Thoughts and Meditations from verses and stories through one guy's head and heart... Psalm 124:7
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Last Thursday our sweet little Norah had surgery. It was the first time one of our kids has had to be ‘put under’ as they say, and it was pretty rough for us to walk out of the pre-op room as they wheeled our little girl out into who knows what… In a little less than an hour, they were finished and we got to go see her, which was also very difficult. Poor Norah was so confused and out of it. She was hurting and had no idea why and couldn’t even open her little eyes to see us… We held her and rocked her and after a couple of hours took her home. I thought the worst was over, but little did I realize that the medicine the doctors prescribed for her would be an all-out battle…
It’s this liquid pain medicine that tastes really nasty. In fact, it’s so nasty that Norah starts crying and shaking every time she sees the big red bottle. She starts freaking out and swallowing air so fast that it’s almost impossible for her to get anything down. What’s more, we have to wake her up throughout the night to give her these meds! One hard thing for me has been the fact that I work during the day, which means that I give Norah meds before I leave for work, when I get home from work and in the middle of the night. Some of my only interactions with her have been these awful medicine bouts. It’s gotten to a state where she sees me and just starts crying because she knows I’m there to give her this medicine, which she hates like poison. I have been praying for a solution to these dreadful, medicinal encounters and then all of a sudden it happened last night…
Christy had an idea… an amazing idea… it was a stroke of pure genius! I woke Norah up and brought her into our bedroom to give her the medicine and as soon as she opened her eyes and saw my face, she said, “No Daddy, I don’t want it!” and started to cry. I was once again in that state of despair knowing that I had to put my kid through something she hated for her own good, when Christy said, “Hey Norah, do you want to make us try your medicine?” Norah’s tears stopped instantly and she said, “What?” I grabbed the baton and ran with it… “Yeah, Norah,” I said, “Do you want to give Daddy some of your medicine?” Norah’s face brightened up for the first time in days and she nodded her head. I gave her a dose of nasty, yucky medicine and then she gave me a dose. It was amazing. The fact that I was willing to go through her trouble with her made all the difference in the world.
Hebrews 4 tells us that Jesus went through everything we have to go through. Verse 15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.” Jesus knows what it feels like to be hurt and sad. He knows what it means to experience loss and betrayal. He knows how it feels to be misunderstood and made fun of. He knows how it feels to be hungry and homeless and poor and hated. He has personally felt and experienced every varying degree of human hurt. You are not alone. Whatever you’re going through and however you hurt, He knows. He knows how it feels. He came all the way down here and took all our medicine for us… in fact, He has not only been through our pains, He has known pain and hurt that we who believe in Him will never, ever have to know.
English novelist and playwright Dorothy Sayers said, “Whatever game, he is playing with his creation, God has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He has himself gone through the whole of human experience from trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair and death. He had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine.”
“Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself…”
These words, written thousands of years ago by the Sons of Korah stung me this morning. I was sitting in a dim room by myself looking for comfort in the Word of God and this is what I found. Birds have a place to go, a place to call their own. They have their own little place in the world where they can feed their young and settle down to sleep. Birds have a home, but I don’t.
You see, ever since two trees fell on our house, we’ve been staring down the barrel of an impending relocation. That means that while a construction crew comes in to rebuild our damaged home, they will stick us somewhere else. Our relocation specialist worked with a realtor to find us a home to go into. We checked it out and it seemed okay, so we signed the papers. Yesterday we moved in there and it was crazy. Turns out the house previously belonged to a chain smoker, which meant that we were trapped in a giant ashtray, which happened to have an address. All day long we opened windows and burned candles, but we couldn’t escape the smoke and dust that had accumulated over the decades. After many headaches and unceasing coughs, we gave up trying to sleep at around 3:30 AM and by 4:00, Christy was packing boxes!
Over the past few days we have packed, unpacked and packed again. I have acquired and then broken hotel reservations. We have washed our clothes in four different washing machines and cooked in three different kitchens. We have used bathrooms in 6 different houses. I have done walk-throughs on houses and apartments all over town. I have realtors, insurance adjustors, contractors, landlords, apartment managers and relocators on speed dial. We have signed and broken lease agreements and I am now on a first name basis with every person who works in the electrical or utilities department of Oak Ridge… Needless to say, it’s been a wild couple of days.
And there I was this morning at about 5:15 AM looking for some encouragement and solace in the Word, and one of Korah’s boys tells me about how birds have homes… Yeah!? Well what about us!”
With a quaking heart, I continued reading Psalm 84… “O Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.” There it is. That’s what I was looking for. You see, we’re not really supposed to ever feel at home in this world. I do have a real home… a real nest and it’s not here. My true home is with You, O Lord. While I’m here on this planet, I’m just a pilgrim… journeying. I’m just a nomad, wandering around until I really and truly arrive at home with You. Oh, I can’t wait!
“They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.”
