Casual Blasphemy

I’m sure there’s a great many people out there who think the world’s tendency toward liberalism is a great and wonderful thing. Perhaps in some ways it is progress. To my way of thinking, mainly in a political sense. For instance, I think it’s great that we’ve grown enough as a nation and a country that we could elect a black man as president. That is not to say I favor the President’s clearly biased agenda. Or that I support his policy changes and political two-stepping.

Only that when I think that not that long ago, that sort of victory would not have been possible.

That said, I suppose anyone and everyone should not be surprised by anything at all these days. The world certainly seems to support an agenda so far left, supporters are hanging off the wing by their fingertips. Still, every now and again something comes along that still surprises me.

I saw a link for a Huffington Post article today that talked about the Passion of a Gay Jesus. Out of curiousity, I took a look and it was pretty much exactly what I expected.

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The header part of the article refers to the article being attack, with the implication being unjustly so. I would submit the series of paintings the article refers to is the attack. The references made to them and the reference to blasphemy is a defense.

The tone of the piece was interesting, too. While the collected pictures, of course, are the main offense, the casual nature of the article addressing them clearly doesn’t get why they would be thought blasphemous in nature. That’s because the painter and the Huffpo writer do not “get” Jesus–or Christianity, for that matter. And if that’s true, they don’t get sin. If they don’t get sin, they don’t get what it is to triumph over it through Jesus.

I’ve written extensively about this before, so I don’t feel a burning need to do it again now. There are gay people and there always will be. We’ve made clear progress in the straight community’s acceptance of the fact gay men and women are here to stay.

To me, that’s only part of the issue.

Where we have come to, of course, is the acceptance of deliberately offensive (and yes, blasphemous) behavior as progress.

Yet one cannot protest offensive behavior if the offense taken is from the perspective of one who supports any sort of Christian value or belief structure. Typically then, the protestor is referred to as being filled with hate. Or at best, supporting a belief system that is no longer culturally valid.

Lots of articles and books–both online and otherwise–are available as proof of that little ugly fact.

But.

I don’t really know what to say about that, beyond expressing dismay. The article talks about gay Christians. Ok, there probably are quite a few of them.

Gay Jesus? Not so much.

I don’t know anything at all about what it’s like to try and be a person of faith and a gay person at the same time. I imagine it can’t be easy. I just think that if a person–male or female–truly believes in the God of the bible. The God of Moses, the God of Jacob, they wouldn’t be able to make claims scripture in no way supports.

I think also when we go that route, we are segueing from progress into simple and clear moral relativism. I believe that’s where we are headed as a society, and a culture. We are on our way to being Europe. I don’t want to be Europe.

I don’t know what this bodes for everyone who is trying to remain steadfast in their faith in a world that doesn’t support it anymore.

I just know it’s going to get tougher and not easier.

That shouldn’t surprise me, either.

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.”

That, too, is evident. We’re also living in a world where this is happening, right now. People are literally being murdered for Christ. In droves.

Still image from video shows men purported to be Egyptian Christians held captive by the Islamic State kneeling in front of armed men along a beach said to be near Tripoli

It may be that will never happen here. God, I hope not.

The Lucky Ones

It goes without saying there are a great many powerful verses in scripture. Everyone who reads the bible likely has a favorite or two. I’m no exception. So tonight—this morning, I guess—I was trying to figure out where to start, and what to read (I usually do my reading about 0330 to 0400, depending on what I have going on and how much work I have left), and I was listening to the sounds of the building around me.

The ductwork.

The refrigerator across the room.

That darn cricket hiding somewhere.

My breathing.

The occasional noise from outside.

All so familiar, and they remind me that some things about night shift are good. The solitude. The time for thinking, praying.

I consider that sometimes the familiar is OK, and that is where I turn this morning.

I turn to Luke 15, verse 20. Maybe my favorite verse ever.

20 So he got up and returned to his father. The father looked off in the distance and saw the young man returning. He felt compassion for his son and ran out to him, enfolded him in an embrace, and kissed him.

