Posted tagged ‘Peace’

Pothole Faith

June 4, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   June 4, 2016

                                          

I remember the potholes of Lansing, Michigan, enormous craters that swallowed Chevettes in mid-day! Potholes were reminders of winter’s brutalizing. Just as you thought the scars had healed from the cold winter experiences…here comes a personalized version of the Grand Canyon for your front tires.

Potholes created more business for chiropractors…and Firestone and Goodyear!

Colorado Springs, where I live, is now pitted with potholes (Say that five times fast!). I have noticed that I now do multi-task driving. I watch the vehicles around me, but also watch for the potholes to steer around. On my streets it feels like I’m skiing the Giant Slalom course.

A street repair bond issue passed a few months ago, but we may all be operating hovercraft by the time all the street issues get fixed.

My wife notices that I give expressions of pain when we suddenly hit a spot that jars the vehicle. I give a cry of “Ouch!” because the thumping sound is so disturbing that it requires a response of anguish.

Faith is a journey through a potholed life. We’d like it to be a smooth new highway that has no disturbances, no construction zones, no confusing merge lanes, and no potholes, but a journey of faith is not about smoothness, but rather assurance. Assurance that the God of mountaintops and valleys is also the God of potholes and inconveniences.

A faith that is untested is a faith that is shallow and suspect.

Potholes, like our problems and challenges, come in all shapes and sizes. Some can be seen from a distance and planned for, and then there are others that seem to sneak up on you like a new hospital bill that arrives in the mailbox. Pothole faith is belief in a God who is with me even when I sense I’m sinking into a new depth that has an uncertain bottom to it.

Driving our streets right now heightens the level of frustration. My son-in-law blew a tire a couple of months ago when he hit a pothole that was on a mission. A pothole faith is coming to grips with the God of peace in the midst of a hole of unrest.

Perhaps, just perhaps, some of us are learning to take the journey a little slower as we navigate the breaks in the asphalt. Even potholes can be used for good!

Having An Unclear Peace

April 18, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    April 18, 2016

                                 

Peace is a highly valued condition seldom understood and, most of the time, awkwardly explained. It is searched for like the Holy Grail, elusive to find and fleeting when experienced. It gets treated like a chemical formula…two parts this and one part that…but it’s not confined or easily defined.

Sometimes peace is experienced in the knowing, finding out a diagnosis and having a sense of peace about it. Sometimes peace takes a long time in the arriving. I remember standing beside the hospital bed of a young mother who had just lost her unborn baby. It took a long time for her and her husband to have peace about the loss. They grieved a long journey and asked a lot of questions that mostly began with the word “why?”

But sometimes peace comes in the lack of clarity. It’s the sensing that things are going to be okay no matter the outcome. It is the best kind of peace, because it is not dependent on what someone says or does, how circumstances play out, achievement or rejection. It’s walking into the fog that often descends along the banks of the Ohio River without reservations.

Peace gets linked up with happiness like they are twin sisters, but happiness is more like a distant cousin who shows up at weddings and reunions.

Recently I experienced a sense of peace in a time of uncertainty. There was a decision that was to be made by a committee that affected me. I knew that the decision was out of my control, and, remarkable as it sounds, I had peace about it regardless of the outcome. The disappointment in the news was minimal, as would have been the excitement in a decision that was positive.

Those moments of unclear peace are few and far between. Perhaps it is because I’m getting older…and older…but I view those times as ways that God redirects us. We’re prone to struggle against the wind instead of going with it. That doesn’t mean that everything is going to be cheesecake and champagne (or since I’m Baptist, Baptist champagne…otherwise known as 7-Up!), but experiencing peace is never discovered when we keep a death-like control grip of our life direction. It’s letting God chair the meeting, but knowing that he will always involve you in the dialogue.

I’ve experienced what the Bible says about peace. It surpasses all understanding. That’s comforting, knowing that today is also “Tax Day”, and the IRS got another kind of “piece” from me!

What Would Jesus…Text?

January 14, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        January 13, 2016

                              

I’m not high tech, even though I have devices that give people the illusion that I am. My cell phone gets used more for playing “Words With Friends” than it does for actually talking to people. That’s about as high tech as I get.

