The Tree

I was rushing down the sidewalk last night, my head down, eyes practically closed because of the cold and bitter wind.  I had no idea that the thick branches of a tree were so close to said sidewalk and did not foresee the headache that those branches would cause.

My loving children laughed as I related the story, laughed at my bleeding, swollen forehead, laughed at my dazed and pained expression.  To them, it was one more in a slew of goofy, silly mishaps that their father had created.  And I laughed with them.  How do I get myself into these messes from time to time?

I’m not looking up.

I used to run with my eyes down, focused on my breathing, intent to struggle with each pain, with the weariness of movement.  I got slower and more discouraged.  Then one day I started to run with my head up, eyes on the horizon, on the surroundings, looking at those around me and the suffering I saw them going through.  My breathing slowed, pain evaporated, speeds increased.  It is so much easier, more enjoyable to run with your head up.

The tree reminded me.  The laughter pointed me once again to heaven, to my Savior.

My head still hurts though…

“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

If you can’t be inspired by a quote from “Cool Hand Luke,” you must be dead.

I debated the title for a bit this morning.  Should I call it “fear” or “depression”.  Neither seemed right.  What is true when we face fear, depression, frustration, defeat is that we are not communicating.

The cascade works like this:  We encounter a stress, a negative event of some kind and are forced to respond in some manner.  The typical response to an unknown, particularly one that comes as some sort of threat, is fear.  Our outward reaction may include lashing out, verbally or physically.  We may weep or become defensive.  These are the extremes of course.  We may show no outward response at all.  This can be worse for if we have no ability to respond, no freedom to express we will internalize the event.  Anger and fear turned inward cause frustration and depression.  And if event happens on top of event we can have a deterioration that has truly horrible ramifications.

I am talking scientifically about something that is so damaging to ourselves and those we love.  But we have a hope.  Peter said to, “Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you.”  I take that to mean that my God has big enough shoulders to carry my problems.  He is my Dad enough to listen to everything that I bring to Him.  Even if I say it wrong, He still hears my heart.  If I’m disrespectful to Him, He is able to correct me but still handle my fears.  If I rant and rave, He is able to perceive my intent through all the noise.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not advocating spittin’ and cussin’ at the God who spoke stars into being.  That’s just stupid.  What I’m saying is, He knows you (and me) even though we are stupid.  He sees past our flesh, our willful, sinful nature to the precious child He created.

So talk to Him.

I meant now.

Stop reading and go talk to Him.

Sheesh!

HEY! I’m married!

In October of 1987 I observed the prettiest smile I had ever seen.  It came attached to a girl.

It was at my sister’s wedding and this particular girl happened to be the sister to the groom.  Couple this with the fact that I was in the military and she was a staunch Mennonite left little doubt that I had no shot at this one.  It didn’t stop me from trying to talk with her and find out more about her.  But, in finding out more, I realized all the more how far out of reach she was.  The reality that she is now my wife doesn’t negate the miracle that she said yes.

The story of how she came to be mine, or I came to be hers, is not the critical issue for this discussion.  And please don’t take this as an intellectual exercise.  How I am shown to be a bitter worshipper is largely seen through the lens of my marriage.  It is essential for us to see our relationship with God mirrored in the relationships we have with all His gifts and none more so than the relationship with our spouse.

Do I trust Him?  Do I trust her?  Am I willing to lay my life down for Him?  Her?  Do I see Him as the enemy, always out to get me?  It is easy and “churchy” to say no.  But how do I treat my wife?  I guarantee you that if you think of your wife as a foe, you are looking at God the same way.  Is she the only resource you look to for your needs and desires?  Is she the passion of your heart?  It is by the provision of our Savior that we have our spouse and she is the answer to our needs, desires and prayers.  We trust Him as we trust in what He has provided.

I’m not equating God with my wife.  And I am saying the same thing to women as I am to men.  And I do understand that abuse happens, infidelity and neglect.  But if I am jaded and bitter because of what humanity has done to me, then I have made my God too small.  “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”

He remains victorious, despite what I see, what I feel, what I hope for.  He is King in every area.  God, look deep into my heart.  Show me where I know the truth but live according to lies.  Lead me to lay down my life, take up my cross and live through Your resurrection.  And with all my heart I pray, let me live this way with her.