Is there a better verse to describe in a tangible way the love Jesus bears us? We, all of us, are prodigals. He waits for us to come back home. He scans the horizon for us. He’s patient, yet always he looks out in the distance.

When he sees us, he rejoices.

Even though we’ve sinned against him, and against God.

He runs to us, embraces us.

We run to him, too. Broken, hurting, steeped in lies about him and his nature. Lies about ourselves and our potential. Lies about our worth to our maker.

He greets us with scar-padded hands, and a kiss. The scars are from us, for us, and the kiss speaks of our worth to him, our value.

But.

We are all broken in our own way. Otherwise we wouldn’t need saving. Otherwise we wouldn’t need to be healed.

Sometimes it feels like nothing in our lives is fair—as if the things that have happened to us and around us are too terrible to endure. Sometimes they are.

We get bruised, and as I mentioned before, terribly broken.

The thing I noticed about myself eventually is that I needed to be broken before I could be rebuilt. That required the realization that I was, in fact, broken. Hungry and thirsty for righteousness.

All busted up in a way only Christ can heal. Thirsty for righteousness only He can bring.

Which makes me think of Isaiah, 42: 1-4.

“Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged[a]
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.”

I am no bible scholar, but I think this is a near perfect portrait of Jesus, many many years before his birth (of course, the suffering servant depicted in Isaiah 53 details the inevitable fate and terrible devastation and aloneness that awaits him, all on our behalf)

But I feel assured, because in spite of my brokenness—perhaps because of it—the justice spoken of is not the retribution or revenge some might think of. In my opinion, the best revenge is surviving. Healing. Carrying on.

Not letting the bricks thrown through life’s windows shatter anything more than glass.

Because a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

That’s good to know.

Lately I’ve been feeling like a bit of a bruised reed again.

I’ve felt tired, of course. Exhausted in nearly every way. Broken in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. I don’t know if that will ever completely heal before Heaven.

But I think of those familiar few verses, and I find myself comforted indeed.

It’s just that it’s so easy to wander off. We wqnder while we wait for him, never realizing he is already there waiting for us.

It’s easy to stray.

Really easy.

Maybe it’s even normal. Maybe if we didn’t struggle, we would be doing something wrong.

But even more comfort lies ahead, because he’s standing there while we are a long way off, and he’s waiting for us.
Those verses describe the nature of Jesus, and what he has in store for us. He’s the waiting father, scanning the horizon for his lost son, lost daughter.

He’s the gentle hand, caressing our bruises and binding them.

Binding our hearts.

We aren’t too far away.

We aren’t too broken to be healed.

broken-reed

The picture right there? That’s us. That’s me, broken like that reed.

But not without hope.

Let me leave you with that thought, and this song:

Therefore Stay Awake

I know people don’t like to think about–much less talk about–the Book of Revelation. It is difficult to read, and not just because of its many visions and prophecy. Because it’s about a huge checkmate. But I read it tonight, and it made me think about those 21 men–Coptic Christians–in Libya, and the countless others murdered in that area, by those extremists who claim to hold fast to the tenets of Islam.

“9. When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the heavenly altar the souls of those murdered for holding fast to the word of God and their testimony. 10 They cried out in a great, singular voice.

Murder Victims: How much longer, O Lord, the holy One, the true One, until You pronounce judgment on the inhabitants of the earth? Until You avenge our blood?

11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest for a little while longer—soon their number would be complete. In a little while, more of their fellow servants, brothers, and sisters would be murdered as they had been”

Revelation 6:9-11 (The Voice)

I think there’s a couple of reasons why people are so intimidated by Revelation. I am, too. It’s a super intimidating read. It’s complicated, and abstract in many ways. Thematically, it’s challenging as well. I think most of all, though, it’s because it talks about the end of things, and is specific about what’s coming. I know what you’re thinking: he’s gotten all “end-timesy.”

