Monthly Archives: March 2011

Painfully Perfect, Wonderfully Uncomfortable and Terribly Frightening

For my friends and me, our Sophomore year looked like it was going be a smooth year for us.  We weren’t the lowest men on the totem pole anymore.  We were men… men among freshmen boys.  More importantly, we were men among freshmen girls.

Sometimes in high school  in the little town of Oak Harbor, Ohio there were days when you felt like there was nothing much worth getting out of bed for.  But then, you remembered you were going to see…her.  Your day was going to have all these moments that were full of possibility.  You just knew that would see her in the hall.  You hoped that you would catch a glimpse of her as she walked into the cafeteria.  Maybe as the both of you switched classes between science and math class, there would be a possibility of you catching her eye and give her a little smile.  Not too big….just enough to send the message that you approved.  All you could do was hope that she didn’t catch you starring.

Ahhh… fifteen… You’re too young to vote and too old not to be in love.   Or at least in what you thought was love.  You live in a house someone else owns.  Your dreams are already somewhere else.  You are already planning your escape from the tiny confines of that small Ohio town.  You face the future armed with nothing but the money you’ve earned from mowing lawns, a three-dollar corsage and a light blue leisure suit.  And you hope against all hope that that will be enough.

There are very few things in life as purely terrifying as calling a fourteen-year-old girl on the telephone.   Especially a really cute fourteen-year-old girl… I asked and she said yes.  Her parents would only allow her to go if they could drop her off and then pick her up after the dance.  I agreed and as much as that kinda stymied my expectations and definitely ruined most of my plans for the perfect date, I was still excited.    I would meet her at the school for the Homecoming Dance on Saturday night.  

Now, most people don’t know this but there are two kinds of logic. There’s logic-logic and then there’s 15 year-old in love logic.  I was sure that nothing bad could happen.  At least nothing that would leave a permanent mark.  Had I known then what I know now, I would have walked the other way.

So, that Saturday, I stood there in my light blue leisure suit with my new floral silk shirt.  We met in the middle of the hallway.  The same hallway that we passed each other everyday for months.  She walked into the hall with a beautiful red dress on.  She looked just as I pictured in my mind, she looked beautiful.  I gave her the three dollar-corsage and we entered the dance.  The measurement of success that night was more about the entrance to the dance than the actual dancing.  All eyes were fixed on the door for the next couple to come through the paper machete streamers. We made the grand entrance and for a brief moment the world was spinning and revolving around us as we made our way into the room.  We were the center of the universe.

It was painfully perfect.  It was wonderfully uncomfortable.  It was terribly frightening.

After the third song we finally made it out to the dance floor.  We slow danced to a song I cannot remember.  And then she was gone.  She had taken refuge in the safe confines of her freshmen girlfriends and I found myself standing with the other lonely sophomore boys.   And so it happened.  My poor, fifteen-year-old heart crumbled into a little pile of dust and blew away.  It was over.

I still had a little self-respect.  I was not going to stand there with all of my other friends and watch our dates giggle, laugh and dance together in their little group at the other end of the dance floor.  I walked down to where my date was standing and I was going to tell her it was ok, we didn’t have to dance.  She said that she wanted to be with her friends.  I told her that I understood but I knew that it was time to let it go.  Time to move on.  After all, who needed freshmen girls?

I managed to slip out the side door without being noticed.  I walked towards home.  I put my head down as my mind raced to make up a story as to why I would be home so early.   I knew I had a few blocks before I would have to face the music with my family.  As I walked past St. Boniface School on my way home, I suddenly heard voices.  I heard laughter.  I looked up in the darkness and saw a few of my friends.  They left the dance as well and they were now swinging on the swings.  They were climbing and playing on the monkey bars in the playground.   Something none of us had done since our elementary days.

Maybe we all realized that growing up doesn’t have to be so much a straight line  but maybe a series of advances and retreats.  Maybe we were learning that we were growing up too fast.  Maybe it was the fact that we missed something about our childhood.  I don’t know maybe we just felt like swinging.   But what ever it was, my friends and I made an unspoken pact that night to stay young for a little while longer.  Even if it was only for a few more hours.  There was no need to rush into life.  The responsibilities of growing up would come soon enough.

