Monday, June 23, 2008

Confession XLIX

Let your steadfast love comfort me
according to your promise to your
- Psalm 119: 76

The rain fell like bails of hay rolling from the clouds.  I called you, but you never picked up.  I let the phone ring over and over again.  I bet you were fast asleep.  I bet you were dreaming sweet dreams.  And I pray those dreams tumble down like drowning waters.  Floods on Mondays.  Wet horizons.  Greens and grays and all the day's almost gone.  Because sometimes life gets so hard that you just want to get away.  And so I pray those dreams take you to that secret place where all is perfect.

Tell me, what is perfect to you?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Confession XLVIII

Whoever works his land will have plenty
of bread,
but he who follows worthless pursuits
will have plenty of poverty.
- Proverbs 28: 19

I am tired. Let me just throw that out there.

There is nothing more tiresome than not doing what's right. And I know from experience because I have messed up so many times. And on the inside I just want everything to be okay. I want the world to be perfect. And then I want to honor the Lord. I want to bring His name glory. I want to remain faithful. I always want to stick by His side - always.

But I'm like a little boy who walks down the street with his mom. Hand-in-hand doing some errands. Enjoying the wonderful day. And we walk past a toy store. There's a brand new shiny red fire engine in the display. "I want it," the thought rolls over and over in my head. I'm so taken by this wonderful mystery of how some toy maker shrunk down a fire truck. I always hear them roar on by, disturbing classical suburbia on a bright summer's day.

"I want it," like a Wurlitzer skipping.

"I want it." And I stare through the pristine plate glass dirtying it with my breath. I am in awe at the magic and cannot be unstuck. But mom's tugging at my arm. She doesn't realize that in this moment I am immovable, impervious to any beckoning or calling or slapping upside the head as if to say, "You have enough toys already. Now come along and be a good boy."

Those last words dig deep because I know I am rebellious at this point. I'm not listening to a forward progression into the day. I'm too taken by what I can't have to want to move on. Because all I want is that shrunk down shiny red fire engine. Then life would be that much more wonderful.

But life's already wonderful at this stage and that's what I don't realize. I don't realize how good I have it. How I can go into the fridge at any moment and cut myself a whoppingly-large piece of marble cheese cake to ease a rumbling belly. Or how I can go to a job each day with friendly partners and caffeine addicted customers; I don't realize how I can make a person's day by simply serving a cup of Boston Coffee to her.

And I do not realize the entirety of the beauty the girl I'm falling in love with actually holds. How from oceans away she remains on my mind and gets me excited for tomorrow. Because when she arrives in my arms I'll give her the world and bring her the stars and dance with her on lakes and picnic at sunrise so I can hand her the day. Then we can walk together under the watch of summer love. Learning to trust in a love that never fails.

Unfortunately, I fail more often than I'd care to admit. And I am always left wanting once all is said and done. I can only bang on that glass window. Put my finger prints all over it. Stand like a statue firm in my grip claiming that the fire engine reality right in front of me is truly the real world. But all it is, is a shrunk down miniature version of what actually exists. It is only a perverse display of all that God has for me. Something that I can only play with, but not actually live.

You see, all I can do with this fire engine is race it back and forth on the living room rug. Maybe I can ram it into some Lincoln Log house or a tower made from building blocks. But it's not actually the real thing. I can't actually fight fires with it. I can't come to the rescue of someone in need. I can't live the life of a true fireman in a world of fallacy: with toy trucks and toy houses and with a toy's imagination for what this life is truly all about.

But I still stand motionless ignoring all the "Come on's" and "We've got to go's" and the "It's time to leave's." I ignore the truth of the matter: that I am idle and pursuing what is not real. I do nothing about this unreality, this fake world, this falsehood-driven life; and I let it sweep me away for momentary bliss. For an escape. For a "Wish I had this" - and that's called being selfish.

In doing so, I let go of all that I love as if a friend went overboard and there I stood with the Life Saver in hand. I throw it out. Heart racing. Wild breaths. Heightened emotions. And near hysteria. I struggle to pull him in. I fight the waves in a cataclysmic Tug of War. But my strength runs out. At the first signs of depletion I drop the line and walk after what seems easiest to obtain.

I forget reality and live in my own reality.

Because reality takes a fight. It takes all the strength you have. Sucks all the breath right out of you. And can leave you exhausted. But it yields wonder. Adventure. You fly through turbulence. Coming out of the clouds and barely avoiding mountains. But it gives you the sense of living life to the fullest. And it allows you to experience all that an Almighty Being - God - has for you while managing to put one foot in front of the other and walk among constantly failing beings - humans, us.

So reality takes work. At least you won't be left wanting in the end.

Now, if you can, get up and walk on; life's still here for you to experience.

Encounter. Your. God.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Confession XLVII

Remember the word to your servant,
in which you have made me hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life.
- Psalm 119: 49&50

There's an explosion in the sky.  She said, "Look at the clouds."  They keep swelling and building and bubbling and boiling over.  She said, "I came here to show you the clouds."  Like it was the end of the world and she came as the messenger.  Like all the world was about to erupt; the remnants would suspend in the sky.  And the clouds we used to think held gods and angels and heavenly beings of all types became the left overs of destroyed worlds.

