Tag Archives: faith

The Radical Questions of Christ

So Jesus had a knack for asking questions that threw people a little off-balance.  Questions that provoke anger, exposing his enemies, questions that stick in a person’s head and poke, like irritants introduced to an oyster.  Eventually, over time, maybe that irritant will produce a pearl.

As many smart people have observed, Jesus asked way more questions (over 300) than he specifically answered (fewer than a dozen), often, in fact, answering a question with a question.  Yeah, annoying.  But I can just imagine Him grinning as His disciples sputtered, unperturbed as He flummoxed folks.  Jesus had a knack for leaving people dumbfounded.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus’ questions this week, questions that I brush past to give a Sunday school answer, but could, if I let them, do a number on me.  Among many others, He asked:

  • Why are you so afraid? (Matthew 8:26)
  • What are you seeking? (John 1:38)
  • Do you want to get well? (John 5:6)
  • Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3)

Wow, right to the point, Jesus.  Couldn’t you be a little more, well, tactful?  But He’s never one for the Hallmark card.  And by grilling us so thoroughly, He gives us plenty of food for thought.

Do you ever wish God spoke to you more directly?  Perhaps He is more inclined now, as He was then, to ask questions rather than give answers.  What if we let Him ask?  What if we put some thought into our answers?  I’m thinking for a season I’m going to ponder the question marks He left behind, let them speak to me today.  I’m guessing I’m not going to like them all, but maybe they have the power to change me, bit by bit.

Here’s a sample.  Which ones speak to you?

  1. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? (Matthew 5:46-47)
  2. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27, Luke 12:25)
  3. Why do you worry about clothes? (Matthew 6:28)
  4. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3)
  5. Why are you so afraid? (Matthew 8:26)
  6. Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4)  Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? (Luke 5:22)
  7. Do you believe that I am able to do this? (Matthew 9:28)
  8. To what can I compare this generation? (Matthew 11:16)
  9. Why did you doubt? (Matthew 14:31)
  10. Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? (Matthew 15:3)
  11. Who do people say the Son of Man is? (Matthew 16:13)  Who do you say I am? (Matthew 16:15)  What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he? (Matthew 22:42)
  12. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
  13. How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? (Matthew 17:17)
  14. Why do you ask me about what is good? (Matthew 19:17)  Why do you call me good? (Mark 10:18)
  15. What is it you want? (Matthew 20:21)  What do you want me to do for you? (Matthew 20:32, Mark 10:51)
  16. Can you drink the cup I am going to drink? (Matthew 20:22) Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me? (John 18:11)
  17. How will you escape being condemned to hell? (Matthew 23:33)
  18. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)
  19. Why are you thinking these things? (Mark 2:8)
  20. Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? (Mark 4:21)
  21. Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? (Mark 4:40)  Where is your faith? (Luke 8:25)  When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)
  22. What is your name? (Mark 5:9, Luke 8:30)
  23. Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? (Mark 7:18)
  24. Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up? When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up? Do you still not understand? (Mark 8:17-21)
  25. [To a blind man] Do you see anything? (Mark 8:23)
  26. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? (Mark 9:12)  Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? (Luke 24:26)
  27. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? (Mark 9:50, Luke 14:34)
  28. Are you asleep?  Could you not keep watch for one hour? (Mark 14:37)  Why are you sleeping?  (Luke 22:46)
  29. Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)
  30. Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? (Luke 10:36)
  31. Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? (Luke 11:40)
  32. Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? (Luke 12:57)
  33. Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? (Luke 14:31)
  34. Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? (Luke 15:4, Matthew 18:12)
  35. Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? (Luke 15:8)
  36. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? (Luke 16:11)
  37. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? (Luke 18:7)
  38. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? (Luke 22:27)
  39. Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? (Luke 24:38)
  40. What are you seeking? (John 1:38)
  41. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? (John 3:12)
  42. Do you want to get well? (John 5:6)
  43. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? (John 5:44)
  44. If you do not believe Moses’ writings how will you believe me? (John 5:47)
  45. Does this offend you? (John 6:61)
  46. You do not want to leave too, do you? (John 6:67)
  47. Have I not chosen you? (John 6:70)
  48. Why is my language not clear to you? (John 8:43)
  49. Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? (John 8:46)
  50. Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? (John 10:36)
  51. Do you believe this? (John 11:26)
  52. Do you understand what I have done for you? (John 13:12)
  53. Don’t you know me, even after I have been among you such a long time? (John 14:9)
  54. Who is it you want? (John 18:4,7)
  55. Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me? (John 18:34)
  56. Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for? (John 20:15)
  57. Do you love me? (John 21:17)
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In a World Dry as Kindling

Dear Kids,

As you might have noticed, we were born in America.  We come from families with a long history of working hard to beat the odds, of excelling in all kinds of jobs—or not, as the case may be.  We have drinkers and pirates and politicians and scalawags, artists, creators, teachers, and pastors lining up in our DNA.  Some were noble.  Some were despicable.  Some were heroes and some victims (like as not, those two qualities combined.)  They are the stuff of legend.

