Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"I Can Take You"

I said this to my father when I was 17 years old and full of myself. Grandpa was visiting so my father asked for his help. We went out to the front lawn to settle the score. My father had put on some pounds and looked slow. Little did I know that size has nothing to do with ability, and in my father's case, agility.

"Begin counting when I say 'go'," my father said to his father. We stood facing each other. My father placed his left hand on my right shoulder and his right hand on his right leg above the knee. I did the same. My father told me this is how wrestlers sometimes started their matches. My father was a wrestler in grade school and his father had taught him creative ways to take down aggressors without much hoopla. I was in good company or so I thought. How hard could it be to take down my father?

"Go!" my father shouted.

Blue sky.


Gentle breeze on my face.

Grass next to my ears.

My father's knees on my chest.

Difficulty breathing.

"Two, three, four..." Grandpa droned.

Beyond that, I do not recall much.

This is a fond memory, believe it or not. It makes me laugh to think of my hubris in thinking a scrawny 17 year old could take down a seasoned veteran. My father knocked that hubris right out of me that day and I am eternally grateful for his love and care. He taught me to meet hubris with love and to do it with finesse, something his father undoubtly taught him. And so it continues with my sons. A lot of men settle things with fists and worse. My father was meek - a man with great power, that he used when needed, in the right amount, to bring about a just and merciful result.

This post marks the end of posts dedicated to my father. Future posts will return to the original topic of servants in the field.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Good Grief

I chose this title several months ago when developing a grief and loss group for a local homeless shelter men's program. Little did I know or realize that "Good Grief" is the title of a well-known book about grieving with hope. Hope. Hope is elusive, yet present. The author contends that those who grieve without hope do not truly travel the grief journey. They are stopped at some point along the way for they realize they are utterly and hopelessly alone in their journey. Those who trust God may feel alone, yet are not in reality.

As I have traveled along this path without my father, who so many times in the past guided, nurtured, and encouraged me to persevere in trusting God during grieving, I have come to some preliminary conclusions:

First, God is here. How do I know? Because He continually listens to my pleadings, my gripes, my guttural ramblings, and other groanings and still provides comfort and provision for the journey.

Second, Dad is gone - forever. Forever means he is no longer here to converse about the particulars of this life, he is beyond the reach of mortal flesh, and his voice is but a memory. Sure, we have recordings of his voice, video footage of him, and his books and literature; in these he finds immortality. He is still...gone.

Third, groping for a process to grab onto, a methodology of grieving, has exposed myriad fashions in which people have managed to make it through. Yet, the undercurrent to all of them is the mysteriousness of death. We all face the same end, albeit in different ways, but the end result is the same.

"Grieve not as those who have no hope" - 1 Thess 4:13

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Somethin' Ain't Right

There is something intrinsically wrong with death. Death seems to be unnecessary. It does not fit into the grand design, at least before the Fall of man. Death is the judgment for sin, for turning from God's truth to the enemy's lie. Still, knowing the judgment's origin and why we must die does not minimize the mystery and necessity for it.

While experiencing grief, I must confess moments of doubt about God's grand design for all of human existence. Doubt comes in many forms; this one is not about whether He is a just and loving God. No, this doubt comes clothed in the realization that death is wrong; it is yet another indicator of the brokeness of this world and of God's judgment on us for sin. All of Creation is moaning and groaning for redemption, something those who are awake confront each day. Death reminds us that it was not part of His original plan for mankind. It is His judgment.

Once death is seen as wrong and not in keeping with God's eternal plan for all who are created in His image, its sting is lessened. It also serves as a motivation to speak Truth to all who will hear, to sound the alarm that our time is approaching.

When a dearly loved family member dies, it should prompt something within us to declare, "No! Death is not right!" While also declaring, "Praise be to God for sacrificing His Son, whose death once and for all removed the judgment!" Death serves the purpose of reminding us to look to Him for answers, to go to Him and say, "Somethin' Ain't Right" for it's at that moment we realize our total need of Him. Death comes for all of us.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Independent Voter

Recently I read an article about a Texas politician who apologized to BP for what he characterized as a "shakedown" in reference to the 20 billion dollar fund the president has asked the company to establish to aid those most affected by the oil spill. Turns out this Texas politician is the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, tasked to hold a hearing about establishing the fund.

I sat back with a grin on my face since I had changed to an independent voter just a few months ago. I recalled a few conversations with my father, also an independent voter, about politics and why he held no party affiliation. I imagine Dad was fed up with partisan politics and having to answer for this or that party's ineptitude when it came to governing the land. I imagine it was deeper than that, though, and knowing my father, he perceived this world in a different and profound way. It had to do with perspective.

My father is a citizen of heaven, a position he held while a mortal, just as all those who are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. As citizens of heaven, we are freed from the constraints of the flesh, in this case, political party affiliation. Yes, yes, claiming independent voter status is an affiliation, but unlike all other affiliations, it holds the least restrictions. Like my father, my first allegiance and affiliation rests with the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was not a Republican, or a Democrat, or anything else. As citizens of heaven, we can rest assured that no matter the idiocies committed by political parties, we are exempt from their affects. Does this mean a Christian cannot hold a particular party affiliation? Of course not. What it means is we are free to choose, since our first affiliation is in heaven, the place we call home. We are free to find humor in the conventions of man, of whom we are counted as one until we, too, shall one day reside in our homeland. I look forward to the reunion that awaits and to laughing about this life with my father, whom I miss very much.