Eventually…I made my way home.  I walked slowly.  Walking past each one of those houses, called homes, I started to realize something.  I was beginning to understand that in each home, with its Ford parked out front and its white bread on the table and the TV set glowing blue in the falling night, there were people with stories, there were families bound together in the pain and the struggle to find love.  I was just starting out on my journey to find it…“LOVE”…I wasn’t even sure I knew what it was anymore…but I knew I had a lot to learn and my quest to finally find it was a long way off.

Walking up my driveway, I noticed what a beautiful night it was – lit by starlight.  The world smelled fresh and clean.  I turned the handle of the front door and opened it.  Like always, there was my mom sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper.  As I walked into the room, she put her paper down and stood up.  I could see in her eyes that she knew that I had a tough night at the dance.  She  gave me a big hug.  She never said a word and neither did I.  We didn’t have to…for in that moment I felt like a kid again.  Life and all of its responsibilities would have to wait.

Years passed and my quest to find love would be fulfilled along the way as I journeyed through life. 

It was everything I had hoped it would be and more…strange thing is… thirty five years after this “Homecoming Dance” I still find love to be…

Painfully Perfect, Wonderfully Uncomfortable and Terribly Frightening.

God is Still In Control

These are fearsome days…

If you have watched the news over the past few months you will notice that something is happening and it’s rippling across the globe.

Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear melt-down in Japan.

Riots in Cairo.

Financial worries at home.

Wars erupting all around us.

Chaos.

The cascade effect, the discontent from every country and quarter has erupted because of frustrations over work, food, governments and religions.   Chaos is erupting everywhere.  It’s unnerving.

Fear is natural.   What’s next?   What will happen to us? What are we supposed to do in times like these?  Times when we have no real understanding as to the “why” and all we really want is answers.

Is the world coming to an end?

Questions arise when fearsome things happen.

Now I don’t know the answers why things like this happen.  I know that they have been going on since the beginning of time.  Disasters and upheaval both natural and man-made.   Throughout the ages God has allowed these type of things to happen.  It is not for me to question.

I think that during these times we have to remain confident that God is indeed in control.

This morning, as I read in Isaiah, I came to a statement repeated twice with two different reasons for the instruction.   In Scripture, it always catches my attention when something is repeated.   Here are the words from God spoken through Isaiah, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine!” And then again the prophet declares, “Do not fear, for I am with you.”

The chapter continues with amazing and encouraging words for Israel and for us.  The chapter is Isaiah 43  if you want to read it for yourself, but these two invitations caught my attention because of the opening words, “do not fear…”

In this short passage God gives two reasons not to fear:

1.  I have redeemed you.

2.  I am with you.

In these two statements are the reasons we don’t need to fear.   God’s redemption and God’s presence are the reasons we need to trust God and  understand that He is control.   In the midst of difficult days, the reassurance of God’s redemption for the future and His presence in our lives will sustain us during the trials at hand.   Do not fear because our today’s and tomorrow’s are all taken care of.   God is with us and is leading us into the days ahead holding our hand as we walk each step.

The Bible is clear about what is going to happen in the end times.  I am not one to make predictions.  There are those who are predicting the end of times and say that they know the exact date upon which Jesus Christ will return.   However, I will not go there, mainly because I believe that Jesus Christ could come back at any time…maybe even today.  Are you ready?

I think these ripples of chaos are only the first glimpses of what is to come.   When you see all that is coming don’t fear or panic….instead look up.   The Lord’s coming is closer than it has ever been.

It’s Always a Two Trip Project

Sometimes I feel that doing home repairs can be tedious and frustrating.  At least it is for me.  I can’t finish a project with less that two trips to the hardware store.   Part way through the work I find I need a bolt, a bracket, a wrench and off I go for that thing I need to finish what I started.   Then, there is always the second trip for the other things I didn’t know I needed.

A few months ago I was busy with remodeling our kitchen.  I was in the process of removing the old counter tops and that required me to cut the water lines in order to take off the faucet.  The faucet was fairly new and I wasn’t replacing it but now I needed to replace a portion of the water line.  It seemed an easy job, but of course that’s not possible…..at least not for me.   After much pain and contortion I got the new counter top in,  I attached the faucet and the new water line.  I turned on the water to test it and sure enough… IT LEAKED!

Again…off to the hardware store…Teflon tape, silicon sealant and the ever faithful duct tape.   More repairs, contortion and pain….one more time to turn on the water and it STILL leaked!   Ok, what’s going on?   Where is this coming from? I know it’s never where you think it is and so I was on a quest for the source.   Then I find it.   The leak is coming from the new water lines …and so….one more trip to the hardware store.   After much pain and twice as much time as it should have taken we now have beautiful new counter tops and a faucet that doesn’t leak.   No one will ever know all it took to make it happen, but I know.

