Archives For choice

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Do you see them, there upon the horizon?

Clouds are rising.

The wind howls with a banshee screech.

The Earth shudders beneath your feet.
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Creation groans, gasping out a last sigh:

You are Noah, and the end is nigh.

Will you weather the storm, afloat upon a boat called hope?

Or will you drown, sucked down in a whirlpool tide of trials and cares?

Life and death lay before you, Noah.

What will you do? Where, who, is your ark?

'Film Matrix: a choice in your life' photo (c) 2006, surfstyle - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Matrix is a 1999 film directed by the (then) Wachowski brothers, and starring Keanu Reeves as Thomas Anderson/Neo. At a point early in the story, Mr. Anderson has been arrested, and is being questioned by an agent. The agent, Mr. Smith, says to him, “You’ve been living two lives, Mr. Anderson. By day, as a developer for a respectful software company. By night, you operate under the hacker alias, Neo. Only one of these lives has a future, Mr. Anderson.”

Now within the context of the movie that agent–Smith–is trying to scare Anderson into conformity, keep him a slave to the Matrix. In our world, the paradigm is parallels that of the story: the world, the flesh, and the devil comprise the wool the which has been cleverly pulled over our eyes. As in the world of the Matrix, we have to escape the seemingly gravitational pull of a world that wants nothing more than conformance with the status quo. Like Neo in the movie, Jesus has come into our world and upset that Apple cart.

He came blasting into a culture which prided itself on conformity with the rules, and turned everything upon its head. He said the we needed to be “born again,” to die to ourselves. That indeed it was only on death that we would find life. That it was for freedom that He came to set us free.

We, like Mr. Thomas Anderson, could continue to confirm, toe the line, play it safe. Or we could launch our coracles out into the vast ocean of grace. The late, great C.S Lewis said that “our passions are not too strong, but too weak. We muck about with drink and sex when all the pleasures of Heaven lay before us.”

As the Bible says, “There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end of the ways thereof is death.” Put another way, and in the words of Bob Dylan, we’ve “gotta serve somebody.”

The question, then is who? Who will we serve?

Self (the devil), or God? “Only one of these lives has a future.”

Choose you this day.

“Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

What say you? Speak on it?

It has been said that age is but a number. That we are only as old as we feel. “As a man thinketh,” etc.

There is a certain truth to this. And having a positive outlook certainly has benefits. In this sense, age is just a number.

But aging is cold, hard fact. I first became cognizant of this in my late twenties: a few of the whiskers in my beard took the inexorable spin on the color wheel to gray.

But I didn’t feel any older. (The gray has since spread like a disease, slowly making its way from the center of my chin up the sides of my face).

A little later, the early thirties, my metabolism showed signs of decline: I could no longer eat what I wanted without consequence.

And then one morning I awoke to find that, while they never had before, consuming too many sweets precipitated nausea. It was around this same time I discovered that any amusement park rides which involved spinning introduced a rather greenish cast in my otherwise lily white skin.

The late thirties brought with them: bladder problems, sleep apnea, and hypothyroidism. All treatable, but all nevertheless leaving me (subjectively) feeling much older than I ever had.

The last several years have been a time of transition, evolution, and entropy:

I’m objectively, quantifibly becoming something: older.

My body is evolving (or devolving) as time goes on (evolution=change over time).

And I’m slowing down. Entropy–the second law of thermodynamics. “Things wear out, the center cannot hold…”

Just at the time when things are heating up professionally, and personally, my get up and go has got up and went. I have ideas, but no stamina to execute on them. Such cruel irony.

My son recently asked if I wanted to live forever. My reply? In this body? God, I hope not. I want an upgrade! I want one that doesn’t get weary, one that doesn’t have sleep apnea, one that doesn’t have upper eyelids that are puffy and drooping.

I want an upgrade.

Thankfully, one is coming. It’s only requirement is that I die. That’s the deal: birth requires some kind of death. Sperm cells and ovum, once united, are no longer what they were–have in fact died to their old natures to bring forth be life. So it is with the Christian: “though the outer man is perishing, the inner man is being renewed day by day.”

So in the meantime, between now and when God calls me home, I will practice the only death afforded me:

Death to self. Pressing on in spite of life’s hardship and frailties. Trusting that what He says is true. And I’d like to think that, because I need it so much more, I understand grace just a little bit better. His grace suffices, and I fall upon it everyday. I fall, and He makes me to stand.

I can–because He did, and does.

I’m not too old, too busy, or too tired to dream. Sure, I’m older, and my body is (as is yours) marching towards decay, I’m not dead yet.