No, I haven’t. But I can see why people would think along those lines. The world is clearly falling apart. It’s not starting here in the U.S. It hasn’t directly touched me or my family. No one in Yuma has been seriously persecuted, or beheaded for their witness or testimony, or faith. No one probably ever will be, not in this little border town.

I think our whole country has been fortunate that way for a long time (I know you’re thinking of 9/11, but I don’t believe that was an attack on anyone for their faith–probably more so for their politics and idealogies, and for trying to bring democracy and governance by the people to places where there are clearly a great many people who don’t want to give up their thrones. Whether or not those more liberal than myself want to admit it, a great big portion of the Middle East is controlled by a radical Islamic oligarchy. It’s just obvious, and true, whether or not people are afraid to say it. There are a lot of Copts in Libya, and they’re in a lot of danger.

What’s all this about tonight? I think we have to start preparing ourselves. Because Mark 13:35 is all kinds of true.

“Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning.” (ESV)

Clearly, I didn’t know any of those men killed Saturday in Libya. But I saw the stills online of the ISIS “fighters” walking them down a beach in Tripoli to their deaths and it made me sick to my stomach. Yet I felt I needed to bear witness somehow to their martyrdom.

So I thought I would watch the video.

I saw the part where they are walked down the beach and made to kneel. I saw the very western-sounding jihadi pointing a knife and threatening to take Rome. I didn’t get much farther than that–only as far as the black-clad murderers throwing the Copts on the sand and preparing to kill them. Right as that happened, you can hear some of the men–perhaps all–crying out something in their language. All at once, just as the knives began their work.

It took a little more research, and some remarks by Pope Francis to learn they were crying out to Jesus. They weren’t delivered on Earth, but I believe they opened their eyes in Heaven. These men knew Earth was not their home.

That’s going to keep happening, I believe. ISIS may be stopped. They could even all be killed. But it won’t really stop anything. Someone could shoot the sun–which rises and falls on the righteous and unrighteous alike–and the end would still eventually come.

I get why nobody likes to talk about that. Who wants to think about it, for that matter? That line of thought could change a person’s life–or at least the way they live their life, and to whom they present their fealty and service.

I am certainly no end times scholar, and do not claim to be. My remarks are from my perspective, though they are prompted by scriptural evidence I believe to be true. I know many many people don’t believe scripture to be literally true, and follow Jesus only in the “spirit” of true faith (pun intended). I felt that way, too.

It’s just becoming more and more clear to me what’s coming. Sometime. Maybe soon, maybe not so soon.

“Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning.”

I would rather live the rest of my alloted days believing the truth of scripture and find out I was wrong than the opposite.

This ISIS stuff–if you look at it carefully regarding scripture–really does make a good case FOR the truth to be found in scripture. I’m not going to exhaustively point out scripture here, but it’s something worth looking into.

I don’t know, man. I don’t have all the answers. But I know where I can go to look for them. Or at least to look for how to deal with what comes.

It may be that eventually, there will be walks down the beach here in the US like there were in Tripoli over the weekend. Maybe for just “regular” people like us. I read the men killed Saturday were just workers (albeit Coptic Christian workers) who’d been kidnapped by ISIS. With the world as it is today, really anything can happen.

“Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning.”

Still image from video shows men purported to be Egyptian Christians held captive by the Islamic State kneeling in front of armed men along a beach said to be near Tripoli

Child

“He is known in the wild as Strider. His true name you must discover for yourself.”

That line is from a scene toward the end of The Battle of Five Armies, the third film in the somewhat bloated Hobbit series. I didn’t expect any great or profound truths to come to me while watching a fantasy movie–I was just simply trying to keep to my night shift sleep pattern while on sick watch over the family.

But. It was exactly 0105 when that elf-to-elf line was uttered, and then something occurred to me.

We don’t learn our true names until we pass from this world and stand before the throne of Christ. I think on that day, he will welcome us, and whisper our true names into our ears and hearts.

Clearly, that is no accident.

