You know the feeling, that twisting in the gut that even makes good food taste bland. You know you should eat, but the joy is just not in it.
My friend and I were talking the other day about fear.
“It comes on me in an MRI. I’m claustrophobic. It’s really bad.”
He told me how it is a chemical thing that happens, that he doesn’t really think there is any way to control it.
I asked him, “If a huge angel appeared in front of you, as real as the MRI you were fixin’ to slide into, and he said, ’Don’t be afraid. It’s okay,’ do you think that would help allay the fear?”
He thought about it for a moment and said, “Yeah, I think it would.”
Last Sunday, the preacher was telling us about three guys, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. You probably know them as Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego.
Anyway, these three told the king that they would not bow down to a false idol.(See, they worshiped the one true God) They also told the king that the God they served would be able to deliver them from any punishment the king might throw upon them. (Remember that fiery furnace? Yeah, that’s the one.)
But, then they said, “ But, even if He doesn’t, we still will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Now, we always talk about the faith of Daniel and his three friends.
Daniel had to endure being thrown into a den of hungry lions for refusing to compromise his beliefs.
I have been thinking about this…I would bet that, even though they trusted their God way more than we do, that they had that same fear and dread when they walked to their punishment, that same twisting in the gut before a dreaded day, or event, or task arrives.
They trusted God, but they didn’t know for sure exactly what he would do.
It wasn’t easy, moving forward.
It hardly ever is.
That’s what makes faith so good.
You believe God.
You do the things that you would do if you believed God.
And the answer comes after.
If it was easy to obey by faith, it wouldn’t be faith.
every once in a while
it might be kind of nice to have that angel come by.
Wendy and I were in the kichen, preparing dinner, she, by the stove, I with my back to her at the counter, chopping onions.
She’s the chef.
I’m the sous chef.
That’s how it has been most of our nearly 46 years together.
“You know, I don’t have memories of my mom fixing dinner,” I said, tears pooling in my eyes. (The onions, remember?) “I remember the meals, where we sat, what we ate. But we just weren’t involved in the preparation part of it. That’s kinda sad.”
“You were probably outside playing. Or doing homework in your room.”
“I know, but there is just so much that I wish I knew, that I wished I had been curious enough to ask about. Her, Dad, Mimo and Pop. When you’re young, you are so self-absorbed, you only think about things that relate to you. At that moment.”
Waxing nostalgic, I was.
“You should write that down!” Wendy told me.
So, I am.
My grandfather left us a tape recording of his life, and one of my cousins put it on a CD.
I also have his five year diary from the 40’s.
But, my greatest regret is that I moved through years and years of my life without questions and conversations with others to learn more about them.
Why do we have to get old before we really care what is inside a person?
I hope my regret will fuel some younger folks to open their eyes, their ears, their minds, to learn about this incredible life inside those around them.
It’s actually kinda fun to get outside of yourself.
And, for some, time may be shorter than you think.
WHAT WE CAN’T SEE
A Facebook friend and I were having a discussion on science vs belief in God.
Now, I think science and the desire to learn more about the creation comes from God, but the argument was about things that can be observed and verified with reproducible experiments as opposed to “faith, legends, myths, and imaginary beings.” I believe these were the words he used.
He sent me a video explaining “string theory” and “the theory of everything.”
I have to say, this little video was simple enough for my simple brain to sort of grasp what it was talking about.
But, the funny thing was, it was all about tiny subatomic particles that are too tiny for scientists to observe, so they observe them by the effects they have on light or sound waves.
I asked my friend if he believed in these “invisible” particles, and he said it had nothing to do with “belief”, but that it was a study in the scientific process of learning what is real and true.
After a little back and forth between us, he politely left the conversation with the statement “neither one of us is going to change his mind.”
That’s when I realized something…he used the word “faith” alongside fairy tale words, as if faith is some ignorant notion of “religion” that has no real basis to it.
“Without faith, it is impossible to please God. For, to come to Him, you must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.”
He is invisible…but not imaginary.
He plants the desire to find Him in me, and then I can respond by seeking Him…or not seeking Him.
When I seek Him, I begin to see Him.
I begin to see how He works.
How my faith grows as I learn to trust Him.
How my faith in Him becomes as real an object as the sun in the sky…how, with my faith (that He gave me. I didn’t get it on my own.) I can see everything else.
My friend had said that he could believe in a creator if there was any evidence.
“Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
I don’t think my friend wants to see.
YOU HAVE GOT TO READ THIS! (Except for Phinehas. You don’t HAVE to . But if you want to….)
This morning in church, our guest speaker, Joe Veal, was telling about a story in Ezekiel where the river was flowing out of the temple. He also talked about what happens when water doesn’t flow out, becoming stagnant. About the difference between standing in the river to your ankles, your knees, your waist, over your head.
“This building is NOT the temple! This is the temple!” He clapped his hand on his chest.
If you are reading this, it is not an accident. There is a purpose.
When I don’t allow the life that I have been given to flow out of me, I become stagnant.
Joe said, “I realized at that time, 8 out of 10 people that I met had NEVER heard the gospel…. One girl, when I offered to pray for her when I thanked Jesus for the food I was about to eat, told me that she had never heard “Jesus ” used except as a curse word.”
So, this horrible thought came through my brain.
Is it possible that some of the people I talk with don’t know?
This is what I know.
The creator of the universe actually created you to love him.
Because he loves you.
That love is the fuel that makes your engine run properly.
When we replace the love for him with love for anything else, our cylinders misfire all over the place.
It’s not much fun to drive around in a vehicle like that.
Now, how do you fix it, if you have messed up the engine with bad fuel?
You have to be rebuilt. Start completely over. You cannot rebuild yourself. That’s just silly. You have to BE rebuilt.
When you tell the manufacturer how you have messed up your engine, that you want your engine to run properly, that you cannot do it, he will do it.
I know this, because I did this.
Every once in a while, I put a little bad fuel in, but tune-ups are free too.
Is this too vague?
You were created for a purpose to love your creator, who loves you infinitely. He will give you the life that will let you love him, but you have to gain entrance through the one door that he provides. You cannot earn your way in, you have already messed that up. Jesus has given his life to pay the penalty for what you did by choosing your own way instead of his, but, for believing, you get rebuilt, born again, and your “eyes” will be opened to a world you have never seen.
I know this because it happened to me.