Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Faith in the rainroom

This art installation offered people the opportunity to walk in the rain and not get wet. It must have been an eerie experience. Your senses of sight, smell, and hearing would have registered “wet” but your sense of touch would have denied the fact.

The installation worked with a special camera that saw the shape of individuals and turned off water sprinklers above them. Each individual would see and sense rain all around, but would stay dry.

I love this example because it is a mix of science, art, and experience. I also love it because I see it as a metaphor for my faith life. 

I want to go through life seeing and experiencing everything – but I don’t want to get wet, or hurt, or tired, or discouraged. I want God to protect me from all of that.

But God uses the wet, the pain, the weariness, and the sadness to teach and shape me. If I were to go through life without pain, I would stay the same. I would never grow. I would come to the false assumption that I did not need a Savior because I had no need of comfort.

Life has pain and weariness. Life is not fair or just. Life is life and I live what happens, feel what invades my heart, and learn the lessons in spite of me rather than because of me.

The rain helps me to feel the joy of being warm and dry. The rain reminds me that I am open to the dangers of the world and in need of protection. The rain, in its own way, teaches me to live and trust God.

God does protect me. He surrounds me with His love. He nurtures my faith in Him. He brings good out of my rain and uses me to reach out to others. The rain in my life does not come back to God empty. 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it
. Isaiah 55: 8-11

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Showing Mercy

Mercy is a challenge to receive and a challenge to give.

As humans, we are not built for the likes of mercy. We do not seem to be able to comprehend a gift with no strings attached, with no merit, given to people who decidedly do not deserve it
But that’s mercy for you.

Check out this clip of two basketball teams in Texas. One team is made up of boys from a private school. We can assume these young men work hard and their school to keep their grades up, to keep their record clean, to practice their basketball skills. When their schoolmates, teachers, and parents cheer for them, it is easy to assume they deserve it.

But, what about the opposing team? This team is made up- of boys who are in a detention center because they have been convicted of a felony. They do not deserve praise. Our justice system has determined that they deserve punishment.

Then mercy steps in where we think it doesn’t belong. Mercy in the form of a couple of young men bothered by the fact that the detention center team has no one to cheer for them. The end result is priceless as the crowd enthusiastically cheers for the team that deserves only punishment.

The young men in the detention center know why they are there and why they deserve punishment. It seems, from their comments, that perhaps they have experienced precious little mercy in their young lives.

Punishment is a powerful tool used to shape behavior. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. As I explain to college students preparing for teaching, some children are more motivated by their anger, their fear, or their need to control than they are by a punishment or a reward. Punishment alone is not likely to be effective in making a change in behavior.

Everyone needs mercy. Everyone needs to feel loved and forgiven. We receive mercy on a daily basis from a Heavenly Father who is perfect and has the right to hold us accountable for our imperfection.

May He bless us not only with His perfect mercy, but with the wisdom to share that mercy with others – especially the ones who need it most.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever. Psalm 23

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Wheat Ridge Ministries

Wheat Ridge Ministries is a wonderful organization that has as its goal the support of health and human care ministries. I was recently asked to join their weekly devotion team. Please check out their website.

Here is the devotion I wrote for them.