Monday, January 4, 2016

Forks, Fear, and Faith

Another new year. So many folks shouting happy happy happy. As I look out the windshield to another new year, I am not filled with anticipation. I hear strange noises and the fuel is nearly gone and my wallet is at home. I freely admit I am anxious and a little afraid, and feeling pretty weak...unable to handle all that will come at me.
You see, I know what life can bring. Or better said, what life can take away from us—the sudden losses out of nowhere that change the course of our lives forever. I used to feel like Legolas in The Lord of the Rings, who could look with steely eyes at whatever faced him, determined that he would prevail. I feel more like Frodo now, with big eyes wondering, "Huh? Me?"
So this morning as I took all this to God, not hiding my weakness or my fears, I heard Him remind me: "In your weakness, I am strong." And "I am in you, and I'm greater than he that is in the world." Finally, "What I've begun in you, I will finish."
So I stand at this fork in the road. As my dear friend and teacher John Lynch says, "but I don't want to choose! I just want to walk this path where I've been walking!" Will I give in to doubt and fear? Or will I walk the walk of faith, trembling each step? That's the choice. And it must be made.
And somewhere off in the distance I hear the cries of the imprisoned, those in the camps surrounded by watchtowers and barbed wire, while the enemy parades around in mocking arrogance, laughing. They are real people inside. Each one desires life and laughter and hope. And I hate that the enemy holds them. I hate that he thinks he's winning.
And so I reach down and put on my belt of truth (the enemy does not win), my breastplate of righteousness (His, not mine!, that says I am enough), my gospel shoes (the real good news, that He's done it, we can rest!), my helmet of salvation (nothing can take this away from me, and nothing fashioned against me can prevail against me), I pick up the shield of faith with trembling hands (believing all that I'm not sure I believe...that He is enough), and the sword of the Spirit...and shout "Freedom! Aye, I will fight!"
All of this said trying to convince myself. As I reread and reread wondering when it will all be true again. I cannot face this new year with Legolas' steely-eyed determination. But I can walk in faith as Frodo, taking another step, believing...and trusting in all those around me who will fight alongside me, who will not give up. And who will not let me give up.
This video sums it up well, and if you've not seen it, take the time to do so:


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Red Porsches, Garages, and Grace

A guy you don't know drives past your house in a red Porsche, suddenly stops, turns into your driveway, hands you the key and the title, and walks away, saying "Enjoy".

After the shock wears off, we'd have a lot of questions, "Is it mine?" would be at the top. Followed by, "Is he going to come ask for it back?" "Who's paying the insurance, and gas and all?" "Am I just supposed to hold onto it?" "And just who is that guy anyway?"

And we're not going to get answers. So most of us would just tuck the red Porsche into the garage. The thoughtful would put a cover on it. With a note that says, STAY AWAY! And it sits.

And then it hit me...Christians all have a red Porsche.

Imagine that years later, an old friend drops by and sees something covered up in the garage...and asks about it. We tell him the story. And his first question is, "Wow, what's it like to drive that??" To which we look away and answer, "Well, I've never driven it..." And our friend is out of his mind: "What??!! Why haven't you ever driven it?"

"Well, I wasn't sure I could. What if I wrecked it? What if he comes back for it? And just who is going to pay for the insurance and maintenance on this?"

So many questions, so much confusion. And the sad truth is that it's just sitting, rotting away. It's merely an organized parts bin of stuff we don't even use. It's taking up space. And even, getting to be a pain in the butt...after all, you could put something else there, right? And doesn't this thing kind of mock you in a way since you don't do anything with it?

Meanwhile, you keep jumping into your 1988 Rusty Chevrolet Pickup with the muffler falling off, the radio doesn't work, the tires are balding, and the brakes squeak.

Grace is a lot like that. It confuses us. So we leave it alone. When Jesus cried out, "It is finished!" in John 19:30, He meant it. It's finished. His work, your work, your righteousness...all sin paid for. What we can never achieve on our own, a God who is pleased with us, Jesus achieved for us. God is now well pleased. He loves us.

And we park that. It seems way too good to be true, like someone dropping off a red Porsche. You know there must be strings attached. So we work hard, hoping to please a God who is already pleased.

If we can come to realize that it's ours (either grace or the red Porsche), we'll take it out for a drive. And we'll begin to use it as it was intended. Your Father did not intend for you to live in fear. Quite the contrary, He wants you to live FREE! To take some love and be loved without strings. It's breathtaking. And almost no one understands it. They keep driving the '88 rusty Chevy, struggling with it constantly, when they don't need to.

There's a red Porsche in your garage. Go pull the cover off, fire it up, and find freedom!