Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Smoke & Ash

I didn't intend to write tonight. I don't have anything to say, but I found myself sitting here just staring at the screen. I clicked on the Daily Bible reading. I read Deuteronomy 8 and it became clear why I'm here - I'm here to remember. My new job has me working every Sunday, and I'm starting to feel disconnected. I expected to recall all the great things God has done for me, I did, but I didn't stay there long.

My mind keeps running through several experiences I've had in the last couple of days. Reminders of what I'm connected to. I smoked a cigar with my best friend a little while ago. Just he and I. We sat on his back porch and talked our way through a couple of great cigars. I remember leaning back in my chair as I exhaled and watching the smoke escape in the night breeze. A couple of dark clouds silhouetted by the moon moved quickly by in the opposite direction. I remember not being able to decided where I loved to be more - here in the smoke or there in the clouds. My daughter couldn't sleep tonight, so went into her room, picked her up, and sang to her in the dark. It was one of the sweetest moments of my life. I already know - it won't be like this for long.

My favorite blogger, in his last two posts, has written about pastors and fathers. Both are difficult subjects for me now. My pastor, up until a few weeks ago, was one of my best friends. He was a close friend who happened to speak at the church I go to. It was simple, until he brought a message that altered the foundation of how I believe. I'm not sure he could have done that as just a friend. As my pastor he changed, inspired, and ignited me. The single greatest influence in my life has been my father. He's gone now. I remember how he smiled - what he loved - how he lived. Memories of what we had, of what was lost. Fire and ash.

It's raining outside my window now. I love listening to the rain. My father did - I bet my daughter will.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What I Got

It started last night with Psalms 66.

10 For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12 you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

I really feel like I've lived these verses the last couple of years. I've talked a lot about my pain and confusion during what was a very spiritually trying time. I'm sure I sound like I've got some sort of victim complex, I really don't think I do. It's just who I've been (spiritually) lately. For instance, I'm moved by the Casting Crowns song about praising God in the Storm. It just feels like my story or what I want my story to be. Psalms 66 is a Psalm I would traditionally like, I like and connect to the idea of being brought out of trial. I'm comforted knowing there is biblical precedence for God-induced suffering. The problem I had with this Psalms yesterday is the word abundance - I have zero money. I've taken a job that if it pays the bills it will be just barely, and I've done this to pursue and career in a field that all but guarantees volatility, instability, difficulty, and more than it's share of lean years. I know I live in America where we all live in relative abundance, but I'm talking about taking care of my family in our current situation. A real - working - American abundance we ain't got.

Psalms 67
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
2 that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

I connect with Psalms 66 because for the first time in my life I really understand what it is for God to be gracious. I've accepted that grace - I live in that grace - I am lit by that grace. I am coming to understand his way and I'm confident in my direction. I have experienced and continue to experience his saving power and it lets me praise him. I am saved, soaked in his blood, lost in his grace. Redeemed. Justified. Bought. It is finished. I am his. Oh, how good he has shown himself to be. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! I don't have any money, none, but abundance - that I got.