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We Live in a Culture…

of anecdote, a life lived away from a larger narrative. Yet a larger narrative is a kind of stability that keeps us from faddishness, from having our lives jerked from one compelling but temporary story to another. It’s very hard to live a life of all exceptions and no rules, a life of individual moments without a larger explanation.

We live in a world of human drift because a story that feels good at a particular place in time might not have the wisdom, the strength, and the insight to last, leaving the one who lives it constantly on the move from one unsatisfying narrative to another. Left unchecked it can give birth to a world weary cynicism, a life where one believes nothing because everything else has failed to be enduring.

In this sad place there is, however, an invitation. Restless hearts can find a rest in God if they listen to their cynicism and emptiness and hear within it the call to a larger and more enduring story. Anecdotes come and go, truth remains, and Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Owner of a Broken Heart…

Back to the doctor’s office yesterday because my heart had been fluttering around for several days. EKG. Stethescopes. No emergency. Stress test next Wednesday. I think this will be the third.

Let this cup pass away from me…  Yet it apparently is not to be. Genetics. Stress. Who knows but it seems my heart is from now on going to be at the center of my life. I listen to it, feel it, pray about it, and every so often I head into the doctor’s office to get in checked out.  Never the less thy will be done…

The first time your heart starts whirring around your chest its terrifying. No one pays much attention to their heart. It’s just supposed to be there, silently ticking away, awake even when you sleep. Palpitations are a rude interuption to all of that. The bottom part of the heart is trying, in my case, to help out the top by pushing harder.  That push means you’re alive, that the back up systems have kicked in. That’s good but it feels like the whole thing is going to explode.

Over time you get more used to it. You can just tell when everything is in sinus rhythm and when things are fluttering. The fluttering is not fatal, its just annoying, and its a sign that one day your heart, like everyone else’s, will eventually malfunction without the capacity for repair.

Obviously I don’t like that. Who would? I have a little thing inside my chest that tells me one day my systems will fail. I would like to live for years and years just out of curiousity for whatever comes next but those little bumps remind me this is not to be, for me, or for anyone else for that matter.

Perhaps God is His good grace will see fit to divinely heal that which has been broken by sin. Yet if that is not the case I have no intention of cursing God and dying in response to this setback. My life was, is, and always will be in His hands and I know that He loves me. If the worst were to happen, and I’m a long way from the worst, I hope it would be quick because I tend to ponder things too much. Yet where can I go where God’s love is not? Ultimately I will trust that God knows me in all my strengths and my brokenness and loves me.

And that’s the gift in all of this. In easy times the heart and mind can wander, drifting away from all that the important and good and from the One who is goodness Himself. We labor under the illusion of our own strength. We forget the larger and eternal things. Everything gets out of focus.

There’s nothing like being attached to a heart monitor to dramatically make everything real again, especially God. There’s no way for me to fake it, no sweet smile to make it all go away. I can see my heart beating, each flicker of light one more second of this life. I need God, not just an accessory but because I am afraid, can’t often see beyond my shoes, and I’m trying to make sense of it all.  I need a place to rest that is beyond me, because”me” is the owner of a broken heart.

As the journey continues I will not give in to despair. There may be no answers to “Why me?” but I have a life wish, for this life and the next. I plan on grabbing hold of Jesus with a, pardon the pun, “death grip” and stay as close as I can until whatever breath is my last arrives. Whether I live to be old or discover that time is not on my side His life will be mine, not because I deserve it but because I have sense enough to take the Gift when it is offered.

Until that day when I am called Home I plan to live, and love, and enjoy, beacuse that, too,  is God’s gift to me.  After all, nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ. Let the future present itself. I am in good hands.

You are the counter culture…

If you have decided to live an observant Christian life in these United States you are the counter-culture.  The guy with the green hair? He’s got a TV show. The people waving rainbow flags? They’re in the Legislature. The girl who used to go behind the school and smoke weed is now a corporate vice president.  The wild rocker now has their own line of clothing for sale.

It’s all upside down and deviancy has become the new norm while what used to be considered, at least grudgingly, “Normal”, is the new sideshow. Step right up and see the girl without a pierced tongue! A guy waiting until he’s married to have sex? What’s wrong with this picture?

The unthinkable has become the standard. Sensible boundaries are punch lines. And you, the person trying to be an authentic Christian, in the middle of all this, are slowly becoming the enemy.

It’s because you believe in something more than your genitals.  It’s from asking a little question like “Why?” when the world is off on its mad consumerist binges. It’s the result of considering something more than the moment in your ethical deliberations. It’s all this and more and the corporate and political powers that be, the ones making money and extending influence by their merchandising of decadence, want you out of the way because you’re messing with the vibe.

So be prepared. Be prepared for people who openly ridicule who you are. Be prepared to be excluded because of your beliefs. Be prepared to have most people, even the ones you consider friends, to think of you, at best, as some kind of curiousity and at worst as a counter revolutionary. Be prepared even to have people who claim the title of “Christian” being among those who are blinded by your light.

Know for a while that this isn’t going to get better. We may be entering a new dark ages where the collapse of some semblance of Christian civilization gives way to increasing barbarism. Yet know this as well, you’re right. Not right as in perfect. Not right as in better than everyone else. Yet right in the sense that when you are moving towards Jesus you’re oriented in the right direction, even if you stumble sometimes.

Jesus told his followers “In the world you will have many troubles, but do not be dismayed for I have overcome the world.” True then, true now.  Hang on and we’ll make it through together.