post

Here’s a Little Hope

It was the beginning of spring. 1972 I believe. I was living in Lawton, OK. Not by myself. Lol. I would have been seven years old at that time. It was early spring, so some days it was still a little chilly. But this day was sunny and warm – it was fantastic! I remember playing kickball at recess, and that we had chocolate cake for desert at lunch. I don’t know why, but school lunch chocolate cake is always the best thing ever!

When school got out, I met my best friend Bill, and we started the long walk home. If I remember right, and I do, it was about 3/4 mile from the school to my house. Bill only lived two houses down from me – a sweet, pretty little girl that I suspected would never be my girlfriend (her name was Sunny) lived right between us – but his house was closer. So the last 50 yards or so of walking was all me.

Let me just tell you, the walk home sucked. It was uphill all the way. I’m not just saying that because I’m old and that’s what old people remember about how hard things were when they were kids. I used to love riding my bike to school because my bike had a speedometer on it and I could get up to 30 mph going down those steep hills on the way! That was fast for a seven year old. And it was both scary and exhilarating! But to have to ride a bike back up those hills was a pure beat-down.

On this early spring day that had been awesome so far, we were walking and talking trash and joking around and nearing home and all of a sudden the weirdest thing happened. It started to rain. It was warm, the sun was out, and here it was raining. I remember Bill and I were on opposite sides of the street. We had been walking and every now and then one or the other of us would bend down and pick up a rock and hurl it at something – a mailbox, a dog, or each other. Then it started to rain.

The weird thing about this rain was, it was only raining on my side of the street! I was getting soaked by rain on a sunny day and Bill was dry as a bone. He looked at me and laughed – it was a nervous kinda laugh. I think he was wondering if I might get hit by lightning in a minute. Then he looked concerned, and he asked “hey are you ok?” And to this day I remember every word of my answer – “yeah. That’s just life man.” And on we walked in silence.

That’s just life. Pretty profound for a seven year old. But not many had lived the life I had lived. Not many, by the age of seven had already been abandoned by parents who just didn’t even care – left alone for over a week in a house with very little to eat, with a little sister four years younger to look after. Not many had been rolled up in a rug and propped up in a corner so he wouldn’t bother his parents or get into anything while they shot dope into their veins. Not many had been disciplined by being injected with that same substance for throwing mud up against the house, or for crying when he was hungry. Or for any other minor infraction.

Just about two years before I got rained on, I was waiting outside another school for my mother to show up and walk me home. It was about 3/4 of a mile. A long way for a five year old to walk alone. A long way on a very busy street. She never showed up. I waited what seemed like a whole lifetime. It was getting dark, and there weren’t even any teachers left. The school was locked. So I walked home. Somewhere along the way I started crying, and I don’t remember why.

When I got home, the door was unlocked but nobody was there, except my little sister and she was crying, too. I suspected she was hungry so I made us both some toast. Three days later the bread was all gone, so we ate sticks of butter and drank the rest of the milk. In between that, we ate cold spaghetti from a can and some stewed tomatoes. We even ate the dented in can of lima beans that was at the back of pantry. Then there was nothing left.

I don’t remember how long we were actually there alone. It was a long time and we were hungry and people kept knocking on the door and then they would go away after a while. I didn’t know who they were so I didn’t answer.

After a really long time though, I heard a familiar sound. It was an old VW bug. The kind my aunt and uncle drove – and I looked through the window and it was a red VW just like theirs! And it was them getting out of the car, so I opened the door and ran out and jumped into their arms and just cried and cried. It wasn’t like normal crying. I have only cried like that once since. There were no tears. Only deep, anguished sobs. All the fear and pain and anger I had locked away for days came out all at once. And they held me until I was done.

They rescued me that day. They saved me. They took me from an impossible, horrible place and put me in a new one. Life changed for me. It went from dark to light in an instant. But I will never forget where I came from. Sometimes I still think that I’m that little abandoned kid. Even though I know better – even though I’m walking in the sun, every once in a while, when the rain comes, I feel like it’s only raining on me, and that I’m getting what I deserve, because…I don’t know – because I’ve been bad, and it rains on bad people. Because if you’re a good person, your parent’s don’t just leave and never come back. Because bad things happen to bad people.

