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!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Blankets and Fire

I've discovered that there are blanket days, and fire days.

Tuesday was a blanket day.

Not necessarily the kind where you pull the blanket over your head instead of getting out of bed. (Though that might be nice on those days!)

When we've experienced traumatic events in our lives (you can read about ours in my Sept 2011 and following entries), and even after a lot of healing, we still live with a blanket over us. It suffocates us, closes us off, slows us down, and just muffles life. We can't feel joy like we did before. And when we do, it doesn't last. We're numbed, and not fully present. Life feels very gray or beige. Shadows.

But if we allow it, the trauma also creates fire. We now understand what's important, we scream with delight at the good things and those moments of joy, and at times find ourselves living more fully than ever. As I write, there's the smell of lilacs wafting over the deck and thru the screen door that is intoxicating. We hug, hard! We love deeply, and allow others to love us. We know that life is short and difficult, so a holy fire comes that drives us to make a difference, in the world, ourselves, and others. So at times, we discover that we're more alert and alive than ever.

Until the next blanket day comes.

So we alternate between living with the blanket over our heads and breathing fire from the rooftops. You never know which one is coming. I have discovered that I need to be aware of which one I'm living at the moment, and try to respond accordingly, or even what helps cause it.

Stupid and truly unimportant things can lead to blanket days. Your team loses. Something breaks or doesn't work, like plumbing or your internet. Your spouse does the eye roll thing or says something that cuts deeply, unintentionally. The toast burns. Or the toaster is too slow. It doesn't take much to discourage us. I find on those days that I have to enter in, intentionally. I have to enter into others' lives, and dig into God. Isolation only makes it worse. I've got to get 'out there'.

On the fire days, I just let it burn! (And ask God to keep me from doing or saying something stupid!)

Mostly what I'm trying to learn is that all this just is. There will be blanket days. And fire days. And it's ok.