Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rescuing Each Others' Hearts

We were privileged to have another! vacation in Maryland visiting our daughter, who's in the Navy. This time, we decided to take a couple days and go out to the shore—Ocean City, MD. What a beautiful place. Definitely one of my favorite beach areas. We got in late on Friday night since she had to work that day, and then spent the whole day Saturday on the beach. In the waves, sitting in the sand, reading books, watching people, just soaking it in. It has been a long time since we'd been able to enjoy such a time as this.

We'd planned to spend Sunday morning there as well, but things just were conspiring against us to keep that from happening...and I was really trying to be ok with it, and just enjoy what we'd had on Saturday. But the truth wouldn't leave me alone. My heart was hurt, in a way that I can't even express though I know how to string words together! I kept waking up early that morning wondering, "Why does disappointment always have to win?" "Why can't the Saturday joy overcome the Sunday disappointment?" And there were no answers, but it was much deeper than about the beach. It was about our lives. It was about our short memories. As Rick Warren said recently, "Why can't I forget the things I don't want to remember, but always remember the things I want to forget?" And that's the story of our lives, it seems. We yearn for just more. There really is never enough. Of anything good.

And I just laid there, sad in my soul, not even crying out to God, just crying out inside...."Why does disappointment win?" Finally, I figured I'd get up and go take a walk on the beach alone, at least, and feel sorry for myself by not inviting anyone else to the party. I'd barely gotten dressed when my wife asked me, "Where are you going?" And I told her to take a walk on the beach. She said, "But I thought we were going to the beach?" I guess I hadn't explained to her that it just wasn't in the cards, we had to check out at an odd time, had a 2-3 hour drive back, and our daughter had a work day on I just tried to explain all that quickly, and she could tell that I was really hurt. (I really love my beach!) She said, and I thank God for this: "Well, why can't you and I just go for an hour, and our daughter can get ready and pack up while we're gone, and then we can come back and pack up and clean up?" And I thought, "Huh, that might work..." It was really too good to believe. I had been transported from the depths of despair to the heights of joy and possibility in a moment. She rescued my heart.

So here's the scene:
I so thoroughly enjoyed that hour we had...I told her she'd rescued my heart and she didn't even understand, really. We walked the beach, had some laughs with the lifeguards coming on duty, sat and read and I played in the waves. It was awesome.
And I began to realize how many times we have an opportunity to rescue someone's heart, and miss it. We don't know their despair, their loneliness, their hopelessness, or that disappointment is winning. Again. We don't know how much a hug, and encouraging word, a meal and some laughter can truly bring light into the darkness. That's grace. Something good that comes from 'out there' that's beyond us, beyond our control. We need to bring grace to others.
This time I saw it, I felt it. God brought grace to me, and used my wife to do it. It was powerful.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

God in a Lizard?

I took a trip to Florida to visit with my mom, who turns 80 this year. (No, I've no idea how she got so old!) I love the area she's in, full of palm trees, boats, water, rum, and lizards. The little lizards are everywhere and so much fun to watch.

My first morning there, I took a walk out under a long bridge across the IntraCoastal, fascinated by a sandcrab, jellyfish, and a crow that was unafraid. I was waiting a long time for a boat to come under the bridge and as I began to turn away to head back, I heard a splash behind me and saw a dolphin swimming past me. I grabbed a quick video and was just struck at how God had just met me, reassuring me that He was there, and He knew where I was. Odd the thoughts that come to us sometimes. But I just knew.

On my way back to my room, I wandered around an old marina that had closed down, and as I came around one of the abandoned buildings, a rather large and colorful lizard popped out in front of me. He was about a foot long and orange, yellow and black, but I couldn't grab a picture since he wouldn't hold still long enough and he finally escaped into some brush. As I described him later to my mom, sister, and her husband, no one knew what it was, and they seemed perplexed by it. They didn't exactly call me a liar, but I could tell they barely believed me!

I spent the next three days searching for him! Alas, he was nowhere to be found. I saw more jellyfish, but no more dolphins, even the crow was gone. I was determined that he'd be back and I'd find him. I got up early to match the time I first saw him, even retraced my steps to see if he'd pop out like before. On the final morning, I realized it wasn't going to happen. I went back and packed up my room, and was backing out of the parking lot, when all of a sudden, There He Is! He popped up onto a curb and just sat there, as if to say "I'm Here".  Long enough for me to take pictures. And I thought, wow, isn't that funny. Here, I've been looking all this time, and just when I give up, He pops out. He finds me. And isn't that the story of God?

After sending my sister the picture, she immediately sent back a link and said, "Oh, that's the African Rainbow Lizard." And I wondered, "So why didn't anyone believe that I'd seen it?" And I thought, well, that IS the story of God, isn't it? We who do know Him and have 'seen' him aren't usually believed by those inclined to disbelief.

I learned that this lizard isn't native to Florida...but he's here now. Kind of like God. He's not from Earth, but He's here now. And lest you think I'm a bit whacked to think that He came to me in a lizard, the Bible records Him in a bush, as a donkey, in a cloud, and in a whisper. And you know the oddest thing He's come in? Me. Colossians 1:27 from The Message: "The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you...". Amazing. Even moreso than He can come in a dolphin or a lizard, He appears in me.

And I'm left to wonder: just how hard do I search for Him? I frankly don't search for Him as hard as I searched for that lizard. And here's the gospel: even when I quit searching, He never stops searching for me. And He lets me 'find Him'. God is so weird, thankfully! And He's colorful!