Monday, November 22, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

God With Us

Matthew 1:22-23

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

God with us. Divinity coexisting with humanity. Unfathomable.

God. The perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Creator of all things deigned to walk with and in His own creation. For what purpose? Ebenezer Scrooge asked that very question of the Ghost of Christmas Past. The answer Scrooge received is God’s answer to us: “Your welfare...Your reclamation, then. Take heed!”

Take heed, then. If God came to His creation as part of that creation, our need for reclamation must be great. No human can dwell in the presence of His holiness because in our own stubborn willfulness we choose our own way. Even when we recognize our need for redemption (as Scrooge finally did) we are incapable of our own salvation. Only Jesus, the perfect and pure Lamb of God, Immanuel, can redeem us. Only by trusting in His salvation can we rest in the hope of one day being ourselves with God.

God with us. And one day, we with God.

Dickens, Charles, A Christmas Carol, 1843

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Knowing as He is Known

One of my first students at Independent Studies was a senior named John Evans. I was told that he had a rare form of incurable cancer and had already outlived his prognosis. At the time, John's primary interests were outdoor, hunting, fishing, hiking--anything but reading Shakespeare and Dickens. He loved the wilds of Montana and fly fishing in frigid water. Camouflage was his favorite color, and his truck his prize possession. Pain was his constant companion, and he eventually became addicted to the narcotics designed to ease his agony as tumors surrounded his spine.

After graduation (and earning his Eagle Scout rank), John went to rehab to kick the addiction. About that same time, John got serious about his faith. Really serious. Profoundly serious.

For the next two years, John studied his Bible with the same passion he once took hunting and fishing. He started seminary courses, and spoke to everyone he could about the purpose of praise and of life as a believer in Jesus. His pain didn't lessen; it intensified. His bones became brittle, and he withered away as flesh dissolved.

As his body broke down, John's spirit grew. He became a mighty warrior in prayer and praise. Early morning musings led him closer to God, and he tottered between earth and heaven. He told his parents that his greatest longing was to wash up on the shores of heaven, unrecognizable to even the angels, but known to Jesus still. 

In daily life, John saw angels as easily as humans, and grew frustrated that no one else did. He led worship services from his bed, and remarked, "Church is not about where we meet or who plays the instrument or who speaks- it is about meeting God in His holy place."

One of his Facebook statuses in early November was, "Rounding third, focused on home." He told his family to be prepared. And he praised God.

This morning, John knelt to pray, as was his habit. He called for his mother and told her, "I get to go." The phrase that usually means a trip or vacation or event, John called up to announce his time in this world would end. Within just a couple of hours, with his family with him, John went to be with Jesus.

1 Corinthians 13:12 says, "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." Today, John moved from the shadowy realm of this mirrored world to full understanding and true living.

For several days I have had an old song by Billy Sprague running in and out of my conscious mind. The chorus says,
                   Tender hearts,
                    Bow your heads for those who weep
                    But be glad for the one who sleeps
                    In the Lord.
                    He's been rescued from the deep
                    Like Ishmael upon the sea....

                   Only "Time's brief masquerade
                    Stands between the living
                    And the ones who Heaven's gate.

John is no longer torn between two worlds, but he has joined that great cloud of witnessess of Hebrews 12. His life is part of the great hall of faith, and his joy is complete.

Well done, my friend. Well Done.

For the One Who Sleeps, Words and Music by Billy Luz Sprague  from the recording Torn Between Two Worlds, 1989

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Lord is My Banner

World Run Day

Could not have asked for better weather today. 58 degrees, sunny, beautiful. Perfect day to run 8 miles (or run/walk) along the Chattahoochie River with a friend in honor of World Run Day.



Could have used a better camera, but this little one was easier to carry!