We go through our lives with some inkling of who we are. We know our given names, of course. Typically, they’re carefully considered by our parents. My first name, for instance, is after a friend of my father’s. It’s Thomas, as was his, but people called him Tommy. That’s what everyone called me as well, until I was old enough to decide I wanted to be called something else–which I thought sounded more mature (I don’t really care anymore, and nobody calls me Tommy anyway, except my siblings and a few ancient friends online).

But that isn’t my true name. It’s who I am here, not who I am in eternity.

Scripture assures me that I will be one day welcomed into Heaven, provided my name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. I don’t think that name will be Thomas Eugene Wilkins. I have no idea what it is, and in my opinion that doesn’t really matter anyway.

One thing I do know–one thing that matters to me a great deal–is WHO I am to God. Who I have been since that day in March back in 2000.

Until I get to Heaven–until angels carry me to Abraham’s bosom, that is the name I quietly speak to myself in my heart when I want to know who I am to God.

Child.

Hallelujah.

Listen to the words of this amazing song by Todd Agnew–it says close to what I’m trying to, but in a better way than I ever could.

ALL Who Are Weary

My older son hates getting ready for church. Not going to church, or being at church. Getting ready. So much so that occasionally he will throw a giant fit because he doesn’t understand why he needs to get dressed up.

This morning I woke up at 0500 for some reason, and I looked at my phone, of course, because that’s what you do when you wake up. One of my sisters had posted the David Crowder song “Come as You Are” to me on Facebook and mentioned the song being beautiful.

She was right. It is.

That got me thinking about the Gospel, and more importantly, Jesus.

Come as you are.

I think the most beautiful truth about Jesus (in my opinion) that can be found in scripture is that of Matthew 11: 27-28

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In that passage, Jesus doesn’t make any qualifying statements about when you should come.

He doesn’t mention knotting your tie, or wearing a collar.

He doesn’t say anything about being ready, or in the right mindset.

He doesn’t even say you have to believe.

He says come to me, all you who are weary and burdened.

I will give you rest.

In my heart, he sounds something like this:

come to me with your doubt. Come with your loneliness and addiction. Come standing in that sin you just can’t seem to shake. Come mired in the filth of the world with your guilt about all the awful things you’ve done and seen hanging around your neck.

Come to me hurting. Come to me with your wounds still bleeding. With missing limbs. With that chasm down the middle of you that only I can fill. You don’t have to be ready.

Just come as you are.

As the year ends, have you been thinking about what’s missing?

Why 2014 blew so hard you don’t even want to know what 2015 will be like?

If I never write another word, or say another word, I think I would say this to you now.

Consider Jesus.

God.

Consider finding rest for your souls.

You may think Christians are full of shit, and many of them are.

Christ isn’t, I promise you.

You may think your life is too messy, that what you’ve done is too terrible for forgiveness.

It isn’t.

Consider Jesus.

Maybe you’re wondering about God, and yourself, and wondering what to do next.

Consider Jesus. Find a bible. You can get them free in the Kindle store if you have a smart phone.

Talk to someone.

Listen, folks. Maybe some of you will happen across this post and wonder who in the blue hell I am to tell you to do anything?

I’m no one special. I’m a man, like every other man. I’m a person just like you.

I doubt sometimes. I hurt and have been hurt. I am far from perfect. I lust. I hate. I mess up all the time.

But in March of 2000, I was able to literally lay my burdens down and it felt wonderful.

If you want to know more about it, scroll through my blog, or ask me in the comments.

If there’s anything you want to know about Jesus and how to know him from a regular person, I would be happy to answer any question I can without judgment.

If you don’t want to comment here, you can look me up on Facebook and message me. My name is on my blog page.

Talk to someone. Talk to God.

Come as you are.

Don’t wait.

Black People, White People, and Deuteronomy

I saw a YouTube video today from a man—a black man—regarding the “situation” in Missouri following the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown. He made the video back in August, but I think it applies even more now, following the madness of the past two nights. Here’s the video, if you’d like to see it.

I think he’s got some really great points, and though his video is made with African-American people in mind, I think we can all (yes, white people, too) glean some wisdom from it. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean.