The clouds moved west with the sun.  Most of the traffic on Long Pond Road followed suit.  Public announcements for EVACUATION at 11:07.  The people driving the opposite way, against the wind, must be going back for their families or their friends or Toto the dog - anything they can get before storms collide.

I sit in a lonely little shop watching it like a movie on the big screen.  That's all I've really been able to do lately - just watch life happen.  And it hasn't been the best of times nor the worst of times like Dickens wrote.  But they've been trying times for sure.  Times when I just want to collapse, but letting go and giving up was never built into me.  Times when I just want to hit and punch and kick and beat a wall to a pulp, but my dad always taught me never to hit someone unless he swings first.  Times when I want to run away from it all, but for some reason I can't even turn to the side; I am in this fight pushing the lines.  

I am moving forward.  Progressing.  Getting through this.  I often wonder how I'm getting on.  And I know the reason; it's the existence of the God of the Universe actually residing in my life.  It's the fact that I have hope for the next move.  That life tomorrow isn't just a shot in the dark.  That it's not some sort of gamble or chance like feeling around for a flashlight when the power goes out.

But I actually have a hope made for me.  I have a hope orchestrated for me.  Written detail for detail with no missing notes - a song beautifully composed.  It's a musical epic with all the goods of Homer or Gilgamesh.  And I am living in an adventure where, no matter what, my Lord is there for me, always and forever.

The explosions have nearly disappeared now.  The winds picked up.  The cars stopped.  And the horizon black.

I don't know the next move, but I push forward regardless of my inability to understand what lies ahead.  I trudge through muddy waters.  Escape quicksand.  Experience the sun breaking through the canopies.  And continue to live life.  I watch the world pass me by, but choose to play a part of this 21st century drama.  I am human living God's creation.

And so I am comforted in my affliction.  Given life.  And there is a hope made just for me.  And I am living that hope, living tomorrow and living now.

Know that there is hope, a hope made just for you and continue; that's all.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Confession XLVI

I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
- Psalm 118: 21

No one ever told me things would happen like this.  I didn't sign up for this type of life.  I didn't sign up for this heartache.  I didn't sign up for this trouble.  I did not sign up for lonely drives to clear my head.  Distress.  Nearly crying.  Breaking.  Needing to calm down somehow; that's why I run away to be by myself.  To try and find God.  To try and find some comfort.  Some thing to get me through.

So right now I slouch in the corner of a coffee shop trying to get away.  All I see is a world rushing through green lights, barely slowing for amber and stopping only when told "Red."  I see people sitting alone.  Empty cups.  Everyone's walking around with sun glasses like they're viewing the world as a facade.  Finding their own shade to life.  Purposely ignoring the world for what it really is.  For the colors it shows.  For the shades it brings out.  It's like we all hide from what reality is.

I think most of the time we view our surroundings through filters.  Maybe we don't accept what hits us.  Hard.  Knocked down.  Face in the mud in the midst of hurricanes.  Blow to blow to below the belt shots.  So we filter the world.  We choose what to believe.  We choose what to see.  What to hear.  Adhering to choices trying to catch a star and chase our dreams while we're miles below the heavens.

And that's how we get through.  We try to control reality.  When in fact we barely have any control.  But we need those filters in order to survive.  That's why we ask all those depressing questions of:

Why me?

Why this?

Why the hell does life happen the way it happens?

So let me ask you: Do you ever get an answer?

In all honesty, I take those long drives I mentioned because that's my time to be alone with the Lord.  That's where I go to hear some audible voice; I still have yet to hear one.  But my being deaf to any sort of clear heavenly angelic language or chorus is not a hinderance to God's speaking to me.

Because God's words sing around me.  He tells me it's all going to be okay in the way the fog lifts off College Pond.  The way it carelessly drifts off into the dawn.  Like a tea kettle boiled over.  And I have to slow my car at that point.  Drink the moment.  And be taken away from all my worries.

I hear God simply when I stare out the window at a coffee shop.  It's then that the world fades away.  It's just the grey twilight fighting tree lined horizons - one pushing against the other, a genuine Tug O' War where Earth's not sure if it wants night or day.  Where cars pass, but they're merely actors exiting Stage Left.  Where all the world is still chaotic surrounding me, but none of it's a bother.  For some reason I'm at peace with a warring world.

God met me at the Battle of the Bulge.

And I fight on with strength not my own.  I get on.  I go.  I walk.  Up mountains.  Through valleys.  Cross rivers.  Rest in deserts.  And still chase the stars.  My dad taught me the north star will always lead me home.  So I look up at night.  And wherever I am, I'm at home.  For God  is in that sky.  My Maker.  My Creator.  And I look up.  Then all is well.

Yes, I never did sign up for these rough times, but today I'm reminded that my God's in control.  That I've lost all control - apparently.  And He truly has become my salvation - a continual process.

Please know that no matter where you're at, it's all good.  So go on those long drives.  Break down.  And cry.  Simply let it all out.  Because the Lord has become your salvation; that's it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Confession XLV.I

The Lord is my strength and my song,
He has become my salvation.
- Psalm 118: 14

Trust is a concept I can't understand.  Just today I hopped off the breakers onto Plymouth beach.  Bounced on the sand and quickly turned my swagger into a respectable gait.  The day's air called for life to be lived in slow motion.  All the songs were slow.  Depressing in a way.  

And have you ever stuck your hand out a car window on a rainy day while you're traveling 80 mph home?  It's like you're meant to beat the rain home. Like a race.  But it's futile I guess.  Child's play.

