Thursday, February 28, 2008

That’s What Faith (and Stupidity) Must Be

Anyone who knows me knows that my best stories usually start out "Mike and I were . . ." This story is no different. Mike and I were visiting some of my relatives in Eastern Kentucky. We had a good visit and were driving home through the winding roads in those beautiful hills. It was late, and anyone who has spent time in the mountains can tell you that fog can come up quickly and without warning.

It was dark, and we ran into what is to this day the thickest fog I have ever experienced in my life. I quite literally could not see the end of the hood of my little car. Of course the rational and responsible thing to do would be to pull off and wait for the fog to clear.

Being neither rational, nor responsible, but 20 years old and indestructible (we assumed), Mike and I hatched a plan. We discovered that although visibility was about four feet, it was only about three feet to the ground. So, Mike hung out the passenger side window where he could see the edge of the road and shouted, "Right, Left, Right, Left . . . Left . . . LEFT!!!" We drove that way for about an hour and half until we were down the other side of the mountain and the fog lightened up.

Now, I am the first to admit. This was a dumb thing to do. It was dangerous and foolish, and it makes no sense. For that reason, it has become the perfect metaphor for faith. We all live in this world trying to find the direction God would have us to go with our lives. We all strain to see the road and the turns. Luckily we have the voice of God—manifested in others, the biblical text, and the quiet of our soul—screaming, "Right, Left, Right, Left . . . Left . . . LEFT!!!"

We follow that voice because we know that voice is trustworthy. Even when our instincts say otherwise, we know that voice knows better and will lead us on.

It looks crazy. It looks stupid. People may make fun of you for doing it. But, the "wisdom of God is foolishness" to the world. Just as the wisdom of two twenty-year-olds looks like foolishness—only in our case, it really was foolishness.

Monday, February 25, 2008

“Where am I?”

All this week I have been reminded of something that happened several years ago. I was teaching as an adjunct at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. At the end of the semester, I needed to go to UMHB and drop off my final grades for the semester. So, I packed my youngest son in the car and drove the 40 minutes it took to get to campus from Waco. Thomas was about five or six months old, and like most babies, he fell asleep about 30 seconds into the trip.

When we arrived at UMHB, I had the unpleasant task of waking him up. Thomas was not (and still is not) a morning person. So, I gently tried to wake him. As he roused, he had this look on his face that was a cross between confusion and anger (Cindy says she knows the look . . . apparently he got it from me). I tried to console and encourage him, but he was still very disoriented. Then, I leaned down in front of him so that he could see me. When I did, something happened that I will never forget. The confusion and anger melted off his face into the sweetest smile I have ever seen.

Thomas taught me a humbling lesson. As far as he was concerned, it didn't matter where he was as long as his father was there.

I suppose that is a lesson that I learn more slowly. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that the Kingdom of God must be lived out among our enemies. Thankfully, God has never asked me to face down the Nazis. But, when God does ask me to be and go places that make me uncomfortable, I need to remember that. When I wake up and look around and feel confused and angry, I need to be able to be at peace by simply gazing into the face of my heavenly father and remembering that wherever I am it is okay because my heavenly father is there.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Can you Hear the Rocks

I must confess that it is strange to think that anyone would want to spend their time reading random musings that I might have. There is that great insecurity—that I am finding so many of us carry around with us—that says, "What do you have worth saying?"

That said, I have seen people enjoy devotions or thoughts that I have had in the past. So, I thought I would join the bandwagon and start a blog. Maybe it is part of wanting to live an authentic life and allow people to know who I am—maybe it is part of wanting to leave something of "me" so that my children and others will know who I was and what I was like—maybe it is pride in thinking I might have something to say . . . whatever the reason, I am going to try to record some thoughts.

It seems it has always been easy for me to see God in the world around. The Chris Rice song, "My Cathedral" has always resonated with me because I, too, find it easy to experience the presence of God in nature--in the hills of Kentucky near my grandparent's house, sitting by a creek near Cindy's family in Mississippi, or listening to a rain storm. Powerfully and mystically, God seems very real to me in those moments.

One of my favorite "holy" places is in Israel. I love to visit the Cliffs of Arbel. Standing at the top of those limestone cliffs as they tower 1000 feet above the Sea of Galilee . . . watching the sunset (before we drive down to Tiberius to get some Chinese food), I am reminded that it isn't just the heavens that "are telling the glory of God." The earth does too.

In Luke 19:40, Jesus warns that if the people don't praise, "the rocks will cry out." If we listen close, I think we can hear that they already are.