You say you want change? Then change!

Deuteronomy 2:3 is mentioned, and I don’t think I’d ever heard that applied to this kind of strife before. It’s perfect. It doesn’t allow for apportioning blame. It just speaks the truth.

Haven’t we gone ‘round this mountain long enough? Turn north!

If you want things to change, change yourself! You need to. I need to. I want to be able to raise my kids and know I’ve done all I can to show them that people should be judged by the “content of their character,” not pigment.

That goes “both,” actually “all” ways.

We are all very different in the way we feel things.

Different in the way we react to things.

Different in our opinions.

Different in our hopes and dreams for ourselves and our families.

But we are also all the same.

We can’t do it on our own. We are not made to be alone, or go through things alone. We were created to be in community with one another.

It isn’t impossible.

But we have to change to make it happen.

Haven’t we gone ‘round this mountain long enough?

Let’s turn North.

I’m Gomer

Let’s talk about Hosea.

Yes, I said that. Not an Old Testament book I’ve read much—or at all, really—beyond hearing a sermon here or there. Nonetheless, I was looking at it over the weekend, and I was surprised by how relevant it seemed to me.

For those unfamiliar with Hosea and his life, he prophesied at a time when the people of Israel were pretty far off from God, and many worshipped idols more than anything else, or other gods, such as Baal.

They had turned away from God.

So Hosea is preaching a very unpopular message, and letting Israel know what awaits should they not turn from their ways and back to God.

But, like people do, they don’t listen.

During this time, God tells Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman—Gomer. Perhaps not a prostitute, but from the little we can tell—not very far off, either. Out of faith to God, Hosea does as commanded.

He marries her, and she bears him children, each symbolic of an aspect of Hosea’s prophecy and God’s word toward the fallen away people of Israel.

They’re in pretty big trouble.

Yet at its essence, Hosea is a story of love. God’s love toward his people of Israel, told symbolically through Hosea’s love for Gomer, and his faithfulness to God.

Eventually, Gomer and Hosea are apart from one another, seemingly due to a divorce. Gomer ends up either selling herself into slavery to pay a debt, or perhaps she is just taken into slavery.

Hosea goes to her, and in essence pays everything he has to get her back—to secure her freedom.

As God gave everything to secure the freedom of Israel, through Jesus Christ.

He obtained our freedom the same way.

I wish I could read that story and think of myself as the ever-faithful Hosea, obeying God and keeping his commands. Always remaining faithful.

Except I am not faithful at all—certainly not as much as I would like to be.

I’m not Hosea at all. I’m Gomer. I look anywhere—everywhere—but where I need to be looking.

So many things become idols. My stuff. Stuff I have, and stuff I want. Places I want to go. People become idols. I don’t look at God or to God at all.

Sometimes I feel I truly have sold myself into slavery, and I need to be rescued. I need my freedom purchased.

I need to be saved from myself.

It’s then I remember this has already been done. It was done a little more than 2,000 years ago, when an itinerant rabbi cried out “It is finished” and died on a roughly hewn cross.

Hosea pleaded for Israel’s repentance. It didn’t come when he wanted it to, and as he prophesied, Israel fell—for many years.

Yet Hosea was faithful.

So many have entreated Jesus for on my behalf—for my freedom and repentance. Or perhaps repentance and freedom would be better said.

Jesus went one better—he died for me.

And came back for me.

When I am feeling like all of my words fall on deaf ears, when it feels like there’s no point in being faithful because no one else is, when it seems like all is lost (and all might even be lost for a time), I need to remember that even when I am at my least faithful, he isn’t going anywhere.

He came back for me.

Represent

There are some issues where I end up struggling with what I know to be right as a follower of Jesus. I know I am supposed to love God, love others, and turn the other cheek, as it were.

Sometimes I honestly can’t really do that.

Not that I have acted in any sort of way, but I think about how I would like to act. That can sometimes be more than a little harshly.

