Sunday, April 8, 2018

Don't Forget the Nails

 
My neighbor and friend was gone. The funeral was going to be a somber event.  He would be missed.  His lifeless body would lie in a beautiful casket amid a cascade of beautiful flowers in the front of the church, but he would not be there.  The flowers would be taken away to shrivel, die, and be thrown in away.  The beautiful casket would be buried deep in the ground.  Then as the flowers that fade, his life, the memories he left with us all would fade and eventually become indistinct. 
As time passes and those who can remember will be forgotten in their graves themselves.    So what's the point of it all? 
 
These were some of the thoughts running around in my head as I walked up the street to the church and the funeral.  Being a Christian, I felt somewhat ashamed that I entertained this kind of hopelessness at this time, but I did.  I am only human myself and like the Bible says, "now we know in part."  Sometimes the parts don't fit in my little human brain.  There is so much I cannot fathom, so much I don't understand, so much that can  fill me with fear if I let it. 
As I looked down at the gravel street I was walking on, I saw an old screw and I picked it up.  I do this often on the roads when I run and try to remove road hazards when I come upon them.  But, this was no road hazard.  This was a road maker.  The old screw looked somewhat  like a nail, and my thought became:   "Don't forget the nails."  Strange.  This day was not about new birth, or God's saving grace, or the price Jesus paid so that we might be free:  or was it?  I seem to hear in my heart:  Look at the price I paid, the pain I bore for you.  But, the nails were not the end but the beginning.  Because He lives, we can live also.  Because after the nails there is an empty tomb freeing a grace to fill the hearts  of everyone who accepts it. 
And that grace has filled the heart of my friend too. Praise God there is an empty tomb in his life, and death and the grave are conquered for my friend, for me as well.  Praise God for the nails that hung Him on that cross so that He might rise again and live forevermore in the hearts of men.
 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Alive

Not sure why this Easter Season is so much more vivid this year. I have thought about the night before when He had the Last Supper and was betrayed; when those who had followed Him forsook Him and fled, and one closest to Him denied he ever knew Him. This morning I thought of His trial, his beatings, the agony of the crucifixation and I could not stop thinking of that crown of thorns on His Head. He suffered; He died; He was laid in a tomb. "For God so loved the world-----" John 3:16.  

I just felt led.  There was an old fence post just lying in one corner of my pasture on a little knoll.   I took the old barbed wire and some long nails from the post then took an axe and split it: one of the split sections was shorted to make the crossbar.    The cross was bound together with the nails and the barbed wire and I put the cross in the hole I had dug, then tamped it in.  There.  The old rugged cross. Yes, there it was:  the  semblance of that same old rugged cross that has made the difference in my life and  in the lives of millions down through the ages.  I  stood there gazing upon it thinking that  only moments before, only an impotent post and a sandy piece of pasture had been and could not help but consider that before I found that cross I was much like that old post, living a life without a meaning.


 I considered  the barbed wire and thought of the crown of thorns He had to wear.  I saw the nails and thought of those Holy hands pierced and nailed to the cross.
But, it wasn't over.  It was only the beginning -   The cross is empty.  The tomb is empty.  My heart is full.  He lives there.  He is alive.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Do I Have the Guts to Quit

Here it is in February and I am still in a state of indecision.  Do I continue with this Ironman training effort.  Yesterday, my soul seemed so laden and I was so sure the answer was quit and do something more productive; something of better use of my passion and learning and God given abilities.  Why keep hammering away trying to just get by at something I have no talent at all for? Why stay brain dead from the fatigue of the training anymore?  Haven't I done years of that?  Is that some hide-out scheme with ready made excuses for lack of performance in other areas of life?  It seems lately that I have no passion for it anymore; the quest seems like a de-fizzed coke.  

And I keep praying for a sign; begging God for an answer.  And I wonder:  haven't I been given one?   Still, everyday I get up and put off doing what I don't have the passion for anymore.  And, the loss of passion and the daily procrastination has built in me an element of a lack of self respect. 

