Saying “Good-bye” To My Dreams

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was an obscure blogger.  We’ll call him “Clay”.  He had dreams – some sane, some outrageous.  They included a car of his own, a home in the country and a yacht in which he could experience the sea again for he was a veteran of the US Navy.  The car need not be fancy (but fast would be a plus).  The home need not be fancy but 20 acres or so would fulfill the dream.  And the yacht – well it does need to be seaworthy and what’s the point of having a yacht if it’s not fancy?

So Clay woke up many mornings depressed to be without wheels of his own and in a very modest house in the city.  His friends had more ‘stuff’ than he did, but they seemed to be no less depressed than Clay.  There was, after all, new stuff always available.  Gotta get the next new smartphone.  Gotta get 3D TV.  Gotta get HD radio.  And the list goes on.

Clay woke up one morning, and was more depressed than usual.  His dreams seemed to be so far out of reach that they were, in a word, unattainable.  In a rare moment of lucid dreaming (does that even make sense?), Clay decided that his dreams weren’t worth the depression.

“If I gave up on my dreams,” he thought, “I could be happier.  I would no longer be striving for something unattainable.  I would simply be glad that I can still see my kids in my modest house in the city because I can’t go anywhere.”

Now, don’t misunderstand the situation.  Clay still desires a car of his own, a house in the country and, maybe, a yacht.  But his driving force is now facing each day for the glory and blessing it brings.  He no longer wakes each day to dreams that are unattainable.  He can now see the trees because he’s closer to the forest.

One day, maybe he will get a car of his own and a house in the country with 20 acres or so for the milk cows and chickens and garden.  But until that day comes, he eagerly looks forward to the fleeting moments with his children and his wife.

Life is not yesterday, nor is it tomorrow.  Life is today.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:24, NIV

When it pours…He Reigns

In 2000, my wife and I bought a Honda Odyssey.  We had to wait six weeks for it to come off the assembly line, but we were all anxiously anticipating the arrival of our “dream minivan”.  We have visited family, the Magic Kingdom and camped with it.  It served as a place to sleep on a long overnight trip when we lost Grannie.  It has served us well, with one mechanical exception.  Eleven years and four transmissions later, we are getting ready to bury it.

That minivan was our only source of transportation.  Thanks to warranties, we only had to pay for one transmission and labor on two.  We determined that we were not going to pay for another one.  That time is now.  3 years, 36000 miles.  Lots of time, but not very far.

But God reigns.  We have borrowed a car from a friend to help get us through until we can buy one.  God’s providence.  We know that the money will be there to get us into a used car.  God’s peace.  We understand that this is but another temporary setback, because God reigns.

On a road marked with suffering, though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be your name.

I will praise Him for all eternity.  Even death cannot silence it.

On a Road Marked with Suffering

Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed Be Your Name

I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’ve experienced true suffering.  And I’m not talking about the excruciating pain of passing a kidney stone, either.  Although that was mighty painful.
The nurse told my wife “Now he knows what it’s like to give birth!”
So my lovely, compassionate wife took my hand, looked into my eyes and said “Push!”

But that’s another story.

Spiritual suffering.  Emotional anguish.  Mental agony.  Life is full of it.  Though some refuse to admit it, we have all experienced it.  It’s that time in life when you feel so empty there’s nothing left to give.

Some suffering is self-inflicted.  I believe my experience with bipolar disorder was due to the fact that I leaned on alcohol as a god rather than the One True God.  I’m not saying that God cursed me with manic-depression, but He did allow me to fall into it on my own.  The good news is, He pulled me out of it.

Much suffering, however, is the product of simply living in a fallen world.  The world is cursed as a result of Adam’s original sin.  We must live under that curse until we reign with God in Heaven.

So the road is marked with suffering.  And we still must praise God.  Why would He be so bold as to demand that of us?  Could it be that He knows this life is short and before we know it our suffering will be over?  Our message to the world is, “Yeah, life sucks.  But God loves us just the same, and blesses us with peace in the midst of our suffering.”

And there’s pain in the offering.  How can we give when we are completely empty?  Empty of money?  Empty of food?  Empty of love?  Again, God blesses us with the means to give even when we have nothing to give.  and we are once again blessed with His peace that passes all understanding.

Blessed Be Your Name!

In the Land that is Plentiful

Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Some of us have been there.  The place where everything comes easily and with leftovers.  It’s a land that never sees hunger or thirst.

It’s a place that makes it easy to forget about our faithful Provider.

After all, if we have everything we need, then why do we need Him?  We are lulled into an easy sense of self-sufficiency that seems to be ever-sustaining.  No matter what we do, we are the golden child!  We never think that one day it could all come crashing down.

Blessed Be Your Name

All He wants from us is our love and praise.  It sounds so easy.

And it’s still so hard.  We want to believe it’s all us.  That we can do it all on our own.

But there’s something missing.  Like Citizen Kane, we discover that all the wealth in the world can never make our lives complete.  We find that life can be better with no money, and more love than we can handle.