And neither are you.

Let’s choose to die daily to the desire to give up, to throw in the towel.

A story is written one word at a time–line upon line. Likewise, a painting is made one brush stroke at a time. Weight is lost one pound at a time, walking happens one step at a time…

Dreams are achieved when all the small steps we take are added together into a new whole. We can do hard things.

So take the next step, my friends. There is always grace sufficient for that. We can do it.

I get it. I really do. I’m a man. As such I’m not supposed to have an opinion on the subject of abortion. The sovereign rights of women, and all.

But, since no one’s ever accused me of being particularly wise, here goes:

We’re all supposed to act like abortion is like suffrage, just another right which has been hard-fought, hard-won, hard-earned. Like hands off, “touch not, taste not, handle not,” this is women’s business, son.

So step off.

Now the law says a woman gets to choose. That’s all fine and dandy, but legal doesn’t always equate to ethical, moral, or responsible. I’m not here prepared to discuss situations of rape, incest, or life of the mother–the reasons most often trotted out for why abortion should be kept “safe, legal, and rare.”

Thing is, it isn’t. Rare, that is. It happens everyday, all around the country. Young girls are being given the “morning after” pill without so much as a by your leave from their parents. As if their rights somehow trump those of parental consent. The message being sent is that life can be divorced from consequence. Think you might be pregnant? Here, pop a pill.We won’t tell your parents. We can’t have you making such a serious mistake, but don’t want to keep you from that sweet, sweet nookie your body so clearly craves. So, have at, young woman.

We’ll be here in the morning…

And that’s just merely one form of early-term abortion. The thing is, and here I’m tipping my hand, I’ve written of The Sister I’ve Never Known, and how I lost a sibling to the altar of convenience. Here’s the rest of the story:

As adults, we hear things which shake us to the core, shift our paradigms in ways perhaps we didn’t wish to go. Two of those, for me, were the aforementioned revelation about my mom’s abortion. The other was, as I heard from her own lips, that she and my dad were using contraception when I was conceived in 1968. Why would anyone tell their adult child that? More specifically, what am I to make of it?

You may draw your own conclusions, but here are mine:

1) We didn’t really want you, weren’t trying for you, but we kept you anyway.

2) If abortion on demand had been legal in 1968, I might not well be here now. As it was later on, not being quite convenient, having a burgeoning career, etc., my parents were about seventeen months married when I was conceived, financially strapped… In short, the conditions were such that if there had been a legal out, they might well have taken it.

All because it was inconvenient to have a child then. But thankfully they didn’t. Yet how many do everyday? And we’re supposed to act like this is okay, have nothing at all to say.

“Choice” doesn’t happen in a vacuum, is not free of repercussions, consequences… In short, as Donne so wisely said all those long years ago, “no man [or woman] is an island.” Whether we like it, or not, we are all part and parcel of one another. Men, women, children–the born, and the preborn–have this in common:

We are all of us human beings, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. And more particularly, more specifically, more personally, I believe that every child should be given the same chance I was, although not wanted, to live, because God has his hands upon even the least of these.

Thank-you.

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We live in a world where it’s all too easy to blame, and cast aspersions, rather than take personal responsibility. This always works so much better, right? I’m broken, we’re broken, because of our parents, our life experiences… It’s always the other guy’s fault.

Guns, and pornography, for instance, are always hot button issues. We keep trying to legislate around them.

It’s a losing battle.

Because neither guns, nor pornography, are the problem. No, the problem is the needy beast of a thing which beats within our chests. The brokenness which compels us to shoot, the desires which bid us look.

Porn doesn’t make us look, nor do guns make us shoot.

Beyond that, what rights do we, the bond slaves of Christ, truly have? We are free in him, of a surety, but freedom apart from responsibility is mere liberality, and is a license for all manner of justifications. (I speak here from experience). 

We each of us need to look to our own hearts, and stop blaming the man, the system, the government… All are broken because we are broken. And as long as we live in this world–in Act III of history–freedoms will be abused, evils will be done. That is what free will means: we have the freedom to choose the right, or the wrong.

And the consequences of these choices unfortunately affect more than just us. Some drop like a pebble in a pond–causing ripples–and others crash like an avalanche of destruction.

Yet without this very freedom, we would not know love. Without evil, we would not know good. Without the choice betwixt the two, we are mere automatons.

Choose love today. Choose, even if hurts you–even if it takes from you something you want.

And pray with me, Maranatha! Even so, please, Lord, come.