But I do seem to be texting more these last few months. Yesterday I was texting back and forth with a young man who asked me if I was familiar with the Thomas a’ Kempis book The Imitation of Christ. Today a text was received about a prayer concern. A few days ago my sister sent me a text with a picture of my dad holding a fruitcake that she had made for him. Every once in a while I get a “scripture text” text.

My brain gets thinking about Jesus in our day and what he would do and not do in various situations. So, obviously, I began wondering about what Jesus would text? Would he “LOL” often?

Perhaps he’d text Levi, the tax collector, with a simple “Dinner?” message. Before Martha could get to him about her brother, Lazarus, he could work his fingers on the keypad with a calming “He will rise again!”

I envision Jesus keeping his message simple, but powerful. In the midst of a stressed-out day I can hear the ping of the message coming in and seeing the words on the screen, “Peace be with you!”

When I’m feeling worthless and full of doubt I’m sure he would send me the words “Blessed are you!”

    When the world is not making sense, and there is heartache and tragedy he would most assuredly text me “Praying for me!” I’ve sent those words many times to others as they’ve wrestled with life situations. Admittedly I’ve sometimes said them because I had nothing else that I could say; and sadly, I’ve sometimes sent them without the commitment to do what I say. I know, however, that Jesus would stand behind those few words and kneel in the depth of them.

For those times when I start towards disconnection he’d would text me that John 15 reminder, “Abide in me!” And for the times when the crashing waves of life are towering over me, the words would come: “Have faith!”

     What would Jesus text? Simple, life-changing, foundational words that would convey glimpses of the sacred way.

Simple Gifts That Run Deep

December 23, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            December 23, 2015

                                        

Each Christmas for the past…I don’t know…fifteen years Carol and I have said that we aren’t going to buy Christmas gifts for one another…and we do! Each Christmas I search for something special that I think she would enjoy. She has a bit of her mom in her; her mom who would give gift suggestions to her children such as a new spatula…or a used paperback mystery from the public library cast-off pile.

Each Christmas I try to be sneaky and hide a few present that I’ve purchased for Carol. Unfortunately, my memory of where I hid them is not spot on. I’m still missing something I bought for her three Christmases ago. It’s hiding someplace in the house. I don’t even remember what it was I got for her, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t edible.

Each Christmas our trash cans get filled with wrapping paper and packaging contents. Grandkids commence to dancing with toy boxes, while our grown-up children discover twenty dollar bills in wrapped empty boxes of Triscuits and Cheerios.

But the gifts that mean the most at Christmas never come with a price tag. The best gifts aren’t secured during an early morning dash on Black Friday with a crowd of crazed consumers. The gifts that run deep within us are those moments when a hug is shared, a story is told, and a family prayer is said.

For me the simple gifts that run deep will include the discovery of Christmas by our nine-month old granddaughter. As her older brother and sister jump around in hyper-giddiness she will watch and begin to get a sense that Christmas is a special time.

A simple gift for me will be to see a young family with a two-week old daughter, plus her older brother and sister, light the advent candle during the Christmas Eve service. A little while later, after carols have been sung and scriptures read, a simple gift will be the singing by candlelight of “Silent Night” by the gathered worshipers. It is a few moments of calm and peace that hush the chatter in my soul.

A simple gift will be the voice of my 87 year old father that I will ring up on Christmas Day. It gently nudges the sadness within me that comes from being several states away. I will be blessed by his chuckles as he shares the recent stories of happenings in his senior living complex. Any relationship is a simple gift. A visit with my dad is like a drink of the deep water from my Papaw Helton’s well- renewing and quenching.

Finally, the last simple gift of Christmas Day will be when I lay my head down on the pillow that night and know…because I know…that I have been blessed.

Peace of Mind or Pieces of Our Mind

December 14, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  December 14, 2015

                                 

There’s a difference between “peace of mind” and “giving someone a piece of your mind.” The first can come to a person as a gift from God. The second comes from a person who isn’t afraid to hold back their rage and discontent.

The shepherds received peace of mind. King Herod wanted to express a piece of his mind to the exited Magi. Jesus came as the Prince of Peace, but was subjected to pieces of the minds of Pharisees and religious leaders.

In our churches today there is a growing urgency to surrender our agendas, conflicts, and unrest, and allow the peace of God to embrace the people of God.

Peace of God? Piece of someone’s mind? Peace that surpasses all understanding?

