– I’ve always thought the instruction to Adam and Eve was clear: “Don’t eat the fruit.” But the instruction wasn’t just to refrain from eating… “nor shall you TOUCH it.” Why even flirt with sin? It seems like I go up to the tree a lot, looking at the fruit, marveling at it even… sometimes even picking it. First, is it even possible to not eat when you pick the fruit? And second, even if you didn’t eat, wouldn’t it still be classified as sin since the instruction was not to touch? Whatever the case, the point (to me) is abundantly clear… DON’T grab the fruit. Don’t even look at it. RUN. And don’t play around.
– I’m completely enamored with the idea of incarnation. The fact that God — the One who uses the earth as a footstool (Isa. 46) — came to dwell among humans… OMG, as some would say. But what I’m sort of awestruck at today is that humanity didn’t have to wait for the advent of Jesus for God to dwell among them. After the first sin – “they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze.” GOD… was walking in the garden — and this seems to have been a routine occurrence — the sinners recognized the sound because they probably heard it before! God tangibly (not sure if physically is the right word there…) sought humanity even after they disobeyed. As a dad, it’s not a surprising thing that I seek my children even after they disobey me, but God has the power to basically strike Adam and Even from the record… to start clean with one movement from a mighty hand. It’s like God could have said, “darn, well that didn’t work… let me try this again.” …..but God walked in the garden among the people, and still does so today.
bella on la jolla beach
happy to be there…not happy about leaving…
After a fair warning given by Randy White at the beginning of his most recent post, I cautiously read on. I’m glad I did, but that certainly isn’t to say that it made me happy.
His post was about the internal armed conflict in Guatemala from 1960-1996 that resulted in the deaths of approximately 200,000 people. Randy is currently in Guatemala with some students trying to figure out how a country can deal with these types of things — and on a more intimate level, how we (as Americans) deal with the fact that our own government funded the insurrection that began it all. But, the post was mostly a lament for the identified and unidentified bones that fill rooms in Guatemala like catacombs.
My first reaction was sadness, followed by, “how in the world have I not heard about this before?” I remember thinking the same thing about the Rwandan genocide in ’94. I had a short conversation with Gia and one of our friends about how we fail to hear (and possibly do something?) about these things. It is very disturbing to me that they can largely go unnoticed and not talked about by us, particularly when our very own government played such an enormous part.
Without absolving myself from the proactivity needed to get the right information, I think I was provided with at least part of the reason only 30 minutes later when the 10 o’clock news came on, and the lead story was about Lindsey Lohan spending the night in jail. Apparently, this is so important that we need to know that her jail sentence was reduced a few days… so important that her dad gets air time with Larry King to protest the judge’s decision. This is the stuff we truly care about in America. And it’s pretty disheartening.
I sat on the edge of the bed with Bella Easter morning and read from her “Toddler’s Bible,” a gift from our church when she was dedicated. Though it didn’t show in my voice, I was anxious as I got to the part where Jesus was crucified. Before I picked up the book and began to read, I was excited to tell Bella that Jesus was raised from the dead, but didn’t think the story all the way through (remember how Jesus was crucified on Friday, Brian?). Each Easter morning when we walk into church, I always wonder what the Pastor will say. I put myself in his position (I would use gender inclusive language there, but I’ve never heard an Easter sermon given by a woman) and think about the difficulty of shedding fresh and meaningful light on the greatest story ever told. These pastors typically do a good job despite the difficulty. Their next challenge should be to tell the passion narrative to a toddler. How do you explain resurrection to a toddler who doesn’t even know about death? What an enviable position my daughter is in – she has no comprehension about death in this world. She is ignorant to her own mortality. I immediately thought back to the story of creation and the first sin – thinking that Adam and Eve were in the same position as my daughter; ignorant of death. But then remembered the instructions were clear: if you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will die. There will come a day when we have to explain the reality of death to Bella. But on this day, I am completely content with proclaiming the reality of the resurrection. “Jesus is alive!” she says… over and over again, carrying over to the next day. My daughter has shed light on Matthew 21:16 for me: “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.”
It took some teaching, however, for Bella to arrive at that conclusion. “Jesus died, but on the third day… do you know what happened on the third day, Bella?” “The Easter Bunny came?” My daughter is hilarious. I’m wondering, however, if the Santa’s and Easter Bunny’s of the world aren’t just fun, little, meaningless things to do with our children anymore. The reality is these things take the place of our reflection and praise of Jesus. And anything that robs Jesus of his full glory is something that should give us pause.
Lastly, as we were driving to church, Gia shed some light on the resurrection in a way that I had never thought about. Imagine, she says, that this morning we were going to grave of a good friend who died only two days ago. Imagine the grief, sorrow, and utter confusion we would be experiencing. Imagine the pride we would have to buy the best flowers, thinking of the moment we would place them on the grave to honor our dead friend. Perhaps we would only feel grief, but we would undoubtedly swap stories about or friend: how funny, intelligent, passionate, and inspiring he or she was. The nerves would take over, however, as we walked from the car to the grave, facing the reality that we would never be able to have another conversation or enjoy the company of our close friend. Then as we approach the grave, there is no body there. Your friend lies in the grave no longer. He is alive and well. That is essentially what the women experienced on the morning they went to visit Jesus in his tomb. On this Easter my only hope is that anyone who might be reading this will sit for a few moments at least, and ponder the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What does that mean for you? What does that mean for the world? The situation you find yourself in right now is this: either this story is probably the greatest fabrication and lie ever told to you, or it is real and a man really did die and resurrect from the grave. If it is false, just keep living how you are. If it is true, however, think about what that would mean for you, and for the entire world.
Wow! We just spent three weeks living a dream and now in a flash, it’s a memory. It’s hard this morning to face that reality.
Goodbyes are stupid. Nevertheless, we said goodbye to India and are home sweet home. And it is sweet. Really it is, but man…I miss India. We are so thankful to God for his faithfulness. I can see Him completely covering every aspect of our journey. Bella being amazing for the flights, through the wild and crazy taxi and rickshaw rides, eating the Indian food and then treating the diarrhea, loving on the decaying street kids, learning how to worship God in an Indian context, living in the slums and all the great some might say ‘out of our mind’ things we ventured into…God was WITH us the entire time. I know He was, I SAW HIM. I encountered God. How do you survive life without this once you’ve seen it? I thought being in India for the first couple of days was going to be about survival and now I’m having reverse culture shock. Except, now I don’t face the difficulties of poverty like not having kitchen appliances or running hot clean water, I face a spiritual poverty. How do I live in my context and ENOUNTER God like I just did these last three weeks? I don’t know the answer. So was our trip a success story? I don’t know that either. But after three weeks in India there are three things I am positive of: 1-we were faithful to God’s call 2- God is wonderfully REAL and 3-we will be marked by India forever. And I write to you today SO delighted and reassured that in a foot race for God’s favor faithfulness always wins over success.
Thanks to all of you who supported us financially and who prayed. We return to you with hearts exploding with joy and wonderment of Gods Love. We love you all very much. PSALM 126