My early risings, this morning at 4:00, are always wonderful opportunities to spend personal time processing the things that matter; before I get into my hurried workday. My best decisions are made during these times, rather than blowing into a day with a late start and making decisions in the middle of the fray!
This morning at every turn, seemed to provide contrast for the easily understood story of my faith. In fact as I sat at my desk, I was struck by the stories behind the three objects that lay before me. A cell phone, a Bible and a book entitled “We Are What We Were”.
The cell phone provides a plethora of access points to my community from direct access with my dear family, to the numerous “peeps” of which my family often jokes as to how many of those “friends” I really know! That’s not my point. Facebook, now read daily by three times more Americans than read the Bible, provides a diverse community with whom I love to interact; and, in my case a sampling of the globe. For real and, thus my family’s jesting.
This morning as I knelt to pray in an area of my basement endeared to me by previous moments with God, my eye caught a long shelved book, a gift tucked away, unlikely to be read more than once. Are we really what we were, as expressed in this book by local Davidson County author, Gene Younts. “We Are What We Are is a reminder that our personal traits reflect the total of life’s experiences and characteristics inherited from our forebears. Everything we have lived, breathed, and touched has made us what we are today— our schooling, interactions with people, work experiences, places we have visited, friends made, games played, religious training, and events in the state, nation, and world at large.” 1
I find lots of truth in that statement, and lots of limitations.
Of course, my primary stop this morning was in the Word, the Bible, which incidentally was preceded by a somewhat legalistic but merited caution from a “peep” about spending more time on Facebook than studying the Word. Perhaps this was his recoil to headlines in today’s paper, referenced above, celebrating ten years since a Harvard sophomore named Mark Zuckerberg first created his website, Thefacebook.com. Who knows, this could prove to be an invention equal to the Gutenberg Press, if people of faith so chose to use it? Just sayin’!
I actually have given over 40 years to studying the Word, but with each year it becomes more difficult to simply read mechanically, as we might be prone to do in our daily devotionals? This morning for instance, as I read from the twenty-ninth chapter of Exodus regarding the consecration of the Priests (Aaron and his two sons) my spirit seemed distracted by all this tedium around consecration. Then I wondered, might all this have been unnecessary had Moses listened to the I Am at the burning bush?
Rather than trusting God to do what he promised before Pharaoh, we find Moses imploring God to send someone else, eventually negotiating for a partner in Aaron, a decision that would tax his journey from that day forward.
For those Christians, fearful of being jarred off course by my thoughts, I respect the fact that God had a plan for the redemption of mankind, long before Moses and even before Abraham. In fact, the three sons of Noah represent the three major religions that God has been in pursuit of up unto this very day!
I believe that much of that plan, the demonstration of His love at Calvary, is foreshadowed by the requirements and sacrifices captured within the Old Testament. I just have to wonder what would happened if mankind had just loved God and each other, rather than requiring of Him such a degree rigor to bring us to obedience? Some will now challenge me on the necessity of righteousness when approaching God. Okay but, Christ became my righteousness, that was then and this is now. Just being transparent.
Then there was the statement from Jill Carattini’s A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries: “Rather than crafting for themselves stories that add to the cold sea of hatred and despair which devastated them, Robi and Ali tell of the common grief that cracks the frozen wall between them. They are now a part of a growing network of survivors on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict who share their sorrow, stories of loved ones, and ideas for lasting change. ‘It’s the shared pain that allows you to open to another place completely,” says Robi. “If you want to be right it’s very easy,” adds Ali. “But to be honest is very difficult. Being honest means to be human.’”2
Being a truth-teller, going deeper each day toward truth, doesn’t sit well in a world that demands that every word be challenged against a set of norms that ironically vary with each political party, wings within those parties, and individual religious bents with pluralistic variants within each.
Where is the place to be real, to be honest, even, to hurt out of love for your fellow man?
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”3
1) We Are What We Were, Younts, Stratford Press, Athens,Ga. 2006.
2) Robi Damelin and Ali Abu Awwad with Krista Tippett “No More Taking Sides,” Speaking of Faith, February 18, 2010. Quote taken from Story and Ice, http://www.rzim.org/, 2/5/14.