As for our family, we’ve enjoyed a modest happiness, sheltered from much harm, sleepy with blessings and hopeful with dreams.  We’ve visited wide sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, fields full of sunflowers, mountains that scrape the sky.  We have sung around campfires and feasted on turkey every Thanksgiving.  We are no one special, except that by the grace of God, we are loved.

We are not special.  We are loved.

There are in this wide country a great many people who tell a different story.  Oh, their families, too, have high points and low, moments of love, moments of hate.  Maybe they don’t expect breakfast most mornings, maybe they’ve never seen much beyond a boarded-up window.  But people are people, dreamers and drifters, lovers and loved.  We all laugh easy when we go to bed warm and full, when we wake up hopeful.  We all come into the world wired for friendship and meaningful days.

It isn’t too hard to see where hate starts, where, if you were bent on it, you could rip a flag along fraying seams.  Envy, mostly, pride, or thoughts of revenge, fulcrums that pivot us toward dark places.  We all want justice for our enemies and mercy for ourselves.  We all die a little with the death of a dream or a door slammed.  It’s easier to be hard than tender.  It’s certainly easier to hold a grudge than forgive.  Sustain enough injuries, and scar tissue grows up, cording thick around our hearts, squeezing out grace.

A long enough drought and it only takes a spark to burn a million acres.

Our country is dry right now, really dry.  Hearts are hard from hurts and words spark angry like flint striking stone.  There is no logic than can forestall a forest fire.  Only water, only love.

I pray for you.  You scamper through dry woods, while clouds thick with static gather overhead.

What if?

What will come?

I want to immunize you against the taking sides, the never-ending, unforgiving duels.  Capulets and Montagues fling arrows, bruised and outraged egos bristle back, cycles claim another generation.

But, love.

Here child, fill your bucket, pour it down over your own head.  Fill it, fill it, let it run in streams around you, a circle of safety, damp with tears.  Turn your anger into weeping, turn your eyes to heaven, turn your bruised and fragile cheek.  Bend your sword into a shovel, dig up your unplowed ground, plant thickets of mercy.

Let justice roll down like mighty waters.

It is easier to despair some days than hope, easier to choose apathy than passion.  And hope that lands in disappointment can risk your heart.  The whisper, Where is God? becomes a scream.  Your faith must be as strong as your ego is vulnerable.

I remember a poem I learned years ago, a word for the misery of our times.  It’s “Dover Beach,” by Matthew Arnold, melancholy, wistful, the sound of losing faith.  And yet he ends with hope—albeit a battered and a mournful one.  You are yet too young to grasp these words, I think, but someday when your heart is low, maybe you will hear them.  They are partly true.

The sea is calm tonight.

The tide is full, the moon lies fair

Upon the straits; on the French coast the light

Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,

Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.

Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!

Only, from the long line of spray

Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,

Listen! you hear the grating roar

Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,

At their return, up the high strand,

Begin, and cease, and then again begin,

With tremulous cadence slow, and bring

The eternal note of sadness in.

 

Sophocles long ago

Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought

Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow

Of human misery; we

Find also in the sound a thought,

Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

 

The Sea of Faith

Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore

Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.

But now I only hear

Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,

Retreating, to the breath

Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear

And naked shingles of the world.

 

Ah, love, let us be true

To one another! for the world, which seems

To lie before us like a land of dreams,

So various, so beautiful, so new,

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;

And we are here as on a darkling plain

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,

Where ignorant armies clash by night.

I wish I could sit down with Matthew Arnold, ask him if he’d lost faith or only lamented the general loss of faith in the world.  I, too, lament, but there we part.  I stake my life on this: where all is lost and broken, there is hope, hope in the person of One who bled to water the thirsty ground, hope in the One who watched hate win, only to rise again above it, triumph of meekness over might.

If this bone-dry world, sweet kids, is all there is, then we are “here as on a darkling plain”—Charlottesville, Hitler, and slavery is all there is.  Hate wins.  But if this world is just the hard-cracked shell of a seed that must first break to burst out again in life, well, then, we wait.

I pray for you to hold fast to faith.  Take courage.  Risk everything you have to love.  And drive your roots down deep, so that on a scorching day you won’t dry out.

