Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tides

It's low tide this morning. I love low tide. You really get to see what's beneath the surface. Most mornings I come down and everything looks glassy and smooth, waves rippling on the sand in even patterns. Not this morning...today it's ooey and gooey and slimy and green. Tide pools hold little creatures hostage. Crabs scurry for cover to elude the gulls. It's open and raw and honest. In a few hours the tide will come back in and cover it over again and for a time the illusion will hide the reality. The longer I've been in the pastoral artist profession, the more intrigued I've become by the process of the tides. It has become so much a visual image of the invisible process of an honest pursuit of Jesus.
I'm not even sure where in history it began. Perhaps somewhere before the dawn of time someone first articulated it innocently enough. Maybe it was in the form of encouragement. It might have been an innocent admiration. It could have been a form of optimistic aspiration. Somewhere back in time the notion was put forth that if you claimed a life and relationship with Jesus himself, then you were good to go. The hurdles came down. The temptations ceased. One brain was plucked out and another inserted to the extent that there had been both a personality and intellectual exchange with a better model. There was nothing to do, it was done for you. This, in my opinion, was the most powerful and insidious lie ever put forth on humanity.
Just when the hope of the world was delivered, literally, into our midst, a lie was whispered which became the single most effective weapon ever launched to neutralize and marginalize the message of the cross. And the lie is this... "the tide is never low in the life of a Christ follower". You were washed. You were cleansed. You were covered. The ooey gooey of the ocean floor doesn't exist for you any longer. Christ followers believe it and either create a false and unattractive facade or they perish in the strong undertow that they refuse to acknowledge. Skeptics believe it and are repulsed by the glimpses that they get when the tide inevitably goes out.
The truth, or the whole truth, of the matter is that the relationship with Jesus provides us with the hope of high tides and the promise that, in the end, we will be covered...but until then we all lie with the reality of an ocean floor and all that goes with it...and it's ooey and gooey and beautiful and messy all at the same time. The good news is that, knowing that I am created in Gods image, and acknowledging my love for walking in the low tide, I can only imagine that I inherited this from Him.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Happy

Yesterday marked the celebration of 27 years that I have been privileged to be connected with someone who really knows how to live a journey. For a good share of the day we were wished "happy" anniversary from various friends across the country. It was a good day. It was actually a "happy" day. It wasn't a blow out celebration that we have enjoyed some years. It didn't cost a great deal of money. It was just two people enjoying the journey and some simple pleasures that we have come to appreciate during within the chapter of our lives known as the Seattle years.
This morning, as I look back on the day and the years, I am contemplating the idea of "happy". I wonder, when we offer it, if it represents the idea of simply enjoying a day, or does it reflect more than that. We say happy birthday and I have to imagine that, for the most part, it means celebrate the day. Have your cake and eat it too. I know that, speaking for myself, I am not really happy that another year has passed and another years worth of crap is clogging my arteries. It is an occasion that I'd rather be looking backwards than forwards. My back hurts, my arms hurt, my knees hurt, happy birthday! I'm one year closer to dirt...or ashes. But an anniversary...that, for me, is a time to look forward.
It is when I look in a mirror and wonder how someone who looks like her could ever find someone like me desirable. Then I feel as if I just won a free pass and I determine in my heart to do a better job of making sure that she finds me desirable. I start thinking about the gym ... I said thinking... And I start thinking about my clothes, and my manners and my attitudes, and I determine to do better. I want to look forward, to the celebration next year, to feel like I, in some way, deserve someone like her. This past year may have been her year of benevolent love for the somewhat unlovable. I don't want to tempt fate a second time.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Push

As I pulled in here this morning it occurred to me that it's been 3 months since the last entry in this chronological journey. I'm not even sure why I'm starting back up again, to be honest. I guess that maybe I'm needing a place to process again all that transpires along my journey. It's a way for me to stop and smell the roses along the way. This year there have been so many and sometimes it seems as if I've barely noticed.
Honestly, I've lived more this year than most people live in a decade. As one adventure rolls into another and age prevents my memory from always keeping up, I'm left with the fleeting dream images that are sometimes so clear when you wake up in the morning, only to disappear with the morning coffee. It's a shame really...to determine to live a better story, make a decent attempt at it, and then forget where you put the pages.
So here's to living a better story. I can tell it's possible if you set yourself towards it. The trick is to establish what would be considered a better story. It's a simple process really. The better stories are the ones that last...the classics...not those that you read in college literature classes these days, I mean the ones that used to be read. The ones that ACLU members hide in their closets because they can't bear to throw them out. They are the ones with the lines that most people could quote and they'd probably be horrified to actually find out where they came from. They are, may I say it... Eternal.
Living a better story means simply answering this question. " in five years, will this have mattered?". Most of us are caught up in stuff that wouldn't make that cut. I just came back from drilling a well for a village in Honduras. That is eternal stuff. Yours doesn't have to be that exotic. In fact most will probably not be. How about just be the parent that your kid needs you to be? In five years, will it really have mattered that you worked those hours to buy that stuff? I can tell you that my kids are now grown and couldn't tell you what they did or didn't get growing up, but they did get time and time is eternal. It's the better story.
Here's another that is close to me. Being a church follower is not living a better story, being a follower of Jesus...now that is the story to be lived. Following a church is scheduled and subjective and honestly, a decent amount of the time, fairly boring. Being a follower of Jesus is wild, unpredictable, dangerous, and challenging, all hopefully wrapped around a vibrant church life. I'll let you in on a trade secret though, from the perspective of a pastoral artist. If we had more Jesus followers and less personality followers in our churches, we would once again live in the pages of a best seller.
It happened once upon a time. I believe that it can happen again. I'm betting my story on it. We just need a little push.