But, what will others say?  What about those I supposedly inspire?  Or, do I overestimate my own importance?  Am I  assuming that they will flounder and fail if I don't keep on propping them up with all this alleged inspiration?  Could there be some pride involved here or some fear of the future without  ironman training to lean upon and  perhaps hide behind.   Do I have the guts to face myself?   Do I have the guts to quit?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Touch Me Where It Hurts Lord

With endurance sports comes all kinds of aches and pains and sore muscles.  Sometimes, you just have to try to do something for them to relieve the pain.  One way I have found is to touch it where it hurts and bear down a bit.  Then, hold on and many times the pain diminishes; sometimes it goes away entirely.

Our lives get all kinds of aches and pains and sore spots.  Sometimes every move seems painful; so painful, we wonder if can we go  on.   And, like in endurance sports, we have to take just that next step, then another; we must keep moving forward, while asking God all the while, touch me where it hurts, Lord.  The pain often doesn't go completely away and the journey is still long, but sometimes there is a kind of healing in just knowing that God has touched me.  And, we know that His touch is a healing touch and we have been touched by the Master's hand.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Is It Over?


And I want to do an ironman, to  put 140 + miles in one day on this leg?  Crazy. Seriously, it is hit or miss if I can make it to the bathroom when I first get out of bed.  The left leg often won't hold me up at first.  There has been a fall into my trainer bike in the middle of the night and many unsteady, painful times getting out of bed.    Really?  Can this be something God wants me do?  How can this be His purpose for me?  What is the benefit?   Most of the purpose, suffering, and training are done without notice of anyone: who can benefit except the orthopedic surgeon eventually? 
 
Face it.  You're fat, you're old, your uninteresting, and no one cares what you are doing with this or what you have to say through it.   Who is going to be impressed for the Glory of God by  an old sack of bones doing something insane?  It seems more like senility verification.  So what's the sense in the suffering?  Why do this anymore?  Is it over?

Age has beat me down to some extent, but  it has taught me this:  just about the time it really gets to looking ridiculous to the  human rationale: just about the time you are  about out of bullets, that is the point where God can move in more closely and do the work He has started in you.  When God shows up can't, ridiculous and impossible are all swept aside.  In the clear light of the only reality, God remains, standing in the gap, beckoning us on and through.

So, I choose not to believe that I can't do this because at times  I have trouble walking.  I choose to ignore the sounds of ridiculous for my age.  I choose to ignore the apparent impossibility of the huge task before  me  and that not many  my age attempt this stuff.  So I choose to live in the land of "nevertheless,"  where God wants me to "run the race that is set before me."


 
Use me God.  Show me how to  take who I  am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself

Martin Luther King

"I will lift my eyes to the mountains-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2
 




Monday, September 11, 2017

Renewal

Scripture says, "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day."

Outward abilities have never been present and time lessens them even more. Could it be that I am a little old for this? I don't know. Is the way it is supposed to go down when one reaches this time in life?

However, if I am to be pulled down, and if I am to obey the "suppose to" as prescribed for my age by conventional wisdom, then what I am I going do with this fire that still burns inside? What am I going to do with the fire God put there, the fire that He seems to fan to flame higher every time I consider following "supposed to" off into the night. In the presence of the flame God gave me, I must "faint not" and wait upon, depend upon the renewal that God gives.
"And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out and stood in the entering in the of the cave.----" So I wait for that "still small voice." "-----And behold there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here Elijah (Marvin)?"
I Kings 19:12-13



Monday, August 21, 2017

Be Still

Times I feel His presence so intently, so intimately, that it is like He is in the room alongside me or looking over my shoulder. Be still and know that I am God." Be still to know God is with me. The way to God seem one of stillness; stillness of the world within us like when Jesus calmed the storm, still the troubled waters of our minds and clear the lens to see God, to experience God more clearly and more dearly; Be Still.

"Be still and know that I am God
: -----" Psalm 46:10

Time races on; life hurries by, but god doesn't . His stillness spans the ages; the same yesterday, today, and forever. Only we change for better or for worse. We get closer or farther away. We wanted closer but we work toward farther away. Working against ourselves and against communion, and relationship with God. Be still.

Be still and know that the decision wasn't obvious. There was never an answer "yes." But each time I decided to "not" do the event, it didn't feel right. It was as if God was not going to open a door or make a path for me with a shout and a blinking sign saying "go here." No, He was going to whisper in a still small voice, a voice I could only hear if I still myself, humbled myself to stillness, that I might be close and intimate to hear, to be inspired and follow the will of God. Perhaps that place with Him is what a large part of the journey is all about anyway: a stillness of self; a closeness with God.