Absolutely Positively Definitely Maybe

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“That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens” (Romans 8:18-21, The Message).

Such a great moment in the movie. I’ve actually owned Definitely, Maybe for a while and just now got around to watching it (one of the few perks of being without a job).

I love that line because it reminds me so much of God and the Story He is writing. And I do so love stories, especially when they’re well-told and have happy endings.

I know that ultimately God’s Story is about God, as it should be, but one of the very happy side effects is you and me finding redemption and freedom and abundant life. Because of God’s Story, you and I have a Story that we get to share. Because of God’s Story, we know that our Story will always have a happy ending because God has written it already. I read the last page of the book and I know that it’s good.

It’s hard to remember that when the Story seems headed for tragedy or when the current chapter seems like it will never end and circumstances will never change or get better. It’s hard to see that happy ending when you’re wondering how you’ll pay the bills or make your struggling marriage work or find that job that makes you come alive.

As I’ve learned in reading books, you don’t put down the book when the characters run into hard times. You keep going with the hope that those struggles will lead to something better. As Corrie Ten Boom says, you don’t jump off the train when it goes through a dark tunnel. You trust the Engineer to get you through.

I don’t want to be that guy who says things like, “Hold on, it will get better” or “The darkest hour is just before the dawn.” When you’re feeling overwhelmed with anxiety or discouragement, bumper sticker quotes don’t really do the trick.

You need to know that God is still faithful to His promises. You need to know that the same Jesus who conquered death and the grave can conquer your circumstances. You need to know that He will finish what He started in you because He said He would.

That’s a happy ending.

 

Still Yet Another Good Reminder

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“Sorrow cannot steal our faith or even cause it to be lost; betrayal and loss steal our faith only when we refuse to remember, tell our stories, listen even as we tell them, and explore the meaning that God has woven into every one. If we want to grow in faith we must be open to listening to our own stories, perhaps familiar or forgotten, where we have not mined the rich deposit of God’s presence. With better eyes and ears we will sense how God has worked to redeem even our most tragic experiences” (Dan Allender, The Healing Path).

I don’t know why I gravitated to this quote. I’m not dealing with any kind of loss or grief or even sadness, yet these words spoke deeply to me.

Maybe because I realize lately how fragile life is and how easily those we love can slip away from us, how quickly those little babies grow up and leave home, how fleeting are the days.

The most tragic remembrance in the end will be how we took so many people for granted and left words of love and gratitude unspoken. In the end we will not treasure our trophies or promotions or rewards, but the relationships that made us come alive and be better people.

So all that from a quote I stole from someone on Facebook.

#1,400!!

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Teach us to number our days so that we may truly live and achieve wisdom” (Psalm 90:12)

I thought of a movie I hadn’t thought about in a while. The movie in question was Dead Poets Society and the part of the movie was where Robin Williams’ character tells his students to seize the day.

Then there’s the line from the movie Braveheart that goes something like this: every man dies but not every man truly lives.

That’s all good and great, but what does that look like? I mean, how can I tell if I’m truly living or just existing?

I think it has something to do with being in the moment. That means not looking back with regret or looking forward with anticipation while forgetting to see what’s around you now. That sounds vague and shadowy, but it’s true.

Too many times in the past, I’ve wasted a week looking to Friday and the weekends that never lived up to my expectations. Too many times, I didn’t really see my surroundings because I was waiting to get to the next place. Too often, I missed out on one part of my life because I was so eager to get to the next part.

True wisdom comes from being fully present to where God has you and cultivating the habit of gratitude, learning how to see the blessings around you instead of always seeing what’s wrong with the picture.

I can’t say that I’m always very good at this. Mostly, I suck. But I’m better than I used to be.

I also read something that stuck with me: always celebrate those who are always making forward progress, no matter how slow. I like that, because usually, that’s me– Mister Slow and Steady.

So yay for all of us slow and steady folks out there because we’re the ones who truly win the race.

Redemption (It’s Never Too Late to Come Home)

For my 50th blog, I wanted to talk about something close to my heart. That something is the subject of redemption. Especially since I and all those who trust in Christ have been redeemed.

Some definitions I found of the word redeem are: “1) to recover ownership of by paying a specified sum, 2) to pay off (a promissory note, for example), 3) to turn in (coupons, for example) and receive something in exchange, 4) to fulfill (a pledge, for example), 5). to convert into cash: redeem stocks, 6) to set free; rescue or ransom, 7) to save from a state of sinfulness and its consequences. 7)  to make up for: the low price of the clothes dryer redeems its lack of special features.8)  to restore the honor, worth, or reputation of.”

But it’s one thing to know about redemption in an academic sense and an entirely different notion to know experientially what it means to be redeemed. To know that Jesus can take something worthless and turn it into something priceless is cause by itself for worship. To know that no one is beyond His reach is cause for eternal devotion.

The thief on the cross proves that no one is ever a lost cause or a hopeless case. Not even in his dying moments was he too far gone to be saved. Such is the case for anyone in my life (or your life). No one is too depraved to be forgiven. There is no one who has left the path who can never come back.

If you are the one who has crossed every line and blown every chance, there”s still hope. You can never stray so far away that there is no way to get Home again. If you aren’t the one who has lost his or her way, but know someone who has, know that there is never a time to quit praying and reaching out and believing in faith for that person.

I love this quote from John Newton, who himself was a slave trader who was redeemed and became a great hymn writer and leader in the abolition movement in England. As he lay on his death bed, he said to a minister friend, ‎”True, I’m going on before you, but you’ll soon come after me. When you arrive, our friendship will no doubt cause you to inquire for me. But I can tell you already where you’ll most likely find me–I’ll be sitting at the feet of the thief whom Jesus saved in His dying moments on the cross!”

Remember it’s never too late to come Home. Even if you’ve lost your way, Jesus knows how to get you Home. After all, He is the Way. Don’t lose hope for that loved one. Even in his or her last breath, there’s still a chance for redemption.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.