Wednesday, April 13, 2011
There's a story in the Bible about a fellow named Jonah. Whether or not you officially attend church or call yourself a Christian, the chances are pretty good you've heard or read the story of Jonah.
In a nutshell, Jonah was a prophet. He relayed information from God to the people of his day. And right out of the gate, in the opening lines of this story, God instructs Jonah to travel to a city called Ninevah and warn the people in the town that God is displeased with them. Jonah, who apparently had not figured out that God is everywhere, decided to trick God. Rather than do what God said, Jonah hopped on a boat and headed to a totally different town called Joppa. In essence, he chickened out, disobeyed and ran away from God.
During the boat trip, a huge storm occurred and the men on the boat began harassing Jonah begging for his God to save them. This made Jonah nervous - so much so that he decided to leap into the sea. No sooner had he done this that a "great fish" swallowed him up and, for 3 days, he lived inside the belly of that fish until God made the fish burp Jonah up on to dry land.
Whether it's running from God, or simply running from life's problems, we all run the risk of "tasting like chicken" at times, don't we? Life is difficult - for different people in different ways. But all of us face stuff we'd rather not have to face. And the story of Jonah shows us that if we choose to run, chances are pretty good that something even bigger might overtake us - whether that is guilt, or fear, or even a more uncomfortable circumstance. In other words - facing our problems, though not always desirable, is usually the best way to go.
For me - I have had to arrive at a place of finally and truly deciding, once and for all, that ALL of the "problems" of life are there for a reason and I happen to believe those reasons are based on something God is trying to teach me - for growth and refinement - much the same way a sculptor chips away at the marble until the intended figure comes to life.
I remember as a kid, arrogantly and smugly laughing at Jonah for being such a jerk and running away from God. As an adult, I find myself relating more to Jonah than I care to admit. And while I've never been eaten by a whale - I can honestly say that I've seen them on the shoreline with bibs around their necks from time to time wondering if I might taste like chicken...
We are designed to be brave, courageous, faithful and hopeful regardless the situation.
Psalm 31:24 puts it this way: "Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord."
Peta won't like this - but from where I'm sitting... a hungry whale is fine with me!
Sunday, April 10, 2011
I want to blame facebook for keeping me from blogging. This is because I spend so much time on the social network site and simply forget that I have launched a blog to offer deep thoughts and commentary on the stuff of life.
But I can't really blame facebook. That's like blaming hot dogs for keeping me from eating apple turnovers. Both are probably not good for me - but both are so yummy!
Anyway, here I am...
And today's amazing philosophical point is: Life is hard. (Yes, you heard it here first, folks!)
Blaming, as was my idea with facebook or the hot dog, is such an easy "out" in life, isn't it? I think, for the most part, everyone has blamed someone or something else for why they are where they are in life.
> The company promoted the wrong guy!
> My parents never taught me how to get ahead in life!
> My husband snores!
> Why do they sell 10 hot dogs in a pack but only 8 hot dog buns in a pack?
We blame because we don't like feeling uncomfortable, disrupted, annoyed, agitated or any number of a variety of inconvenient feelings that should not be a part of our prosperous American way of life. It's not fair! (Have you ever said that?)
I stood in our local supermarket the other day... I was playing the "role" of "husband waiting at the cart as wife meanders through the aisles in search of just 'two more items'..." - - as I stood there, I was gazing around and was suddenly struck with just how much "stuff" we have in our markets here in America. I read somewhere that the average market in American offers around 45,000 different items for sale. That's not a misprint... 45-THOUSAND different items. (No wonder I can't decide on Special K, Special K with almonds, Special K with berries, Special K with less sugar added, Special K with chocolate bits or Special K with enzymes...)
Last night I was on the phone with a friend who has left her husband. In short, because of her huge salary (he was a stay-at-home dad), they lived a luxurious life complete with a huge home in a very nice area, they had a nanny, a cleaning lady and other amenities to make life amazingly comfortable. The husband never worked. His "job" was the kids - which makes sense. Except that in most cases the kids were off with the nanny or at school. According to this friend, her husband found fault with the lifestyle - it was not enough. He lashed out at her for not working harder to bring in more money - eventually that anger turned into all out emotional abuse and she ended up taking the kids and leaving him.
Perhaps blaming isn't the answer. I'm just sayin' - -
What if - and I'm just tossing this out there - what if life really IS hard? What if, sometimes, the circumstances we find ourselves facing really are incredibly difficult? What then?
What if - even in a world where we have EVERYTHING at our fingertips, as close as a mouse click, a short drive or a phone call - things are STILL difficult?
For me, as a Christian, I rely on what The Bible teaches me about the God I choose to believe in and follow. That He "will never leave [me] and He will never forsake [me]." (Hebrews 13:5,6)
As the title of this blog states, I am just a "common saint" - a man with flaws, failures and a future - all at the same time.
And, praise God, He's there with me every step of the way!