The best kind of play.  The type of play where you invent your own games.  Where the floor is lava or hot coals or a giant grey rug swamp filled with Loch Ness Monster- sized crocodiles ready to devour any poor little boy who's foot slips from the book shelf immediately causing a chain reaction of the four foot statured body falling to the ground.

Then each drop is like a thousand bees attacking your hand.  But it's cool to the touch.  And it calms all your nerves.  And it's mesmerizing as the stingers wash your hand.  Each drawing its own path gliding this way and that like Causeway Street then Portland Ave, Fairmont and Meridian all woven together.  Then they brush themselves off the surface like rain from a wind shield.

Driving in the rain.

Trust.  It's those slow motion moments.  It's those moments when nothing can be got or nothing can be gained or lost or found - and it's all just trust.

I sat up in the cemetery after talking to my boss.  It took ages to climb the steps.  Each step like its own Everest.  Passing grave for grave.  Like I was walking to my death.

I walked to a desolate place to find the Lord.  I clung to my Bible.  And I clung to the Bible.  And I held so tight to the Word of God knowing I could do nothing else.

I sat silent.  Stared out to trees in the way.  And oceans beyond the graves where horizons melt with waves and waves to land under fog and cloud.  I sat with nothing; the Lord found me there.

I had nothing in me.  Nothing about me.  I was nothing.  And in nothing trust remains.

I can't see beyond the ocean, but I know my home lies out there.

I don't know what awaits me except a life God's orchestrated.

I have nothing except a trust in the Lord for provision.

I have trust, but I don't even know it.  It seems as though it should be an action taken on my part, but I've taken nothing and still I trust.  

God still met me in the graveyard.  I found God among desolation.  I'm not sure if I was even seeking the Lord.  At least, not in any conscious way.  But my soul screamed for my Maker.  My heart cried out.  And the rest of me was completely oblivious.

I guess this is trust.  Trust as an unknown occurrence.  Something naturally happening.  And, in a way, it is simple.  As is much of life, we just don't realize it.

We trust in the smallest of things, but never acknowledge it.  We take breath for breath knowing the air will still be there for another naturally consumed oxygen gulp.  "Gulp" isn't the best word though because it suggests thought put to action like we had to think about inhaling such a massive amount instead of letting our lungs do what comes so naturally - breathing.

And, so in this same way, trust is a natural occurrence in a person's life.  It simple happens.  Take this concept back to the day of our birth, and trust is actually the only thing a person has.  But it's done as easily and naturally as that very first gasp for air.  

Trust is not the safety net itself; it is that particular hope in another person - no matter who that person is - to meet you wherever you're at.  Whether you're falling off the face of the earth or standing side-by-side walking through life together.  

Trust takes nothing, but asks for much.  It is the lead in the Fox Trot.  And it asks for the partner to follow.

Trust is emotional.  It doesn't cancel out emotion.  It is not a swell in the sea.  It's not a wave breaking crashing roaring down with all it's fury till the tide calls it back.  Trust is neither the ebb nor the flow to life.  It is not the chaos or the calm.

Trust is the under current to life.  It is the rip tide you could never feel at Horseneck beach.  And I always wondered why dad wouldn't let me swim in certain areas of the beach.  Why he would always stick close or why mom always stood ankle deep watching over us as we swam.  They kept us close because they knew the power of the undertow and how it can sweep someone away in an instant.

And in a way, this is how trust is.  You don't even know it's there.  Most of the time we're completely ignorant of it's existence in our life.  But trust is our rip tide.  

You see, it's a matter of swimming out into the unknown.  And I think it's fair to say that plenty of times it's not our taking some sort of crazy chance that brings us in contact with the rip tide.  More often than not, it's like we're thrown out there.  We're just given over to the waves.  Blind sided.  Life comes at us quicker than we can handle.

But that's when trust kicks in.

I mean, we're already part of the tip tide so why not just let it carry us where it will? 

Monday, June 16, 2008

Confession XLV

To whom it may concern:

My mouth is parched.  Starved of water.  Starved of drink.  Of any smile like a sunset set behind clouds so darkness steals the day.  

I drove down zoned-out roads not paying attention.  I was alone.  But I nearly crashed my car.  Crashed into a blue van.  Crashed into bogs.  Into gray skies.  Lonely eyes.  Watered tears.

I told her, "I'm just getting through it.  That's all I can do.  Just get through it."

She replied, "That's sad."  She was just going to bed when I spoke with her.  "I'll speak to you tomorrow," she said.  "Be happy?"

And with silence I knew it was time to leave her be.  She needed to sleep.  To dream.  To go wherever God takes her.

"I'll try" was my goodbye.  But I had no idea how to actually get through this.  My summer was semi-planned out.  Come August I'd be leaving the country.  Entering some sort of strange future that I had no clue of.  But all I knew is that God was on my side.  And that's all I had to go on - trust.

The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
- Psalm 118: 14

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Confession XLIV

It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search 
things out.
- Proverbs 25: 2

Under the deep blue sky I am lost.  

I am lost at how the sun rises and rises and continually sets the day in motion.  

I am lost at the touch of the wind on my sunburnt back - refreshing.  At how it can comfort stupidity from some hours labored under hot summer sun.

I am lost with volcano boiling ponds on either side of my car as I drive through Myles Standish just after dawn.

