Archive for August, 2011


dropwe spend so much time in our developing years in efforts to lose our innocence. It’s believed, apparently, that maturity and sophistication requires it. We must never—at any cost—be perceived as being naïve and gullible. This is a social stigma we rarely live down. So we rush to the gathering of “the cool” hoping that we don’t fall out of favor with these hipsters by displaying the slightest

Josiah and the horse he rode in on

vestige of innocence before their judging eyes.

Strangely, however, once our “eyes have been opened” and we have “arrived” in spiffy chic company, we find a deep longing for what we were so eager to rid ourselves of. The producer and singer, Steve Taylor, once wrote the lyric:

“Innocence, innocence, innocence lost. All souls want it back, some uncover the cost.”

Perhaps this longing—this desire to return to the simplicity of the garden—accounts for the peace we often feel in the presence of the yet-unspoiled purity of children. Perhaps it accounts in some way for the fact that something in the sweet strains of music has the capacity to charm even “the savage breast.” Why were we so eager to lose our innocence?

“…prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation…”  from Paul’s letter to the Philippian believers—2:15

As a father, I remember so fondly the intimate sweetness of my innocent little boys. There were countless delights in the presence of their sincere, unsuspicious, and unabashed love. Wide-eyed and guileless, they gave me eyes to see things I had become blind to. No wonder the Messiah told us that unless we become (again) like children, we will never even perceive the kingdom of God—much less enter it.  (Matthew 18:3)

I miss these little guys,…though I love the young men they’ve become! May they never despise innocence.

This Week’s Message from God’s Word

 

 

The Color of Grief

The Color of Grief

dropThe sweet little girl at her great-grandmother’s funeral had just asked me why the funeral people drive those “funny looking cars.” After I made a stab at answering that one, she proceeded to another query. Looking intently at my dark suit she asked, “Why do you wear black?” Her mother stood behind her clad in the same grave color.

I don’t remember exactly how I attempted to answer her color question, but it had to do with undertaking an explanation for the term; “tradition”, and that we sometimes wear the color of how we feel—to show our respect, and that we’re sad for our loss.  I don’t believe that any of that computed for this little cherub. In contrast to us, this little one stood there brightly in her cheerful, colorful, spring-like floral dress as she proudly announced; “I like color!” “What if the sky was the color of my dress?” she continued…

Always, it’s out of the mouths of babes…

Indeed,… what is the color of grief and death? Depends, doesn’t it? For some, when death enters there is not a color black enough to express their heart’s despair. For others death seems only an inconvenient annoyance, barely given any respect at all—while that bright soul fixes on flowers, butterflies and blue skies.

They say nobody knows what happens when we die. I say if we don’t know, then,… keep wearing black. They say, “No, everybody goes to heaven, or when you die you just cease to exist, or you’ll go to the “Big Rock Candy Mountain”,  or they make some other statement of faith. But I thought we couldn’t make any statements like that, cause nobody knows what’s beyond? Of course, that too, is a statement of faith. An unprovable opinion. The only way, I guess, we could actually know anything would be if somebody died, went beyond, and then came back to tell us about it. Oh wait,…somebody did!

The Bible says, in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”

Since there is a Savior, we don’t grieve like the rest. The grief is all laced with grace. Hope is no wish. It’s a settled fact that we anticipate. The hopeful fact is, to turn a phrase—”dead men may tell tales”. They may live again. There is a Redeemer. There is hope.

Perhaps my little friend at the cemetery is on to something. Maybe next time one of my trusting friends makes their departure, I’ll ditch the black suit and choose my floral Hawaiian.

Proof

clariceIf you have never known someone like Clarice King you have missed one of the most compelling proofs, that there is a God, and that He is good. It hurts my soul to think that so many haven’t met such fine human beings. If I had never seen them, and known their kindness, and marveled at their patience, and “kicked my shoes off” in the comfort of their love, I don’t know if just the stuff I read in a book would have done it for me.

If I had not seen such a wonderful parallel in real life with what I read on the written page it would be virtually impossible to believe what was on the page alone. It would be just too much for my already small and often anemic faith. There would be just too much incongruity between the claims of the Christ and what may actually be lived.

I am so thankful for the ones in my life, however few they be, that looked like, acted like, and talked like the One Who made all that character possible. I hope you know the kind I mean? Patient in adversity. Kind to everyone (even the most undeserving). Always encouraging. Always quick with a smile. Always serving others. They come from all walks of life, all sizes, and races, and nationalities, and ages. They are sometimes the one you least suspect will possess these qualities. You might not see them at all because they care nothing for coming into the spotlight so you can even notice them—much less admire them.

They likely won’t be interviewed on the news. Moral failure, hypocrisy, greed, and illegal behavior make better press. Too many would prefer to believe there is no such thing as a real Christian. I guess I can’t blame them. If they’ve never met one, what else would you conclude?