Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Old Love

In spite of living within fifty miles of each other, my dear friend and I often allow several years to slip by between seeing each other. Nevertheless, we both need to carve out time now and again to catch up, reminisce, and whine about how fast life screams by and weren’t we young and full of promise with overflowing bucket lists only last week?

We usually meet half way at a favorite restaurant and from the second we are seated we launch, hardly catching our breath, babbling about our current activities, our families, then switch to grumbling, commiserating about all the things we can’t do anymore. Not to brag, but between us that is quite a lot. 

But this most recent visit she brought a new topic to share. A real life fairytale. 

After forty-five years of having lost one another to the capricious whims of life–a distant move to a job, a war, other spouses–she and her long lost college flame became reacquainted through a stray reach out message via Facebook. All it took was a single meeting and four and a half decades instantly dissolved into a cache of experience that served to add even more to share with each other in follow-up marathon conversations. 

I’ve never seen her more radiant and I could not be more thrilled for her. There is no way to explain what an incredible burst of impossible possibilities this rekindling of old love has infused into two lives. Turns out God is not just the ultimate designer, He is also an unparalleled love story author as well. With God all things are indeed possible.

I cannot help but point out that the reason only God could have seen this coming is because the value of old love, in all its variations, is highly underestimated in the NEW NEW NEW, everything must be NEW era.

Firstly, old love is something that cannot be explained to the young. Generally speaking it creeps them out to even mention it. Youthful passions and raging hormones must assume that love is exclusively for the young and this misconception is as ancient as love itself. But love isn’t what it used to be. There is an old saying that youth is wasted on the young but I could add that genuine love is almost always overlooked by the young while they are chasing after a glittery imitation that, once caught, is rarely able to survive the rigors of real life.

Speaking from personal experience, old love is better than the new version simply  because it has had plenty of opportunity to grow up. It has earned wisdom from having endured nicks and wear and tear. It’s polished from abrasion. It’s been around the block; it’s been beat up and yet survived. Having survived is nothing if not a great attitude adjuster. Once you have been spiked to the ground like a volleyball in a winner-take-all game a few times, you tend to reevaluate what really matters. 

Dating and mating, in this selfie-absorbed world is like playing the lottery. You might get lucky but the odds are not in your favor. The subtle detours and ultimate road blocks thrown up to interfere with mature abiding love finding its way didn’t happen overnight. It’s been a slow descent to a miserable state of unresolvable conflict of the sexes, starting with competition for the fierce maintaining of ground that leads to alienation, enmity, resentment and haughtiness usurping any hope of meeting in the middle. 

It appears that modern love has become a war game that no one can win. Ask anyone who has tried an online dating service; the revised rules of engagement are brutal. It’s a tale of woe that promises to become even sadder as the family unit becomes a footnote in history and society finally at last forgets that love between two people is supposed to be a mutual agreement not a ceasefire.

Days after our lunch, while still basking in the glow of the joy that my friend is experiencing, I picked up my old guitar that my son and husband recently had repaired as a surprise for me. The Conrad is another very dear friend I haven’t visited with as much as I used to. I sat down and flipped through one of my many ragged song books. I stopped on a Paul McCartney tune, The Long and Winding Road. I strummed and picked, as best I could, with stiff, arthritic fingers. Oh, the sound! The mellow, unforgettable, ringing tones unique to the instrument and the words of the song swept me back forty years. I was twenty-seven again, sitting cross-legged (hypothetically speaking) in a long ago living room floor playing the melancholy tune about sidetracked love. 

And then the pain in my right shoulder pierced through and (whoosh!) I was back being sixty-seven again. Returning my old friend to its case, I thought about the lyrics and how young the songwriter was when he composed it. I’m sure he thought he knew what it was about but I doubt he could have possibly known the true depth of what he was writing because undoubtedly he had not yet lived long enough. I’ll bet he knows now.

It is a given that living changes everything and makes new things old, but sometimes, just when you think nothing can stop the ravages of time, out of the blue, God adds a twist to the story and makes old things new again. 

For Him,

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in His hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; trust God: See all, nor be afraid!‘“   ~Robert Browning

Update: He proposed - she said yes. A new thing rises out of the old–like Spring!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Contagious Faith?