And I am lost in love, both from God and from oceans away.

Because I am perpetually baffled, awestruck, left wondering how any of this life actually occurs.  But I am completely cool with all of it.  Some things are meant to be left to awe.  Plenty of things confuse me, but it's like I'm this little kid figuring out the world and life and existence all at once.  

Jack Johnson sings, "There were so many fewer questions when stars were just holes to heaven."  I think we should live life this way - it's so simple, so enjoyable and we probably experience more of life when we don't try to reason away everything; just go with it.

I remember stargazing when I was younger.  My parents would drive us out to the bogs where it would be pitch dark.  No streetlights.  Only the occasional passing car.  And I'd get to lay on the roof of this old beat-up blue car.  My dad would point out all the constellations.  He must have known all of them.  He named them off like they, each one of them, were his best friends.  I'd look for shooting stars.  And I always had to make a wish.  But you know, I can't tell you any of them or else they won't come true; you know the rules.  The time would pass so quickly.  And I'd be taken to dreams.  What were those giant fire balls in the sky anyways?  And why were they in the shape of animals, or hunters, or princes with their fair maidens?

I don't know.  But I still stared up at the sky.  I still searched the heavens for whatever shiny coins they might throw my way.  And that's what the stars were.  It was all the loose change heavenly beings dropped.  They were marbles for Pick Up Sticks.  Celestial rocks skipping the galaxies like beach pebbles skipped on ocean waves.  And they were whatever my imagination could dream up.

This whole less-than-a-century-or-possibly-more of an existence we are caught in is clearly untamed.  Look at the stars.  Look at whatever nature throws at you to testify to this untamed reality.  Look at your friends, your circumstances, your situations - whether calm cool and collected or out of whack hell-laden passing moments - and tell me this reality is actually tame.  Tell me you are sure of tomorrow.  Wait, first tell me you are sure of all that's happened today.

You see, it's quite okay to not understand why things happen in particular ways.  And it's okay to not comprehend why you fall in love with you ever you do.  Or why without her you are heartsick though the time spent together in the past was only few.  Or why she consumes your thoughts to the point of getting excited for her success, her life, her love over everything you are as a person - selfless.  Or how God can bring two people together from opposite worlds through hope, through love and through faith with the greatest of these being love.

Things happen that are out of our control.  We might never receive the answers for those mysteries while we still breathe.

But tell me this:  if you don't question life, then look up at the sky and know that the stars might only be holes to heaven and walk on in your own reality.  

Because I will revel in the comfort of being completely lost while searching for God.

Be.  Lost.  Searching.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Confession XLIII

For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord
endures forever.
- Psalm 117: 2

Immaculate morning.  Breeze in the air.  Wind in the summer.  Cool calm driving.  Drowning with the windows down.  Taking the speed as it comes.  And massaging the corners.  Immaculate morning with blue skies and blue air and blue eyes smile at blue summer ocean waves weaving and stitching and sewing and kneading - he says, "It's beautiful out."  

I return, "Completely."

Sometimes moments come together like an orchestra tuning their instruments.  Staggered breaths - breaths, staggered thoughts - thoughts linking thoughts stagger-ing puzzle-piece-s found randomly in a box, but put links together logically.

And today is one of those days when it all came together perfectly.  Completely.

I used to want the world to stop when perfect moments strike; I still do.  But what about riding that moment out like riding a wave from the mid-Atlantic back home?  Taking it in for all its worth?  Living life the way it's meant to be lived - in perfect harmony?  With heaven and earth.  With God and man.  With human and human like community wasn't just some idealistic concept, but it was neighborhoods or neighbors and friends and family within a world all come together.

It's not some geological phenomena that we are waiting for.  Tectonic plates slide into place forming the continents we live on.  Mountains and hills.  Under sea ocean and clouds waving.  It's the perspective we take.  On how we let life divide us.  Atlantics and Pacifics.  Africas and Antarctics.  On the excuses we make for putting up white picket fences claiming this land for me and taking you out of the picture.  

It's the perspective we take that defines how we live life.

It's the perspective we take that defines how the world looks.

I look and I see green leaves for shade two stories up.  Packed streets and commotion.  A girl smoking and driving green car and smiling.  A couple talking and drinking, looking eye to eye believing love never fails.  Flowers in windows.  Blue petals and pinks for glass art.  Old man with glasses, dress suits for business.  And a heart hung in public so the world knows it's still alive.

I see the world as perfect in this moment.  And this moment has lasted the morning.  Immaculate morning because the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  

And check this: His steadfast love is great toward us.

So.  Look.  Again.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Confession XLII

He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap.
- Psalm 113: 7

I have too much.  It was just the other evening when Josh and I talked about the simple life.  I came to the conclusion that I'm fairly simple.  I think we both agreed on each other's simple nature.  Yet my simple is different from another man's simple.  And even my simple is way too much.

In one day I can go shopping and spend $90 with barely a thought to the amount I choose to shell out.  You know, $30 for khakis, then some $14 polos and a $40 pair of Chuck's.  I drive around the world when gas is $4 a tank.  I plug my $300 iPod into an $80 radio attachment and jam out to some old school Clash because that's good summer music.  On a regular basis I carry around a $1200 investment and a $500 phone that all makes my world smaller.  Easier.  Quicker.  All from the ease of a cushy life.

