From traffic lights to lines in grocery stores, so much of life seems to consist of waiting. The minutes in between our daily activities consume a surprising chunk of our time. And this waiting frustrates us, because we never scheduled it. I dread the day where everything takes so much longer than expected, and I complete only half of my to-do list. Waiting reminds us that it’s not all about ourselves. Another plan supersedes our own.
For a Judge, God sure had an interesting way of handling rules. God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. God told Joseph to marry a pregnant woman.
Jesus told the Pharisees that He would tear down the temple.
“He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mark 6:5-6)
Where there was no faith, Jesus could not operate.
I love to ask young people revealing questions, like: “Who among you is the laziest and the hardest working?” This one always sets off a rousing debate.
One of our primary desires is our desire to be right. If others don’t believe us, we’ll try to prove them wrong, hopelessly.
I deeply want to experience all of life. I want to fall in love; marry; have children; build a career; attend my kids’ football games; eat dinner with them; send them to college; renew my vows with my wife; attend reunions; visit old friends; and sit on my porch on a large piece of land in the South with lemonade in my hand. I’ve painted pictures in my head, I want this so badly.
I called my former teacher to talk. My confession came quickly: “I don’t think I’ve liked myself much over the years.”
Driving across the country, endless expanses of America pass by my window. Farmland. Desert. Lakes. Pastures. A continuity establishes itself in the repetition of land: a mundane movie with no visible plot and scenery with no scene. As a kid, seatbelt strapped, I watched with steady disinterest, my mind calculating the remaining minutes before I could pose the question again, “Are we almost there yet?”
What kind of employer is God? Compared to the world, he offers abysmal pay and benefits.
Believing has never been the problem. We believe in chairs. So we sit in them. Ever had anyone pull a chair out from under you as you sit down? A “friend” did it to me once, in front of a roomful of people. How embarrassing. Yet I still believe a chair every time I sit on one.
Belief produces. Though we cannot see, touch, or hear belief, we see the results it yields. Those results are the decisions and deeds that form our lives. Look at Abraham.
Why do I believe A+ grades make me a person who passes muster? Why do I believe my fraternity/sorority’s letters make me acceptable in general?
Eve heard the serpent speak. The problem wasn’t the hearing. The problem lay in her choosing to listen. Thus, the serpent won the right to deceive her. Every person’s story since entails a competition of voices. To what voice will we bend our ear, listen and believe?
Everything changes. That’s the result of believing Jesus. In Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire,” Louis tells his interviewer how radically the world appeared to him as a vampire. It would never be as he saw it in his human life.
Two people chose not to believe. Life has been toil since. But not just in the physical and material realm. Our fall incurred the curse of work. The earth resists us, and we labor for enough food to eat today. Tomorrow, we begin it again.
We don’t remember what we learned in school. We remember the hard lessons of the hallway, or the cafeteria lunch table. But little of the chalkboard material and exam data remain with us. That only lingers when the teacher engages us where we live.
That Jesus remains in me? That I remain in him? That he cares more about love and mercy than service and sacrifice?
God blesses and provides. People forget. What is it that causes us to forget the fundamental experiences of our life?