Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 19:26

29
Aug
22

The Unseen Doorknob

I watered our outdoor plants this morning…

Geraniums!

… and in so doing, got a first-hand taste of the meaning of futility.

I say futility first because Joan and I are big fans of annuals. Second, because it is late August.

In June and July, these bright, colorful gems are bursting with life and vitality. They keep the fireworks popping through most of August, too. And like the faithful water boy I am, I am out there every morning, dousing them with water, helping them give encore after encore.

But then August starts to wane and September waits just around the corner. And our glitzy, glamorous annual plants start to droop. 

As their short, yet flamboyant lives begin to wind down, I start to fret. I worry. I despair. I wonder if I have over-or-under watered them. I try CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on them. But despite my best efforts, they keep letting me know that their time here on our front porch is swiftly coming to an end…

… just like we all knew it would.

Have you ever had that feeling? I mean the feeling that you are working hard, trying your best to make something happen, and yet despite all the creativity and hard work you are pouring out, you are fighting a losing battle? That you are trying to fight a forest fire with an eye dropper.

I sure have.

Even though it was an eternity ago, I remember that the Wonderful World of Dating often felt like a completely pointless undertaking. “I am NEVER going to find the right person! What am I even DOING?”

Parenting certainly had (has?) more than its share of futile feeling moments. Can I get an AMEN on that one?

And while most pastors who are still working won’t admit it, all retired pastors will tell you that ministry feels pretty futile sometimes. It is, in all likelihood, the reason Saint Augustine is said to have found it necessary to prohibit his deacons from using whips on their congregants.

And so, when ferociously facing futility, there are usually only two choices; 1. Give up. Or 2. Go on.

Most of the time, giving up is the sensible response. No matter how much water I pour on it, that dead flower is not going to suddenly spring back to life! Best to save your energy and expend it on a much more possible dream, right?

Great advice! Unless, of course, there is a God in heaven operating by a set of rules superseding those that govern life here in the material realm. Which, by the way, I absolutely believe there is.

As a starting point, I take you back to the story of the rich young man found there in Matthew 19. After an engaging debate about the key to eternal life, the man eventually walks away from Jesus deflated and defeated. He is distressed because Jesus has just told him that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into the kingdom of heaven. And did I mention… this guy is very rich?

Upon hearing this, the disciples began to moan and wail and ask Jesus, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them tenderly, with great understanding and answered, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26, NRSVU).

In our realm, plants die. Girls (or boys) hang up the phone when you ask them out. Children disobey… often to their own injury and detriment. Churches stay mired in petty squabbles and outmoded thought patterns. Pernicious habits go unbroken. Addictions persist. ALL of this despite our very best efforts to the contrary.

And yet the thing to remember on those days when FUTILITY seems to be all around us are the words of Jesus. Those words remind us there is another realm. That it all doesn’t depend on US. That we have every right to expect the unexpected when we relinquish things into the hands of our Maker and Redeemer. 

If things seem to be at a standstill for you today, my prayer is that God will give you the eyes to see the previously unseen doorknob there in that brick wall you’re facing. 

He will. Just go ahead and ask!

Abundant blessings;

17
Oct
19

Dragon Slayer

Dragon-SlayerLast night Joan and I took a brisk, 40-minute drive over to Lawrence, Kansas. Lawrence, as I am sure you all know, is the home of the University of Kansas.

The purpose of our trip, however, had nothing to do with KU. We were there to attend a concert by the group, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. Neither of us knew their music at all. We bought the tickets based solely on the recommendation of friends whose musical taste we trust implicitly.

Thankfully the group was a delightful surprise to us and we had a toe-tapping good time. Think Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with a bit of a country twang. Here is a YouTube video of their song, “I Like to Be With Me When I’m With You.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZ2mFxc-Fl4) for a little taste.

But what really caused me to pause and enter “rumination mode” was the name of the tour. There it was – as you can see in this photo – in big bold letters at the back of the stage: GO OUT AND SLAY ALL THE DRAGONS THAT STAND IN YOUR WAY. I believe this is Drew Holcombalso the name of their latest album.

“YES!” I said, thumping my chest bravely. “I will! I will face those dragons down one by one and thrash them with the sword of truth and honor! I will take on the Dragon of Doubt and run him through! I will show no mercy to the Dragon of Critical Commentary! I will whup up on the Nasty Nay-Saying Dragon and make him cry ‘Uncle’!”

“Put me in, coach!” I cried. “I’m ready to SLAY!”

“Hold on there a second, hotshot,” came The Voice in my left ear. “I see you there with that whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11) all cinched up and that breastplate of righteousness and that sword of the Spirit ready to roll… and trust me, it’s an impressive sight.”

“But what if…” the Voice continued, “… what if you charge out there ready for battle and discover that those dragons aren’t all OUT THERE?”

“Wh… what do you mean?” I stammer, suddenly a little unsure how my cavalry charge got re-routed so suddenly.

“I mean, how are you going to respond when you discover that the fiercest ‘dragons’ you are so ready to slay are the ones that live INSIDE of you?”

“Wait… WHAT??” I spluttered.

The Voice explained, “What if I told you that your biggest battles from here forward are going to be the battles you fight with those, let’s call them, ‘less than exemplary’ parts of your own makeup?”

“I know you want to look out at the world and imagine these massive walls of resistance in front of you, flanked by moats filled with fire-breathing crocodiles. But I am here to assure you; that’s all a figment of your over-active imagination.”

“No, son,” the Voice continues… oh, so lovingly, “Your biggest ‘dragon’ is your stubborn insistence on trusting your own resources and abilities much more than you are willing to trust MINE.”

“I know you really like sports analogies, so try this one on for size: the way you are approaching your life right now is like trying to go out there and quarterback the Kansas City Chiefs all by yourself instead of turning the job over to Patrick Mahomes. Only in your case, it’s a thousand times worse.”

“Really?” I said, stupefied. “That bad?”

“Clearly you have never read the part of my book where it says, ‘Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will act.” For easy reference, you can find those timeless words of advice in verse 5 of the thirty-seventh Psalm.”

“Well,” I said, rubbing my chin thoughtfully. “When you put it that way, it makes a whole lot more sense.”

“Yes,” replied The Voice. “I thought that language would speak to you. But just in case you were ever curious about what my Son might have had to say on the subject, you can also check out what he said in Matthew 19:26 – ‘For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.’

“OK,” I said, putting my sword back into its sheath. “Thanks for setting me straight.”

“But tell me this,” I said, after a moment of reflection… “What kind of weapons do I need to fight THOSE dragons?”




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