Yours while we wait,

Mom

“He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” –Jeremiah 17:8

in the waiting,faith

Mamas and Boys

Four mamas, nine boys between us.  The oldest is fifteen, the smallest fiercely five, and we’ve been through it.  From infertility to a whole lot of surprising fertility, from spectrums and conditions to hand-wringing and tears.  We’ve seen the inside of a lot of hospitals and churches and counselors’ offices and McDonalds, laughed and snorted and cried and blushed and spent a lot of time with the mouth hanging open and the did-you-really-just-do-that shrieking at a high pitch.

Being a mama of boys (or girls, for that matter, though our particular batch of girls is awfully well-mannered and easy…  Girls are not any more or less wonderful or necessarily simpler to raise, but this post is not about them.  That’ll keep for another day.)  But back to my point — being a mama of boys is not for the faint-hearted.  You realize after a while that these little creatures are making plans, and they are not your plans.  They are diving into danger with gusto and not much forethought, and pretty soon all the mamas are running full-tilt behind them, hollering out cautions and suggestions aplenty.  We are raising little men, and they are rocketing into the future faster than we can rein them in.

These are the men who will shape the world.

You realize when you’ve been around the ring a time or two that after a while the decisions to be made come down to your boy and God.You realize after a while that the decisions to be made come down to your boy and God..jpg  None of the steam you can produce from both ears, none of the dreams you’ve dreamed can alter the story written for him; your boy is on a journey you haven’t scripted, making choices you would undo and letting the chips fall.  Think of the long history of the world, the Jacobs and Esaus and Moseses, the Roosevelts and the Edisons and the MLKs.  Think of all the mamas, running behind, waving a handkerchief vainly to keep them from boarding that train.  Wouldn’t you have cleaned up their stories a bit?  Wouldn’t you have wiped away the ugly parts?  But then they’d never have become who they were, and our collective story wouldn’t be what it is.

If I were Mary, and I could somehow save my boy from his long, troubled road, I would, I would.  But the nail that sank into his story turned out to be the fulcrum that levered the whole broken world out of the mess we were in.  That ugly nail was grace.

So how do we pray these boys into men?  What do we do when they’re rushing headlong into disaster?

Well, I guess there are a lot of squawks that sneak out before we get the hand over the mouth, a lot of lurching stomachs when we peek through the fingers.  God give us the grace to hide our face in His shoulder and let Him do all the watching and worrying.

I find myself praying for grace a lot these days; praying for the grace to let go, the grace to be patient, the love to expect all things, believe all things, endure all things.  I pray for faith in the Author and His perfectly beautiful story, and I remember all of the great men who started life as impetuous, not-always-wise boys.  I pray for grace to put down what I’m doing and listen, really listen, whenever I can; for the first thing I say in the morning and the last thing I say at night to be sweet, and not overfull of finger-wagging.

I pray for my friends’ boys, the ones with impossible hurdles ahead, and I remember that with God all things are possible.

Four mamas, nine boys.  Boys who will break bones and forget homework and visit tattoo parlors and leap off of tall things, scale mountains, raft rivers, join rock bands, and kiss girls.  Nine men who will be overcomers—courageous, visionary, strong, kind, humble, and mostly?  Very, very loved.  Four women who will learn (sometimes the hard way) to trust in our good, good Father, and share His delight in the escapades of silly, impulsive, fearless, wise-cracking little boys.

One Small Prayer

platitude, noun:  a remark or statement (especially with moral content) that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.  Cliché.

It has happened a hundred times.  At gravesides, hospital beds, over coffee.  Tears are falling, someone is looking for answers.

He won’t be with us much longer.  

I’m going to lose the baby.  

We’re living in our car.  How did this happen?  

It’s really over this time. 

Where is God?

The questions come fast and thick, stumbling over one another in the race to be asked.  A lifetime of doubts and puzzles have accumulated and been ignored too long; now, in the moment of crisis, they all rush out at once.

Is God good?  Does God care?  Is God powerful?  Can He help?

We stand tongue-tied and awkward in the force of the deluge.  How can we adequately respond?  What can we say in the face of cancer or abuse or prison or divorce that can possibly reach wide enough to embrace that kind of hurt?

And we know, we really know, that it isn’t enough to say the usual things.  “It’ll be all right.  I know what you’re going through.”  Will it?  Do I?

And so, yesterday.  Again we turn on the radio to hear bad news, the senseless kind, the how-did-God-let-this-happen, is-He-on-His-lunchbreak kind.  And we most of us stand there kind of stunned and try to think what can possibly be said, while a few of us, the Important People, are handed a microphone.  And deep down, they’re feeling the same way.  What can they say?  How can they help?

