Do You Want to See?

This morning I read the above in “Our Daily Bread,” which is part of…my daily bread I guess. Verses 41 and 42 in particular struck a chord with me.

Isn’t v41 something Jesus asks of us all?

What do you want me to do for you?

What did I want him to do for me?

It makes me think of the below scene from “The Matrix,” when Neo has to choose between real knowledge and intentional ignorance.

I think that’s what I wanted. I wanted to see, and I wanted to know.

The world and my part in it never made a lot of sense to me before coming to faith.

Could life really be that random?

Lord, I want to see.

My gift of sight came at the edge of the Colorado river, looking across to Arizona.

It’s not really as simple as taking a big red DayQuil of course.

But our faith does grant us sight, and helps us to discover the intentionality to life that was always there.

Do you want that?

Do you want to see?

Because once you take the red pill, you can’t be blind again.

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Reality

Right now I’m sitting in my truck at work and looking across the desert toward the low mountains I see to the south. I’d take a picture, but there’s a large tactical object blocking my view, so that’s out.

Anyway, my sister posted something on social media today that reminded me today was my mom’s birthday and I’d completely forgotten.

Granted, she’s been gone since the late 80’s, but still…

I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s surprising to think about the fact that I had a life beyond my present one. That’s weird, right? Of course I did.

I was born in San Diego, California. I spent most of my life there in the East county. 92071, to be more precise.

My dad had a work bench in the garage that was all beaten up, but still had a vise on the end of it. He was a pretty tough old bastard–I once saw him unload a washer or dryer or something from a truck by himself. On the day he had a heart attack, he drove himself to the hospital. I wish I had more of his toughness.

My mom loved country music, and dancing, and her kids and grandkids. They loved her too. One of my few regrets is that she didn’t get to meet my two monkeys, or see me get either of my degrees. I’m grateful that we’ll have eternity to recap things. Still, I wish I had more of her heart, and love for people.

I once lived less than a mile from Patrick Henry High school, and hung out with the most amazing group of people who changed my life utterly–I just saw one of them for my 50th, along with my sister and niece.

So life is different now, but still amazing. Every day, I take inventory of the blessings in my life before I leave for work.

The beautiful shield-maiden I sleep next to, and the talented young men down the hall who bear my blood, my heart, and my name.

So what if a few details slip through my old Swiss cheese brain.

If I checked out today, I can’t imagine being any more grateful for what God and the fine state of Arizona has brought into my life.

My reality may be different than it was in California, but it’s good. Better, even.

Sometimes Wait

People often say when you ask God a question, or make a request for his provision there are a few possible answers you receive: yes, no, or sometimes wait.

Let me just say that is absolutely true. Allow me to explain why.

I met a person 18 years ago that came complete with a whole bunch of luggage. Over a year or so, I became convinced she was the person for me. I interceded daily on her behalf, and the thought I had in mind was that my romantic life had thus far been a disaster, and I was due for something to work.

I made plenty of petitions before God, but I never asked if the situation at hand was what the Lord wanted for my life. I imagine if I had he would have given me a straight no and my life would have been a lot easier in the years ahead.

I think I knew this on some level, and that was why I didn’t ask.

The result was what you would expect; things worked for a little while and then they crashed like a plane with an empty fuel tank.

It would have been a great time to lay the situation before the throne, but I didn’t do that, and tried to work things out on my own, which, as before, was a disaster. The result was that I retreated from God, and ceased to stick my neck out in any real way that had even the potential for romantic entanglements.

That lasted for about 5 years, until I began to realize I did want that for my life, and God did too.

This time I went about things a little differently, and consulted a few dating sites geared toward Christian singles. I hoped for a quick success story since I felt I was getting at things properly this time.

And the answer, as you might expect, was not yet.

And then one day I said the heck with it and decided to take a vacation with a couple friends. Just before we left I received a brief message from a woman I didn’t know courtesy of MySpace, but I disregarded it after a cursory glance, because she lived in Arizona.

On the vacation I journaled quite a bit, and one day just told God that love was something I wanted for my life, but if he wanted it for my life, he’d have to make it really clear to me, because I didn’t have it in me to try anymore. Whatever his will for my life turned out to be was going to be ok with me.

