Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ooh and Aah

An Inkling
Many homes have one:  the closet doorframe, marked with the measure of junior’s growth over the years.  I remember surveying the various spans of my growth, and proudly imagining just how tall I would grow. 
An even bigger payoff came when we visited my grandparents twice a year.  As we arrived they would ooh and aah over how much my brother and I had grown.  In those moments no one had to tell me to stand up straight.  I was already stretching.
When I reached my full height, somewhere around 15, there was a sense of satisfaction.  I was fully grown, and best of all, I was now taller than my dad!  But there was also a sense of loss – no more growth to anticipate.  No more oohs and aahs.  No sense of stretching.
For long years I’ve pondered on a phrase in Ephesians 4, where Paul describes God’s growth goal for us:  “the measure of the full stature of Christ.”  Wow!  That’s up there!   God is much more ambitious for our stature than I would ever be for myself.  And I’m sure that he is much clearer than I am about how we could be so measured – “the full stature of Christ.”  Double wow!
Lately I’ve been reading Tom Ashbrook’s Mansions of the Heart, an exposition of Teresa of Avila’s great account of our growth in Christ.  Her seven “mansions” are like marks on the doorframe – most of which have come for me long after my physical span was set.  It has given me a glimpse of how God has grown me over the years, and of how much more growth there is yet to reach the “full stature.” 
So I find myself stretching.  It’s not as if growth is something I do, so much as it happens by God’s design, just as did my physical growth.  But I’m stretching in anticipation.  Even at 57 God is not finished growing me up!  Or you!  And the measure he has in mind – triple wow!  May it be that the angels ooh and aah for us all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


An Inkling
How ‘bout them Nats?!  It’s fun having the hottest team in baseball just up the road. 
While I rarely catch a whole game, I see pieces of many, which means Sarah does too.  And over the years of being married to a baseball fan, she’s picked up a lot of the lingo.
Even so, occasionally she’ll still ask me the meaning of a term.  For example, the announcer says, “And there’s a comebacker to Strasburg, and he makes the easy toss to first.”  And Sarah asks, “What’s a ‘comebacker’?”  So I explain what I’ve known since I was a nine year old little league player.  What was obvious to me from long experience was not at all apparent to her – she who endured softball in Phys Ed only on the days she couldn’t find a way to skip class! 
Have you ever noticed how specialized baseball lingo is?  Tune in and listen sometime, and see how many of these you can define:  looper, pay off pitch, change up, pitching from the stretch, laying one down, a brush back, and so on.
It’s well to have such lingo.  How cumbersome would it be for the announcers to describe all of the action in non-lingo terms?  Why would an announcer say, “And Harper has hit a low fly ball over the head of the second baseman, but short of the right fielder,” when he could simply say, “And Harper has looped to right”?  For the sake of brevity and clarity we create jargon in many fields – not just baseball fields.
So it is with our faith.  It is so much simpler to say “Trinity” than it is to describe the mystery of God’s being in detail.  Our one word “atonement” abbreviates hundreds of volumes that have sought to interpret the impact of Jesus’ cross.  We would be hard pressed to have sensible conversations if we lacked such faith jargon.
But, some folks who hear our “broadcast” of the faith won’t have any more clue of what we’re talking about than did Sarah listening to the Nats announcers.  Can you articulate your faith in language that anyone can understand?  It’s an important skill for talking with seekers.  And as we set aside our lingo, sometimes we discover that we weren’t so sure ourselves what those words meant!
With my rally cap on,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


An Inkling
To the casual observer of the sky it looks like everything orbits us.  The sun, moon, planets, and stars rise in the east and set in the west, with our earth apparently in the middle of things.
Ptolemy (2nd century, A.D.) was no casual observer.  He noticed that the planets did not move steadily like the stars, sun, and moon.  They got faster and slower, closer and farther.  So he came up with a theory for the planets’ motions that included little loops, which he called epicycles.  His theory didn’t explain every quirk of the sky’s motion, but with lots of figuring and a little fudging, it mostly worked. 
Fast forward thirteen centuries and another careful observer began to cipher.  His name was Copernicus, and his revolutionary proposal was that the sun is central.  Once that center was realized, the other pieces fell into place without the gyrations of epicycles.  Voila!  Suddenly the sky was so much simpler and sensible!
To the casual observer it looks like we are the center of things in life.  By the age of two we casual observers had already determined that all manner of reality orbits around us.  Along the way we may learn some polite ways to speak of such things, but we’re not naturally inclined to change our basic view of life:  “I am the center.”  Of course that theory of life requires lots of figuring and fudging, along with lots of creative epicycle-like explanations for life’s quirks.  And still it doesn’t add up.
Life is so much simpler once we realize that Another is at the center.  If you’ll forgive the well-worn pun:  it is the Son.  Once we are given to understand that He is central, all of life’s orbits and calculations and motions begin to fall into place – along with a huge sigh of relief that we don’t have to muster the gravitas to pull everything into orbit around us. 
It’s a great way to live, this Creator’s design for life.  May this spiritual Copernican revolution find full expression in each of us, and wide realization in all!