Archives For grace

My ecclesial history began with Protestantism; to wit, as a lad I having Jewish friends, Catholic friends, having Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on the door, asked my mom what religion are we?

Her reply? “We’re Protestants.” That apparently was to be the end of the matter, as no further explanation was forthcoming. I had no idea at all (at that age) what a Protestant was, or what were in fact protesting.

I guess we were protesting the whole thing, because the only church we ever darkened the doors of as a family was my grandma’s. And that only when we annually traveled to visit her. That, aside from maybe a VBS (“Vacation Bible School”) or two was the sum total of my church experience growing up.

Quite frankly what piqued my interest in church was the cute girl at the drugstore who invited me. We spent countless hours together talking about life, the universe, and everything. We visited:

Assemblies of God

Charismatic

Vineyard

& Nazarene

Churches

As I had no prior experience, or theological instruction, upon which to draw I had no preconceived notions about what church was. And darn if some of it didn’t stick! I prayed the sinner’s prayer, and promptly went to a party to get drunk.

I didn’t have a fat clue of what a Christian was, or how they comported themselves. I don’t know how much praying I did, but I did carry around a Bible given to me by my grandma; it was a large, white KJV (King James Version) affair. At the time, I didn’t know it was a family Bible, and was meant more for a coffee table than for constant, conspicuous carrying around.

As I awakened to the the message of the Gospel, it seemed the next step was to get baptized. I mean that’s what believers do, right? Get dunked/sprinkled/submersed/wet…

So I did on a warm September evening some four months after “accepting Christ.” I really didn’t grok at the time that it was some kind of big deal to be baptized, as my then-girlfriend’s family indicated that they wished they’d been there.

I didn’t know it was some kind of symbolic affair significant of anything other than basic obedience to one of Jesus’s commands. Afterwards, I didn’t feel anything other than wet.

Somehow, after being baptized at an Assemblies of God church, we ended up attending a Charismatic fellowship. It wasn’t until much later that I knew it was weird. And by weird I mean I had a fun experience being prayed over by a group white shirt wearing, yellow pit stained elders who wanted me to “recieve the initial evidence of the indwelling.”

Translation: they we’re praying for me to receive the gift of tongues, or in more formal parlance, glossolalia. They, being Charismatic, made it a doctrinal certainty that speaking in tongues was the evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; in other words, the practice tongues were to make me a living proof text of God’s work in my life…

The result? I mean I was willing, wanting whatever God has for me. So, sure. I was young, naive, and having no religious background thought why not?

When it didn’t happen, as these four grown men, sweaty-faced, their voices rising in ecstatic fervor, lapsing in and out of their Heavenly Languages, as they circled my seated form, finally (and flatly) stated: “Don’t worry, brother; it’ll happen. Just start muttering.”

Just. Start. Muttering.

I’m not sure that’s what Paul had in mind when he wrote of the gift of tongues. Although I suppose I have been muttering to God ever since…

Through

Highs and lows

Successes and failures

Jobs lost and found

Health issues

Death, and new life.

And I’m thankful He’s never yet despised the bleating of this wayward sheep.

Community

randomlychad  —  February 21, 2019 — Leave a comment

Blogging is dead, right? Podcasts have supplanted the good, old-fashioned blog…

Yet I miss the community of bloggers I used know back in the day before watching and listening supplanted reading a well-crafted post. It was about the words, and those who cared about words, what they meant, how words could paint a picture in the minds of readers.

I missed crafting posts, telling tales, worth reading.

I miss the community that was coalescing here on my little corner of the web. The work was hard, and the words didn’t always come easy, but there was joy in sharing the journey together.

Let me know if you’re still here and still interested in joining me in sharing the vicissitudes of a life on the Way.

–Chad

An Empty Room

randomlychad  —  August 16, 2018 — Leave a comment

Across the hall, and a little to the left, just a few feet over beige carpeting from the master bedroom doors is a room which has been continuously occupied for the past seventeen years. The sounds of bedtime Bible stories, of laughter, tears, Nerf gun wars echo down to me over the years. Late night gaming, fragging zombies, the smells of sweat (teen spirit) and Axe… The sounds and smells of a life; of a boy waking, sleeping, farting, growing have faded into memory.

Because the room, the one across the hall from mine, now lies empty. The door, marked with the imprint of a fist flung in frustration, and so often closed over the past few years, now stands open–a testament to its utter lack of occupancy. It’s normal, natural, healthy, for children to grow, and go, but it all seems so soon. “Sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the years,” as the song goes. “I don’t remember growing older…” When did he? Whither that little boy with his thick, brown mop of hair, mischievous as the day is long? Where did he go?