My Christian life is like that.   Sometimes it’s messy.  Things don’t always go well or easily.   There’s a lot of pain involved in getting things to work as I add new “fixtures” to my walk with God.   There the frequent visits to His Word for instructions on how it should work, what went wrong and what I need to do in order to fix it….and then I’m back at it working once more to see if I can get it right.   It’s often frustrating, often discouraging…there’s the feeling that I’ll never get it right.   It will never work as advertised, but then, when I’m finished there are wonderful new fixtures to my Christian life that through much pain and suffering look really good.  I enjoy the finished product.

It looks easy from the outside…but only I know what it really took to get the results that are here today.

So if you are in the middle of God’s handiwork and He is “re-modeling” you and your walk with Him.  Don’t be afraid of going back to the hardware store (God’s Word) for more supplies and advice more than once…you’ll love the finished product.

Finding My Way Through The Everglow

I don’t know if you are anything like me.

It’s often hard for me to see God’s work in my life.

I’m living moment by moment and at times I can’t see what He is doing in my moments.    The light that shows me what God is doing sometimes comes much later.   Most of the time I only get a glimpse, a stream of light through the dark clouds, an ever-glow from heaven as it were.

Finding my way is the challenge of my life.  That challenge is over-whelming sometimes when I think of I am going to navigate the road of life ahead when I only see a little bit in front of me.

I remember when I just got my license to drive.  As most 16 years old are,  I was confident that I was the best driver around.  While I was driving around late at night with some friends in my 1976 Ford Pinto, I would head down a country and turn off the head lights.  What a rush and what panic!  Going down the road in pitch blackness at 60 miles per hour…throwing caution to the wind and not considering the consequences of our actions.   At 16 you think you are 10 ft tall and bullet proof.  By God’s grace I did not crash and hurt someone.  The foolishness of youth.

As an adult, I am more aware of the journey through life is so dark sometimes.  Many times just like that country road with the headlights off.   Sometimes I feel like this darkness surrounds me like a thick blanket.  Sometimes I struggle to breathe under its weight.   My eyes  strain to find my way and allow me to keep my feet on the right path.

This darkness is cold against my skin.  It’s without life, without hope.   I know I must move.  I must find my way or the darkness will overtake and consume me.  I must stand on my feet and continue to walk towards the ever-glow that God provides.   In strength, against the darkness, I must find courage to move forward.  Placing my confidence in God and His direction as to where to place my foot for the next step.

It’s that feeling we often live with…the feeling of living in the dark.  How to find the way?   How to know what God is doing?

It would be so much easier for God to just bring out the huge spotlight and allow me to walk through this life with full confidence that each step I take is clear of problems and difficulty.  That would make things so much easier for all of us.   I am sure God could do just that, but I know that isn’t how God works.  He chooses to allow us to see only the few steps in front of us.   The reason?  It is called faith and trust.

Finding my way….I’m still working on it.

But what I know is that God has promised to lead me, to help me, just as a guide would lead a blind man, holding my hand and directing my paths.

I’m so glad He is there…in that darkness.  Leading me along through His ever-glow…even when I can’t see the way to go.

We All Have One…

We all have one….at least one.   Some are heavier than others.   Some have more than others.   Some seem to handle them much better than others do.   Some are so overwhelmed that they crumble under the load.   Each of us has one…at least one that we drag around behind us or carry with us.

Each of us has a burden…at least one.

It’s clear that this is true because of Jesus’ words…

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”    – Matthew 11:28-30

From what I see in the lives of people I meet is that many seem to be rather comfortable with their burdens.  They may be heavy, they may be hard, but somehow they feel the need to carry them.  They give them value, a purpose….a reason to complain.


Whatever the burden, and we all have them, Jesus came and offered to take them…no questions asked.   The invitation is even grander than that…he offered to “yoke us with us” and pull our loads with us to help us live in a burden saturated world.

It’s a real invitation that He offers to everyone and yet many people think this offer is too good to be true and so they continue on….under the load…complaining that God must not love them…that He must not care.

What more could God do?

What more could He offer than to take our burdens and carry them for us?

The only requirement?

You have to give them to Him.


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