Vacation and Sacrifice

Hmm, have you ever gotten ready to go on vacation and the closer it gets the more you dread going?

I do.

Sometimes, when it’s not a place I’ve been before, I get cold pricklies about going and making everyone else miserable. That would be Dougie. He works hard and deserves to have a nice, interesting time away without me being in the doldrums.

So, this time, even though I dreaded it, I was determined to enjoy all of it, even down to the coffee!

And, you know what?

I did.

Even the rainy days!

The east coast of New England was beautiful, the leaves in New England were just beginning to turn, we saw beautiful old houses and places that have incredible meaning for us Americans.

To think that the farmers in Concord were the catalyst that led to the Declaration of Independence a mere 15 months later; that where we are is dependent on where we came from. That this country is what it became due to a few good people determined to have freedom- of speech, religion, to protect themselves and their property.  That this country is still the guardian of those freedoms thanks to the lives of many service men and women who have voluntarily given their lives to protect the rest of us and the freedoms we have come to expect.

We came upon this memorial to the service men and women who lost their lives in Afganistan and Iraq as we were walking in Boston from Paul Revere’s home to the Old North Church. It took my breath away and I had to give the camera to Douglas to take the picture- I wanted to touch each one, to tell each name thank you, to pray for their families. It felt like I had come upon the graves of my own children. These young men and women personified Jesus’ words in John 15:12-14:

 

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

 

They didn’t even know me and they chose to serve and protect this country- including me. The thought is overwhelming. I can’t dig very deeply or I’m immobilized by humility and grief. All I can say is Thank You, and God forgive me for taking this life for granted.

 

Lesson One

The first lesson we learn is love. We look to the person who cares for us and that becomes our first experience with the feeling we associate with love; that warm, cozy, contented feeling like a fuzzy blanket covering our shoulders when we are cold.

Yet, this feeling is such a far cry from what love actually is. To learn this at home is for a child the building block of our emotions in my opinion. There are families so in tune to God’s direction and His love that their entire lives are a reflection of the Love they have received from the Father. And, there are families who are so broken that it is only when one looks to the Father that one begins to understand that God IS Love and He will safely guide them to their true home.

There are families who are somewhere in between. The family that functions on a fairly normal basis (by human standards, I think); things are pretty routine; and disagreements are brought to an agreeable conclusion. These families are “ok”.

But, as one who grew up in the broken family and has spent my life as an adult in the “ok” family; I would like to challenge you to continually look to the Father for your example to parent.

He loves us unconditionally, we were created for His pleasure and because he was lonely, to be His companions.Yet sin entered the world via the evil one and the dangling of the apple of the desire to have and thus by that action we are broken and perfect no more.

Because that original design was broken and we are unable to return to that original state of perfection; instead of scrapping the whole design and dumping man into the scrap heap He provides for us- not  by removing the brokenness but He brings us through to perfection by the challenges and obstacles we face.

 His love provides our needs, not necessarily our wants; allows us to fall down and helps us back up; protects us when we need protection and allows reality to reap its consequences when we need to grow.

When the evil one wreaks havoc in our lives we are able to see, as Joseph did:

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20

The Perfect Parent demonstrates His love for us in so many ways, but none more evident than the sacrificial Love he demonstrated when He provided His own Son to be the route by which we can return to perfection and perfect companionship with Him.

Prayer and C.S. Lewis

“Master, they say that when I seem

     To be in speech with you,

Since you make no replies, it’s all a dream

-One talker aping two.

 

They are half right, but not as they

Imagine; rather, I

Seek in myself the things I meant to say, 

And lo! the wells are dry.


Then, seeing me empty, 

You forsake the Listener’s role,

And through my dead lips breathe and into utterance 

Wake the thoughts I never knew.


And thus you neither need reply nor can; 

Thus, while we seem two talking, 

Thou art One forever, and I

No dreamer, but thy dream.”

  • C.S. Lewis, Poems (1964)

Never heard this poem before today… someone quoted it this morning on the tv. Made a deep impression- of what the unbeliever thinks of us-dreamers taliking to our imaginary friend- oh, if only they knew! 

The Author of the Universe created us all and made a place for Himself within us whether or not we believe. When He is not there within, when we ignore the order and creativity we see around us that is God’s;, we sense the emptiness as a longing for something more; an intangible, almost indescribable “hole” for lack of a better word. We seek to fill it unknowingly; not aware of there being only one “Perfect Fit” for that space. Like the shape sorters of our infancy- the the square block will not fit into the triangle shaped hole. It is only when He is in residence, so to speak, that the sense of contentment, the Fit, becomes a reality-that feeling we get when we are sitting and watching the colors of the sun setting on a really good day. But, that is only a feeling, the reality is with God (Love) we can bear all things and see with new understanding a sense of purpose that wasn’t there before. A purpose that He has given us. 

When I pray- hearing with my heart only- I know that He is present, and, like C.S. Lewis, I become, not the creator of the words I speak; rather the instrument by which those words are spoken. And, as they come I realize that I never had those words in mind; but that they are just the words needed in this moment. The concept Lewis reveals- that I am not the unrealistic dreamer talking to myself in this apparent one way communication ;but that I am the dream that God is dreaming Himself; was a “WOW” to my whole being. It made the connection for me to Genesis 1: 26- let us make man in our image-

If I am His dream, then my life is exactly as He dreams it; something of a paradox at first look. Or is it? When we dream, the dream can be the same over and over and then one night the dream comes again and there are changes in the dream. Like my dreams, or is it the other way ’round? Are my dreams like His- changing as He changes His dream for us? This is too deep for me to explain, I think. 

How do we account for free will? Or does this imply we are puppets and He is pulling the strings? Is the dream we dream out of our control when it changes? Does God change His dream of us based on the choices and decisions we make or are the choices and decisions we make always part of His dream of us and serve to make us who we are? Perplexing thoughts. Free to choose, but destined to make the choice we make because it is His dream? 

Have my thoughts moved from faith to philosophy? The explaining of a thing sometimes changes the mystery of the thing….

If I believe we are created by Him, for Him, then I must believe that there is a plan for each of us, that God has set that plan in motion and that my life has purpose because He made it so- to have purpose. The key, I think, is for me to realize the purpose is His, not mine to own. Are my thoughts, prayers, choices, deeds the working out of His plan for me? I must say yes, and then again-no, and then yes. Does His gift of free will include me making the choices He would choose for me? Does His predestination, and foreknowledge of us, preclude free will? (Romans 8:28-30) Or is it that my will becomes the fulfillment in my life (the working out of my salvation) of that predestination and foreknowledge when I begin that believer’s relationship with Him? (Philippians 2:13-13 ) So, to return to the subject of prayer, it will continue to be an integral part of the dialogue that is my relationship with God; dream and Dreamer. 

Conundrum….of a sort.