When someone chooses to give a piece of their mind the Body of Christ needs to identify it for what it is…someone’s personal agenda…someone’s pet peeve…someone’s perceived truth derived from rumor…someone’s bitterness manifested.

When the peace of God is evident a calmness descends upon the journeyers. There is an assuredness that God is guiding and creating a way that will one day is evident.

When someone gives a piece of their mind there are usually pieces that need to be picked up afterwards. When there is peace of mind the awesomeness of God begins to be realized.

Hope-Praying, Peace-Living

December 23, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                           December 23, 2014

                                                

     Two days from Christmas and there’s an empty feeling within me. I’ve had my share of fudge, chips, and Christmas cookies…so it isn’t my tummy that is empty. The emptiness is tied tightly to the events and conversations of our world these past few months. It feels like a tearing apart of lives, communities, and relationships.

Two days ago a professional football player stomped on the ankle of an opponent who was lying on the ground. In the news conference afterwards when he was asked about it he denied any wrong-doing.

Film doesn’t lie!

But this isn’t about the brutality and abuses of the National Football League…although that could be a long list even after being checked twice! That picture is a visual for what is going on in our world these days.

A scorn for the person who is down…or the person who is helping the downtrodden…like the ninety year old man who has been arrested a couple of times in a Florida city for feeding the homeless.

A disregard for someone in a different uniform. The hostility of ISIS towards anyone who doesn’t convert to their understanding and practice of Islam. Slaughtering the men and boys of a village and posting the film on the internet.

Denying wrongdoing. A Florida State quarterback, who has a golden arm, had charges dismissed this week by the university. In reading the news reports the situation seemed to be handled a little suspiciously by the school, and the quarterback has denied any wrongdoing. Odd that it has taken almost two years to get to this point…or, should I say, two football seasons later.

In other words, what seems to be important to our culture is not having people around who make us feel uncomfortable, stepping on those who disagree with us, and football championship trophies…and the millions that got with it.

Perhaps I’ll narrow-minded in my view. After all I was raised in southern Ohio, but I’m troubled by the strange priorities, avoidance of responsibility, and the exaltation of athletic talent.

What can I do about it? Live my life with compassion, mercy, and selflessness.

Be hope-praying and peace-living.

Pray for the hopeless and pray against hopelessness! Pray with hope, even when things look like they are being ripped asunder.

Live with peace and in peace. Be a person of peace even the hate-filled seem to be winning. Commit to peace for the journey, not just for a moment, and yet know that the journey consists of many, many moments, each a step towards a better tomorrow.

Hope and peace are two of the greatest gifts from our heavenly Father, and yet they are often put back on the shelf like flawed products that have no appeal.

Lord, help me as I strive today to be a pray-er of hope and an example of peace! Amen!

Nine Girl Scouts Dancing

December 15, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                         December 15, 2014

                                             

There are many pictures of Christmas that cross our minds or are caught by our eyes. Holly and mistletoe…egg nog and fruitcake…the mall Santa and front-yard inflatables. We use a number of things to convey the messages of hope, peace, love, and joy. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the proper perspective of things. My daily email box is full of on-line offers for everything from doormats to designer jeans. I’ve never had so many emails from Omaha Steaks!

A few days ago I was driving by the grocery store and I saw a sight that brought joy to my soul. In front of the store was one of the red buckets for The Salvation Army. I could hear the bell being rung.

But then in front of the bucket were nine Girl Scouts dancing round and round in a circle, laughing…enjoying…experiencing a sense of delight as they manned the bucket for a couple of hours. It was a picture of Christmas being lived out. Dancing with joy because of the season’s reason, while performing acts of charity.

Joy in child-like giggles.

Collecting coins and dollar bills to help the impoverished gain a step in the uncertainness of daily living.

Joy-filled charity. A picture of the blessed being a blessing.

Christmas is many things. On the day the girl scouts danced a “grandparently” couple at church lit the advent candle and shared how this past year had included many challenges but many, many more blessings. A dear lady who loves God and people brought me gingerbread cookies shaped like moosely-looking reindeer. In receiving we sought to give, and invited an African-American gentleman from church to join us for lunch.

Joy and delight…giving and receiving…being blessed and being the blessing…all of those are descriptions of Christmas that convey images, actions, feelings, and pictures.

God only knows how much delight those nine girl scouts brought to the customers coming and going from the supermarket, but I know that sparked a flame within my soul that warmed my heart.