And I consider myself fairly simple...

But who am I kidding?  I have.  Way.  More.  Than most people.  

I'm not sure when I first saw a homeless person.  But whenever I notice someone wandering the streets without a place to lay his head, it's like it's the first time all over again.  My heart breaks.  My breath staggers.  Stops.  Thoughts of what I can do for him race through my head.  And the indifferent thoughts are inevitable; they come along for the ride too.

Even though I can look at my life right now and say that I own an overload of a comfortable lifestyle, when the quick moments of hard life come to the surface: I.  Barely.  Do.  A.  Thing.  To.  Help.  

When in fact I'm always praying for God to use me.  When I want to be His hands and feet.  When I want to serve someone.  Help someone.  Comfort that person.  Lend a hand with whatever I can.  Be there.  For someone.  Just.  Like.  Me.

I stall.  I stop.  I think twice.  But what is this?  Am I a hypocrite?  Am I someone who doesn't follow through with what he says?  Do I only pray the easy prayers, but don't put my faith into action?  When will I realize I am just like him?  The only difference being our circumstances.  We are both.  


Because when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter how much I have; it matters how much I can give.

Obviously the Lord is sovereign.  Omnipotent.  Omniscient.  Omnipresent.  He is God.  And He will raise the poor out of the dust.  And He will lift the needy from the ash heap.  But don't wait to experience this.  Don't look for some miracle where that homeless guy wearing shaggy clothes magically turns into a clean shaven Donald Trump.  


Ask yourself what you will do for this man.  Ask yourself what you will give to see him have another go at the "good life."  Ask yourself how God will work through you.  To bring life.  To someone else.

Then make a choice that honors the Lord.  Make a choice that you won't regret.  There have been too many times where I passed by someone in need.  Where I did nothing.  That something that I could have done isn't some massively grand life-rescuing feat, but it's the simple choice to give what coins I have rattling my pockets.  To maybe buy a sandwich for him.  To meet his need, whatever it may be.  It's that simple change in direction - Stop - that is truly life saving.

Realize it's about the giving, not what you give.

Change.  Saves.  Lives.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Confession XLI

Apply your heart to instruction
and your ear to the words of knowledge.
- Proverbs 23: 12

He told me he thinks about her a lot.  That he just wants to speed up time and give her all the hours in a day.  He said he would give her the world, but she is just that far away.

I had to rush to work today.  I sped over hills and rounded corners like the road was a race track.  I missed the pond.  Missed the fog that lingers over it like a child shyly frightened to dip even his toe into the unknown.  I missed the sunrise.  Missed the fenced-in light behind rows of trees.  And missed what God offered me to wake up to.  

I did it all to be at work on time.  I did it so I fit into a schedule.  So life could be planned to the T where I met the itinerary right on time. 

Was it worth it?

Too much of the time I rush around.  I spend hours in the car going this way and that.  And most of the  time I'm driving over the speed limit.  Get that.  I barely limit myself in those regards.  It's like I'm better than that sign telling me to drive within the regulation.  I'm better than that system.  Why slow down?  Why wait?  

"I'm more important than the law."

"I've got to be there" - wherever there is - "now!"

She told him the waiting's hard.  And he agreed.  She says it hurts.  And he knows that anxious pain all too well.  But all he can do is wait.

I wonder if what I missed along my drive this morning will be in the sunset tonight?  You know how sometimes you just want to tell God what to do.  You just want to sit down with the Old Man and be frank with Him.  Convince Him that He should be doing things this way instead of that way.  Because your buddies and all; that's what buddies do, right?

You know, you sit down with Him.  Chat for a little while.  Throw back some brews.  Shoot the breeze.  And simply relax together.  Because, you know, you just want to show Him that He could be doing things a little differently, which would definitely be beneficial to your own self.

To a certain extent, that's how it is.  Not to throw out pre-determination , or the Lord being King over our lives, or anything which even hints at Him not being the God Almighty.  But I'm saying that we are in relationship.  We are in a position to talk to the Creator even though it might feel awkward speaking to someone, something, some type of Being who created the heavens and the earth and everything in between.  We are given the opportunity to hold conversation.

We are given to the Lord and we made that decision ourselves.

You see, when I rush around I forget about what I'm a part of.  I just want it my way and I want it now.  I don't want to slow down in those instances, but it's in the taking-the-foot-off-the-pedal process where I notice God the most in this relationship.  Where I'm able to appreciate His splendor.  Where I'm able to understand how He's leading me in life.  Glimpses into where He's leading me as well.

When I slow down I'm more a part of a real relationship that's constantly evolving.

And so it's not about your doing whatever you can to fit into some strict time table for life.  Though making it to work on time is a plus.   But it's about being open to the idea that you are in relationship with the God of the universe 24/7.  That the relationship is always going on around you, with you.  That no matter what you will not miss out on anything.  

But realize that you also have to be willing to slow down in order to understand the supernatural not-out-of-reach conceptualization of life: God in relationship with you.

And.  That.  Relationship.  Is.  Life.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Confession XL

He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm trusting in the Lord.
- Psalm 112: 7

It's friday with 23 years gone.  Saturday marks one more day.  Sunday follows suit.  When I was younger I always wanted to be the big kid.  But I was just the little pesty brother following Mike around.  He's five years older than me.  So with circumstances out of my hands, since I'm the middle child, I'm not sure if I'll ever be the big kid.

