Posts Tagged ‘John 1:14

23
Mar
21

The God Who Gets It

By now, my response cycle has become a well-practiced routine.

I hear news reports of a mass shooting. I shake my head and sigh, “Not again.” I await the slow trickle of further details, incrementally ratcheting up my shock and outrage as numbers and circumstances are revealed.

Three dead… four dead… ten dead… lone gunman… “unclear about any motive…”, “eyewitnesses report…”, “scores of unanswered questions…”, “awaiting notifications of next of kin…”

The officials speak. The bystanders speak. Sometimes the family speaks. And through it all I shake my head in utter bewilderment and sorrow…

… until I reach for the remote and change the channel to see what else is going on in the world.

But this time it is different. This time the tragedy struck frighteningly close to home. 

That is because the grocery store in Boulder, Colorado where a gunman killed 10 people yesterday – including a Boulder police officer – is located two blocks from my stepson’s apartment. It is his King Soopers. In fact, he was in that exact store yesterday morning, shopping for a few essentials, not long before all hell broke loose there.

This time I saw the terror in the eyes of the survivors a little more clearly.

This time the stabbing pain of family members whose loved ones will never return from their trip to the store penetrates my soul more profoundly. 

This time my sense of outrage and confusion about people randomly killing other people using outrageous weapons that were never meant to exist outside of a military setting is much more unshakable. 

This time I find myself dwelling… not moving on as quickly as I did before. 

Because this time it feels close… personal… tangible.

It also reminds me why I consider the idea of God’s INCARNATION to be such a vital part of the faith I profess. In the light of these newly exposed nerve endings of mine, the biblical phrase, “… the Word became flesh and lived among us…” (John 1:14 NRSV) suddenly takes on a searing new urgency. 

It tells me that God is not remote and abstract.

It tells me that when we suffer, God suffers. 

It tells me that human pain and sorrow and tragedy and heartbreak are even more real to God than they are to me.

It also assures me that I could not be more off base than during those times when I am tempted to sink down in sorrow, wring my hands, and cry out, “NO ONE UNDERSTANDS WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH!!”

It brings Psalm 34:18 to mind where we read the timeless truth that says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”

It will take me a long time to shake this one off and move on. I am equally sure that new outrages loom on the horizon as we begin to emerge from our cocoons and gather in large groups again. 

In the aftermath of this most recent horror, I feel a compulsion to DO SOMETHING instead of just sitting and sorrowing… but for the life of me I have no idea what that SOMETHING might be.

For now, I am going to pray that the families of all those affected by yesterday’s horror in Boulder might feel the arms of Jesus wrapped tightly around them, offering comfort and understanding…

… and give thanks for a God who “gets it.”

Abundant blessings;

28
Aug
18

Fish Nibble Love

I had to look it up.

The name of the fish is Garra Rufa. They are sometimes referred to as “doctor fish” and they have apparently become the hottest thing in spa treatments. That’s because if you put your feet into a tub full of them, they nibble off all of the dead skin.

But nowhere in the literature did it tell me that the tiny Garra Rufa fish could also serve as an instrument of religious revelation.

In November 2014 I was fortunate to lead a group of people from my church on a 10-day pilgrimage to Israel. This is an experience I cannot recommend highly enough for those who aspire to follow Christ. The experience of walking in the exact same places where Jesus walked, seeing some of the exact same things he saw, breathing the same air he breathed is soul-changing.

Yardenit baptismal siteOn Thursday of that first week, the itinerary called for us to stop at Yardenit (meaning “little Jordan”). Yardenit is a place on the banks of the Jordan River that has been set up to allow pilgrims to stop and either re-enact their baptisms or be baptized for the first time… in the JORDAN RIVER!

I was not going to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I paid my money to rent the obligatory white robe, went to the locker room and put it on over my swimming suit, and got into line.

When my turn came I was dipped under the murky, brown water of the Jordan by two people and had the Trinity invoked in my name, and was anointed with oil… an EXTREMELY powerful moment for me.

But you know what I remember most about that whole experience? I remember that as I stood there in line, waiting to be dunked, the little Garra Rufa fish were swimming around my feet. And then they began nibbling away at all the dead skin they could find. Yardenit 2I’m sure it was a delightful buffet for them.

At first, it startled me … and then it tickled… and then became very annoying. I mean, here I was, trying to be all spiritual and holy and there are these little fish, nibbling on my feet under the water. But as this was all happening, a really odd thought hit me. The thought that hit me was this: “I wonder if these same little fish nibbled at JESUS’ feet when HE was here being baptized?”

And the moment I asked that question, it was like WHAM! This whole, lofty, theological concept that we call INCARNATION suddenly became very, very real to me. We read John’s gospel where it says, “And the word became flesh and lived among us…”(John 1:14, NRSV), and we can be very analytical and thoughtful about what that means. But it wasn’t until I finally got this image of Jesus… standing right there in that water… having his feet nibbled on by these pesky little fish, that the whole thing became really real for me.

And then, I don’t mind telling you, it was a moment that jumped up there right alongside the moment of witnessing the birth of my first child, or standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. It became a moment when the raw reality of God and God’s love for me came up and smacked me in the face like an open hand.

WHAAACK!!!

I started to weep on the spot and could not keep the words of John 3:16 from running through my mind. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NRSV).

Or, as I paraphrased it at that moment, “For God so loved the world that he allowed his feet to be nibbled on by little fish!”

That is real love, folks. Love that bends down and experiences the full range of humanity… from the sublime to the ridiculous… from the mountaintop to the outhouse… from the holy moment of baptism to the annoying little fish nibbles… THAT is the real deal.

And that is the real love God offers YOU today.




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