Monday, April 23, 2012

Longing Glances

Dear Readers, 

Sometimes doing mental health work I get stuck in my office for periods of time doing various sundry tasks. So I look forward to trips into the community to visit clients and employers where I can get out of my stuffy office and see the countryside.

I enjoy looking at the valleys and hillsides, the wooded areas, the ponds, and the streams. I sometimes have the urge to go on a back road, park my car, and take a walk deep into the woods to enjoy God’s creation. I then come back to my senses and know that I’m on the clock and need to stay focused on accomplishing my work. I’m relegated to only take longing glances from my car. 

The same thing happens when I watch videos of faraway places, especially mountains, and even more particularly the Alps Mountains of Europe. I grew up with Mennonite/Amish/Anabaptist roots, so perhaps my attraction to these majestic peaks and valleys is due to the fact that my ancestors started out there. 

When Rick Steves Europe on the PBS channel focuses on the mountains of Austria or Switzerland I become totally mesmerized and long for the day when I might be able to visit there. I long to breathe the crisp clean air, and view with wonder the sparkling brooks and waterfalls. I again come back to my senses and think that at my age and with my resources a trip there is likely impossible. All I can do is dream and take longing glances from afar. 

I think that life is full of a series of longings and dreams to visit and view scenic and almost unfathomable majestic sights. For some of us our dreams will be fulfilled, but for many of us the barriers are just too great. 

Where does this longing come from? Why do we even think about things that seem unreachable? 

I think I have the answer. God has put this longing into our souls. He realizes that it is natural for us to crave beauty and majesty, and that to do so draw us closer to Him. 

Hebrews 11:13-16 sums it up best:
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” 

Revelation 21 says that the streets and walls of this city will be made of pure gold and the gates of solid precious stones. John in Revelation 22:1-2 goes on to share what will fulfill our longing:

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.”

So here on this earth we may have to settle for taking "longing glances" from our car, or from afar, but someday... 

See you next time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Where Does Passion Come From?

Dear Readers,

These days there is much talk about people having passion about things, and that passion breeding a degree of success. Tebowmania was rampant in Denver when Tim Tebow brought faith, passion, and football together to create a buzz that the sports world seldom sees. Many people jumped either into the love camp or hate camp about Mr. Tebow.

Many had questions about Mr. Tebow’s ability to sustain his winning exploits without being a prototypical quarterback. They saw him as a fly-by-night success. On the other hand people of faith were excited that a clean-living young man open about his belief in Christ was able to dispel the myth that “nice guys finish last”.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates parlayed their passion about computers into Apple and Microsoft empires. Who doesn’t look with longing at their small beginnings of getting together with other “geeks” and turning the world upside down with technological advance?

Anne Beiler, a former Amish girl, wanted to make a perfect pretzel. She came from a life of difficulty fraught with many failures. But she used her passion and faith to start Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, now a worldwide business.

Why do people, including myself, not have more passion to go after their dreams to change their world, even if may not bring the widespread fame of the above-mentioned people? Why do we get stuck in the rut of feeling inadequate?

Why do the churches we attend seem boring and unable to meet the deep needs in our lives? Have the leaders and congregants in our churches also lost their passion?

How in the world do we gain, or regain this passion? I’m fifty-eight years old and AARP has already come knocking at my door. I no longer have the virile energy I once had. Sometimes I lie on my couch in the evenings without moving. How can I change the world from my couch?


See you next time.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Falling at His Feet!

Dear Readers,

Days, weeks, months, and years go by with seemingly no extraordinary events. Nothing that a person can hang his hat on and say, “That was really special!” We can easily identify with Solomon when he wrote, “…all is vanity and grasping for the wind”. Ecclesiastes 1:14. (NKJV)

Luke 8 is a wonderful passage that can lift me out of my feeling of the “vanity” of life. What I need to understand is that most of the people written about in Luke, the rest of the Bible, and perhaps many of you feel my same doldrums from time to time.

Look at the women mentioned in Luke 8:1-3. Mary Magdalene had seven demons. I guess she had many days, weeks, and years when she questioned whether her torment would ever end. Also Joanna and Susanna, and other prominent women likely had wealthy husbands and all their needs met. Why weren’t they just content with their lives?

Verse 4 states that “a great multitude” came “from every city” to hear Jesus speak. This would indicate that many people felt the same as I do right now. They wanted something good to happen that would prove there was meaning to life.

Jesus spoke words they could understand. He talked of planting, of light, and he even told the people that if they wanted to be his brothers and mother they needed to “hear the word of God and do it”. As if all this weren’t enough He calmed a storm swept sea and healed a demon possessed man.

Then Jairus, a local synagogue ruler, came and fell down at the feet of Jesus and “begged” Him to come to his house to help his ill and dying daughter. This event was striking to me because it was a story of a man that had nowhere else to turn for help. He knew that his pious prayers in the synagogue did not heal his daughter. He knew that his “religious” friends were not able to bring her back to life. What did Jairus have to lose? His position in the synagogue paled in comparison to his daughter’s life.

Parallel in my life and perhaps yours = Feeling hopeless with nowhere else to turn for meaning or healing in your life or the lives of your loved ones.

Solution = Falling at the feet of Jesus to beg Him to help us.

See you next time.