Archive for December, 2010

30
Dec
10

Story: The Wanderer

I wandered, not caring for direction nor destination. All I knew was I wanted to move forward. The road on which I traveled was, at first, broad, smooth and straight having no impediment or hindrance. The first bruise from a pebble in the way hardly caused a wince until more appeared and then more and larger, until they were rocks and then stones. No longer smooth and well groomed, I found myself avoiding bumps and potholes which appeared along the way. Such attention was required as the road grew rough, that I hardly noticed as it gradually narrowed into a path and then a trail until finally it disappeared entirely and wound aimlessly without sign or marking. It was then I realized that the grade had slowly begun to incline and became steeper by the step.

 Bushes and trees and thickened brush increased along the way. Vines and briars crossed before me with hard, sharp thorns that ripped my clothes and the underlying skin beneath. In time my footing grew increasingly unsure and instead of a walk, progress became an upward crawl on hands and knees. My fingers cramped as well as my arms and legs. The knees of my trousers did not last long and after a while my knees were exposed to rough sand and gravel and razor-like rocks that cut and imbedded themselves beneath my flesh.

When I began my journey the air was cool and fresh and easily breathed. But, as I continued the temperature surrounding me grew hotter and hotter until sweat soaked my body and stung my eyes, mingling with my blood. My lungs labored hard to draw life and strength giving oxygen into my tiring body. The higher I climbed the heat diminished, giving me only the briefest moments of comfort, that encouraged me to press onward. As I did, a fog slowly thickened with the cooling of the air, followed by a chilling mist and then a cold and steady rain. On I climbed against what now had become an artic driven wind that stung and blinded my eyes until it became a growing winter storm with driving snow.

 Too often I slipped and fell, descending to a place I had already passed an hour ago. Unsure why, I was compelled to push on, struggling to arrive at a destination I did not know and where I could not conceive of what I might find when or if I arrived. But in time, my heart was filled with despair and becoming too weak and weary to muster another step, I fell headlong onto the hard and frozen ground beneath me. Sobbing with frustration and disappointment, I cried out, “It is too hard! I cannot go on! This way is too steep and too difficult to continue. Why did I even begin? I do not want to stay in this place!”

 From somewhere apart from where I laid came a voice. I had never heard such a voice and yet it seemed strangely familiar. It was at the same time distant and yet near. I strained to understand it and yet it was clearly heard. It whispered, but was deafening like thunder. The voice asked, “There is a better way. I can take you there if you want to go.” My response was immediate and I heard my own eager voice declare, “YES! Please take me from this terrible way. I am thirsty and hungry and cold and tired and afraid! Wherever you take me must be better than here! Yes, I will go!”

 Instantly I was transported from the horrible place I had traveled. Too exhausted to be concerned about my new location, I was given drink and food and a blanket for warmth. Almost as quickly as I had been whisked away, I rapidly fell into a deep and restful sleep. It seemed as though I slumbered for years like the mythical Rip Van Winkle. When I awoke, my body felt renewed and rested and my wounds were ministered to and almost entirely healed. Only then could I gaze around me to determine where I might be.

 Everything was shrouded to my immediate vision. I could not make out clearly my close surroundings except to be aware that I was outdoors in a place of the kind of comfort I had never experienced. As a man emerging from a dark cave, I blinked and struggled to focus and as I did, my eyes fixed upon a distant view of breath taking beauty. A plain across which a highway fell away into a haze until it disappeared before a massive mountain. So wide was the base, that it filled everything that I could see across the entire horizon. Lifting my eyes to encompass the beauty of the mountain, the Sun obscured its peak sending broken rays through surrounding mists until I was forced to shade my brow with my hand. Fully one third of its height was covered with a bright white snow and from the place where it ended to its broad foot was lush green broken only by numerous granite cliffs.

