Saturday, January 24, 2015

But God

As I was reading through the dramatic life & times of Jacob (soap opera extraordinaire), I settled in on the passages associated with his abuse at the hands of his father-in-law.  In so doing, I zeroed in on their contentious exchange ~ the one that had brewed for 20 years ~ as well the conjunction that put it all into perspective:   

"... you would surely have sent me away
empty-handed.  But God ...".  
(Genesis 31:42)  

I've seen it countless times in scripture.  In fact, if I fast-forward 19 chapters I can see it again in one of the most notably profound passages; an exclamation by Jacob's own son, Joseph, directed at his jealous, impetuous & murder-bent brothers:  

"You intended to harm me, 
but God intended it for good to 
accomplish what is now being done, 
the saving of many lives."  
(Genesis 50:20).

Satan thwarts Eden's promise ... But God ...
Sarah is barren ... But God ...
Jacob is a deceiver ... But God ...
Hannah is barren ... But God ...
The Prophets of Baal are murderous ... But God ...
Rahab is a woman of ill repute ... But God ...
Ruth is a widow and not Semitic ... But God ...
Haman (& Hitler) had the perfect plan to annihilate the Jews ... But God ...
David is in Saul's crosshairs ... But God ...
Peter's locked behind prison walls ... But God ...
Jesus lay dead in a grave ... But God ...

The fact is, absent gadgets or mirrors, none of us can see around corners or through mountains.  Come to think of it, I cannot always see even in the known of the clear light of day given my human short-sightedness (literally & figuratively). God has no such constraint.  

I've watched & prayed for several years now while someone dear to me has struggled with being unemployed, then under-employed. There haven't been sufficient funds for many of the needful things of life.  It has stressed & strained the very fabric of that family, seemingly a never-ending struggle.  Several near misses in terms of job opportunities served only to etch deep grooves in their sense of cynicism until, that is, several weeks ago a new day unfolded.  A new job; a better income.        

But God ...

In my life and yours there have been countless times, especially if you've lived long, that were (or are) bleak and difficult.  Some of those times were utterly hopeless.  Taunting tears & fears threatened.  We were touched by the hideous sting of discouragement; maybe even despair.  Then somehow or some way a new perspective took root, or an end to that awful thing arrived. Fresh air blew the stench clean away.

But God ...

So today as I look at so many concerning items in the world of loved ones, of our nation, of radical ideologies, of the economy, of my own advancing age & so much more, I take comfort.  Rarely, if ever, do I get to fill in the blank that follows but God with an item of my own choosing, but I can trust that whatever is penned there is by His own hand. 

But God ...

Monday, January 19, 2015

11th Hour Wins

It's not whether you get knocked down;
it's whether you get up. 
~ Vince Lombardi

Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.
~ George Halas

I confess to being a fair-weather sports enthusiast.  I'm not into most of it, yet I find it hard not to join the 12th Man and champion my Seahawks (notice the possessive form there ...).  

Yesterday's game played against the Packers was nothing short of stunning.  In what some have called a miraculous turnaround (and it was all of that), they traded their Underdog status to Overdog, opening wide the portal to playing the Superbowl. 

Often sports is used as a metaphor, with little wonder why.  People like Knute Rockne, Vince Lombardi & John Wooden are but a few that are quoted, cataloged & copied.  Then there's the dynamic men & women who play the game, any game, garnering our deep admiration or disdain: Think Kurt Warner, Arthur Ashe, Ted Williams & Magic Johnson, or think O.J. Simpson, Lance Armstrong & Tiger Woods. Rising & plummeting stars can be seen by the myriads in all of life.

So yesterday's game left me hoarse & proud. It also left me pondering the metaphors of life that came with that win.  A few ... 

  • The opponent (think enemy, the world) can play the better game and still not win.
  • Often nothing of consequence happens while on the defensive.
  • When the offensive wakes up, things happen.
  • One man CAN make a difference, but unity & team play matters.
  • It's never over until it's over so it's never too late to begin again.
  • Stunning 11th hour wins are possible no matter how bleak the outlook or how loud the naysayers.

