I may have Jesus’ phone number

or there may be other possible answers

I glanced at my phone as I was getting dressed. Hmmm. I had a text from 10:29 last night. No name, just a number. And I didn’t readily recognize the phone number or the area code.

“How can you be so wrong and I love you so much?”

At first I thought it was a wrong number. But the writer knew me — knew I was so wrong.

I thought about responding with something clever. But the Nigerian princess scenario kept popping into my mind.

Then, it hit me, this must be from Jesus! At first I entertained the idea that it might have been God, but then I thought, How ridiculous to think that God needs a smartphone.

So. Jesus then. It all fits. I am so wrong. And He loves me so much.

What can I do?

unrecognized answers to prayer

With each news story of a black person losing life in a police-related incident, I have become increasingly anxious. Despite my friends and acquaintances of color telling me stories of such occurrences for many years, only in recent years have I begun to fathom the problem and the tragedy. I stand convicted of chosen ignorance and inaction. As I left the office yesterday, I was praying, “Lord, what can I do?”

[photo credit: Patrick Tomasso]

Traffic was heavy and I decided to explore a new route home. The slower pace through a neighborhood of large, expensive homes had a calming effect on me. This wasn’t the most efficient route — there was a 4-way stop at almost every corner. Still, it was a break from the congestion.

As I approached one of those intersections, I saw a vehicle waiting. At first I thought that the driver was intending to turn. Then I noticed that it was his emergency flashers that were blinking. Even though he was there first and to my right, he waved me on. I understood. He was having car trouble. Moving ahead, I saw for the first time that he was black.

Fifteen minutes later, still on my commute, the reality of his situation suddenly occurred to me. He was a solitary black man in a disabled vehicle in a predominantly white neighborhood. For all I knew, he lived nearby. But even if he did, was he sitting and waiting for help in fear for his life?

I wouldn’t be. I’m white.

I couldn’t keep from thinking how that would be different for someone with a different skin color.

Lord, what can I do?

I always feel pretty shallow when God gives me an answer and I miss it. I could have pulled over, offered my phone if he needed it, been a friendly stranger offering company, and stood close by until he was safely on his way. Yes, I know the arguments against that stemming from personal safety concerns.

But at some point, we have to do something. Particularly if it’s an answer to prayer. Don’t we? What’s God telling you?

Rushing By

rip tides of the soul

There is a moment almost every day when I pause. Calm is about me. My mind is clear. And then, suddenly, but not without warning, I am pushed into the busy current of life and I see so much rushing by. Most often my urge to join that stream of action propels me forward in my life’s plan. But sometimes, whether from panic or a realization of how little energy reserve is available, I’m simply pulled out and away, another victim of a rip tide.

I know full well what I should do. Not unlike the strategies of a swimmer facing the strong fingers of an ocean’s rip tide, I should keep my head, check my bearings, and move in parallel with the path of intention I was suddenly snatched from. At some point, I will leave the influence of those things rushing by and be able to focus on where I should be and what I should be doing.

Too often these emotional and practical rip tides of the soul tear us away from what we know and what nurtures us in such a violent way that we lose hope of ever finding our way back. When those times come, when we feel ourselves pulled into the boiling sea of worry, anxiety, and busyness, we should take a momentary detour to realign ourselves with the shoreline where we can stand and navigate freely.

And, when our personal will and resolve are spent, we should take the hands of those who reach out to pull us to safety . . . if, for no other reason, to deepen our opportunity to be the one reaching out tomorrow.

Imagine

with a faint apology to John Lennon

When times get tough, we often turn to the words of a poet or a balladeer to give us hope, to soothe our angst, and sometimes, to crank us up. Many paint only a picture of an ideal. . . in essence, a dream. John Lennon gave us that in “Imagine.” Imagining away religion, patriotism, hunger and competition seemed to smooth away all of the ugliness of the world. After all, “with nothing to kill or die for” we certainly would live better lives, wouldn’t we? Imagine such a world as that.

image: Jean-Frederic Fortier/unsplash.com

If I’ve just trashed your favorite song of all time, please stay with me for a minute.

In the later verses of the song, John Lennon writes of bringing the world together and sharing the wealth of the world. While we can dream of a time when that would happen, the writer makes it unlikely by entrusting that exercise to humankind without a higher power.

A dream of that magnitude requires a vision and definite action. While dreams can burn softly like candles, only true vision fueled by process can ignite the fires that bring change and progress. Our prolific Beatle has a point here. Too often, action and progress, framed only in mortal idealism, give way to greed, lust, and attempts at domination. Imagine if there was none of that.

But that same action and progress, when formed in the image of One who is greater, brings about what Lennon is really seeking . . . Heaven on earth.

Imagine walking side by side with that One. Imagine sharing and building together. Imagine loving each other as God loves each of us. At the very least, it gives us something to “die for.”

Sunday Morning

wrestling with rest

Nancy and I were honored to share Easter worship service with Judson. It was a special Sunday morning, because it was Judson’s first Easter.

Sunday Morning

photo credit: Laura Lee Moreau/unsplash.com

Two months old, Judson was a living reminder of new life and new energies. I spent much of the service smiling and watching and smiling and watching. But not every moment was a scene from a Hallmark movie.

Judson became a little restless, although I don’t recall a single tear or moment of distress. What I do remember with great emotion are the moments he became weary of his surroundings and began to doze off. Something peaceful settled on me as I watched this little one fade into slumber.

But it took a while for sleep to come. Even though a nap was what he needed, Judson fought it off as long as he could. His mother’s gentle rocking, the pacifier, and the touch of his blanket were worthy foes to his wakefulness. He was a gallant little soldier, yet sleep won out.

Judson’s efforts remind me of our own. Coming out of the difficulties and meaning of a Friday when our Savior is torn from us and the mourning of Saturday when our world is upside down, Sunday morning finds us reunited and hopeful and resolute to live life anew. Then, when things seem to be going well, God calls a timeout and places a needed rest — a Sabbath — in our way. And we fight it. We push it away despite its call to calmness and restoration. After all, this new life has lots of nooks and crannies to explore. How can we afford to lean back into His arms and rest?

How can we not?

The next time you are weary, leave it to God. Close your eyes and let Him take control. Your life will only be better. After all, it’s Sunday morning.