Shortcuts

We weren’t going anywhere.

Stuck sitting in a Thursday morning traffic jam is not a fun thing when you have places to go and people to meet.

That’s probably what prompted the white pickup truck behind me to finally pull off the road and begin making his way brashly through the closed-down construction of the new lanes. Bypassing the line, I watched him weave past potholes and trenches and “road closed” signs until he finally stopped, dead-ended as his “shortcut” came to an end.

As I caught up to him and passed by at last, I smiled triumphantly.

It got me thinking, though. Don’t I do that sometimes, too? Don’t I get impatient with my circumstances and try to jump out of line and take a shortcut?

Don’t you?

Sometimes those shortcuts we take end up taking us places we don’t want to go. Sometimes they end up making us wait longer than ever. Maybe sometimes it’s best to just sit where we are, be a little patient, and trust that God’s still on His throne.

Even traffic jams have to move eventually.

Holiness, Not Isolation

“I am the Lord your God, therefore be holy, because I am holy.” -Leviticus 11:44

“Since everything will be destroyed…what kind of people should you be? You should live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” -2 Peter 3:11-12a

“In view of God’s mercy…offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – This is your spiritual act of worship (or ‘reasonable service’)” -Romans 12:1

Why is it that when you look at people you’d say are “holy”, it often seems like the criteria for holiness is a surrender of joy?  It’s as if they feel they can’t have any fun anymore, because they must focus all their thoughts and hearts on “things above” to the exclusion of anything down here below.

I’m sure it’s good-hearted, but…though we are told to “look forward” to the day God comes, Peter also encourages us to “speed its coming.”  If we are to hasten God’s return, shouldn’t we do it by engaging the world with joy, rather than retreating from and ignoring it?  Shouldn’t we be known for what we are for, rather than what we are against?

Come, Lord Jesus, and find us faithful when You return…

Spillage

She was only trying to help.

I smiled at the girl behind the counter at the cafe as she filled up my sun-colored mug with fresh, black coffee.  Everything looked fine at first, the hot liquid steaming from the mug, delightful aroma filling the air, and she was quite generous with the portion.

It looked fine, but setting it down on a wobbly table revealed the problem quickly.

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Try It

I have the cutest picture of my 10-month-old second cousin Garrett trying to eat a cardboard coaster.

The thing I love about it is that he doesn’t worry about whether or not the coaster actually CAN be eaten, much less whether or not it SHOULD be.  He just goes ahead and gives it a shot.
To be sure, there are dangerous things out there we have no business trying, but I have a feeling that for most of us, we’d do well to be at least a little more like Garrett.

Don’t jump headfirst into everything, but don’t be afraid to give it a try.

Reason's Machines

O my soul, beware the dark machines of human reason. They are so helpful when under our control, but if we let go our hand and attention they will soon switch places with us and we will be enslaved, our souls and spirits made prisoners to their iron gears.

Reason is our tool; let it not become our task master. Used well it can help set us free, but given the reigns it can place us in a subtle bondage from which escape comes only at great cost.

O my soul be wise and reasonable, but be free, and do not serve the machines.

Small Pleasures

The World Market food section is a lovely place for the senses.

I am walking through a cornucopia of brightly colored packages of marzipan and imported biscotti, surrounded by the scent of exotic teas and coffees from other lands. All of a sudden, my senses dim and center on a single package, the other trinkets and goodies quickly forgotten as my drifting eyes lock in on a treasure not seen since that little gift shop in Frankfurt.

Bueno.

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Prayer for 10/08/10

Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.

You call me first to abide IN You, not work FOR You. You teach me that service is an outflow, not an engine; a result, not a cause.

Forgive me for looking at my life and the lives of others through the lenses of achievement rather than communion. I have set my tasks and accomplishments on the balance scale opposite the rest of the world and judged myself according to which way it tips, but You, Lord, do not measure my worth with the same weights.

You place in my corner the weight of the cross, and that love is heavier than all the achievements and accolades ever done by the sons of men. You place in my corner the blood of Christ, and that gift is far weightier than any acceptance I could hope to earn. THANK YOU.

Lord, let me not be so consumed with activity that I cease to abide. Let me not try to do so much for you that I lose the joy of simply being with you.

Let me not judge others by how much or little they have done, but let me only watch my own life to ensure I have loved and lived with You.

Praying WITH God

I am surrounded by water.

A sky of cobalt is above me, rays of morning sun stream through the space between downtown high rises, and all around this concrete jetty are the black lapping waves of the Caloosahatchee River.  A cool breeze nudges the tinkling wind chimes on the deck of a nearby boat as a haphazard collection of birds welcomes the day with a song, and a shadow drifts across my page as the mast of a small powered sailboat passes through the path of the dawn, dragging its life boat and owners’ schedules behind it.

The bridge in front of me makes a gentle arc across the river; a highway of asphalt beckoning cars to bring their owners across the water for a busy day ahead.  Their engines provide the background noise, the audio canvas over which all other sounds must somehow stretch to take their turn in my ears.

There is no salt smell here, just the ever-so-faint odor of brackish river water making its way to the sea.

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Trembling

“Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.” – Psalm 2:11

“Rejoice with trembling”? Doesn’t that seem like sort of an oxymoron?  I mean think about it, how can you rejoice (def. “To feel joyful; be delighted”) with trembling (def. “To feel fear or anxiety”)?  Actually, it’s pretty simple.

Ever ridden a roller coaster?  There you are, strapped into an itty bitty seat somewhere in the middle of a couple of tons of metal, being hurled around from one unnatural angle to another at speeds that God surely never intended man to experience.  You are literally mere inches away from disaster at any given moment, from a restraint giving way and launching you into empty space, from a wheel or track getting dislodged and slamming the whole pile into the ground, or at the very least from throwing up all over your nice new jacket.

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