One man practicing sportsmanship is far 
better than 50 preaching it.
~ Knute Rockne

In reflecting on the process of yesterday's plays & win I have new insight & momentum for tackling some of those things that stand between me & my own touchdowns.  In this business of living, the ultimate Super Bowl is ours for the taking.  

Therefore, let's do this!!

Your biggest opponent isn't the other guy. 
It's human nature.
~ Bobby Knight

Do not let what you cannot do interfere
with what you can do.
~ John Wooden

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a 
great cloud of witnesses (our team)
let us throw off everything 
(move from a defensive to an offensive position) 
that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  
And let us run with perseverance the race 
marked out for us (follow the coach's instructions)
fixing our eyes on Jesus, 
the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom 
that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, 
and so worship God acceptably 
with reverence and awe ... ".  
~ Hebrews 12:1-3, 28

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Primary Colors

The only thing worse than being blind 
is having sight but no vision. 
~ Helen Keller

Imagine the Crayola world of a child.  Regardless of age or prowess, and with little need to be adroit they can conjure a world of squiggles and stickmen to rival Picasso; squiggles that translate to a castle or space flight or a talking dinosaur; squiggles that adorn a refrigerator as if the Louvre.   

From a platform of red, green and blue every other color in the spectrum is born.  Those three and their offspring are the humble servants of a child that needs little more to bring life to their own visions.   

Be it one color or hundreds, every single hue derives from the trichromatic of red, blue and green.  I'd find that hard to believe were it not for the fact that I've held in my own hands a paint color spectrum ~ you know them, the sort we'd find at Home Depot and that are used to figure out what color to paint a wall, or which shade matches an already existing color.  

The trichromatic principle is a fact in Crayola's world; the one seen with the eye.  But it's also true in the spiritual realm, seen only with the heart.   Think about it ... From faith, hope & love come every good and noble feature of the inner man.  Mix various doses of any or all of them to come up with a spectrum of color that includes such hues as patience, or forgiveness, or self-control.

As a child, once I learned there were far more Crayon shades than the 24 to which I'd been limited, I was not happy until I had a box of 120 for my very own.  I'm working on that still, trading the trichromatic world of Crayons for the equally trichromatic world of the spirit; and wondering just how many new shades of faith, hope & love are even possible. I want them all!  Because I know those three and their offspring are the humble servants of a child that needs little more to bring life to their own visions.  

Vision is the art of seeing 
what is invisible to others.  
~ Johnathan Swift

Primary colors are sets of colors that can be combined to make a useful range of colors.  For human applications, three primary colors are usually used since human color vision is trichromatic. And the three colors that fall within each of the human cone cell sensitivity range are red, green and blue. 

Wikipedia:  Primary Colors

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Well Hello There Empty Canvas

As I crafted my So Long 2014 post I included a comment that I want to keep front & center as I begin applying color to 2015's canvas:  "The process of setting goals must be infused with humility."

Come to think of it, the epicenter of that comment is actually what I want to keep front & centera, & well in focus:  Humility.   Now there's a crayon I could use more often.    

I don't have a Bucket List, but there are things I very much want to do or achieve while I am among the living ~ and all the more so as the #70 is now clearly within view. Thus it shook me a bit when I realized how many of those things involve some form of vanity or another.  The list is too long to itemize so you'll have to trust me; it's a crayon I've pulled out & used far too often. 

But here we go, friends ... the first day of a new year.  I almost hesitate to step out as if I'll muss up new fallen snow or draw outside the lines.  Then again, some of my most precious masterpieces are the ones that were born in those ways.

"Come now, let us settle the matter,"
says the Lord.
"Though your sins are like scarlet
they shall be as white as snow;
although they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land ... "
Isaiah 1:18-19