Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Vantage on the Journey

An Inkling
One of my prayer disciplines is to journal about what the Lord is teaching me, what I’m facing, what I’m praying, etc.  I’ve been doing this for over 30 years.  And for the last few years I’ve gone back in a new year and read through my journals from previous decades.  So far I’ve read 1984, and now I’m reading 1994, with 2004 yet to come.
Many have offered aphorisms to describe the long journey with Christ.  Reading these old journals, here’s how I would put it:  I thank God that I’m not where I was.  I thank God that I’m not where I will be.  And I thank God for where he has me right now.
I thank God that I’m not where I was.   By God’s grace, I’ve actually moved past some things – some habits, fears, and perceptions that hobbled me in serving him and knowing his joy.  So looking back has been encouraging.
I thank God that I’m not where I will be.  Progress in the journey is not the same as having arrived.  The Lord has plenty of habits, fears, and perceptions that he still intends to reform in me.  So looking forward brings hope.
And I thank God for where he has me right now.  Some day I will “fast forward” to the destination.  But for now the journey is slow.  Even so, the Company is good.  And if He’s okay being with me at this point, I can be too. 
How about you?  Take a gander at where you’ve been.  Catch a glimpse of where He’s taking you.  And know that where you are right now is no accident.  Then rejoice!
And move on!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Beauty in the Eye of THE Beholder

An Inkling
I wish I had caught more of it on my phone camera.  Because it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen – though not in the usual sense of beauty.
Thanks to tickets from Susan and Gene McKeown, Sarah and I were present for the Commonwealth Prayer Breakfast last week.  We’ve gone before, and I am always inspired to hear from those who serve the Lord in the tricky cross-currents of politics.  So I expected to be inspired.  I didn’t expect to be reduced to tears by beauty.
The first beautiful moment came when Gov. McDonnell prayed for his successor, Terry McAuliffe.  So much political speech is flavored with scorn and posturing that it’s striking to hear someone crossing party lines with prayer.  And it was particularly arresting to hear a Governor who is plainly at ease in the language of prayer.  He knew the One to whom he spoke.  And having served in the Governor’s role himself, he knew the most important needs to lift up.  So he did, in a most gracious and genuine way.  It was truly beautiful.
And there was more.  Next came the testimony from Thomas Haynesworth.  In 2011 he was freed from prison after serving 27 years for a rape he did not commit – as proven by DNA evidence.  The prosecutor at the time had offered a one-year sentence if he would plea guilty, but since he had not done it he would not.  Then through the long years he trusted that the Lord would deliver him.  Why would the Lord wait 27 years?  Only he knows.  But the man who walked out of prison after that long season of waiting is a wonder to behold as he testifies to the Lord’s goodness.  His gentle spirit and genuine trust is simply beautiful.
That was enough beauty already, but there was more.  Next they showed a video of the Dennehy family (12 children, 9 of whom are adopted, and 5 of which have special needs).  It was very moving in itself.  Then George Dennehy, the oldest of the adopted children, led us in worship as he sang and played guitar – with his feet!  He has no arms.  (That’s what I caught in the video snippet above.)  He chose songs about the love of God, and between songs testified in a winsome way about God’s goodness to him – the guy with no arms!
Beauty comes in many forms.  Typically we think of physical loveliness.  None of these men were lovely in that way (whatever their mamas may have thought!).  But beautiful they were, in a much deeper and profound way.  The beauty of it reduced me to a puddle of tears.
May the Lord give us all an eye for his kind of beauty.  And may he give us his kind of beauty in the eyes of others.
Here’s looking at you,


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Viva Il Papa!

An Inkling
I have a new hero:  Pope Francis.  Apparently I’m not the only one.  Time named him Person of the Year – a Pope!  That’s amazing.  And as I read Time’s account of his life I was all the more enthused about the one God has chosen to put front and center on the church’s most prominent stage.  It’s important that this one shine brightly for Jesus. 
Francis does.  And people have been drawn to him in droves.  There is something about the gospel well lived that resonates with people’s deepest yearnings and hopes.  They are drawn, even if they don’t fully know why.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Jesus drew huge crowds at first.  But when they realized that his walk of love and compassion was on a road of obedience, and that it led to the cross – well, let’s just say the crowd thinned considerably.
We’ll see how that works with Pope Francis.  Likewise we’ll see how people respond if he continues to thwart co-opting by ideologues of various stripes.  They tried to co-opt Jesus too…
Pray for the Pope!  And may Jesus be honored in his servant Francis.