I remember always wanting to be in high school.  There was a certain awe about the halls of that building.  I was only in sixth grade when my brother was a senior.  What were those halls like that he walked everyday?  Did it really look like it does in the movies?

You see, when Mike roamed those giant halls I had a regimented block schedule.  Kids were only allowed to go to their lockers at the assigned times.  Certain staircases were for walking up while others were for descents.  I'm not sure what I really expected to be different about high school, but there was something different, regardless.

Maybe it's that I would be taller than five feet so I could actually reach the top shelf of the lockers without struggling.  That's more of my own genetics rather than the true experience of higher education.  So maybe it was the fact that I'd have more freedom.  And I guess the type of freedom I thought of was school being more fun.  A place where I could leave the classroom when I wanted and go chill in some cool student lounge.  Where I could joke around with teachers like they were my friends.  And where in one single life changing moment everyone broke out in song and dance following in the footsteps of Grease, crossing the generations of cheesy teen flicks to today's very own, quite cleverly titled, High School Musical.

Well, even at 23 I don't think I'm the big kid.  It really doesn't much matter anymore.  High school's gone.  College is gone.  And I'm growing up.  But there is one thing that's remained all throughout: a trust in God.

You see, with this whole big kid thing, this whole natural obsession with wanting to move onto the next step - God was always there to lead me on.  To show me the next thing in life.  To bring me from a barely five-foot freshman to seven more inches and a Bachelor's degree.  So now what?

I guess I leave my trust in the Lord.  It got me this far, and I say that not meaning to downplay this trust or make it into some sort of tool for my own narcissistic progression.  It's that I don't know where my days will take me, but I know they will lead me on to God.  Because, yeah, it still is about being that big kid, but just in a different sense from physical stature.

Trusting in the Lord is about taking that next step.  A life continually spent in transition, as it is, needs an anchor.  From day to day we must find ourselves in the Almighty's grasp.  But don't try to reason this.  I mean, most of the time it's an unconscious decision.  We simply trust regardless of circumstances.  We wake to a world never at bay; we walk into a place where movement, motion, chaos and crowded streets are tangible observations of never ending time.  We are always looking to the next horizon and walking into the sunset just so we can start things over and over again in new ways. 

We experience life differently all the time.

So let life go on as it will naturally.  Be yourself not trying to figure out what this whole trust thing is all about.   And just trust in God while living life normally.

Natural.  Ordinary.  Progression. 

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thought #39

For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
- Psalm 112: 6

I drove down Lower College Pond and watched clouds take flight.  The fog boiled over the surface of the water.  The wind swept it like a broom taken to dust.  It was before eight in the morning.  The day was ready.  And I went on.

So I have this Hollywood-esk picture of what dating's meant to be.  An almost It's A Wonderful Life outlook.  Where boy meets girl, but both are shy so barely any "hello" or "nice to meet you" or "wow, you are completely gorgeous" is spoken even though that's all going through their minds.  Where notes are passed across the classroom.  Blushing's in order.  And then come the Winter Formal or Sadie Hawkins the "big" question's asked: "Will you go to the dance with me?"  One thing leads to another and soon you're going steady, as it were.  Boy gives girl his pin. Girl wears boy's letterman jacket.  Then parking during sunsets spent up on cliff sides overlooking a fading world is a must.  The rest is history.

Well, what about that ideal relationship?  That relationship declaring, "no matter what may come to be - no matter what - we will work with this to make it happen"?  Or that relationship waiting overseas looking forward to the day when embracing is all there will ever be because boy just does not want to let girl go?

Then there is always that soldier going off to war on some foreign soil leaving his beloved behind till one day when he comes back for her thinking.  The scenario that says, "I will write you everyday."  "I will keep your photo close."  "I will always remember you."  "And by all this, you will know my love for you.  So please don't cry and please don't mourn; I'll be home soon."

That relationship defined by the hours going back and forth to check the post.  Where anticipation keeps the days fresh for lovers spent apart.  And where nothing's really a guessing game because all doubts are calmed by randomly sent flowers or telephone calls made just to say, "you're beautiful."  That relationship, which for all its worth, is simple: "I love you."

Well, I may not have it all figured out yet, but to me, love is simple.  And I know this from what I have with God.  I have drives through the state forest at breaking day.  Drives past evaporating ponds, past a world that apparently longs for what's above.  And maybe this evaporation, morning dew after nightly falling skies is some sort of hint that we truly do live among the heavenlies; I guess it only takes a change of perspective to notice it.  It only takes a morning drive.

The one thought I have in the car is silent.  I don't know what to say.  Words aren't necessary.  I look around and know the Lord remembers me.  I know my love is secure in Him.  And that's ideal.

Tomorrow I may not see the same sights, but God's letter to me will still come in the mail.  It will be different though.  It might not come as a vacuumed up pond, but something will catch my eye to re-assure me of God's brilliance in this whole love affair.  For now I play the anticipation game.  I wonder what will come next.  And I go on spending my time in reality knowing this thing with God is ideal.

And that's all reflected in my own tangible affaire de coeur.  So once she's in my arms I'll keep hold for as long as possibly can be.  And for now I will always remember her.  She's never gone, only oceans away.

