Archives For death

See that face right there? That face says, “I will punch a wolf.” Nothing trumps Liam Neeson. Liam Neeson is Chuck Norris’ worst nightmare. He is the reason why Waldo is hiding. He finds your lack of faith disturbing.

With that being said, there’s a new Les Miserables coming out. I will see this movie. Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean? Anne Hathaway as Fantine? Amanda Seyfried as Cosette? Heck yeah! It’s even got Sacha Baron Cohen in it! It’s not a question. My greatest hope is to live long enough to see this movie. And then I may enter eternal rest, fulfilled and happy.

Everyone knows the song that Fantine sang, right? “I Dreamed A Dream?” It’s a haunting, sad lament sung by a dying woman who wonders where life went so wrong. “There was a time when love was blind and the world was a song, and the song was exciting, then it all went wrong. I dreamed that love would never die, I dreamed that God would be forgiving…I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living. Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.”

I know that song. I’ve lived that song. Life killed my dream.

I’ve only wanted one thing, for as long as I can remember. My Grandmother use to pray over me when I was a child – “Make him your servant, Father.” And I wanted that more than anything.

I grew up in church, and everything my pastors did I watched and emulated. I studied the bible relentlessly. I checked out theology books from the church library when I was 11 years old and I even read them. I started making connections between common everyday events and spiritual things when I was even younger. I wanted my life to be a sermon. I wanted my life to be something special. I wanted to point people to God. It was my dream. Then life killed the dream I dreamed.

So many things have happened. So many people have hurt me, and I’ve done the same right back. I worked in churches for years, growing bitter, angry, being hurt and hurtful. The song was exciting – exciting to think about and dream about, but life itself was just all wrong. It was the same no matter where I went, no matter what my job was. I kept dreaming, kept hoping, kept believing that God would be forgiving, that he would bless me, and then that part of me died.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

My life was a hell because of my dream. I pursued a dream and not God. His calling on my life was real, and he even planted that dream in my heart, but the dream was not worthy of being pursued. I bypassed the one who called me, the one who gifted me, and made my life all about the dream.

To be who God created me to be, that part of me had to die. The part that held onto the dream, the part that was self sufficient, the part that was created and sustained by my own will.

Your dream is not worthy of being pursued, but the one who gave you the dream is!

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, everything you do flows from it.”

Your heart’s desire should be the pursuit of a relationship with God. He is already pursuing you! When everything in your heart is right, everything that flows from you will be about him and not you. God will give you a dream and you’ll surrender it to him and he will give you all that and more.

Everything in your life should be an overflow, the excess of the abundance that God blesses you with because of your relationship with him. The dream is worthless, fruitless, without his blessing, and you can’t get God’s blessing. It’s not about not having road rage or working in a church. It’s not about the good you do or the lack of evil in your life. It’s all about resting in him. When you can rest in God, as his child, the dreams you dream will begin to come true.

My dreams died because I was never at rest, I never trusted, I went about making my dreams come true on my own. I, I, I. It was all about me, then that part of me got tired, sick, terminally ill. That part of me withered and died and was cut away. A new me emerged from that death, and God knows I’m still working it out, but at least I’m pointed in the right direction now – and that direction is one of being led by the giver of dreams.

How about you? Is the dream alive or is it dying on the vine? Is your relationship with God sustaining you or are you just barely hanging on, all alone?

Let it go! The dream is nothing without the dreamgiver. Your dream will die eventually anyway. Cut it loose now, sacrifice it at the feet of the one who can bring life from death. And after that part of you is gone, God will plant his dream in your heart and invite you to pursue him. If you do your dreams will all come true!

 

My wife Cheryl and her iPhones have a rich and wonderful history. Her first iPhone, a 3g, was fairly well abuse for years, culminating in being dropped in a toilet. It is now in the posession of my 5 year old daughter, who uses it as an iPod.

When the iPhone 4 came out, she just had to upgrade. We actually fought over who would get it first. I can’t remember who won that one, but I do remember being pretty childish about it. Friends would come up to us and show us their new phones and I would just melt. Then turn green with envy.