As long as I live, I will probably never forget the sound of the trees that crackled, split and crashed onto our house a month ago. I didn’t know at the time what was happening, but I remember feeling that something was wrong, or that I was hearing a very unusual or otherworldly sound. The sound of the splitting was crisp and brittle. It almost had a ring to it. The tree hitting the house was a low, booming thud and then for a second everything was really quiet. I still didn’t know exactly what had happened and then I heard picture frames hitting the floor in our living room and kitchen and without really knowing, I knew that there was a tree on my house. That night, after the sun was down and my friends had finally gotten all of the branches cleared off of the roof, there was one job left to do… get the massive trunk of that oak off of the tripod support holding it up and onto the ground. Once again, I’ll never forget the awesome tremble of the planet earth and the sound that was made when that trunk struck the ground. You know that old philosophical question, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound?” Well, whoever first said that has never actually watched and heard a tree fall. Trust me… it makes a sound.
There is such an air of finality when a tree is cut down and strikes the earth. It may have been 150 or 200 years ago, but at some point that massive tree was just a little acorn small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. Then it went into the ground to die where it germinated, sprouted and started it’s long, slow climb to the sun. For generations it has defied gravity, hoarding nutrients, water and light and spreading out a color-changing canopy over my back yard. Then, after growing and dropping leaves, after enduring droughts and rain, snowy days and summer heat countless times over, the wind blew and it fell. When it fell, it was over. It no longer takes the lion’s share of the water or claims the prime sky space. It’s reign has come to an end… see ya.
I’ve been reading and thinking this week about John the Baptist and how weird he was. I mean, the guy lived in the woods, never cut his hair, wore a camel-skin poncho and ate bugs. Yeah. But not only that, he wasn’t afraid to speak up and tell whoever might be standing there about just how screwed up they were. His whole message revolved around the problem of sin. “People are messed up and you’re one of ‘em.” That was his favorite sermon. He followed it up with, “By the way, you better stop it and turn your self around before you get deleted.” In Luke 3 John the Baptist said this: “The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” In other words, sin has been germinating, growing and spreading its branches long enough. A day is coming where God is going to cut that tree down and end it forever.
Then John met Jesus. Jesus came to be baptized, except that He didn’t need to be baptized for repentance from sin, because He’d never done anything wrong. John didn’t understand it, but he baptized Jesus anyway. After that Jesus left for 40 days and when He came back, John didn’t refer to Jesus as the fire-flinging, axe-wielding Messiah King. He called Him, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Maybe during those 40 days John read Isaiah again. Maybe he read chapter 53 again and was reminded of the way God was going to deal with sin… See, sin is the problem. And it is like a tree that’s grown out of control, and God was planning to cut it down; but Jesus laid down on that tree and let Himself be nailed to it. He cut Himself down, put Himself through the fire so that we could be forgiven. He died to bring finality to the problem of sin. Now I can change and grow. Soon our Lord will return and then love will reign and never again will sin spread its branches over the endless blue sky.
Jack and his buddy, the very famous Sam Warren. You can see more amazing pics of that little dude by clicking here.
Our Favorite Jokes
The next time you start to complain about your situation, stop for a second and ask yourself this: “Hey self, are you currently wearing a big, fat, wooden yoke on your neck?” Then correctly answer yourself by saying, “No, I don’t believe I am.” Then ask yourself this: “Hey again self, are you currently in the dark, down in a cistern, standing up to your neck in mud, unable to recline or rest at all?” Then once again, correctly answer yourself by saying, “No, come to think of it, I am not.”
Lately I have been reading the book of Jeremiah. At times it has been confusing and at times it has been exhausting. Mainly though, it’s just been sad. It’s been sad to watch this lonely guy crying out to his people and begging them to understand the terrible things that are about to happen to them and their families and their homes and their country. It’s been sad watching him beg people to listen to the fact that they have brought this on themselves. It’s been sad to watch them all ignore him and hate him and turn away from his repeated and desperate warnings. It’s been sad to watch the heart of God break over and over again from the neglect and disobedience of His people.
As I read yesterday, the Lord told Jeremiah to put a big yoke around his neck and wear it around town as if he were some kind of farm animal. It was a plea… God’s way to try and connect with those of us who are more visual learners. They didn’t heed the lesson. This dude named Hananiah grabbed the yoke, smashed it and told Jeremiah to shut up. Today I read about how the Lord told Jeremiah to get a guy to write all the warnings down and instead of getting the point, the king cut the paper up line by line and tossed it into the fire. Then they took Jeremiah and basically threw him down in a sewer where he was covered in mud. Wow… talk about a rough day!
We’ve felt a little underneath it all recently… that is, there have been a lot of trials and troubles going on. We’ve had lots of car problems, identity theft, no heat, trees falling on the house and one sick kid after another. It’s easy to complain. It’s easy to get really, really frustrated and feel completely vindicated; but Jeremiah taught me something awesome today that’s helping me to take it in stride. You see, Jeremiah hasn’t had a bad day in over 2,500 years! He has been laughing, singing, resting and feasting for two and half millennia! He probably looks back at that cistern and laughs… he probably thinks back to that ridiculous yoke and cracks up. It’s probably his favorite joke.
In Romans 8 Paul said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.” And look, that is not some wishful thinking to get you to sleep at night… it’s true. There really is a life coming where all of these things we suffer now will do more than disappear… they’ll make us laugh. They’ll be our favorite jokes.