Monday, April 30, 2012

There's always enough

The other night in our home (Bible study) group, we got momentarily sidetracked from the subject at hand (some of the BEST discussions are had this way!), and began talking about miracles.  Specifically, do people still believe in miracles and do they still occur?  Immediately this brought to mind something that happened when my daughter was still a baby.

A Mexican woman from our church had come to our house on a Monday evening in a bit of dire straits.  I can't remember her exact predicament, but my then husband was her pastor and I think she had come to our house because of an issue she was having with her husband.  She had a baby and absolutely no money.   We got her settled down with a possible course of action, but she still needed money for her baby's formula (or some necessity of that magnitude).  We gave her the last $15 we had that I had set aside for diapers, and sent her on her way.  At that time, I was a stay  at home mom of 3 small children, with my daughter, Sonja, still in diapers,  and we had one paycheck every Friday which I budgeted down to the last penny.

 I had noticed that morning that she was almost out of diapers and was planning to buy some  the next day.  The next morning I was changing Sonja's diaper and remembered, "Oh crap!  She's almost out of diapers and we gave the diaper money to ______ (wish I could remember her name)".  Sonja had a hanging diaper holder that hung from the end of the crib.  I started to count the diapers that were clearly just covering the bottom of the carrier, to see how bad the situation was.

Then, something just told me not to count them.  No voice from Heaven.  No angel walking in the room.  But as I was leaning over to take a good look in and count, I just felt like, "Don't count them, just take what you need."  And that's what I did.  For the entire week, every time I needed to change Sonja's diapers, and it was certainly a lot, a diaper was there.  I never counted them, I just took what I needed.  On Friday, payday, I finally hit the bottom of the diaper barrel and they ran out.  But from Tuesday morning to Friday, that diaper carrier kept handing up the needed diapers.

I don't think I tell that story enough, to myself or to others.  I get very nervous about coming across super religious.  I don't want to over spiritualize everything and honestly, I've never been very comfortable with people who say "God" or "Jesus" in every snippet of conversation.  That's just not me.  But maybe in my zeal not to be a zealot, I've held back what someone else might need - some assurance that God really does care about the minutia (like diapers) in our lives.  That miracles indeed still happen and they're not rare, but rather abundant when we look for them.  And that, (and I do love this!) there's ALWAYS enough.

Friday, April 20, 2012

"Can't we all just get along?"

Call me crazy, but  when Rodney King lamented those words, I think that was one of the most profound statements ever uttered.    The profundity lies not in the circumstances in which he made that now famous statement, but in the simplicity of the truth of it.  In fact, even the tone he had when he asked that question strikes a nerve.

"Can't we all just get along?"  What makes that so difficult?  

"Can't we all just get along?"  Can't we all just accept each other's differences and not consider it our personal mission to change others to match ourselves?

"Can't we all just get along?"  Can we be disagreed with and not become disagreeable?

"Can't we all just get along?"  Is it complete compromise to not demand that someone else submit to my point of view?  If I don't compromise my point of view, but rather treat respectfully someone who doesn't share that view, am I wrong?  

"Can't we all just get along?"  Is it possible for me to allow someone their point of view, their convictions, their passions without trying to evangelize them to my views, convictions and passions?

"Can't we all just get along?"  Does every opposing view have to be a threat to me?

This has been something that has been simmering inside of me for a while now.  It seems sometimes that we just thrive on disagreement.  The current political season seems to be a catalyst for contention.  And what's interesting is that as believers on all different sides of the political spectrum, we often claim God's blessing on our battle with each other.  There are Democrats, Republicans, Independents, etc who love the same God I do and yet take radically different stands on issues.  

And it's not just politics.  Among Christian churches, it feels so often like we're more drawn to the things that divide us than the fundamental truth that unites us - God loves us and sacrificed Himself for us.  NONE of us deserve God's love, but (Oh Thank you Jesus!!!!)  It's a gift.  Now, of course, as members of the same family (God's) we express ourselves differently.  Do I really consider your differences in how you serve our God as an offense against our Father or against myself?  And if it's an offense against God, is it MY job to set you straight or does God retain that for himself?  And if it's an offense against me, can I put my own fragile feelings aside to preserve our relationship?  "Can't we all just get along?"