So they say the only thing they know how to say, they mouth the words.  “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims.”  And no doubt they, too, have the same flood of questions behind the brave face:  where is God?  why has this happened?  when will it end?  But Important People aren’t afforded the luxury of confusion.  Important People need to have all the answers.  Important People need to DO something.

New-York-Daily-News-front-page-Thursday-December-3-2015-san-bernardino-shootings-474x620

Of course, that’s just ridiculous.  Because none of us have any answers, do we?

Or maybe we do.  Maybe prayer is the right answer after all.  And when we’re stumped and we don’t know how to pray, we look to the pray-ers of the past.  We cry out, “How long, O Lord?” with a chorus of heartbroken voices.  We call out, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”  We name our fears, our despair, our confusion, and we rob them of their power over us.  And then we name our Deliverer.

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love.”

“The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.”

We kneel precisely because we know the magnitude of our problem and our complete inability to fix it.  How could we?

What is it the Important People are expected to do?  Heal the broken and bleeding human heart?  Turn anger and hate into kindness and love?  Legislate hope?

But there is a vast difference between real prayer and “good thoughts,” between kneeling and posing for the camera.  I saw someone sign off a webcast the other day with the closing line, “vibes to you.”  I’ve been laughing about that ever since — vibes, baby.  But it’s a sad thing when we send our positive and encouraging willpower across the miles as though there is any whiff of restorative power in it, any chance of redemption unfurling in our fond thoughts.  When candidates send empathy over the airwaves or tear up for a photo op, it’s no wonder it makes skeptics cringe.  No one’s fooled by vibes.

A god that stood aloof and watched tragedy multiply through the ages, the unmoved mover, well, prayers to that god wouldn’t fix a thing.  Prayers to a cold and stoic deity would be an exercise in foolishness, spitting in the wind.  But a God that hears?  A God that, say, gave up His throne for a manger and exchanged a palace for a broke-down stable?  That God, who endured the senseless violence and suffered the bad news personally?  Well, that’s good news.  That’s great joy.  And we name that God,

“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  For to us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders.

We name that God Emmanuel, because He became one of us, and yes, He did fix us.  Anyone who wanted fixing, that is.

And so I pray today to the Lord of Broken Hearts, the Lord of Sacrificial Love, the Blood Donor God who split a vein to pour out hope for all of us.

How long, O Lord?  We wait for You.

Why in the world…

People sometimes want to know what it is like to live on the full-time financial support of others.  Isn’t there a better way?  Grants, say, or the insurance payout from accidental dismemberment?  The very idea of raising support gives most people the heebie-jeebies, and when one’s son or daughter is contemplating a life of service, and therefore, support-raising, many a parent would rather lock said child into a padded cell than allow them to embark down that trail.

Michael and I have been support-raising missionaries for over 17 years now, altogether.  We’ve laid bare our finances before lots of curious eyes, fielded questions about how we spend our money, prayed in earnest when the account was drooping low, whooped with joy when unexpected gifts arrive.  We’ve watched with a hint of envy when our friends have been given raises and promotions and blushed with embarrassed gratitude when large gifts have been dropped in our laps.  And this week, as has happened many times before, we have cheered on friends who’ve given up lucrative careers to do the same.

Why in the wide world would any able-bodied, reasonably intelligent human being determine to pursue a career requiring such a humbling posture of need?

Well, I’ll tell you.

fontcandy-2First of all, nobody ought to do such a thing unless pretty darn sure of calling.  If you’re kind of on the fence about missions, or you know, you’d just as soon be a dentist, you might want to head that way.  But if you are pretty clear that you’re setting off to follow God down this counter-cultural bunny trail, even if you don’t happen to know where He’s going, you’re in good hands.  The God who’s called “Jehovah Jireh,” the God who provides, is not pulling a fast one on you.

Some of the best stories on this score come from George Müller, a Prussian fellow whose family pretty much thought he was cracked.  But Müller was listening to a voice his respectable father couldn’t hear, and in spite of opposition, went on to found 117 schools and take care of over 10,000 orphans.  His story is fantastic, especially the times (and there were many) that he blithely set out to do something completely impossible and God came through in the eleventh hour with exactly — I mean exactly — the right amount of money to carry it off.  My favorite is the time he’d run out of money and food with 300 hungry orphans to feed.  What would you do?  He seated everyone around the breakfast table and thanked God for the food.  (There was none.)  Just then a baker showed up and offered fresh bread for everyone.  “God told me to,” he explained.  A few moments later there was another knock; a milk truck had broken down outside and the milkman had to get rid of 10 large cans full of milk before it spoiled.  Just enough, of course, for 300 kids.

