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You Never Judged Me …

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You Never Judged Me …

I was sitting outside towards evening time and looked up to see the sun burning full and round at me through some nearby trees.  In that moment of warmth and light a thought flickered through my soul, traveled up to my mind, and out towards God: You never judged me.  It was a stunning realization.  For a long time I’ve been aware of the verse that there is no condemnation for those who are Christ Jesus.  But this is literally the first time that it has dawned on me that never, not once, not only in my lifetime, but from all of eternity past has God ever judged me.

In his foreknowledge he knew every sin I would commit and every good I would omit, every pattern, every choice, every hard-fought struggle against giving in to this flesh nature.  He knew my willful sins, the ones that I would delight in.  He knew of the times that I would “know better” and “do it anyway”.  Yet never has he pointed the finger of blame or crashed the gavel down to reverberate so hard as to knock me off my feet.  He has loved me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and his thoughts about me outnumber the grains of sand (Psalm 139: 17-18).  His thoughts towards me are good and not evil, and his plans are to give me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

There is a difference between knowing that a person will sin versus judging them for it, a difference between allowing the natural consequences of sin versus raging in anger over people about how wrong they are, a difference between God and man.  It is not God, but man who points the finger and slams the gavel and even takes Bible verses to point out how wrong others are and how much they are “God’s enemies” if they continue in their unrepentant ways.  It is not God, but man, who will flip out at this post and begin harvesting verses from their minds, looking in indexes and concordances to find stories or verses to negate what I say here: God doesn’t judge until the end.  Until then, he loves.  And that is all he has ever done.  And that was given to me, today. When the warmth and the light shone down on me.

Peace to all far and wide.  He is a God who has always loved us, and loves until our last breath. The choice to know him and love him back through a relationship with Jesus is ours, and at that point, condemnation shall never touch a hair on our head.

The Measure of a Moment

The Measure of a Moment

I remember the first time I noticed, I mean really noticed, the interaction between light and water.  I was sitting in the grass in a wide open area having a scheduled quiet time at a church retreat.  For the life of me I couldn’t concentrate on the bible or the things they’d given us to reflect upon. Instead I looked around or stared at the ground in contemplation and free thought mode.

Suddenly a burst of color caught my eye and I honed in on a blade of grass upon which a drop of water rested.  The rich green and the perfectly straight edge amazed me.  I thought of a man made level that is used in construction to make sure they are building perfectly straight, level boards and surfaces.  God was the first to create such a perfect thing, yet it is something we hardly notice in the midst of that which we walk upon without a thought.

As I continued to observe the dew on the grass I moved ever so slightly from side to side, marveling at the miracle of subtly changing colors of the spectrum within that tiny liquid circle. I’ll never forget the sense of wonder encapsulated in that simple moment, the stunning realization of beauty so common and yet so rare, the significance of something so small and seemingly insignificant.  It reminded me that whole worlds can exist in a moment even as countless moments comprise the whole world.  It brings to mind now a wonderful quote I often think of in times of quiet observation:

God dwells in the details.  – Mies van der Rohe

Today is a day where the small and grandiose bounce around together in my soul, polar opposites dancing within, waltzing out of reach and eluding my grasp.  I cannot completely define what it is, but it has to do with significance and insignificance, time and eternity, the measure of a moment, the fleeting nature of time.  Time is but a dew drop in the continuum of eternity, yet within it is a marvelous array of colors blending one into another. The earth exists within eternity as a small drop of water, and even smaller, our individual world and the length and breadth of our own lives.  How small, how fast, these lives of ours.  Before we know it we are grown with children and careers, and in the blink of an eye or a shifting of our body we see that life has changed from color to color, season to season, and our children are the ones with children and careers.

What is the meaning of all this smallness and profoundness heaped together in something so fleeting yet ever continuing as time?  Do we get it? Do we truly see the significance within the seemingly insignificant? We hardly have appropriate levels or scales upon which to weigh the measure of a moment, a life, or a lifetime.   Our thoughts and actions, goals and achievements, dreams and ambitions and efforts … all seemingly small, yet at times enormous, deep, and far-reaching.

