Archive for April, 2008
It’s true. Repair men love me, at least the ones who charge by the hour. Any one hour repair job can become a four hour job at my house. The reason is always the same: before I call the repair experts, I fix it myself. So the one hour job is now complicated by the two hours of work to undo my repair.
By now you may think I am an idiot. My wife would sometimes agree. Why waste so much time and effort on what is obviously a doomed attempt to fix something myself. I really have no expertise to apply to most of my do it yourself efforts. The manufacturer obviously has specifications and procedures for their product. You would think my track record would even discourage me from future efforts.
So why do I keep attempting to repair appliances, cars, and house problems myself? Am I too proud, too stubborn, or too ignorant? Maybe I just like the idea of being in control. I know it will not turn out well, but I do it anyway. It will be time consuming, expensive, frustrating, and stressful.
Maybe this is a metaphor for life. Why are so compelled to try to fix things in our life by ourselves? Most of us have a track record that proves we do not do well when we are in charge. So many things are out of our control anyway. Yet we persist in believing we can fix things. We do it as mates, parents, and friends.
There is someone who can repair broken lives. God made us and he knows how we work best. He even gave us a repair manual that explains our relationship with him. He knows what he is doing. I have seen the results in my life and in others. And I have seen the results of our efforts to fix things.
I don’t know everything that is wrong in your life, but I do know who can fix it. What do you think? Does God repair broken lives and broken relationships?
I live in Texas in the northern hemisphere. Here, springtime is just beginning. For fifteen years of my life, I lived in Argentina in the southern hemisphere where at this time of the year they are moving into autumn. It takes time to become used to the differences. For example, when people in the United States want to talk about something that is extremely unlikely, they say, “It’ll be a cold day in July before that happens.” To which many of our southern hemisphere friends reply, “Most July days are cold.”
It’s my experience that all of life is this way. While some people are living in the sunshine, others are living in moments of darkness. I have a vivid memory of the night that my son was born. At the hospital, I was in the lobby using a pay phone to tell my in-laws the news that a delivery was imminent. (This was in the dark ages, in the 1990s, when people didn’t carry cell phones.) As I shared with them this message of joy, a family burst onto the scene, obviously distraught. One of the young men picked up a large piece of furniture and started to hurl it across the room before someone stopped him. It was a scene of grief that stood in stark contrast with the joyful moments that I was living. That’s how life is. Some rejoice while others weep. Some receive while others lose.
Just as the earth moves and the seasons change, so sorrow and joy ebb and flow throughout all of humanity. If we live long enough, we will have moments of great happiness and we will have moments of great hurt. Our circumstances will change from year to year and even from day to day. Some of us will experience more suffering than others, yet we all will pass through those hard times.
I want to invite you to watch some of the videos on our website, HopeForLife.org. These videos tell of people who faced moments of pain and loss, hard times and difficult days, yet who came through it all with hope. They did so not because of their own specialness, but because of the God who saw them through those times with an unending hope. Along with the videos, you can read articles that speak of hope and how to find it.
If you’re in a moment of pain, I hope you’ll take the time to hear some words of hope. If you are living through a good time, I hope you’ll take the time to prepare yourself for the not-so-good times. As always, I’d love to hear from you.
Remington is my Golden Retriever, and we have a good life together. I know it sounds odd to some of you, but we really have a good relationship. I take care of him. I have since he was a puppy. I provide shelter, food, and watch out for him in ways he does not even understand. I really do love him. I look forward to seeing him when I come home and I enjoy being around him.
I also should confess that I like the way he treats me. He adores me. I can see it in his eyes. I can do no wrong. He completely trusts in the fact that I will take care of him and do what is best for him. He is so excited to see me when I get home. His tail wags so hard he shakes all over. Sometimes he even has to bark just to let me know how happy he is.
Remington is completely devoted to me. By extension, he is completely devoted to my wife, to my grandkids, and to anyone I let in the house. He is protective of our house. He even warns the birds and squirrels to stay away. He would do anything I ask him to do. He would die for me.
I know he is not my equal. He cannot even think on my level. I doubt he understands why he has to stay in a backyard. Yet he minds me. He is not a perfect dog. Sometimes he needs a little correction and a little discipline. But he is my dog, and I love him.
It occurs to me that Remington has helped me understand my relationship with God. I am Remington and God is my master. He takes care of me, provides for me, disciplines me for my good, and loves me unconditionally. He is so far superior to me that I do not even recognize it sometimes.
And I can learn from Remington how to treat my Master: with love, adoration, obedience, and trust.
It is a dog’s life, and I would say that Remington and I both have it better than we deserve.
So what lessons about God have you learned from your dog? Or what lesson would you like to learn?
It was Sunday, March 9, 2008. Steve Ridgell and I had traveled with Herald of Truth Ministries to the island of Cuba. We were speaking at a church service in the town of Matanzas. I used the text that I had chosen beforehand, Mark 2:1-12. The first part of the text seemed very appropriate. Verse 2 says, “So many gathered that there was no room left.” We were speaking to a group of well over 400 people when there were only seats for about 300. However, I was a bit uncomfortable with other parts of the text. As I read about Jesus healing this paralyzed man, I was acutely aware of the people in wheelchairs at the back of the audience. I couldn’t help but wonder how they felt. Like other times when I’ve spoken on this passage, I talked about how Jesus put more emphasis on forgiving the man’s sins than He did on healing his handicap. I explained that our physical needs can’t begin to compare with our spiritual needs. As I preached, I couldn’t help but wonder how my words were being received by these people whose physical needs were obviously great.
After the sermon, one of the local members invited any who needed to respond to the message to do so. Nine people came forward to be baptized into Christ. One especially caught my eye. She was one of the people in wheelchairs being wheeled forward by one of her friends, much like the paralyzed man in the story had been helped by his friends. This woman was connected to an IV bag. She was in the wheelchair because she only had one leg. It was obvious that she had major physical needs.
She was the first to be baptized. I stood in the water, and someone handed her to me. She professed her faith in Jesus, then I immersed her. When she came out of the water, no one looked at her leg. Instead, all eyes were drawn to her face. Seldom had any of us seen such joy, such pure and unrestrained joy. She was still unable to walk. She was still a sick woman. But her sins had been forgiven. My sermon about the importance of the forgiveness of sins versus physical healing was probably soon forgotten. But her sermon will long be remembered, even though it was preached without words. She knew. She understood. Her physical infirmities remained, but she had been healed in the way that mattered.
We all need spiritual healing, healing of the heart and soul. Let us know in what ways you need God’s healing.
Grace and peace,