Earthquakes

straw-in-the-field-1318272103QII“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

– C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain –


Just when life is nice and normal, something rumbles through and knocks you off your feet.

That happened to me this week.

I really shouldn’t be surprised by anything these days. Yet, again and again, events shock me and bring me to my knees.

Life’s earthquakes feel something like a light blow to the stomach. Not necessarily a gut-wrenching pain, but a sense of lostness, breathlessness. Disorientation.

Sometimes I actually start feeling grown up…until another earthquake rolls in and reminds me just how small and unprepared I am for the rigors of adulthood.

I’ll be 23 this year. That’s an adult, right?

But still part of me wants to go crawling into my mother’s lap for a while. Hide from the problem, hide from the people waiting on me for a life-changing answer, hide from the fear of bungling an uncertain future. Hide from the responsibility to sort out a complicated swirl of desires, relationships, convictions.

I guess I like to have it all together, and earthquakes remind me that I don’t.

Not at all. Not even a little.

Today, my dad got a funny tone in his voice and I just had a hunch. I asked “Is it ____.” And it was. Oh boy. Why did I have to be right? Just when I thought things were settling in, now things get complicated instead.

You know, crises come and go. Today, my mind was in a whirl all day, processing the latest “earthquake.” Tomorrow, or maybe the next day, things will calm again. Sure, maybe my dilemma won’t disappear. I still have choices to make. But the earthquake passes and the aftershocks ripple with decreasing intensity each time they visit me again.

And, you know, as unprepared as I was for an earthquake this week, I’m really glad it came.

It reminds me how much I need God.

See, I often try to float along on my own. I figure I can hold it all together pretty well. Maybe I don’t consciously think it, but my actions show that I tend to forget God’s present help, and lean on my own understanding instead. 

Earthquakes send me rushing for the only security I have — the holy love of Christ.

So somehow — beneath drama and options and strange events — I have an anchor.

Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, 

Hebrew 6:17-20a, NKJV

Not only do I have a safe place to hide when life’s earthquakes try to bowl me over, but I also have the hope that all these interruptions, confusing choices, and complicated friendships will birth into something beautiful.

You never know when an earthquake might come rumbling in. When it does, where will you go?

Maybe you could join me, on my knees.

“My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing.”

– James 1:2-4, CEB –

 

 

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Interruptions or Adventures?

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“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
― G.K. Chesterton―


Recently, I stumbled across a Youtube video of well-known Christian comedian Mark Lowry. I haven’t heard much of his comedy before. In fact, I don’t think I even finished the video clip.

 The only reason I mention him now is that the idea for this post came from him. On this video, he began talking about the things that we perceive as important, compared to God’s perspective. As we look at this idea together today, I just wanted you to know where I got the foundational theme for today’s post, as well as several of the Scriptural examples. While I’m not much of a Mark Lowry fan, I think there is quite a bit of truth in this particular observation.


Interruptions. Yuck.

They’re everywhere, aren’t they?

Those people that pull out their cars in front of you like they’re racing to a fire, and then slow down to about 15 miles per hour (in a no-passing zone, generally). The impossibly-long lines at Walmart on Saturdays. The phone ringing when you were about to get to that one thing you’ve been wanting to do all day. The person who just won’t stop talking to you when you really need to be somewhere else.

Yeah, those. Interruptions.

Funny thing is, Jesus seemed to deal with interruptions differently than we do.

In fact, as Mr. Lowry pointed out, it seems like more interruptions made it into the Bible than planned events did (or at least humanly-planned ones)!

Jesus sails across the Sea of Galilee with his disciples, needing a break.

Interruption. In the form of over 5,000 people (Matthew 14:13).

Jesus heads for the house of Jairus the synagogue ruler–and a woman crawls out to brush her fingers against the hem of his robe (Mark 5:21). Interruption. Incidentally, the gospel writer records as much about the newly-healed woman’s interruption as he writes about the miracle of Jairus’ resurrected daughter.

It’s almost as if God knows how preoccupied we get and arranged His book with subtle reminders that we don’t have it all figured out.

I’ve had plenty of interruptions in my life. How about you?

I’ll get things all squared away and nicely organized…and then life stampedes through and tramples my best-laid plans. But…funny thing…in the end, I’m usually glad. I don’t always get to see the whole picture, but every once in a while, God lets me see a peek of what He’s been up to in the things that I call roadblocks, interruptions, or inconveniences.

I want to look at interruptions differently. Instead of bewailing the changed plans, I want to see something else: people in need of a surprising, spontaneous dose of love.

I want to be like Jesus.

He was teaching in a house when suddenly the thatch was snatched back and the plaster crumbled, and a cripple dropped down from the sky. Lowered by four audacious friends. Interruptors of Jesus’ sermon (Mark 2:1-12).

Interestingly — as the comedian’s video pointed out — the Bible doesn’t even bother telling us what Jesus was preaching about. Instead, we get an up-close view of the interruption.

I think God likes interruptions, actually. I think He likes to shake up our lives a little — not in a petty or vindictive way at all, but in a fatherly, teaching-moment sort of way.

Interruptions are moments that God reaches down and reminds us that we aren’t in control after all — He is.

Interruptions are God’s gentle — or sometimes not-so-gentle — way of realigning our priorities with His.

Take the night that the outcast woman slipped into Simon the Pharisee’s feast. She started crying all over Jesus’ feet, dumping a fortune’s worth of perfume on them, and mopping up the pungent puddle with her unloosed hair. (Luke 7:36-50). Talk about an interruption!

Simon was horrified — this sinful woman was in his house! And she had the audacity to sob at his table, badger his dinner guest, and smell up the whole room with her fragrant gift. Interruption indeed!

But Jesus? He commended her, looked on her with love. She was no interruption to Him. She was no accident. She was a Divine appointment.

For Jesus, interruptions were no surprise. He’s God, after all. These events — seemingly random interruptions — were on His day planner all along.

So how do we — since we can’t see into the future (much less control it!) — act like Jesus when it comes to these moments that take our lives by storm?

Since we’re not in control of those “interruption” moments, but we know that God is…why not see them differently?

Instead of grumbling and getting bent out of shape when things don’t follow my day planner, I can beg for the grace (and the desire!) to stop and breathe, to really, truly SEE people and opportunities.

So…next surprise schedule change, next out-of-the-blue flat tire, next interminable line at the grocery store, I pray that my attitude will be less me-centered and more Christ-centered.

Forget my boring little plans.

Tomorrow is packed with adventures planned out by my all-wise Father.

So what do you choose, by God’s grace? Inconvenience or adventure?