Maybe there really is nothing which is insignificant.  Maybe “insignificant” should not even be a word.  Everything matters.  The matter within the simple blade of grass and the matter comprising a drop of water and the matter of light pouring from the sun in a beam of glory (as if to say “This matters! Yes, this small thing is simply and profoundly beautiful and alive and significant!”) all come together to enlighten us on our complex journeys.

Perhaps this realization that everything matters, that all things are significant and have purpose and value, is both a precursor to love and a component of love.  Love does not see anything as insignificant, for love sees the “whole” as well as the “part”.  Love sees nothing, save evil, as ugly.  Love in fact creates beauty out of the unbeautiful.  It transforms evil into good, reversing the letters to make the opposite of “evil”, which is “live”.

I guess what I wish is for each of us to really see as much as we are able.  To walk with God and to sit with him, to listen to his observations of the world around.  How marvelous all of life would seem if we would take time to sit with Jesus and ponder the glory and significance of the “insignificant” things laid out before us in our daily lives.  To cherish, as he does, all things that are made and to gaze at everything and everyone is such a way as to see the wonder and the beauty and the incredible meaning and value of life.

Life is a splendid gift – there is nothing small about it.  – Florence Nightingale

Boston Bombings: Evil Backfired, Good Still Prevails

“In times of tragedy, the true colors of an individual, a city, and a nation are revealed.”

I just finished scrolling through 82 pictures of yesterday’s Boston Marathon bombing and watching a few news videos.  Yesterday most of us were glued to the media in horror, acknowledging, as the day progressed, the efficiency of first responders on site.  But it is on this day, the second day, that stories of heroism and community have started to emerge. Those 82 pictures, those few videos, and those few news stories stirred powerful things within me:  compassion, empathy, hope and triumph.

In fact, it just now dawned on me that anger has yet to be an emotion I have experienced in watching this tragedy unfold.   I believe that is because there were so many other things rising up that day, and today as well, which entirely eclipse the raw, untamed, yet justified emotion of anger.

What has gripped me most in these past two days are the heroic efforts of citizens and officials joining together immediately following the blast. Within seconds, without hesitation, running  to offer aid rather than running away in fear of self harm.  Strangers suddenly surged with a deep connectedness to other strangers, offering help, hugs, comfort, and prayer, all while bowing their own bodies in a sea of mingled blood.

It seemed as though everything faded into the background for those down in the pit of all the chaos.  What surfaced individually and collectively is what I call our greater humanity.  Those responsible for this destruction and alteration of lives are slaves to their lesser humanity, and like rabid emaciated dogs they cower in their confusion, disillusion, and poverty.  A great and terrible poverty of spirit abides in them.  But a greater spirit of a pure nature seemed to take hold of people en mass and compel them as one towards doing good even in the midst of evil.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21 NIV)

That is exactly what Bostonians and fellow Americans did yesterday. Yes the horror overwhelmed them and those of us watching.  Yes, there will be grieving and a long road to healing.  And yes, we will pursue justice with the understanding that those responsible potentially may never be found.  Justice may be a long road, or it may be a dead-end.

But all these by products of evil pale in light of the individual, communal, and national heroism that ignited seconds after the physical blasts.  These people engaged their greater humanity in an instant and elevated together into the high potential which exists in all of us and is ours to nurture or neglect: a place marked by goodness, concern and care for others, selflessness, togetherness, unity, and an indomitable spirit of freedom and courage.

I believe that even as the vibrations from the blasts shook the air, so also did a longer and more sustained hum vibrate through the atmosphere yesterday.  Not anything we could perceive with the physical senses, but maybe something spiritual, something of the human spirit and the Holy Spirit partnering in the recognition of the truth that good always triumphs over evil, that we should not be overcome by it because it does not conquer us unless we let it live in our own hearts.

Where were the culprits of the bombing yesterday? No where to be found.  Instead we saw, and continue to see people rise up in the face of tragedy and refuse to be defeated.  It is almost odd that this happened at a marathon.  On a metaphorical level Americans, Bostonians, families, and individuals will still cross the finish line and they will do it together.  Hindered, injured, winded, or tired, but together they will draw strength. May the city of Boston feel a soothing wind to cool the fiery blast, may they know our American and human spirit is behind them cheering them on even as they have risen to a place that frankly inspires us and gives us the breath to stay with them in the race of good over evil.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke

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