I thought that maybe this was just an issue for the Christian community until I read a blog post by a Muslim blogger, Hijab Revival.  Seyma has a fashion blog in which she demonstrates how her clothing styles reflect her religious beliefs on modesty.  This lovely woman is covered from head to toe and looks gorgeous doing it!  Who could find fault with that?  Apparently some have.  Seyma expressed her frustration with an apparent climate of criticism in her community ("It's so easy to point fingers at one another and forget ourselves in nasty dialogue that it soon becomes OK to give Islamic advice in a demeaning manner")  stating, "I know of so many non-hijabi sisters who are the perfect model of modesty and have the kindest manners and then I know hijabi's who are so rude, arrogant and crude that they would turn anyone interested in Islam right off. "

When I read that, I thought, "I hear ya!  Amen!"  No, a follower of Islam I'm not.  But, I've experienced the same sort of microscopic inspection of my spirituality by my brothers and sisters in Christ and sometimes a much stronger climate of love from nonbelievers - much like Seyma describes.  

And so I keep coming back to those words, "Can't we all just get along?"  Let's face it, we're called to love before we're called to fight.  Paul clearly said that we could have every gift, incredible knowledge, or even martyr ourselves, but if we don't have love, then it's all for nothing.  Faith, hope and love abide and he's crystal clear on the fact that the greatest of these is love.  Jesus even said, when questioned about the greatest commandment of the law (He was asked by the Pharisees, fellow Jews), He was not confused.  

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Again, I'm not talking about compromising your principles.  I'm just saying let's not demand others compromise theirs.  I want to err on the side of love and acceptance.  When it comes to politics, I'll vote my conscience and then leave it in God's hands.  I'm not going to war with those same people whom God loved enough to die for.  When it comes to moral issues, again, our teaching is pretty clear.  We need to take the log out of our own eye before we go searching for the splinter in our brother's eye.  
Yes, Rodney, we CAN all get along.  Now I just hope we will....

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dreams. Proof of Creation? (Not that we need proof!)

After a fitful night of dreams, I woke up exhausted!  Seems crazy that I can sleep deeply enough to dream, but wake up so tired from said dreams.  But this morning, after I hit the alarm clock twice and was trying to recall those nocturnal mental movies; I had a bit of a revelation.  How can evolution be true if we dream?    

Now let me just say, I'm really NOT interested in having an evolution versus creationism argument.  The way I see it, even if evolution was true (and it may be to a certain extent), it would still only be possible with a Creator creating the substance from which we evolve.  Since I'm not much invested in the debate, it's not something I spend a lot of thought on.  However, it's actually the FIRST thing I thought about this morning.

I'm going extract this from my brain and put it into words and hope it loses nothing in the translation!  If we originated from a lone cell, an explosion, a cosmic accident or any similar scenarios, that may explain how we biologically function; but it doesn't explain our dreams.  Dreams aren't scientific.  Okay, I'm sure there's scientific research, but dreams are so relative.  They're vary from person to person.  And they're  put together through our subconscious.  I'm not even talking about what dreams mean; I'll leave that to Freud, but rather that our subconscious stays awake and puts together mental moving pictures from the memories and data stored in our brains.  The very fact that our brains can do this to begin with speaks to a higher intelligence than a cosmic accident.

I had a dream a several nights ago that I remember rather vividly.  I won't go into detail, but so many of the images and even a song in the dream were completely new to me.  I realize on some level that there's no way those images could be new, because I can only dream from what's in my head, right?  But it fascinates me that my brain can take electrical impulses and cell centers and work seemingly independently of me.  How can cells thrown together and grown over millions of years EVER produce that kind of functionality or creativity?

To my mind, it's just logical (didn't mean to bring Spock into this!) that we're created in the image of God.  And is it any surprise that our Creator is creative?  As He spoke the world into existence and created us, isn't this where the ability to dream even comes from.  Don Miller, spoke of certain mysteries that we accept as part of Christian Spirituality.  Dreaming and how we were amazingly crafted are parts of that mystery.

If we were simply impulsive and biologically need driven creatures, then what I've been told about evolution would make more sense to me.  But the fact that we are human beings who DREAM, a function that's BEYOND natural biological command; that's creation that came from our Creator.  And that's how I ended my night and started my day.