Archive for February, 2006

Soggy blog

February 22, 2006

I write today’s entry while still dripping from an unusually enjoyable run around my neighborhood . . . in the pouring rain. I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed each time that I’ve tried to get out and jog the two or so miles around the neighborhood in which I live, but today was different.

Do you remember playing in the rain? You’ve gotta try it sometime. It’s pretty cool.

I imagine when I was a kid I didn’t jump at the opportunity to get all soaked in the rain just for fun. You have to change clothes afterwards and that’s a hassle! Plus there’s all the water in your face and all the mud. But then again I remember football practice in the rain, and I remember that I always loved it. First of all, everyone was slippery enough from the rain that when they hit you it didn’t hurt as much. Then when you hit the ground, it’s soft and mushy. Much more comfortable. Then there’s the excitement of all those fumbles. You never know exactly what’s going to happen next.

But there’s something else about standing (or running, or walking) in the rain… It’s so soothing. There’s something so calming about a steady rain, and it’s no less calming to be standing out in it, listening to the steady chatter of a million raindrops hitting the pavement, the grass, the leaves, and the growing puddles everywhere you look. As I ran today I kept my mind off of the burning in my lungs and legs by watching the bubbly stream of rain water running down the lengths of all the ditches, creeks and low places scattered across the yards around me. The feel of the rain on my clothes reminded me of the relaxing nature of a morning shower. Man, I don’t get out enough.

I don’t think many of us get out enough. We’ve become so indoorish. We feel inconvenienced by heat, cold, rain, and wind. But an amazing thing happens once you decide to step out into it and deliberately enjoy it: You start to really enjoy it! Days like today make me wonder if we weren’t originally supposed to feel more at home in the outdoors.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a far cry from naturalist, and I like my climate control as much as the next guy. I’m nowhere near as into eating organic foods like everyone around me seems to be, and I don’t remember the last time I recycled something. But I’ve had enough outdoor moments to realize that there’s something about being away from sheetrock, carpet, and plastic. When I’m out in the elements, I find it so much easier to think about things that matter. I even find it easier to talk to God. It feels like there’s less between us.

From time to time we should find ways to get away from it all. We should go out somewhere once in a while to remind ourselves that the things we spend the most time fretting over really don’t matter. Life goes on around us, lots of life. It reminds us that we were made by a God who enjoys life. He made a planet teeming with living things. He covered it with water and sunlight and everything else that it needs to support life. Getting outside and considering the lilies really helps sometimes. It reminds you that you, too, have everything you need for life. All you have to do is take it in. No need to worry if the next day will bring what you need. Worrying didn’t make it come today. So just relax a little. And play in the rain sometime.

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*sniff* I Love My Wife

February 21, 2006

Today I’d just like to drop a note out into cyberspace thanking God for my wife. She knew that I was having a really hard time. Some things have hit me that have discouraged me as much as she’s seen in the last six years or so. And without needing to know the details of what’s got me down, she just offered me the gift of touch. A long embrace, a gentle kiss, and a warm smile.

Then while both of us were working today she sent me a note, reminding me of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs:

I am in the sun, I am in the shade
I am in the light that love has made
I am in the cold, I am in the warm
I am in the center of your storm
I am in the fire, I am in the flood
I am in the marrow and the blood
When you cannot stand…I am

It’s from a song by Bebo Norman (and No, it’s not pantheistic, so don’t even think it!) It’s about how my Father is so intimately involved in my life, and in the lives of those around me, that I need not fear that anything is going contrary to his desires.

When Paul says that nothing can separate us from His love (See Romans 8), he doesn’t mean that God fights off any intrusion on His work. It means that in all things God is working towards His good goal: the molding of His great family after the pattern of His Son. The big picture is all good, even though the moment feels like it really sucks.

So today I want to openly thank God for my wife loving me so well. He knew that I needed that. And He always takes care of me that way. I should mark that more often.

Thanks, Lord. And thanks, April.

What I Learned From a Muslim Riot

February 8, 2006

It’s impressive to see how angry some Muslim communities of the world have become over depictions of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. What’s more amazing for me is to learn that most Muslims believe it is wrong to create ANY depiction of Mohammed for ANY reason. That detail fascinates me.

The ancient Hebrews also had a rule about depictions of Yahweh. As I recall, Moses threw quite a fit about a gold cow once. The rule about making a graven image of Yahweh was due to the fact that Yahweh is invisible, immeasurable, infinite. He is spirit, and to put him into physical form would immediately supplant Him from His rightful place as the only legitimate Object of worship.

But the earliest Christians (who were themselves Jewish) made a bold leap into the unknown by claiming that Jesus Christ was Yahweh Himself come in the flesh. They unapologetically declared that Jesus was “the image of the invisible God,” and “the exact representation” of Him on this earth. Yahweh had always promised that He would one day dwell with His people, and while previous attempts to represent Him in artistic form were forbidden, God’s own representation of Himself was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Like Jesus, Mohammed was a man. A flesh and blood man. I believe that most normal Muslims believe that. Which means that he can be drawn. He can be painted. He can even be cartooned. That’s the risk you put yourself up for when you inhabit human flesh. A man can be caricatured. In fact, the more famous he is, the more likely it is that he WILL be. I’ve seen three disrespectful depictions of Jesus in the last two days. I didn’t like them. I guess I consider them offensive. But I didn’t go burn the national flags of the countries that allowed them to exist! Well, that’s not what I’m trying to write about at this moment. So back to what I was trying to say…

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that followers of Mohammed disallow depictions of him out of respect and homage to him? In their efforts to idealize him they confine him to the unseen realm, so to speak. I suppose that for them to see him represented in visible form would somehow reduce him and dishonor him, robbing him of the worship that they believe he deserves.

Compare this with Jesus, who stated in no uncertain terms that he who has seen him has seen Yahweh. This man stated that he and Yahweh would come and indwell those who believe in him, so that we, too, can become sons and daughters of God. The early Christians embraced this idea and proclaimed that when the church of Jesus gathers they are reassembling Christ himself. They are the body of Christ, inseparable from him in every way. “Little Christs,” they came to be called. Here is a faith that embraces the visible representation of their God.

Talk about running the risk of misrepresentation! Millions of little depictions of Christ running around all over the earth. What was Jesus thinking!? Didn’t he know that he was setting himself up for insult and injury? In particular, what was he thinking when he chose ME to be one of those representations? If I didn’t have the utmost deference for his wisdom, I would question his judgment about this issue. But this only illustrates my point. [Wait, what was my point?… Oh, yeah…] God knew that we could never be satisfied worshiping a God that we couldn’t see. We are flesh and blood and we identify with flesh and blood. So He took on flesh and blood in order to be with us. In so doing He set Himself up for insult, abuse, and misrepresentation. Apparently, he counted the cost and determined that we were worth it. That’s really something. I think I’ll go dwell on that for a little bit. Why don’t you join me?