I wait. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Thought #38

The works of his hands are faithful and
all his precepts are trustworthy;
they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and
- Psalm 111: 7 & 8

It's one of those rainy days when you just spend the whole day inside.  Those days always used to bug me when I was a kid.  I was the rambunctious type.  The child that needed to be duct taped into his car seat because he'd always magically climb out.  A regular old little Houdini.  The type that when sentenced to his room for a "time out" would jump out the window, using the bulked for a landing pad and then would proceed to knock on the front door until he was let back in.  Not sure my parents knew what they were signed up for when I was born.

I think today I cherish rainy days more than despise them.  There's something about the wet that gives me comfort.  Something that re-assures me of the Old Man way up in the sky.  Of His love.  Of His care.  Of all that He is for He truly is God, the Alpha & Omega who was and is and is to come.  

That's what they taught me in Sunday School and to this day I tend to believe it.  It's not some belief based on nostalgia or any picture perfect childhood memory.  It's a belief supported by wet days because then heaven becomes earth and that's all there is.  Heaven's gentle steady deluge consuming all in its path.

So on rainy days I live among heaven.  I walk wet streets.  I am drenched.  And I notice that I'm a part of something so must more than myself.  It's more apparent to me.  God's touch is tangible.  His love and care become real to me rather than mere Bible stories.  Heaven becomes earth for a few wet moments.

The rain comes out of no where to me.  Especially since I grew up in New England.  The old quote for us New Englanders is, "If you don't like the weather, then wait a minute."  It's true.  The skies can change rapidly here.  One moment it's bright and sunny, the next it's depressingly dreary.

I've definitely come to like the rain though.  It's God's faithfulness, you know?

There's this cemetery just over the Wareham line that seems to hold funerals near weekly.  And it's only raining on those sad days.  The combination of rain and death makes me smile for some odd reason.  It's not some psychotic creepy reason.  It just seems like God empathizes with the family of the deceased.  Not that it's the cliche God's crying sort of empathy, but the personal reminder that God is here with us forever and ever.  His faithfulness.  His just response to any who mourn or are afflicted.  And His drip for drop million-and-one reasons for us to know all His precepts are trustworthy.  A tap dancing on tin roof reminder of His character.

This is God in the rain: every rain drop you feel falling, hit your head and make it's river-way down your body till it hits the ground; or any drop you drink turning your head to the clouds and opening your mouth wide like you're discovering rain again for the first time; or any heavenly drop you see stream in slow motion right before your eyes; it's one more reason why this whole thing is real.  Why this going to church is not for nothing.  Why this trying so hard to believe in what we cannot see is a response to all we've truly beheld before.  (Maybe you just can't remember what you beheld, but what you beheld some time ago in your heart is falling right before you.  Look.) 

Can't you see the rain?

Can't you feel the wet?

Can't you milk each moment for all its worth?

Now can't you experience heaven on a rainy day?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Thought #37

The works of his hands are faithful and
all his precepts are trustworthy.
- Psalm 111: 7

Here I am: just some guy who enjoys going to church, who tries opening the Word on a not-so-regular basis, and who, for some reason, is completely in love with a Being not of this world.  I can't even see God.  I don't hear God like some crazy famous actor's voice coming out of parting clouds telling me, "If you build it they will come." This whole Christian-walk-faith-journey-thing isn't like that for me.

I don't shake at church during worship.

If I'm prayed over I'm more pushed down than falling by the touch of the Spirit.

If I sound like I'm singing in tongues, it's only because I mispronounce the lyrics.

The only epiphanies heaven sends me are when I experience the fullness of nature realizing that there must be a Creator.  Because how can a sweep of air be so refreshing after spending a day inside?  Or how can glistening water avert my eyes from the busyness of life?  Or how can a million different choices of natural everyday occurrences bring to mind the idea of God?

(How is it possible for a person to miss out on these common occasions?)

And you know, this whole life spent going after God is so completely different from anything I know.  It's even different from perceptions and misconceptions about what Christianity is.  Maybe it's me.  Maybe I'm just too relaxed about it.  I don't think that's a crime though.  God created me to semi-slouch in my chair at church.  To close my eyes during the sermon and look like I'm sleeping when I'm actually completely at peace - the only perfect peace I know and it's spent in the presence of the Almighty.

I don't think any of that truly explains why this God connection is the way it is; that's just my experience I told you of.  What makes it so unique is the Lord's continual faithfulness even though "continual faithfulness" is quite repetitive.  That's the thing.  God's repetitive in His nature when connecting with us.  Yet each repetition is unique.

When on one day I'm going through hell - beginning to understand I'm leaving everything from the comfort of my own bed to the ritualistic drives down Federal Furnace, and understanding that in two months all of my loved ones will only be a voice on a phone.  When on one day I nearly lose it.  Crying.  And all together freaking out, God shows up.  He meets me on a bench in the cemetery behind School Street.  As I sit there I notice Him just in the way the wind rustles the leaves.  In the way my eyes can scan and rescan the horizon but always see something new.  Like God just put it there as if it were some game of Hide & Seek or Peek-a-boo.  And each time I just say, "I love you." 

Other days the Lord still meets me, but this time it's different.  The repetitive meetings will always go on, but they won't be in the same place, the same time, or anything similar other than the fact that God is faithful to us.  The Lord's repetition is his faithfulness.