 The vision of this held me so tightly in its grip, that the trance was broken only by the voice of my rescuer saying, “Why do you stare so intently into the distance?” To which I responded in a barely audible voice, “Because, I have never witnessed such a sight so wonderful and inviting. I would love to go there someday.” My unseen benefactor laughed so loudly that I was startled and then slightly embarrassed and in turn angry. Although I attempted to hide my reaction, it did not go unnoticed and again I heard the voice asking, “Why would you want to return to that place? I have only just brought here?” The confused look on my face indicated a further response and with another slight chuckle he continued to explain.

 “What you see before you that so enthralls and entices you with its majesty and splendor is the very place that caused you so much suffering only a day ago. The highway that leads there is the same road that eventually disappeared beneath your feet.” I felt my countenance fall as I listened in disbelief and heard, “The snow capped peaks which seem so bright and fine to you now, froze you into immobility yesterday. The green that covers the mountain is the growth that hindered your progress as you climbed upward. And those rocks emerging from it are the very same ones that tore your flesh and nearly bled you dry.” I began to weep and the voice said gently, “This vision before you that seems to be so lovely and enticing today nearly killed you; until I heard your voice crying out and I brought you here. How often we look back, not appreciating the good place we are and desire to return, even if that place caused us much pain. Don‘t go away again. Stay here with me. I will keep you safe.”

 That was the moment I knew that I would be a wanderer no more. From that instant I understood that my directionless journeys led into places I did not really want to go. Now, I knew that I would not take another step unless I heard the Voice of my Deliverer guiding me down pathways of His choosing. And even if I might drift unintentionally off The Way, my ears will always listen for the Voice and follow it wherever He leads.

25
Dec
10

Christmas 2010: Glory to God in the Highest!

“ Glory to God in the highest,
      And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” – Luke 2:14 (NKJV)

It is Christmas Day!  Today, as I pondered the reality, the purpose, and the truest meaning of this day in the 57th year of my life, I found myself asking one primary question….WHY?  Why did the Father ordain to send His only begotten Son, and why in the world would Christ choose to act in obedience to the Father’s will?  The omniscience of God could not have missed the pain, the agony, the trials and ultimately the sacrifice that would be required by The Beloved One.  Jesus would be born into the world as The Immanuel…God dwelling in flesh among sinful humanity, with every horrifying detail that that implies.  WHY?

I believe the answer lies within the statement of the angels to fear stricken shepherds (Luke2:19).  Within the message from God’s messengers lies the answer.  The Son’s coming would bring the supremest “Glory to God” in a world in which His glory was all but absent and most certainly ignored.  His humility brought God glory!  His obedience brought God glory!  His sacrifice brought God glory!  His act of highest love brought God glory!  His grace brought and continues to this day, to display the glory of God!

Secondly, the entrance of the Messiah brought peace.  Many looking for this Messiah totally missed it because they mistakenly thought He would conquer all of their enemies and bring a forced peace between men.  But, the peace that the frail and fragile peasant baby brought was not like the “pax romana” of the conquering Roman Empire.  What Jesus’ birth delivered was an end to war between God and man.  God sent His Son, not to bring an end to war on earth, but an end to the enmity and separating war between sinful mankind and a holy and righteous God to all who would only believe!

And finally, the answer to all our “whys” about the “reason for the season” is that the earthly birth of Jesus Christ enfleshed, was to extend the goodness…..the good intent….the will of Almighty God toward His highest creation for good and not for harm.  In the words of the Apostle Peter it is God’s will to be “patient with you [us], not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)  Christmas says boldly, confidently and immeasurably….Our God is a good God!

And so in the quiet moments of this day, I have heard this glorious God say to me in reply to my whys,  “Did you get gifts this Christmas from men?  Did you ask any of them why?  No?  Then receive my Gift and give glory to me.  Oh, and one more thing my precious one….give the gift away!”

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO MY FAMILY, FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES AND “JOY TO THE WORLD…THE LORD HAS COME!”