January 9, 2009 § Leave a comment
It can sneak up on you so quickly. It falls, like winter rain and a winter blanket all at the same time, refreshing and warm. And from the simplest of things like a hot cup of strong coffee after the cool-down from a chilly run. Suddenly, it’s a good morning.
January 4, 2009 § Leave a comment
I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never made a list and taped it to the fridge or the bathroom mirror.
I don’t know why.
At the turn of each new year I certainly do spend a great deal of time ruminating on the person I have been and planning the person I want to be. I’ve probably never been much of a resolution-maker because making a list is tantamount to making a declaration, a declaration that I am not perfect, a concession to the fact that I have a long way to go yet.
I’m probably shying away from the experience of seeing my shortcomings in the stark black and white of ink on paper. Still, the truth remains that in many areas of my life—in the lives of everyone—there is room for improvement, there are changes to be made.
So, if I were to make a list right now, right this minute, of the changes I could—and perhaps should—make, what would be on the list?
Well, I’d like to spend less and save more.
I’d like to invest less time in meaningless nonsense and devote my time to things that matter. (I know, that one’s a bit vague. I think I’m still trying to get a handle on which things fall into which categories.)
I’d like to eat less and exercise more. (I know, if I don’t set specific goals I won’t see specific results.)
I’d like to learn to skateboard and play the guitar.
While I’m at it maybe I should just go ahead and write the next great American novel, become a U. N. Ambassador and fly to the moon.
My list could be plausible, it could be crazy, it could be inspiring, it could be endless. There are so many things I could improve upon, so many things I could become. Where do I begin?
I live in a world that’s constantly changing. By what standard am I supposed to measure the changes I should live?
I have to measure my changes by something that stays the same. And that measure is, of course, God. He is unchanging. While I’m imagining myself as someone else… he is what he is. There’s no room for improvement. He is all that is good. He is all that is right.
Today I read Exodus 20, and the first three verses say this:
“And God spoke all these words: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.’ ”
What a statement! “You shall have no other gods before me.” He’s setting a standard.
“I am the standard. Don’t worship anything else because nothing else is worth it. I am the measuring stick!”
Now that is a declaration, a declaration in the stark black and white of ink on paper.
And he is the standard always. He was the same God at midnight that he was at 11:59, and he is the same God now.
As I ponder over resolutions and changes I may decide to make he does not change. So what will my resolutions be based upon? Will they be based on comparisons with other people? Will they be based on my self-esteem, my selfishness, my self-motivation, or the myriad of things that I think I might be able to do better? Or will they be based upon my unchanging God who has a plan to change me, to guide me into being the person he made me to be?
Because God is not only the measuring stick; he is also the one with the power to make me measure up.
January 2, 2009 § Leave a comment
It’s a brand-spankin’ new year. Now… (rubbing my hands together craftily) …what will I do with it?
December 31, 2008 § Leave a comment
Karen and I sat on the couch two nights ago watching “The Duchess.” I sat indian-style and a little slouched (as is my custom), and Karen clasped my arm with her hand and rested her head against my shoulder. I wondered if lazy nights like this would be more scarce like this in a few months.
I also wondered when I had become such a ninny.
At one point in the movie—well, at several points really, but I only need refer to the first one—the duchess, played by Keira Knightley, finds herself pregnant. I was keenly aware that this was the point in the film when I began to grow tense. In the movie great importance is placed upon the fact that she is pregnant, and I felt the full weight of its importance. Later on there is a scene at a dinner party, and she is very close to her delivery date. Suddenly, she gasps and grips the edges of the table, her knuckles white and her eyes wide. Her maids, or ladies in waiting or whatever come in and escort her out, supporting her weight and the additional seventy or eighty pounds of her dress between them as she screams in pain. And the music swells, a discordant melody that carries us to an interminably long blackout.
I couldn’t hardly stand it.
“What’s happening?” I wanted to shout.
“Is this normal?”
“Is the baby okay?”
All this while my mind concocts the myriad of things that could be going wrong behind the black of my television screen. As the next scene fades up we find her in a bright, sunlit room, cooing and smiling at an infant in a bassinet, and finally I could breath again.
I’ve been hyper-sensitive lately about any stories, articles, movies, television shows and even jokes that involve someone being pregnant, and I’ve never realized before how many of them there are. Somehow I immerse myself in them, intertwining the fates of the characters with the fates of Karen and me. I find myself desperately hoping everything will turn out perfectly because that somehow assures me everything can turn out perfectly, everything will turn out perfectly.
I am now uncomfortable with the injustice of the world in a way I’ve never been before.
And even as I write this I am coming to the realization that I’ve only just begun, that this fear and worry and panicked hope have little chance of ending with the birth of our baby. When he’s two I’ll read an article about a kidnapped toddler with strangled breath and a fluttering heart. When she’s thirteen I’ll watch the cruel girl in the movie who ridicules the other girl with a cold hatred that is, at the very least, unhealthy.
I’m realizing that I haven’t even begun to understand what it is to trust God, to have faith in his provision, his protection and, above all, his plan even when I can’t find the provision or protection in it. The further I walk in life and in God the more I realize that my wanderings thus far have just given me a better vantage point from which to see how much further I have to walk.