Appetite for Destruction

“If you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with all your being. For this commandment which I command you this day is not too difficult for you, nor is it far off. It is not [a secret laid up] in heaven, that you should say, Who shall go up for us to heaven and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who shall go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it? But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your mind and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil. [If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which] I command you today, to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land into which you go to possess. But if your [mind and] heart turn away and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish, and you shall not live long in the land which you pass over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live And may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” ~ Deuteronomy 30:10-20 Amplified Version

There is a story that I heard some time ago, and have told in chat-rooms and elsewhere myself, about a daddy who was spending time with his little girl at the park. They didn’t get to spend too much time together just the two of them, and they were both enjoying their time. As the afternoon wore on, the dad heard the ice cream truck coming and ran to get his daughter a treat. Glancing over his shoulder (because, of course, you should never leave your children alone at a park), he saw that she was happily playing in the sandbox. He smiled to himself, paid the ice cream man, and hurried to present his little girl with her treat. As he neared his daughter, the daddy called her name. When she turned toward him, he saw that her mouth was full of sand! (Oh boy! Kids say and DO the darndest things, don’t they?) The dad sighed and smiled and shook his head, scooping up his little girl with one arm while he held onto her treat with his other hand. He then proceeded to carry her to the drinking fountain where he could wash out her mouth and clean her up a bit before finally giving her the ice cream that was, by now, starting to dribble down his wrist. Simple enough story right? Well, let’s take another look at it.

First of all, if you have read my blog before, you should know that I love parables and allegories. Secondly, you should also know that this is, indeed, one of those. 🙂 To begin with, for the purpose of this discussion, let’s say that you (no matter your gender) are the little girl, and the Daddy, is of course, God.

Before you run off, thinking that this is no story for you, let me tell you of God’s love for you. He really, really loves you. Seriously, he’s a huge fan. Sometimes the things you do, are another matter. So many times in life we are merrily trucking along when we find our mouths (sometimes literally) full of sand. God has a good plan for us. He sees much more than potential. He sees the hopes and dreams and unique personality and gifts he has placed inside each one of us. He sees the beauty of discovery and joy and blessing of friendship and soul-communion with us. He has amazing and glorious things in store for each of us, personalized amazing. Some people might like a big tub of red vines. Others of us couldn’t care less about red vines. Maybe we would prefer a pedicure, or a new part for the classic Chevy we’ve been massaging in our garage, or a fashion makeover, or the latest expansion of our favorite MMO (online games for non-gamers), or a new transmission, etc. The list of special amazing things someone might like is as individual as each of us is. God knows these things though. He is the best present-giver ever. Not only did he send Jesus to die and rise in order to save us, but He delights to surprise us with a million little and big things all along our journey to encourage, reward, and treat us, “just because”. Anyway, back to our story…

Since we have established the who’s who of things, let us dig a little deeper. As I said, God loves to spend time with us. During our lives he watches over us, even more when we take the leap and decide to love and serve him and accept the sacrifice only He could have made for us. Sometimes, when He is about to show us a new aspect of himself, or give us a miracle we’ve been praying for, or promotion, or “just because” present, He sees us with our mouths full of sand. He’s not going to cancel the treat, but it might be delayed awhile, while He helps to clean us up to prepare us to enjoy the blessings he has in store for us. Of course he loves us, there is no question of that. You take care of your kids. When they fall down and get hurt, or even deliberately do things that hurt them, we pick them up and clean them up before we give them the good things we have been saving on purpose to give them. Sometimes there is a time of healing, or strengthening, or just an extended time of washing. Thankfully, there is no chance that God’s treats will melt and be ruined. 🙂

There are times when, let’s say it plainly, we are stubborn, foolish, and just plain stupid. We’d rather do things our own way, despite the taste of sand. Our mouths get raw, our insides rebel, but we still refuse to ask for help. Sometimes we try to be sneaky and clean ourselves up. We are not exactly good at this and usually end up making a bigger mess. And still our Father waits, expectantly, for us to stop throwing our fits and trying to get our way so he can give us the special, customized amazing that he has in store for us. Oh, He loves us as we are, but He doesn’t want to leave us with our mouths full of sand. He has so much more in store for us, you see. We just have to be wiling to accept it.

“If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer offered in this place. For I have chosen and sanctified (set apart for holy use) this house, that My Name may be here forever, and My eyes and My heart will be here perpetually.” ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14-16 (Amplified Version)

Marvelous Pigs in Satin

James: It’s like he said: Marvelous things will happen.

Glowworm: Did he say, “Marvelous pigs in satin”?

Grasshopper: No, dear lady.

[He takes out a megaphone and speaks through it]

Grasshopper: Marvelous things will happen!

(James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl)

As we travel down life’s road, we encounter situations that are many and varied. There is a lot of work involved. Sometimes the path is hot and dusty. Other times it is cold and windy. There are dark times, difficult times, long stretches where everything looks the same and it seems like we’re not making any progress. We wait, and wonder what the point is and why we’re here. We feel frustrated and lost and helpless…

However, that is not the entire book from cover to cover. There are other times, bright times, heartwarming, encouraging, sunny and marvelous. We have wide open spaces that appear along our path, glorious, roomy, and full of freshness. We can take in great breaths of air, take off our worn boots, wiggle our toes in the grass, squish them in the cool mud, and even bury them in hot sand. You can take off your weary pack, stretch your weary shoulders, fling wide your arms and draw the beautiful day into a soul embrace! Long have been the days of your travels, and toilsome. Your heart has been heavy, your mind confused. Bankrupt of all goodwill and generosity, you have shriveled in your heart, folded in upon yourself. Miserly have been your thoughts toward your fellow man. You were not made for this. Your heart was not fashioned for selfishness. Your mind was not created to only hold thoughts of self. For this reason, it is important to make full use of these times and allow your inner self to unfurl. Remember the caress of the soft breezes and the gentle whispers of love and value and ultimate endearment from the One who thought you worth the ultimate price, and paid it, and would again, and again in an instant. It is sufficient, however, that it was paid once and for all.

Now, as your wings unfurl, remember who you are, not a grasping, creeping thing, but a majestic, otherworldly being, with a resplendent soul. You have been washed, healed, and redeemed. You are in possession of knowledge so great that it can change a person from the inside out! Who are you, redeemed and beloved? What is your purpose? What will you do with this excellent and impossible love? Do you bury it? Do you keep it only for yourself? Why not instead open your heart to those struggling, creeping, suffering, despondent souls around you? Hold up the light for them so they, too, can exit that dark place to which you also once belonged. In this way, you carry the joy of the open spaces into the dungeons and shadows and cemeteries of life. You hold the power to free countless individuals, locked in the dark within their own souls. Knowing that such light and goodness exists, how can you not pass it along and extend a hand to a fellow traveler? The dark places of this world are made up of dark individuals and their dark deeds. Be a beacon that shows the way to the paths of peace.

“Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested and put in prison, He withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the country of Zebulun and Naphtali– That what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be brought to pass: The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, in the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles [of the peoples who are not of Israel]– The people who sat (dwelt enveloped) in darkness have seen a great Light, and for those who sat in the land and shadow of death Light has dawned. From that time Jesus began to preach, crying out, Repent (change your mind for the better, heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:12-17