I think of the Jerry Sandusky case from a few years ago, where he was convicted of raping several young boys. He went to prison, but was entirely unrepentant, and denies wrong-doing to this day.

I remember thinking that if I ever came upon someone doing something similar (as an assistant coach did at Penn State), that person would likely need some severe dental and facial reconstruction.

I think I would still do that today.

Now, we have Islamic State (IS) militants (I will not use the word soldier to describe those men), decapitating US reporters with what look to be your average hunting knife. They proudly release video of those men being executed for simply being Americans. First, James Foley, and now the other man shown in Foley’s execution video, Steven Sotloff, was also beheaded. Threatened was a British journalist.

My outrage at these barbarities exists on several levels. As an American, I want our armed forces to sweep down on these animals and wipe them from the face of the earth. Because that is what you do with rabid animals who are a threat to human life.

You put them down.

Except it isn’t that simple, not with Jesus.

I know vengeance is his, and that these men will in due time pay the penalty due their sins. It’s just difficult to see these black-clad cowards spout their rhetoric and murder people and walk away from it.

It does not seem right, not ever.

And I think that is because it isn’t right. But these men don’t follow Jesus. Also, based on what I have heard of Islam, they do not necessarily follow Allah, either.

They exist outside of law (because the shariah law they claim to follow is barbaric horse manure, and not representative of any sort of god), and any traditional morality. They exist outside of humanity, and seem nearly a representation of the demonic rather than anything human.

As a man, and a human being, I want to blow them out of their black “uniforms” and into another dimension.

There is no doubt in my mind they deserve it.

But I think given the opportunity, I don’t know if I would be able to do any such thing. Because of Galatians 2:20.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV)

Nothing in that verse—or any verse I know of—tells me to take revenge for anyone, no matter how unjustly their lives have ended.

If Christ lives in me, then I am no longer capable of killing, whether or not it seems righteous, or justified.

If these men are my enemies—and they sure seem to be—then I am supposed to love them.

How on earth do I do that, when what I really want is the complete opposite?

I think the struggle against what I want vs. what I know to be right will be what ultimately defines me as well as how I represent Jesus to those who do not know him.

I just wish I didn’t have such clear instruction.

Dang it.

Lunar Communion

With everything that’s going on in my life, I forgot until just now there’s an anniversary this weekend. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. Before all you conspiracy nuts try to whack me upside the head, that isn’t why the anniversary is significant to me (I was, after all, just one year old).

I think it would be fair to say many people don’t know about something that happened that day, inside the very tight confines of the lunar lander. They don’t know because what Buzz Aldrin did was not broadcast as the rest of the landing was.

Aldrin paused before Armstrong got ready to head out and asked everyone to simply give thanks in their own way. Here is some actual audio:

Even more significant is what happened next. It moves me incredibly just to think of it. Aldrin pulls the elements for communion from a pocket on his spacesuit, and reads from the scripture before he takes it. All off the net, of course. It moves me because some of the first words spoken on the moon were the words of Jesus Christ, and the first meal taken was in memory of what he did for all of us. Not just Americans, or Christians. Not just white people or black people. Not just US Citizens.

All of us.

Whether or not you believe does not make it any less true. Nor does it make Aldrin’s act any less brave. It just kind of bums me out that even in 1969, political correctness was beginning to rear its ugly head.

Here’s another short clip, from the Earth to the Moon miniseries of a few years ago.

Bionic Dad

Father’s day is coming up once again, and I am understandably thinking about my own father. Every time you turn on the TV, there are Father’s Day commercials. People post them online, and tell you to grab Kleenex before you watch. Inevitably, I will watch, and often end up a little (or a lot) on the misty side. The commercials all show dads doing dad things, and what usually tears me up is that I don’t remember a lot of that with my own dad. This is not to say that it did not happen, only that I don’t remember it.

