Archives For Broken

As a small child, I suffered from anemia. So much so that I was
frequently made to toddle across the street to the neighbor’s (a
nurse) house for iron shots. I guess I did not have a problem with
this for two reasons:

1) There was a cookie in it for me; and,
2) Prior to being diagnosed with anemia, there was a trip to the
hospital with my dad…

I remember the sharp tang of antiseptics, the scent of Pine Sol used
to clean the corridors, an endless descent down in an elevator, and a
long walk down a dimly lit hall. I was five, and I was to be getting a
blood test. At the time, I did not know what a “blood test” was
(having never had one). Honestly, I do not recall what I expected.

The stark reality was a cold metal chair under a sun-bright medical in
the middle of a chilly room. I was not, as they say, “down with that.”
I struggled, resisted, fought with every ounce of strength I possessed
to keep from being poked with that sharp, scary, needle.

“Keep him still,” the doctor said to my dad.

“I’m trying,” he replied. In the end, I was too much; I thought I had
won! There would be no needles piercing the delicate flesh of my inner
arm!

How wrong I was! My dad found an off-duty police officer (working
security) in the corridor, and invited him to assist with the
procedure.

I was sunk! Despite my best efforts, two grown men proved to be too
much for me. The needle delicately made its way into my young vein,
and…

I said, “That wasn’t so bad.” All of that fuss, all of that fight, and
it was not so very bad at all. I never feared needles again.

And yet…

How often do we, who should know better, react as I did under threat
of that dreaded needle, when Jesus promises to bring change (and with
it perceived pain)into our lives? We duck, and dodge Him, hoping to
avoid it.

And in the end, only manage to prolong the process, thereby making it
worse. God says that all things work together for the good (not that
the bad things are good–that would be insane) for those that love
Him. The fundamental issue, then, is that, as when I was a boy, we
fail to trust that Father knows best.

We kick, we scream, we fight, when what Father desires is our trust, our surrender. We fight because we are stubborn, willful, creatures–creatures wanting our own way.

And that includes avoiding the pain of growing up. It is past time to face facts: growing is inevitable, and we can either embrace the discomfort, or try to run from it. Either way, it will hurt.

But the path of willing surrender hurts ever so much less. Because it means we are humbling ourselves, surrendering our pride, and no longer
trying to hide.

It means we are partnering with a loving Father Who truly does know best.

The pain, the disappointments, are His appointments–and our opportunities to do that one thing we do not wish to do:

Exercise faith.

Because that means we are not in control.

But that is right where Jesus wants us: broken.

Speak on it: Where do you resist being broken in your life? How is that working out? Is God’s way really so scary?

'[Dick Rudolph's grip on ball, Boston NL (baseball)] (LOC)' photo (c) 1914, The Library of Congress - license: http://www.flickr.com/commons/usage/ I’m spending time these days learning the singular truth conveyed in the Proverbs: “there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end of the ways thereof is death.” This could be a death literal, or metaphoric. It comes in many guises, many forms. And when trust dies it is particularly difficult to resurrect.

It cannot be reignited overnight, but is a process, and is re-earned slowly. In fact, there is a strong temptation to mistrust the process, and shortcut myself to the climax of this storyBut this will not work; it too is a deathI do not want to be spending nights alone in a room not my own away from the life I know.

But it is what I need now.

I need the time to unlearn all the unhealthy habits, and ways, I have lied to me. And to God. Because it is really all about Him–not me. About how He is not controlling, but I have been. About how, instead of humility, I have lived with pride, arrogance, and an extreme sense of entitlement.

He–you, the world–owes me nothing.

It is time to get down to brass tacks. Time for me to die to me, and do the hard work of doing that everyday. Time to love my wife with courage and humility–instead of pride and control. Time to love my children, and not treat them like they are inconveniences.

Time to, as it says in Lamentations 3:16, grind my teeth in the gravel. Time to get low, so that God may lift me up–in His time, and His way. Time to remember that, in the words of Stephen King, “life is not a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” Meaning that life does not exist to feed art, but rather that art exists to enhance life–to help us understand, explain, and enjoy it.

It means that life comes first. It means that I live first–then write.

And living right now means embracing some uncomfortable circumstances, dealing with the consequences of my actions, and confronting the ugliness that lives inside of me. I could go blaming, but this solves nothing, helps no one. Instead I take responsibility, and own the junk in me.

I declare that I am the problem. The singular corollary to this astonishing reality is that if I am the problem, I am also the solution. And the solution begins by getting real. I do not need to tell you that this has come at me like a curveball. For too long, I have ducked. But God is teaching me that when He throws one (a curveball), it is best not to duck.