“...Let me ask you this question: What do your values, passions and priorities communicate to those who are watching you walk and talk in your everyday life? Let me ask you straight up, if I hang around with you, learn from you and imitate you, what will I “catch”? You know as well as I do that some men’s and women’s faith, love, joy and passion is communicative. To be near them does us good, inspires us, heals us and reconciles us with the human race! We love being around them and thank God for their faith that produces hope and propels us toward new heights of desires, commitments and possibilities in God.” ~ Claude Houde

I have been over thinking this lately–the concept of having a contagious faith and what constitutes being an inspirational Christian type–the dear heart who always speaks the uplifting and encouraging words and ministers so gently that people see Jesus in the speaker and therefore want to know Him. 

This devotional by Claude Houde made me realize why this has been much on my mind. I have had to admit that I don’t fit this profile as much as I’d like to. It seems I was built for something else, another kind of Christian duty. I think it is specific to this era–the era of the Last Call. 

I’ve always known that I am a sower not a reaper and therefore I rarely have the joy of witnessing the harvest of anything I have ever sown. But worse than that I am, more often than not, called upon to say the tough words that sometimes gentle Christians  might think but hesitate to say lest they discourage someone. Discomforting rather than comforting words that offend and challenge modern human sensibilities and bruise tender feelings.

One might correctly assume that this does not help me win friends and influence people. 

But I know I am well suited to this onerous task because I am neither vested nor interested in being right or approved; I just want to see good results. If I am compelled to say something that cuts deep, causes ire and rouses indignation, then I have likely pierced into the root of something that needs to be dug up and brought into the light. I don’t do it to hurt and it grieves me; I do it to shed light into dark corners because I believe time is running out to ‘get it’.

Generally speaking, for my effort, I can count on getting push back and resentment. My response to that is always–then prove me wrong–please–do–thereby challenging one to rise up and do differently or choose to grumble in enmity against the messenger in order to sidestep the message.

Which is... 

In all our efforts to find God, to please him, to commune with Him, we should remember that all change must be on our part. ~A.W.Tozer

Change must be on our part

What I have had to come to terms with, regarding the hard message I cannot ignore, is that, in this waning age, personal change is not the first consideration. Perhaps that is attributable to the New Compromised Church abandoning the original teaching that coming to Christ is not just a decision to become a “Christian” and learn the righteous buzz words and then reap all the rewards, but it is a call to dump excuses, admit sin, repent and desperately desire to do differently. Humanism, often mislabeled Christianity, seeks to attract converts with only the upside presented, carefully (some might say diabolically) omitting the tough step that must be taken by the convert to complete the conversion. It’s more like a razzle-dazzle invitation to an eternal party rather than a life-altering offer that requires a personal sacrifice. 

In a reprobated age where no one has been given the unpleasant words that must come in tandem with the saving words, the only way someone with ‘contagious faith’ produces hope and propels us toward new heights of desires, commitments and possibilities in God is when those who have ‘caught’ faith have also been willing to have  the painful booster shot no one wants to experience. 

So shoot the messenger if you must but know this, in these last days, genuine faith is not really all that contagious because humans have a built in resistance to having to give up anything of the old self or suffering the humility that produces real change. More’s the pity, no one is asking them to. However, and here’s the really harsh part, the appearance of faith without commitment to personal change isn’t really faith. It’s just emotional theatrics. 

It’s difficult for us to tell the difference sometimes. But God surely knows.

For Him,

(Revelation 3:19) As many as I love, I reprove and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  (3:20) Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  (3:21) He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Sometimes, when the headlines are too much with me, I begin a slow sink into despair. I start thinking, “what is the point?”. I wonder why I even try anymore. Why should I attempt to communicate? Why should I write? Words like, ‘irrelevant’ and ‘disconnected’ and “what do you know?” begin to creep into my subconscious. It’s like being a foreigner in a strange land who can’t speak or understand the language. I wake up each morning with less and less in common with the world in general and modern Christians in particular, and I grieve that not only do I not belong here anymore, I am persona non grata because I refuse to compromise. All I see is corruption, destruction and open haughty rebellion. Everything is upside down and backwards. What used to be good is mocked, what used to be bad is embraced and celebrated. 