And that faithfulness is not one that's always reciprocated in myself.  I don't always show the Lord the same faithfulness that's seemingly due Him.  An almost obligated faithfulness that says, "Since the Lord did this for me, I must do that for Him."  He's faithful no matter what.  And I don't get it.  But I go along with it.  And I live a life as sacrificial to God as much as I know how.  One that fails plenty of times.  But one that also succeeds on occasion.  One that strives to get to God however getting to God can be got.  And one that says, "Hey Lord," because most of the time I don't actually know what to say.

In the end, God is faithful.  So I'll trust Him.  Somehow.    

Monday, June 2, 2008

Thought #36

The plans of the diligent lead surely to
but everyone who is hasty comes only 
to poverty.
- Proverbs 21: 5

I am moving away from all I've known for 23 years.  My whole life is in 56 Myles Standish Drive.  I barely know the world I live in, but I'm going out to explore.  I'm leaving family and friends, security and comfort, a place where I can give you exact directions from Fall River to Carver in multiple ways.  Then I can tell you, "It'll take a good hour to make the drive," no matter what a "good hour" clarifies or leaves ambiguous.  I'm leaving my childhood, my adolescence, and my college years.  And I know that soon London will be where I live, but will it be home?

I enter a future with no expectations, with no pre-defined notion of what tomorrow holds and with no concept of how God actually plans on moving in my life.  But at least I know that much, that God will move, that He will meet me right where I'm at.  It's happened before.  It's happening now.  And it's a continual occurrence in this walk with God.

All I can do is work for the future while remaining in this moment - now.  All I know has been and is happening.  I am part of some grand scheme far beyond my comprehension.  And each minute is like a revelation from the Maker Himself.  Revelations formed like Tetris parts where I see them at the top of the screen, I live them falling down, and I help direct and align myself with what God has for me.  

The moments that make up life are Tetris blocks.  I must be diligent in how I connect them, in where I let them fall, in which way they are placed that fits into the last piece allowing for the next item to fit perfectly.  And it's all wonderfully orchestrated, this transaction between God--me and--life.

I don't understand this past month let alone the fleeting year.  I can't tell you how this American boy came to be in London, or how a possible life spent in the British Isles found a home in my thoughts.  I can't tell you why I gave up the job I loved or why it went down the way it did - like the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.  And I can't tell you how I went for a foreign job interview on a whim with barely a dime to my name.  But I've set out on this path and am walking from the highest peaks to the deepest valleys.  

I'm taking life as it comes to me.  But I'm also meeting life in the middle.  It's a healthy balance.  I am rolling with the punches while anticipating the next move.  I am careful and cautious: I am daring and gambling when it comes to the unseen.  And I have a hope and a confidence that this is what God has for me.

So I go for it.  I leave my 23-year homestead for an unknown frontier.  I deal with restless night sleeps, an oxymoronic way of saying I barely got any shut eye, because I dreamt of the troubles at Kiskadee or was anxious about school since I won't receive my degree until 12 days before I leave the country.  I barrel through being burnt out from daily stresses.  Because I am heartsick for a girl not within arm's reach.  A girl constantly kept in my heart.  And one whom once I embrace I'll never let go.

I don't let any of this phase me.  If I do, God's there to snap me out of it.  To re-assure me everything will be alright.  To speak to me when I don't read the Bible for weeks on end.  To give me peace and quiet when I barely get in a prayer.  To all together love me no matter what.

And this is the life I lead.  Living within an untamed reality.  Trying to schedule minute for minute, but never succeeding.  And through it all, I am relaxed.  I am at ease.  And I am with God.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Thought #35

A man's steps are from the Lord;
how then can man understand his
- Proverbs 20: 24

A storm's coming. The skies are dark over the bay. The air is heavy. And all the leaves are still; no wind. Main Street's walking like no one cares. No one's taking cover. But it's so clear, a storm is coming.

I'm glad it storms though. I'm glad there's more to a Sunday than just another sunny day. It gives me a reason to remember leaving the United Parish after a service and going for munchkins across the street at Dandy Donuts. Nostalgia. Near perfection in a child's eyes. Back then there was nothing more than that for a Sunday.

Today's imminent storm and internal hurricanes send me back to God. I can't understand His way, but I know it to be true. For it to be right. And for it to be worth weathering these raging seas.

Because you see, life is not motionless. We are not static beings living among statues. And in this way, we do not know what's ahead. These storms are prominent to us when we come against them. And some times they're all we can see. They're all we know.

But at the same time we need to realize that our steps come from the Lord. And that's all we need to know, especially during those tough times. Those times when you don't open the Bible, but God still meets you. He still speaks to you even though you're not reading any part of His Word. Get that. Know that all your steps come from the Lord. Even if you can't utter His name aloud. Even if you can't seem to pray anything. Even if all you've got is a blank stare into the horizon, past the ocean, and under the clouds. You may seem to have nothing, and that may be true, but God has you. He has your footsteps. He's guiding your way.

Now I understand why Main Street still walks under looming skies; you can't stop just because life seems to be going horribly at the moment. No one takes cover because they understand the storms will come whether they run under the nearest awning or not. Life still happens whether pleasant of painful. The thing is, God's still with you - in your every step.

Maybe you can look at your situation differently now. Maybe that's all it'll take to get through one more minute. Maybe it's just the simple thought of God giving you each step that will take you into tomorrow. Just maybe we're living like it's meant to be.

Run. Walk. Step.