It is best to let that sucker crash into, and through, me. Because He desires truth in the inward parts, and the only way to achieve that is to be made new–to do the hard work of working out my own salvation with fear and trembling. Meaning that God gives me (us) His Spirit, and His Word, but does not make me apply it–that is up to me. The simple fact is that while He gives me the means to meet my needs, He does not directly meet them all Himself. God does not become water when I am thirsty, or food when I am hungry. Likewise, He gives His Word, but it is up to me to read, study, meditate upon, and apply it.

Please do not misunderstand: salvation is His free gift, but the abundant life is something I (we) must partner with Him to achieve. This is known as shared agency. Or in the late Professor Tolkien’s words, we are sub-creators. Because He does not desire slaves, but friends. It has been this way since the beginning. Arguably, Adam had the most intimate relationship with God anyone could ever hope to have. Yet he was alone. Here was a man, pinnacle of God’s creation, living in edenic bliss, communing directly with God.

Yet he had an unmet need. “It is not good for man to be alone.” So, zap! God made Eve right away. No, actually He did not. First, He put Adam to work naming all the animals, where he ostensibly watched them couple, fellowship, be together.

Before He put Adam to sleep, He first accentuated Adam’s need, his loneliness. Like any good parent, He did not just give Adam what he longed for, but rather made him work for it. So he would appreciate the gift of Eve when she appeared. Likewise, He does not zap me with the abundant life, or hide His Word within me without my at least reading it. This is not salvation by works, but rather a partnering with Him, aligning with Him. As it says in Romans 12: “be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

It is living with intention. Choosing to discard my reality, and aligning instead with His.

In other words, life has thrown me a curveball, and I am choosing not to duck.

How about you?

Note: I need to credit Donald Miller, Mark Batterson, and Douglas Weiss whose work influenced the content of this post.

Past the Breaking

randomlychad  —  December 10, 2012 — 2 Comments

Sleep is fleeting… when it comes.
Rising early, I groan “Not again.”
Temples pounding, I rise.

Why, God, does sleep hide from me?
I want to avoid, blame, hate You

When night after night stretches into:

Weeks…

Months…

Years…

Leaving me past the breaking

But is this where you want me?

What is on the other side?

Where is rest

When is the rest?

Where are You when night after night I beg for sleep?

God, can You hear me?

Will You bring me past the breaking into peace?

Will you?

I’m waiting.

When I was eleven, I read Stephen King’s novel, The Shining. It is a harrowing tale of haunted hotel, and a father’s descent into madness. Though it’s been over thirty years since I read it, I remember look of the book–a silver and grey New American Library paperback. And I remember the opening chapter with Jack Torrance being interviewed, calling his interviewer an “officious little prick” in his internal monologue.

Jack Torrance was a man setup by the demons of his childhood to fall prey to possession by the haunted hotel. In the fight for his soul, the cards were stacked against him (as they are all of us, really). He was a man who wanted to be free, but couldn’t get there. In that sense, though he became the victimizer, he is a man we can pity.

Even more than Jack’s story, I remember his son, Danny, who fell prey to his wrath (Jack at one time dislocated his young son’s arm). Danny had a special ability–the shine–he could see things. The hotel’s chef, Dick Halloran, mentored him in his gift (Dick had it, too–just not as strong as Danny).

I read that book, devoured it really, and despite the abject terror of it, the monstrous heart of evil bound within the Overlook Hotel, I wanted to be Danny. I wanted to have abilities–to see, and to know, things. It’s explained in the book that Danny was born with a caul. And that this covering, this caul, was the fount of his gift.

I asked my mom if I, too, had been born with a caul. Although she couldn’t have known it, in my heart I was asking “Am I special?” She answered “No.” (Unfortunately, my dad wasn’t available to take my question to. Would he have answered any differently? There’s no way to know with any degree of certainty, but his unavailability spoke volumes. Like the Overlook of the novel, it haunts me still).

The thing is, I would have endured everything Danny went through in King’s story to know that very thing:

That I was–am–special.

It wasn’t until many years later that Jesus whispered it into my soul. He told me that God is my Father–the father I’d always longed for–and that he, Jesus, was my friend. A friend that sticks closer than a brother. Like Robert Frost’s divergent path, “that has made all the difference.”

Do you know that you’re special, too, and loved more than you can fathom? That God is your Father, and Jesus is your brother?

You can.

Look up from wherever you are–Jesus is coming for you.

Where do you see Jesus moving in your life?

Did you ever want to be a character in a beloved book?

Getting Naked

randomlychad  —  August 2, 2012 — 8 Comments

Here is the contradiction of being me, something I must confess honestly:

I have no problem sharing foibles, flaws, and failings here, you see,

But you all I can’t see, thus in that sense, it’s easy,

But where the rubber meets the road, in the getting naked at home,

I’m failing miserably.

Will you pray for my wife and me?