The day came when we both had our new phones and we were so happy. We spent our days on Facebook Mobile and Hootsuite, and our evenings texting each other from across the room.  Who could have know it would all be coming to an end so soon?

One day Cheryl went to lunch with some friends, it was a busy venue, and she left her purse at the table when they all walked out the door. It couldn’t have been more than 45 seconds, but that’s all it took. The purse, and the phone with it, were gone forever. Never mind the credit and debit cards, the social security card, the checkbook, the driver’s license. They were all secondary to the phone.

Cheryl went into a deep depression that lasted many months. Oh, she tried other mobile phones – cheap ones purchased at pawn shops and early 3g Windows Mobile Monstrosities given to her by friends who had cast them off like an old pair of golashes. Nothing worked for her.  Nothing would satisfy like the iPhone.

It got to where she couldn’t even be around me when I was using my phone. We had discussions about her seeing someone, getting some help, then something wonderful happened – the iPhone 4S. Now, we couldn’t afford one because we were still in the middle of a 2 year contract, but the new phone coming out meant that the prices for the old model would be dropping like baseball sized hail.

She scoured the internet looking for a sweet deal, we saved our pennies and even sold some things we had laying around the house that were going unused – a baby grand piano and our refrigerator. Not really. But the day came when she could make her purchase, and what a wonderful, glorious day it was! It was like the sun was shining again, and birds were singing, 10,000 red balloons were released, and the hopes and dreams of people everywhere came true all at once.  Cheryl had a new (to her) iPhone!

I wish I could say her iPhone trials came to a screeching halt at that point.  They did not, but they did take a different form. She doesn’t lose it in public any more, but she can’t ever remember where she put it when we are at home. We are always turning the place upside down looking for it, always in a blind panic, “Where’s my phone?!?” After all search and rescue techniques have been employed, we resort to the old stand-by – I dial her up and hope against hope that her ringer is on or the battery is not dead.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, have you ever lost something? I have. I’ve lost a lot, to be blunt. And if you’re honest, so have you. What would you do to recover that one very special lost item? Maybe it was your favorite blanket that you remember with a touch of the bitter sweet to this very day. Maybe it was a beloved pet, or an irreplaceable family heirloom. What did you go through when they were lost, and what would you give to have them back?

Think about this – God lost something once. He had us, and a terrible choice made thousands of years ago guaranteed we would be lost to him forever, unless something was done – something drastic.

Jesus alludes to this in the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. You should take a minute and read Luke 15.  Can you feel the desperation, the dejection? Can you feel what those people felt to have lost something so important? And how much more important are you to God than a sheep, or a coin? I think this is why the chapter ends with the prodigal son.

I know many people who have lost a child, either to having to let them go their own way, or in death. Both are heartbreaking, gut wrenching losses. Sometimes when I am in a disagreement with one of my little girls, I am getting a very small taste of this kind of loss. But to be God, and to lose all of creation – how much does his heart break for all of it, for all of us?

It hurt him so badly, so deeply that he was willing to sacrifice his own, and his only, son so that he could reclaim us. He paid that price, and he paid it dearly, because only by death can we truly be alive, as was intended from the beginning.  He lost us, but we can be found! We were bought with a terrible price, but to God, it was worth every drop of blood, every agonizing scream, every insult hurled, every blow, every stripe. He found us, and he bought us and now we are his.

What did the father of the prodigal do? He searched, he watched, he waited, and when the son was still a long way away, the father found him! The son made one move toward the father, and the father *ran* to him, embraced him, kissed him, treated him like royalty.

That is what our father God wants so much for each of us – to take just one step toward him – he will do the rest.  He’s already done the rest! All you have to do is turn his way! Nothing can separate you from the love of God! Not if that’s what you want – so the question is, what do you want? Are you lost? You can be found! No matter where you are, you are never too far away – turn to him and he will see, and he’ll come running and he will embrace you, he will make you his child, and he’ll seal it with a loving, forgiving kiss. That’s what I pray for all of you – that you’ll just turn his way, and watch as he completely changes everything in your life -just as he did for me, and for all the others who were lost and longed not to be.