Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Two-and-a-Half Seconds of Glory

The best read of my summer has been Crazy Love, by Francis Chan and Danae Yankoski. (see The book gave me a unique perspective on the brevity and importance of a life well-lived. I highly recommend it for a challenging, uncomfortable look at life and your relationship with God.

The authors describe what they call “the movie of life,” where God is the main character and the plot line follows the history of redemption from man’s fall to Christ’s victory over death and sin. They describe a hypothetical situation where you are invited to play a role as an extra in a film, remembering that our brief life on earth is a part of the bigger story of history woven by God. Good stuff!

The illustration reminded me of a friend who landed a role as an extra in X-Men III: The Last Stand. He shows up in three scenes: twice as one of the hundreds of soldiers that turn their backs and flee for their lives, and once in a close-up shot as the two principle characters pause for a 2-1/2 second conversation in a crowd. He’s the soldier who casts a glance in their direction as they continue on their way.

If you hear my friend talk you’d think he was the star of the show. He describes the film, the action, and everything from the perspective of an insider. People who talk to him find it hard to believe that his name does not show up in the credits. He’s hoping that the exposure in this film might land him a future role; perhaps something that might require a brief speaking part – like the cop that says, “hey, stop!” in the scene just before his stunning performance.

I don’t want to mock my friend (his name has been left out to protect the innocent), but I thought of him as I read Crazy Love. We all have a tendency to think that all of life – even our relationship to God – is about us. It’s not. In the light of eternity and God’s story of redemptive history, we’re lucky to get 2-1/2 seconds of glory (Chan suggests that it’s more like two-fifths-of-a-second).

And yet, we’re important to God. We were created “to do good works which God prepared on advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). We’re told that God knows our name and the circumstances of our life (Isaiah 43:1-2). The psalmist speaks of God’s omniscience, knowing when we sit or stand, and hearing our spoken words before they come off our lips (Psalm 139 – read it all!).

How can it be that my life, which in so many ways is a vapour that’s here today and gone tomorrow, can be significant to Almighty, Eternal God? Why would God send His Son to die to redeem me? I don’t have the answers for those questions, and it’s only through revelation in God’s Word that we come to understand these attributes of God. What I do know is that I want to live my 2-1/2 seconds for His glory!

Think on these things.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tearing Down the Wall

August 13, 1961 is a significant day in world history. Fidel Castro celebrated his 35th birthday and the East German government closed their border as they began the construction on the famed Berlin Wall. The wall was built to stem the tide of refugees fleeing to freedom, while it officially kept out the “evils of the Western world.” It stood as a sentinel that reinforced the power of a military regime marked by oppression and forced compliance. Stories of brave and daring escapes over, under and through the wall would mark the next 28 years of Cold War history. August 13, 1961 was also the day I was born.

The Berlin Wall became a symbol of conflict in the world: the struggle for Western Democracy against Communist oppression, personal independence versus tight controls, unlimited freedom or a system that squashed expressions of individualism, and the fight between good and evil. Those who faced the wall in the 1960s and 1970s could never imagine the scenes of the Wall coming down in 1989; it was only a dream that most thought they would never see.

David – the man with a heart after God – also faced numerous walls in his life. He lived many years with the promise of future kingship, while he lived as a fugitive and hunted man. In one of the dark moments when he struggled with who he knew God wanted him to be, facing the persecution of Saul as he stalked him like a wild animal, he wrote Psalm 18. (Check it out!) The Psalm is an interesting journey that tracks David’s life from praise to despair, only to return back to praise.

Psalm 18:29 is one of my favourite verses: “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.”

On November 9th, 2009, a celebration will be held to commemorate 20 years since the Berlin Wall was dismantled. My tiny German Grandmother prayed for and saw this day happen in her lifetime, reinforcing the thought that with God, nothing is impossible. With God we can scale a wall.

What are the walls that I am facing today? Some of them are yet unfulfilled dreams for my family and for my life. Some are the obstacles as I face the daily task of leading a ministry and surviving the current economic downturn. None of them are insurmountable when I stop to reflect that my God is with me and knows the challenges that I face.

What are the obstacles that seem untouchable and insurmountable in your life? Each one of us faces situations when we sense the need for assurance that “with my God I can scale a wall.” Taking down or overcoming the challenges we face may take time, and may occur differently than we envision, but God’s Word enables us to be of good courage, even when we face a wall.

Stay tuned for my weekly posts and ramblings.