This can’t end well, I reason. And since I can’t un-know this or pretend it is simply the world evolving to its greater self, I also can’t ignore the sober truth that the world has  apparently caught a fast train to hell. And so, as hope fades, I can’t see anything I can do to change or stop it. 

Then, as I falter and it all piles up on me, effectively shutting me down, God, in His infinite mercy, sends me a coded message that we have between us. It comes gently and out of the blue for a period of time in a variety of ways, a time of day, a license plate, a phone or page number. It isn’t a mysterious magical numeric symbolistic alternate language. It’s just a reminder of a Scripture that has pulled me through some rough spots, like a lifeline. The number is common and always around me but when I begin losing ground and need the prompt, He brings the number to my attention until I wake up and realize He is trying to tell me to remember the message. 

And the message is: Call unto me.

I could never find the words to explain all the different ways this has happened over the years or how, why and when this began for me, nor would anyone be interested. I just know it means He speaks to us in the way we can hear. Like any loving parent, He desires that we understand what He says to us so He broadcasts to our individually established frequency. He made us beautifully unique with all different types of learning receptors. He knows we are selective learners, how we see and hear and what gets our attention. 

He does His part. He speaks to us One on one and then He leaves it up to us to get it. That part we have to step up to on our own.

I admit freely that I have learned how to pay attention more quickly than I used to. As we all are, I am on my own solitary walk and so unfortunately I can’t invite anyone else to partake in the incredible uplifting moment I experience when the world’s woe’s fall away and all I see and hear is my Lord calling me to call unto Him. You’d think after all this time I would have this word of knowledge so deeply embedded I wouldn’t need a reminder but, alas, I am nothing if not human and therefore subject to human short term memory loss.

I can’t possibly know how God speaks to someone else. I do not believe what works for me will work for anyone else. All I can do is say that He is speaking and sometimes the words are not easy to hear.  But he who listens is given the strength and wisdom to overcome the most difficult things.

For Him,

(Jeremiah 33:3) Call unto me and I will answer thee and show thee great things, and difficult,  that thou knowest not. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Imagine... aging fortress stands in disrepair, crumbling turrets, drawbridge gaped open because the now rusty pull chains were compromised long ago; the effort required to maintain the once mighty bulwark had become what was finally deemed a lost cause.  

... that the history and original purpose of the fortress is now a vaguely recalled legend, largely unknown to the youngest citizens, heirs of heirs of heirs to the builders.  The memory of the founding ragtag group of misfits has become irrelevant. That they had fled from oppression and had been determined to establish a theretofore untried type of society where each individual was granted autonomy up to the point of not treading on any other individual’s right to self-rule, was not only no longer taught generation to generation, but was often summarily criticized and denigrated. spite of noble beginnings–eventually, given that the inherent human failings of the original group allowed that some personality types were compelled to be controlling, and who therefore were not content with simply minding their own business and leaving well enough alone–conflict was inevitable, inside as well as outside the walls.

regardless that the dynamic of the founders was established with the intent on self-rule and individual accountability based on a set of universal standards, the ideal could not remain a functioning reality but not because it wasn’t worthwhile. Humans, even when temporarily united by a single cause in a desperate moment, are imperfect creatures incapable of sustaining perfection and as soon as the threat is past, inevitably return to their natural, discordant ways.

...over time, even before the drawbridge was sabotaged, small breeches in the back wall, gone unnoticed or ignored, allowed for the infiltration of other humans desiring all the benefits of a self-ruled society but bringing with them determination to incorporate their own ideals into the social construct. Gradually, the total sum of the population, fully amalgamated, no longer cared to remember that there was once a single ideology that their ancestors had built the fortress upon. 

