a standing ovation. We ate delicious cake with purple frosting and took pictures to post on Facebook. 

I thought of those who were mourning. The people Scott preached about. Those who need the hope of Christ. And here is what hit me- we are to minister to those in pain, to comfort with the comfort we ourselves have received from God, but that comfort is nothing if we spend all our resources focusing on the injustice to the exclusion of the goodness God pours freely every single day. 

Rejoice in the Lord always. Give thanks in all circumstances. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits. 

My kids ran recklessly, showered, misted, doused with the refreshing water. And no amount of sorrow made them any less wet. The atrocities of humankind, and I am not ignoring that the acts taken recently have been particularly atrocious, cannot diminish the goodness of our God. We are saturated with His love. 

The schemes of the devil can in no way diminish the glory of our God. They cannot remove our salvation. They cannot reverse the atonement of Christ. They cannot put Jesus back in the tomb. They cannot rob me of the faith that is mine in Christ.  

And he knows this so he distracts us. He deceives us into thinking that our brooding and battle lines will do more good than giving glory to the only One who can defeat death and bring true peace. I thank God every time I see a post on Facebook that acknowledges the hurt and evil around us in light of the gospel. 

We are called to minister, to bind up, to cry out for justice. We are called to pray and seek God's will. We see all those things in the Psalms. We are not called to despair, become cynics, or doomsday prophets.   
There is a time for everything, but never a time to forget the goodness of God.

We are called to recognize and proclaim the saturating, penetrating, love of a God who grieves with us, but not like us, because even in the darkest times He knows He is working all things for good. And as that ethereal "good" proves too elusive for our fallen eyes, He gives us His Spirit. 

So I am trying again to be more intentional about celebrating God. To love, mourn, pray, listen, and celebrate deliberately. Because we should not let satan win his little battles in words of hopelessness and "what do we do now?" 

Thanks only to the God of the universe we are more than conquerors, and that is something worth seriously celebrating. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Seeing Beyond Me

Finding Dory made me feel, deeply. Triumph, loss, joy, love. And discomfort.

Ok, not the whole time. Just some of the time. I won't spoil the movie for all the poor unfortunates who haven't seen it yet, but my GOODNESS. She would get so close to finding her parents, and SLAM. Another obstacle! Another stinking obstacle! I assume the creators wanted to make Dory seem even that much more amazing because when the chips were way down on the ocean floor, and all seemed hopeless even to me ("Remember, Lauren. It's a movie. It's a Disney movie for crying out loud. It will work out. It will. But HOW?") Dory never gave up hope. Yeah, it worked.

That wasn't the uncomfortable thing for me though. Well not the only uncomfortable thing.

One of the characters is near sighted. Like me. And when the picture entered her point of view and all was fuzzy and Dory was a "little blue blob" a part of me felt a hint of panic. I could be the only one of thousands of near sighted people who felt that way, but it is a bit unnerving to be confronted with a very real handicap that you have "corrected" in a moment when you least expect it. Now was it
funny? Yes. Did it give me a good way to explain my own limitations to my family? You bet. So bravo Disney/Pixar. You brought forth the really unnerving question:

Is the near-sightedness limited to my physical body?

Um, no.

It creeps deep into my consciousness.

"No one cares what you think."
"You have nothing new to say."
"You don't know what you are talking about."
"Who wants to read one person's opinion?"
"You should be spending your time on something else."
"You are wasting people's time."
"Don't bother investing the time when you will probably just fail anyway."

Gross. It makes me cry just typing those things out loud.

Compound on that the guilty feeling that the problem is my lack of faith, and I am broken.

I have no tidy answer.

I have only the faint echo in this canyon that sounds:

Give thanks in all circumstances.

If faith required seeing, it wouldn't be faith.

If faith required a "feeling" it wouldn't be faith.

Faith is a verb. Faith is trust.

Faith is action even when you don't feel what you think you should feel.

Faith is acting on what you know is right even when it is plain old scary.

Don't underestimate what God can do. Don't sell Him short.

Just take one more step.

Maybe you aren't near-sighted. Maybe you see this world and God's plan 20-20.

Or maybe you see the obstacles and they are so much nearer and clearer than all the fuzziness in the future and you just want to circle your tank in safety.

I really don't think you were made for captivity. None of us were. We are free in Christ and if the Son sets us free we are truly free.

And we can take our eyes off ourselves and focus them on the Savior. It takes practice and I am just relearning. Thank God He is patient and straight-up relentless.

God grant us the courage to trust in You, make the next move, and just keep swimming.