So if you have to raise support because you feel like God’s called you to, that ought to be reason enough to do so fearlessly.  But once you’re out there doing it, there are lots of reasons it’s not so bad.  Heck, it’s even pretty great.  Top of the list?  Kindness.

fontcandyHaving a cadre of dozens and dozens of families who love you and pray for you on a regular basis is better than winning any lottery in the world.  It’s magical.  It’s beautiful.  There is a kind of love lavished and heaped on us that could crack your heart in pieces.  And the absolute ravishing power of prayer, hundreds of prayers, lifted on our behalf, is an amazing thing to feel.  No doubt those prayers have done more to advance the gospel and shine the love of Christ than all of the outreaches and services and good deeds we’ve ever done, multiplied 100 times over.  I cannot imagine embarking in missions without our prayer team standing behind us.  I think if we were offered a full and easy salary we didn’t have to raise, but at the forfeiture of our prayer team, I’d have to turn it down.

Our supporters put hands and feet on the grace of God and pass it on so very tangibly that it never cUnknown-1eases to astonish us.  We know down to our DNA that we don’t deserve this grace or do a thing to earn it; it is heaped up, pressed down, and running over, simply because our God is so, so good.

It’s no small thing to support a missionary, either in prayer or by check or charge.  So for all of you supporters out there, know that every time you lift up a missionary family before you pass the peas, every time you stamp an encouraging note and drop it in the box, every time you count the cost of another dinner out you’re passing up in order to give, you’re actually enfleshing an answer to prayer.  You are God’s beautiful gift to us.

Thank you.

See Eternally: Homesick, Part 2

In the waiting, do you lose heart? God is not dead, nor does he sleep. The hiddenness of God does not indicate his absence, his apathy, or even his inaction, just our own blindness. We can’t see God or his host of angels any more than we can see electrons whirling around in our fingertip. That doesn’t mean he isn’t there.

imageInfants enter the world without the ability to trust the invisible. Peek-a-boo is startling to a baby because the baby cannot fathom that Dad, having disappeared, is still in the building. Psychologists say that developing a sense of “object permanence” is one of the first milestones of an infant’s cognitive growth. So it is for the born again. Christ, the Rock, must be to us a permanent object, or we are forever stunted, spiritual babies, subject to panic. Where is he? I can’t see him! I have been waiting five whole minutes!

In the waiting, faith.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is unnecessary when visual evidence is in supply. Should God condescend to give you a roadmap of his plans, you can hang your faith on a hook and rely on divine GPS. In the meantime, faith is the choice of a blind man to trust another’s eyes, to trust enough to run.

While we wait, heaven, too, is waiting. In Hebrews, we read that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, believers gone before us, cheering us on. Run, therefore, even when you are afraid and blind. The finish line is near. The stands are packed, the cheering is a roar. The reward is sweet.

“If I weep,” sang Rich Mullins, “let it be as a man who is longing for his home.” Are you homesick? What a home you have to look forward to.

In Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Revelation we are treated to bizarre descriptions of heaven, relayed by people powerless to articulate what they have been privileged to see. No time traveling involved, mind you — what they glimpsed of heaven was there all along, is there even now, out of sight. The veil briefly lifted, the vision cleared, and hey ho! More than meets the eye. A crystal-clear sea, a city gleaming like jewels, the river of life overhung with orchards straight from Eden… above all, seated high on a throne, the King of Kings, so magnificent in power and glory that even the seraphim cover their eyes, overcome with perpetual awe. This is your home. Seeing eternally means seeing with eyes of faith what we cannot yet see with eyes brown, blue, or green, and translating that faith into footsteps.

10,000 Ways That Won’t Work

Thomas Edison is known to have said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

10,000? Here are a few.

1. Whining doesn’t work. Just makes yucky things take longer.
2. Being crabby. Ditto.
3. Being prideful. Love falling on my face, but perchance a little humility goes a long way?
4. Keeping score. (The winner never really wins.)
5. Making the wrong thing the main thing and missing the moment that counts.
6. What is the opposite of faith? Snatching the reins and going the wrong way? Much harder to go blind with only an invisible hand to guide, but you’ll never have to backtrack.
7. Being really, really cautious. Sometimes you just have to take the risk.
8. Procrastinating. But wait, I like that one! Maybe I can procrastinate just a little.
9. Taking things for granted. Every day is a miracle. Just ask the guy who lost everything — you probably know him.

10,000 ways that won’t work, one that will. Today may we live faith, hope, and love.