...era by era, as the populace multiplied and changed, life within the walls followed the ancient, predictable patterns of humanity. Despite advances in the collective knowledge, the understanding of natural law, inventions created for good are often turned to do evil. Thus, in spite of the ongoing illusion of improvement, each era mirrors previous periods, with minor variations, because, regardless of grand intent, spectacular creativity, and determination to do differently, humans come into the world coded to behave as though following a script. As bad as one era might seem, the next is always destined to be worse, even if it appears to be progress toward immortality or a lull in the process toward self-destruction. As the original standards fall, one by one, each representing a blow to the gut, every thread of the high ideal is pulled out or replaced either in full frontal attack at the drawbridge or in the quiet shadows on the back wall, internal, irreparable long term damage is done. Not just to the physical representation of the civilization, but to its shared soul.  Once the soul is compromised beyond recognition, the standards fully decimated, the inevitable end is unstoppable. The question becomes not if, but when. 

History, the ultimate teacher and predictor of the future, faithfully records civilizations rising and falling. The one constant and trackable cause is imperfect human nature ever craving to design perfection that it can visualize and begin but can never sustain. Even a noble fortress, once built with the best of intentions and integrity, must be populated with human beings who are inherently self-centered and unable to recognize that some among them are miscreants driven by an insatiable desire to rule others and that some are more than willing to let them in exchange for something. 

Imagine that the last inhabitants of the fortress believed, in spite of the wear and tear and disrepair, that it would stand forever. 

Imagine their shock and horror when the day finally came, the hoard attacked, and left it all in ruin.

For Him,

(Revelation 18:7) How much soever she glorified herself, and waxed wanton, so much give her of torment and mourning: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall in no wise see mourning.  (18:8) Therefore in one day shall her plagues come, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judged her.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014


We’ve been conditioned to believe that nothing can ever be left to the whims of chance. Thus we do not question that there is now a rule, regulation or manmade law to govern each and any action or thought. At any given moment everyone is probably breaking one or more laws by simply standing in his/her house.  For the cause of a variety of good sounding reasons, like safety and health, everything must now be calculated, anticipated and controlled. Perfection, as defined by some mysterious all knowing entity, has become the newest golden idol to be worshipped and appeased. There is no room for happenstance in a perfectly controlled world because that would suggest we are not in control. No surprises, no accidents allowed.  

Though we are determined that we must be in control, unfortunately, we don’t realize that not only are we not qualified to be in charge, more often than not, we make things worse by trying to do the job we are not smart enough to know we are not smart enough to do.  

Breaking News...humans are not gods. 

Over time, in our frenzied scramble to prove to others and ourselves that we are god-like, and therefore masters of our destiny, we have learned just enough to be extremely dangerous. After we figured out that the sun, moon and stars were just objects, that natural laws are reliable enough to expect quantifiable outcomes, we discovered that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. 

Not long after that revelation, we forgot it.

We went from getting smart to getting too smart to getting dumber by the minute. Action/Reaction. The result of our stubborn willfulness to become our own gods is an artificially constructed reality of all things being controllable which, it turns out, is the exact opposite of actuality. It is in no way achievable and the harder we try the bigger the mess we make.

What we have wrought in the process is our own destruction. But we are so busy building the illusion we haven’t figured this out yet. Someone just needs to say it.

Action: split the atom / Reaction: poison the planet until it is uninhabitable 

Action: control the weather / Reaction: reap the whirlwind

Action: outlaw everything / Reaction: make all people criminals

Action: modify seeds / Reaction: destroy natural health 

Action: create drugs to cure bad health / Reaction: enslave a thousand for every one freed

Action: extend lifespan / Reaction: kill babies to keep population down

Action: combine DNA to create perfect babies / Reaction: predictable disaster

In real time what is unfolding before our eyes is not happenstance. Happenstance occurs when God’s natural laws are left to work exactly as they were designed to be, predictable with infinite room for variation, both the happy blessings and the tough challenges. Human arrogance, prompted by satan’s whispered encouragement, cannot allow that things are perfectly imperfect, sometimes serendipitous, that life is meant to ebb and flow, rise and fall. Humans refuse to accept that we are often better off and much improved when we are allowed to overcome naturally occurring difficulties on our own and that we only make things worse with useless attempts to orchestrate ways to completely eliminate adversity. 

As if...

For Him,

(Colossians 1:16) for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him;  (1:17) and he is before all things, and in him all things consist.