I went home a day or two later and checked my email and social media again. The message from the girl in Arizona was still there, and I read it and answered it.

That was 10 years ago this August. By the grace of God, I married that girl 9 years ago tomorrow, and I’m sitting on an aluminum bench in Arizona as I write this on my phone. I’m grateful for God’s provision over my life, and I thank him daily for his blessings, which finally began to bloom in my life when his will became paramount over mine.

I’ve learned that seeking his will in the first place is usually the best thing in the end.

But sometimes the answer is wait, even if it takes years. And it is absolutely worth it.

Allow me to explain why.

This is Me

I took this selfie about a minute ago.

Just woke up after a week of nights at work. I’m still a little groggy, and I have more bags than a Samsonite store. That’s ok.

I’m a few short days away from 50 and I’m not at my best. Certainly not the person I could or should be. That’s ok, too.

Want to know why?

Because the maker of heaven and earth loves me that way, wrinkles, bags, imperfections, doubts, fears and all.

He loves me as I am, and not as I should be.

It’s the same for you, or it can be.

He doesn’t say come to me with your act together. He doesn’t say come to me without wrinkles and bags.

He doesn’t say come healthy, without addiction and free of sin.

He just says come to me.

It sounds pretty specific to me. Won’t you just drop every heavy thing and come?

Fortunate Son

As my birthday nears for the 50th time, I think more and more that I’ve been very lucky and very blessed over the course of my life.

Of course, there have been times that were difficult and a scattered handful of regrets, but time has also brought me the realization that changing even a single part of it would likely mean I wouldn’t be here this morning.

I wouldn’t be sitting in this chair and watching my dogs run around in the backyard of my own home. My lovely wife wouldn’t be sleeping in my bedroom, and my two boys wouldn’t even be a thought.

So even though I haven’t seen my parents in more than 30 years, I’m grateful for the little parts of them that live on in me. It’s true that life chews up the years–or at least has in my life.

It’s worth it, though.

One of my favorite bible verses of all time is a relatively obscure sentence from Joel, chapter 2.

“I will repay the years the locust has eaten.” (Joel 2:25)

Every hard second of my life has been worth it.

They collectively brought me to a patio in Arizona, a few short days from 50.

I love my life, and once again the thought crosses my mind that God is good. If you never read another word I write or have written in the past read that one:

God is good.

And he will repay the years the locust has eaten.

Foxes at the Tower

Today, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time thinking about Romans 8:28. You know the verse. You’ve probably heard it quite a bit from your pastor. I know I have.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I’ve been thinking about it because I never would have thought God would use what amounted to a nervous breakdown and a large cut in pay for good. Not that he couldn’t do it, I just didn’t think it would shake out like that.

It’s true my previous job function was very stressful, and that stress manifested itself very strongly through a series of very intense expressions of emotional…uh, energy. More like reactions, I guess–that resulted in a long medical vacation while I got my wits about me once more.

I’ve been fortunate at the opportunity to transfer laterally within the company (which is a very good one) into another position that I am perhaps more suited for, to a section with much less stress. I’m no longer in an isolated position and little opportunity for social interaction, either, but am working closely with a friend, and for another couple of friends, one of whom is the worship leader at my church.

My breakdown was ugly, and lots of people were around to witness it on a couple of occasions–one of which was at church. Yet God was faithful, and saw my hurt–even more importantly, my need.

So while I wouldn’t have chosen what happened, I see that God used it for my good.

I believe God used my brokenness to reveal something else within me, and to bring new healing to my life. I won’t complain about that at all.

For now, at least, I look out a dirty window every morning while the sun comes up instead of at a wall. I do my daily reading literally watching the sun rise over the desert. And this morning, there were a couple of tiny kit foxes watching me do it through the open door of my little shack.

That’s worth a pay cut in my book.

It’s Different Now

Sitting at McDonald’s and watching my son play with a bunch of kids. I remember those days, although when I was a kid, they didn’t have these giant play areas. We just brought in rocks from outside to play with. Or maybe dead rodents if we were one of the lucky ones.

And we liked it.

On a side note, I think Dante wrote “The Inferno” in a McDonald’s play area.