The shots were fired, and the
fireworks went off; people were continuing the traditions of New
Year's Eve. When I was a kid, we would use pan lids to make noise,
sometimes I use a diver's oxygen tank turned gong to make racket on
this night. These days, when I see people celebrating July 4th,
I wonder if they really know what they're celebrating. So I apply the
same speculation to this night. There have been times that I wondered
if a holiday is just another day. God did institute specific
holidays, but that was for Israel; they're not the same ones we have.
So...are these just events we can take or leave?
Maybe so, but they're not just another
day. Aside from punctuating our lives, and even giving some a day to
celebrate God's works, holidays mark the passage of time. Different
cultures can designate different days for the beginning of a new
year, but you've got to mark it somewhere. So it is...we've begun a
I was part of a group conversation
recently, nothing structured, just some friends dropping by. The talk
turned toward the economy nationally, and locally. I didn't have
positive appraisals. I was taken to task for this, which under the
circumstances was impossible for me to yield to. The circumstances
weren't objective proof of dismal things; that wouldn't be at all
hard to deliver. No, the circumstances were that I had just ten
minutes prior told of some of my new approaches I was making to
dealing with current conditions. I told of new services, new sales
tips I've been advised of, new adaptations I was carrying out as we
spoke. Somehow though, once I mention anything negative, that's the
whole of who I am, indeed, my visceral being. Drives me nuts. These
are Christians, and I'm concerned that they've slowly bought into the
world's way of positive thinking. It's faith in faith, not faith in
God. The Bible records some of the most awful stories ever, it
doesn't sugar coat the history it records. How can you know how great
the victory, if you don't know how great the problem is? The bible
also has the greatest victories recorded, bar none. As the AA people
say, you can't fix a problem till you admit you have one.
Am I supposed to just refrain from
talking about negative things, or am I to convince myself they don't
exist? I guess what really bugs me is that I can't relate to the
people around me. I feel like an island sometimes. Do not take this
as a plea for pity; I'm just trying to relate how baffling this is.
Like hard to believe on steroids. We're surrounded by paradoxes, the
fact that there are a lot of huge and awful things going on this very
second doesn't keep us from recognizing some really beautiful things,
and working towards them. If you want to relate to me, don't treat me
like a wayward kid when I point out something negative. Remember the
sum of what I say, that's who I am.
So it is...we've begun a new year. The
only resolution I hope to keep is adaptability. I'm not intending to
maintain things too difficult, or achieve things dependent on
deteriorating conditions; rather, to have a head clear from the
disappointment that would bring. I'm already being put to the test of
adaptability, as I have not been before. I could paint a picture of
dark clouds that borders the surreal.
But you know what? Faith level 3. Let
me tell you a dumb but true redneck story: When we first moved here,
we rented a 4 acre piece of land on a small mountain. The property
was L shaped, with the bigger part being atop the mountain. Which
means that there wasn't a wide enough strip of land to make the
driveway switchback up the hill. No, straight up was the way this
baby ran. And of course, straight down. So one winter, at the very
top of the mountain, beyond the end of the asphalt driveway, I was
bringing my little truck down, but didn't turn sharp enough. The
front bumper came to rest on a telephone pole. Just a little, like 2
inches. If I had turned a little tiny bit shaper, I would have made
it. The problem was that it was snowy and icy there on that dirt
part, and backing the truck off the pole wasn't an option.
I reasoned that the solution was to
tie a heavy duty tow strap between the truck and a tree farther up
the hill. Then I would put the truck in neutral, which would allow
it to ease past the pole when I pried the frame that direction with a
heavy wooden beam. It all went exactly as planned...until the strap
untied. I stood there and watched my truck get smaller and smaller as
it went away.
If it had gone to the right, it would
have went into the ditch beside the driveway where the water pipe was
buried, and probably been stopped by the bushes and small trees. But
no way, it went left, the off-the-side-of-the-mountain way. It
flipped over and landed neatly on its top side, all 4 wheels in the
air. As it was, there were some maintenance chores that needed to be
done on the underside, and I realized this would be a good time to do
them. That thought lasted -maybe- half a second, quickly discarded by
how awful I felt at having just trashed my truck. Man, was I peeved.
I called the neighbor with the wrecker service, but they were busy,
and couldn't make it for an hour or something. Plenty of time to work
on the truck...but no way! Way too ticked off, after all, I just
surely smashed the top side, and why do minor repairs on a truck like
The tow truck arrived, winched it out,
turned it over...and it had a broken mirror. That's all! No dents, no
cracked windshield, no popped tires or ruined alignment. It had
landed on some pretty stout brush. I've long remembered that
incident, and the last several weeks it has become a metaphor. I've
had self marketing ideas that I've wanted to do all year, but haven't
had time. Like a fisherman mending nets, I'm doing those things, and
starting to use them for making sales.
The responses I'm coming up with
against these surreal clouds are very pleasing, and look like they
work well. These aren't old mended nets, these are top rate new ones.
I'll try to keep you filled in, and describe them to you, but it will
take awhile. I'm spending quite a few hours every day getting these
things put in place.
Huge bad things running parallel in
time to good things, sometimes even producing good things. Be
adaptable, turn toward God, not away. If you're a Christian, but feel
cursed, remember how Jesus treated Peter after Peter had betrayed
Him. If you're not a Christian, no difficulty in this life is as
important as becoming one.
Here's the beginning a new life in
You are separated from God by a wall.
The wall is the sin you've committed sometime, somewhere in your
life. Others may disagree, but I kind of think that God does hear the
prayer of the unsaved. But it's like yelling really loud to be heard
over the wall; you're still separated, not forgiven, not adopted into
His family. That means you're headed for hell, which varies in
intensity, but it's forever separation from God and all things good.
When Jesus died on the cross, he voluntarily took the penalty of
others' sins, he got in trouble for them. It's not a universal
pardon, it's for individuals. He's not looking for a group of people,
He's looking for sons and daughters in His family. So YOU as an
individual have to call out to Him and ask for this forgiveness and