But that’s just plain wrong. The sun shines on the evil and the good. And the rain comes regardless of who you are or what you’ve done.

Do you want hope? I have some to give. Reach out and take it – it’s for you! Life wasn’t meant to be lived in fear, or loneliness or regret. It was meant to be lived in the light. Take one step in faith – and there is a Savior who will take you into his arms and bear all your burdens and heal all your wounds. He’ll show you a Father who is incapable of abandoning His children. He’ll show you what a good father is like. You may never forget your ugly, rainy days – but instead of holding you back, those memories will drive you forward. They will be a part of the bedrock of a truly blessed life – a life of peace and joy.

So – that’s my story. What’s yours? It’ll be whatever you decide – it’s your life after all. You can do whatever you want.

post

Shalom

Let your Kingdom come!
Let your will be done also in the earth,
just as it is in Heaven –

Peace

Just before his crucifixion, Jesus was in the upper room with his disciples. He had just exposed Judas as a traitor, and was explaining to his followers that he would soon be leaving them. I can only imagine the shock they must have felt, the confusion, the disbelief, the fear. Here was the greatest rabbi, the greatest prophet, the greatest healer, the King of kings and Lord of lords, in their midst. They left everything behind to follow him, and they had just gotten started! And here he was saying his goodbyes.

Jesus understood though. He explained that yes, he was leaving, but one would come in his place, a comforter, the Ruach ha-Kodesh – the Spirit of Holiness. And one other thing he would leave them – shalom. Jesus said, “Shalom I leave you, my shalom I give to you.”

They didn’t know it at the time, but this promise of “shalom” is one of the greatest gifts Jesus gives. We don’t know it either, by the way.

We (and by “we” I mean westerners in general, but pretty much everyone else, too) don’t have any context for this word “shalom.” We may think of it as a Jewish word that simply means “peace” but when we say “peace” we mean the kids are asleep, or there’s no wars going on that we know of. The concept of “shalom” is foreign to us, but as Christians it should not be.

Our world, the western world, is not a world of shalom. We struggle and strive every day. We forsake the Sabbath to get or stay ahead. We have to have the newest, best, shiniest thing and we treasure those things to the extent that the Kingdom is just a nice idea and we hope to get there one day, but right now I have to get through rush hour so I can sit at a desk for 9 hours doing this thing that I don’t really like too much but hey, it keeps the lights on.

This is not how one who understands shalom lives life.

“My shalom I give to you.” Jesus’ parting, everlasting gift. We have no idea. We know what he went through getting to the cross, and as he hung there. We know what it was all about, or we think we do. But that gift of shalom before everything went down – it’s more precious than you know.

I have tried to understand it. Really I have. But my upbringing, my heritage, my history – they have prevented me from truly experiencing what Jesus left for me that day. A part of my inheritance is shalom! Yours too!

“My shalom I give to you.” What does that even mean? I have read, I have researched, I have prayed – for years. And finally, finally I discovered quite recently, after all my reading and praying for answers, that shalom is something that each person just has to experience. And I have experienced it! And it is wondrous and glorious and more than I could have every imagined. It’s that warm blanket on a chilly night. It’s the hug from someone you’ve loved dearly but been away from for a long time. It’s your kids yelling “daddy!” and running up to you when you get home from work. It’s heaven on earth! It is literally heaven on earth.

When Jesus said, “after this manner therefore pray ye” (because he was a Victorian English chap) he was telling his followers, us, to pray that God would reveal himself to us and set things right on the earth – he was telling us to pray that heaven would invade earth and make it the way it was intended to be. A place of shalom.

Earlier today I found this quote, and I am going to get the book it came from, but I share this hoping you get a sense of what shalom is all about – I hope you experience shalom, and I hope that in your life that things will be on earth as they are in heaven –

“The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight – this is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.

Shalom!

Who is jesus, is jesus god, Christian forums, faith in god, jesus is lord, what is Christianity, who is jesus Christ, lord jesus, spiritual journey, who was jesus, teaching of jesus, finding god, belief in god, about god, lord jesus Christ, story of jesus Christ, how to know god, is there really a god, who is jesus to you, gospel of jesus Christ, the me I want to be, how to have faith in god, blessings from god, truth about jesus, Christian blog sites, searching for god, jesus pictures,

quote

“What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

– C.S. Lewis