In the Land that is Plentiful, Where the Streams of Abundance flow,

Blessed Be Your Name!

Born of Tragedy

I don’t know why but I am very interested in disasters.  Whether natural or man-made, it matters not.  But reading about disasters is fascinating to me.  There is just something about Chernobyl or the 2004 tsunami – I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about them.

I think it started when I was ten.  I lived in north-central Illinois and there was a tornado warning.  A newcomer to the area, I was terrified.  We were in the basement watching television until the power went out.  Then we opened the windows and listened to the unmistakable roar of a tornado.  It didn’t sound like a freight train to me.  But the sound was burned into my brain.  It would be 33 years before I heard it again. and it was just as fresh in my mind as the first time I heard it.

We were in Corpus Christi when Hurricane Allen headed to town, so we evacuated to Austin.  That was where I first saw a tornado.  Meteorology became a hobby of mine from that point.  Not a career – too much physics!  And a fascination with disasters was born.

I have since read books and internet about these events.  The mechanics behind disasters, the Grandcamp explosion in Texas City for example, stir my mind.  But the stories of the wounded and survivors stir compassion in my soul.

It was the compassion that was first stirred when I heard about the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004.  There was nothing I could do but donate money, and that likely never made it to the people who needed it.  That compassion continued to grow as I saw homeless people every day lining the streets in Houston asking for help.  In 2005, I volunteered at a church helping evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.  I could not believe the sheer numbers of people who needed food and clothing.

Disaster came close but never touched me until September, 2008.  Hurricane Ike struck Galveston and Houston, causing several million dollars in damage.  It wiped out much of Galveston Island.  As my neighbors reached out to help each other, I joined in as much as I could.  I was fortunate, my office was open and needed anybody who could get there.

But after the hurricane was over and the cleanup completed, there were still people on the street with no food.  There were still families living in run-down shacks that survived the hurricane.  With the economic crisis, many more were losing their homes.

There may be disasters overseas, but a far greater disaster is the slow creep of apathy right here in the prosperous United States. 

Today that compassion continues to grow.  I have learned that disaster is not necessarily an event.  It is a consumption of humanity.  The value of the dollar is greater than the value of people.  And the electorate demands that the government take care of people so we don’t have to.

That is why I support the heroes of today – heroes like The Blanket Project and Impact Houston Church of Christ.  These are selfless people who spend their time collecting items like food and blankets and coats to distribute to the poor and homeless.  The cold and hungry.  The forgotten.

Won’t you join me?  Please join me in supporting these and others who still see the value of people.  Find someone in your neck of the woods that supports those who need help.  Hey, it will help reduce your tax burden!  But better yet, if you actually spend time handing food or blankets to the people who need them, you will find a peace and joy that you have never known before.  Their smile will warm your heart like nothing else can.

Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40, The Message)

Thanks for listening.

Mercantile vs. Agrarian Society

Money was invented by governments who had to have a way to tax people. How can Uncle Sam build an army with chickens and grain? But go back a few millennia, to a time when money did not exist. Wealth was calculated by how many sheep or cattle one had. The only hard times came during famine, and that was only if one was not prepared. Hmmmmmm.

So, I done me some thinkin’. If this was not a mercantile economy (based on money – ie, the dollar), how could I contribute? I bought my house and tiny plot of land with money acquired from a job. I worked on computers for various large companies until I had enough to put down – finance – a house. If money were no longer viable, if all the dollar bills in the world would no longer buy a loaf of bread, how would my family survive?

We have been learning how to get by on our own. And the more we learn, the more we like the agrarian ideal. We have learned how to raise and preserve our own fruits and veggies. We can build a fire with matches, kindling and wood. We can sew. We can make things work without money.

And we can barter our skills for those of others. Trade a few jars of peach preserves for a skillet. Make clothes in exchange for some meat.

I have become an “unfan” of money. Without a job, in this economy, all of the skills in the world mean exactly diddly-squat. Without a job, there is no money. My family becomes a drain on society. If we did not need MONEY, we could continue to be vital members of society.

Thank God for His provision during the good times and the bad. He envisioned a society without cash. He put forward the perfect society – one which took care of each other, exploiting strengths and supporting weaknesses. There were no poor as everybody worked for a common good. Unlike communism which relies on a strict human government, God’s perfect society relied on Him for everything. Only the lazy went without.

We all have a God-given ability to contribute. Let’s find a way to work together.

Waiting…

There’s a song from the movie Fireproof called “While I’m Waiting”. It promises to be faithful to God’s promises even while waiting for Him to deliver.

A job search dives into the very meaning of the song. And today’s job fair is no different. 20 minutes in line for 30 seconds of face time.

I am waiting. God has promised to faithfully protect my family. I believe Him. He has promised to feed and clothe the sparrows and I am “much more than them.”

So I patiently wait. For my dream job. For the acreage we want. For these s-l-o-w lines to move.

God has something great in store for me. I don’t yet know what it may be. But I’m waiting.