When did become the young man who has now gone out into the wide world on his own?

I see that empty room–passing by it in morning as I’m heading downstairs, walking past it again as head into my bedroom in the evening…

I see it, and can’t help the ache welling up in me. Twenty years have come and gone since he was born, but it feels like no time at all. But I wanted more of it. One more day being a family of four, one more meal together, one more movie night, one more night knowing we were all safe and sound together under our roof. But it was not to be. He was ready; it was time to spread his wings, and fly the nest his mother and I built stick-by-stick, branch-by-branch, over the long years.

It’s normal, natural, right for him to go, but dammit it hurts!

His empty room isn’t just a room; every time I see it, walk past it, stand in the doorway, not crossing its threshold, I the ache of an empty place in my soul. He doesn’t need me in the ways that he used to. The relationship, as it should, is changed. Began changing many long, moons ago. But it nevertheless caught me off guard, took me by surprise…

Knocked the wind right out of my sails.

My son has moved out. And I didn’t quite expect to feel all these feels. But there it is regardless. I love him. And that’s what matters. I expect that empty room-sized ache will continue for sometime, to be perhaps eventually swallowed up by other joys someday as his bachelorhood eventually becomes marriage, begets grandchildren.

Aches and joys and empty rooms… Such is the stuff of life. The good, and the bad.

May we savor every moment, every breath.

Taking the challenge out of life also largely takes the fun out of it as well. Don’t get me wrong here; I’m most thankful for an indoor job, and the ability to provide for my family it affords me. I’m saying that if we aren’t on guard against it that it’s altogether too easy to wake up one day as Miss Havisham (from Great Expectations), wondering why life seems to be something that happens to someone else (just not, you know, us).

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My days are often spent like a pinball; I bounce between here and there. Oftentimes I circle like a ziggurat, working my around, and up through, the building in which I work. So it was on this day, the day a homeless man asked me for beer money. The day was clear, bright, not hot; in other words a perfect Spring day. The kind of day you wish would last forever, stretching out into eternity. The air was clear as crystal, the sun a golden disk in the azure sky. Nary a cloud scudded by.

It was as I passed through this day, scurrying from a lunchtime game of racquetball, on my way to grab a bite, that I was brought up short. Working in an urban environment for a great number of years now, I’m somewhat inured to the plight of my less fortunate fellow man, to the human pain and tragedy which faces me daily. Yet there was something about this man, something in his careworn face, in the cornflower blue of his eyes, that stopped me. I think it was the eyes, how they reminded me of my grandfather’s. Eyes which had seen so much pain, heartache, loss, had seen accident, illness, injury. The eyes of an alcoholic, spidery veins zig-zagging around the nose between and beneath them.

Eyes which somehow still had a sparkle, a twinkle of mirth and mischief, to them.

So I stopped. He said something; I didn’t catch it.

“You think I’m homeless. I’m from Las Vegas. I had a seizure this morning. Listen, I’m an alcoholic. I need beer. I feel another seizure coming on. I’ll be a big one.”

“I don’t have any cash.”

“You’ve got a card, right? Please, I need your help.”

The naked, plaintive need was plain for me to see, but my mind was a whirling chiaroscuro of conflicting thoughts. On the one hand, I wanted to believe him, but on the other I’ve been burned enough by similar situations over the years to have developed a veneer of cynicism. I was on my way back to work, with my credentials on display. I couldn’t be seen buying beer.

“Listen,” I said. “There’s a Chipotle right there. They have single serve.”

Clutching his weather worn leather bag a little tighter, the man with eyes like my grandfather’s replied, “I’m not going in Chipotle.”

“They’ve got beer.”

“I just need a couple bucks.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, walking away.

——————

I saw him again a short time later, in line behind me at the drugstore where I picked up a prepackaged lunch. He didn’t seem to recognize me, asking about how I was, how my day was going. In his hand was a six-pack of Busch beer. I went back to my busy workaday world.

I’ve wondered about that man.

I keep asking myself, “What would Jesus do?”

What would He have done?

I don’t know how to answer that. Maybe I never will. Jesus did turn water into wine to keep a party going, but would He have given this man that for which he’d asked? Knowing that it was killing him daily by degrees? I wish I had the faith of Peter and John, could shout, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee. I the name of Jesus Christ…”

But I didn’t.

What would you have done?