waiting on the Lord

To WAIT ON THE LORD is not like waiting for the tide (it just basically has to come to you, doesn't it?), and to WAIT ON THE LORD is not like waiting for your ride to show up (they may never come at all). 

To WAIT ON THE LORD is like waiting for a person --- a wise and loving person who never forgets --- is like waiting on a promise that is not obligated out of gravity but out of everlasting kindness --- is like waiting on a kindness that cannot lie. 

So we will never be put to shame. 

No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame. 

psalm 25:3

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  Romans 5:2b-5

The Hugs Really Are Free

robertphotographics.com

Today we went out onto the streets of Chicago to give free hugs to strangers. We were stationed next to a train stop, and a tall fellow with tie-dyed hair and a long trench coat in praise of John Lennon stepped through the doors and lit up at the sight of our "FREE HUGS" sign. He hugged us all at least once. And on his second time through, he asked, "What's this for? Why are you guys doing this?" It was only 7 words into the explanation that he heard the word "God" and his countenance changed. He said, "God?" and took one step back. He bummed a cigarette off the girl at the bus stop, then hung out with one beer in his hand, leaning up against a post like he was waiting for someone. We were 30 feet from him giving hugs away, embracing strangers to acknowledge their humanity and give them personal contact.

Acknowledgement. Contact. Affirmation. Love.

For free.

But this guy was talking cynically to the CTA attendant sweeping up trash. "Yeah, they give the hugs away for free now, but they take you to church and make you pay later." The man with the broom shook his head and gave a slow, "Yeahhh," as if this had happened to everybody.

I walked to the corner, trying to get Joshua's attention across the street, to tell him that we had to head back. I turned around and there again was this same fellow with the blond and orange hair dressed in a trench coat. His said his name was Max. He motioned to two guys next to him and asked me,

"Do you wanna forsake Jesus and get f***ed up with me and my friends?"

"No," I told him. "I'm in it to win it," I said with a laugh.

But my heart wanted to say,

If you knew what He has done for me, you would know why I cannot forsake Him. And if you knew Jesus, you wouldn't want to leave Him, either. 

A crowd from the crosswalk pressed in to our corner and the three of them were leaving, but Max had a question first: "What does God think about pot?" His friend was lighting a joint as I was passing out hugs. "What's God's judgment about pot, huh?" He looked above me, past me, looking at the others with an air of challenge. "What does God think about pot?"

I caught his eyes and told him, "God has something to say about pot, but He cares more about other things, like love, mercy, and justice."

Like a Bat in the Kingdom of Men

But we see Jesus, 

  who was made a little lower than the angels

     for the suffering of death, 

crowned with glory and honor

that, apart from God, 

  he should taste death for everyone.*

…Christ Jesus, who

  being in very nature God, 

did not consider equality with God

  something to be held onto;

rather, he made himself nothing, 

   taking on the very nature of a servant, 

      being made in human likeness. 

   And being found in appearance as a man, 

      he humbled himself,

          becoming obedient to death,

              even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place…**

We ourselves are creatures longing always for glory and exaltation. When we receive the promises of God, we receive their glory: eternal rest, neverending day, ceaseless joy. We grasp the hand of God in faith that we may be pulled up to higher planes. We are climbing Jacob's ladder, up, up, up. We envision ourselves as swallows, flying higher and still higher out of darkness and into glory---where we belong.

But we see the crucified demonstration of Godness is expressed in words like

Nothingness, Deadness, Apartness, Lowness.

Sin flipped the world, and into that inverted darkness came the Son of God, swooping down like a bat, that upside down creature for whom up is down and down is up. The end of a bat's journey is hanging upside down in darkness.

He placed himself as a sinner among sinners.
He placed himself fully under the judgment under which the world stands.
He placed himself there where God can only be present as a questioning after God.
At his highest, at the goal of his journey, He is a purely negative entity:
  by no means a genius, by no means one of occult psychic power,
  by no means a hero, leader, poet, or thinker: and precisely in this negation
("my God, my God, why have You forsaken me?")...***

Christ was nailed to a cross. His head was toward heaven and his feet were toward earth, but as he hung there, everything was upside down. Glory was ignominy, shame was exaltation, forsakeness was redemption, separation was reconciliation, lastness was firstness, lowness was highness. He hung like a bat in the kingdom of men.

midnight moon

*Hebrews 2:9

**Philippians 2:5-9

***Karl Barth, "Der Romerbrief," (Rom 3:22)

"God, have mercy on me": a page from my journal

To some who were confident of their own rightness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:

"Two people went into a chapel to pray: one, Kessia Reyne Bennett, an educated Adventist pastor and theologian; and the other, well, not. Kessia Reyne stood up and prayed about herself: '

God, I thank You that I am not like other people---Sunday-keepers, pork-eaters, evolution-believers---or even like this "Evangelical." I understand Daniel 7 and I affirm sola scriptura.' 

But the other person stood in the back. He wouldn't even look up to heaven, but he lowered his head and said, '

God, have mercy on me and be my Teacher.' 

I tell you that this man, not Kessia Reyne, went home justified by God and accompanied by His Spirit. For everyone who humbles himself will be exalted, and everyone who exalts himself will be humbled."

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, as He spoke it to me]

Jesus, I don't feel very righteous... but a lot of times I do feel pretty "right" and see all the ways that others have got it wrong. Theological correctness can make us look down on everyone else. I don't want to be like that, God! I'm sorry for the us-them mindset I've had, my judgmentalism. I know I've thought I could judge someone's relationship or standing with You based on how their theology compared to mine. Yes, it IS important to have right theology, but I want to be "right" without being smug or suspicious, and I don't want to be right in the wrong way! I want to be teachable, generous in spirit, and humble before Your unsearchable Spirit... God, have mercy on me and be my Teacher.