My father was from a different generation than a lot of my friends parents were, and he was much older. He was 39 when I was born, but he looked and acted much older. The irony there is that he was younger than I was when my little guy was born. Anyway, it seems to me that the generation he came out of was not so…nurturing and…”touchy-feely” as a lot of men–a lot of dads–later became. I don’t remember a single instance of him talking about his feelings, or anyone else’s. It wasn’t his fault–it was just how things were.

So most of the memories I have of feeling nurtured or loved on concern my older sisters. I suppose that is often the role of women in the lives of boys. It certainly was in mine. Consequently, I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my sisters. It made sense to me then, but I have no idea how it made my dad feel that I didn’t want to be around the house much. I never had the opportunity to ask him. Not when I was old enough to understand that my behavior toward him might have been hurtful in some way. He died in 1984, when I was 16. He died before I learned to drive. He didn’t see me graduate. He didn’t usher me off to college (nobody, did, actually. I didn’t start until I was in my 20’s, and I didn’t graduate until this year).

Recently, though, I have been actively trying to remember things, and looking at a lot of pictures, and little snippets of Dad have been coming to me. Rising up in my memory like little slips of paper with things written on them.

Dad sitting in the kitchen with a BB gun, waiting to shoot a mouse.

Dad driving through Jack in the Box to get me pancakes before we went out on his sailboat.

Dad making me rubber band guns in the garage.

Dad taking me and one of my friends to see the first Jaws movie.

Dad finding me when I got lost at the swap meet once.

Dad taking a washer or dryer in his arms and wrestling it out of the back of his pickup.

Dad seeing a swear word on a rock at the bay and draping a towel over it so my mom wouldn’t have to see it.

Dad teaching me how to pull the guts out of fish.

He didn’t often–possibly ever, that I can remember–tell me he loved me, but he sure showed me an awful lot.

I remember listening to him getting ready for work and drinking coffee and talking with my mom. I would go out to the kitchen and say goodbye. We would do that whole “see you later, alligator” thing, and I loved it.

So there was a lot of good there, I just needed to go looking for it. There’s much more than the things I shared above, but I’m keeping them just for me.

I wonder what I would say to him given the opportunity?

I think I would certainly tell him that I loved him. Part of me would have wanted him to be different, but an even bigger part would have wanted me to be different. I suppose I was just being a typical adolescent and teenager, but that doesn’t excuse anything. Of course, had I known he only had a few short years left, I would have perhaps tried to do things differently. I didn’t know, and consequently I wasn’t the person I would have wanted to be.

I can’t live in the past, though when days come around like Father’s Day and Mother’s day I think to regret a few things.

What I do know is that I don’t want my own kids to wonder about me later on in their own lives, so that means I need to be a better and more significant part of their lives now. My generation is touchy-feely, and I need to get off my ass and touch and feel (in a non-creeperish sort of way, of course).

So as you might have guessed, I’m feeling pretty sentimental right now. I haven’t seen my kids or my wife in almost two weeks, and it is weighing on me something terrible. I hope the conviction I’m feeling now does not leave me, but stays burning in my heart.

I want very badly to be a good dad.

To that end, I know that some things need to happen. I need to depend more deeply on God, and not on myself and my own understanding. I need to turn to God, and trust him more (I don’t think we can ever do that enough). I need to stop thinking so much about what was lost and think about what is–thanks to His provenient Grace–yet to come. I need to think about God’s promise, given in Joel 2:25 to “repay the years the locusts have eaten.”

Absolutely no credit to myself, but I feel like things are looking up in that regard. Over the past week, all of my siblings, finally, are in touch. Yes, it is via social networking, but that is a very big something for us, and I feel that more good is to come.

There are only a few weeks left in this program, and then I will be home. And I can begin to do things like seek his truth for my life in scripture–along with my kids. They need to see that is important to me, and I need to show them.

I can’t turn back any clocks, and I don’t think I would want to if I could. What I can do is my best to be different.

Better, stronger, faster (ok, no, I’m not bionic, but I’ve always wanted to be. I liked that noise it would make when he did bionic stuff on the show–sort of a ch-ch-ch-ch kind of thing).

So there I go again. Out of place humor.

bionic