One Size Fits Most and Other Lies

One Size Fits MostMatthew 11:30: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

There are a number of statements that most people refuse to believe. One is “the check is in the mail.” Another is “I’m from the government (central office, corporate) and I’m here to help,” and a third is “One size fits all.”
There’s simply no way one size of anything could fit everyone unless circus tents suddenly become a hot fashion item. But take the plausible example of hats. Unless you buy a fairly expensive hat in a particular size, you’ll find out that not only does one size not fit all, it doesn’t even fit most.

Take my head. Please. I have a large head; I know it, and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m not proud of it, either, but we won’t talk about that right now. I have to be careful who I sit in front of, but what this means primarily is that I have trouble finding hats that don’t look like a cloud perched on top of Old Smokey. They just look ridiculous.

But I don’t have it half as bad as people up until 1818 and after in this country. They wore shoes that were the same for their right and left feet. They were called “straight shoes” and they came in two widths, slim and stout. The idea was that the wearer would shape the shoe with his or her feet. I think it’s a heck of a way to break in a shoe, and not everyone could afford them. Most soldiers in the Civil War wore straight shoes.

My question is, why did it take everyone so long to recognize that our left and right feet are different and therefore need different shoes? I suppose they were worrying about other things, and not only did the straight shoe persist past a reasonable time, in Europe it wasn’t until the eighteenth century that women’s shoes were different from men’s. Now that’s a big omission. Of course, what seems obvious in retrospect obviously isn’t, or someone would have fixed the problem and made a lot of money.

Spiritually, I believe that God does not fit us with straight shoes or try to make one size fit all, although God could do this if God wanted to. When Jesus told his listeners, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light,” he was speaking of a comfortable yoke for animals that fit well and did not abrade or rub the animal. That situation is similar to craftspeople who make prostheses for amputees that are easy to wear. That makes all the difference in the world, as you know if you’ve tried to wear a pair of shoes that don’t fit.

But God knows us better than we know ourselves, and God’s plans for us and the tasks God has for us are a perfect fit every time.

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Saving Words

Words

Romans 5:6: While we were yet sinners we were being saved by Christ Jesus.

I don’t know if you think about the English language a lot. I think most people don’t—they’re like fish in water—they’re so immersed in it they don’t notice it’s there, like the character in a Moliere play who was surprised to learn that he spoke prose. And the play is in verse. Clever fellow, that Moliere. Anyhow, I’d say that most people are not aware of language except for linguists, English majors and good looking intelligent people like those in choirs.

I was thinking about some of the unique features of English, and there are several outrageous system of spelling, but the outstanding characteristic (I almost said “most unique characteristic,” but there’s no such thing) of English is its huge vocabulary. We have about a million words at our disposal although most people (even English fanatics) use about 25,000 of them. English acquired such a large vocabulary because no one cared about it. That’s true—in the fourteenth century after what was then the Anglo-Saxon language received a tremendous boost from the Normans who took over England because we incorporated all kinds of French terms. Scholars of that day thought English should be used to buy fish or scold children. They regarded Latin as the epitome of expression, and some believed that, in the Garden of Eden, God spoke Latin, Adam spoke Greek, and Eve spoke English (sorry, ladies). Since English was held in such low regard up until about the late eighteenth century, no one cared what words it gathered or how they were used. So English added vocabulary and kept changing until it became the flexible world-wide language it is today. As a result we have a lot of words, as I mentioned. By comparison to the million words in English, Chinese has 370,000; French, 100,000; Japanese, 500,000; Russian, 200,000; and Spanish, 100,000.

In the interest of full disclosure, about 171,476 (exact count, right) words in English are used currently, while 47,156 are obsolete, while there are 615,000 definitions. In English, as in other languages, a word pronounced the same may have a different meaning. Take bark as in the sound a dog makes and the word for the covering of a tree for example. Similarly, a river bank, a savings bank, a bank of switches, and a bank shot in pool share a common spelling and pronunciation, but differ in meaning.

I was thinking about this when I was saving the manuscript to one of my novels. I’m extremely paranoid about losing it, and I think rightfully so, so I save it to the desktop, to the Cloud and to a flash drive. I figure all three will not go bad at once, although I know there’s always a chance that could happen. I have done what I could to guarantee my manuscript will still be there when I return to it.

In the bad old days before computers, people (including me) made multiple copies of important documents. Not many people had copying machines at home, and if you didn’t you used carbon paper, which some of you might remember. It wasn’t as messy as toner, but it was a pain to use.

While I was writing my big paper for my master’s, I kept one copy at home, one at my parents’ house, and one at Becky’s house (we were engaged at the time). And what do you know—they all survived. Of course, any of us could have had a fire, flood, earthquake or epidemic and lose the paper. But we didn’t.

“Save” is one of those words we apply to a number of situations. We save our money in a bank. We save a seat. We may save someone or something from harm. Doctors may save someone from dying. A pitcher might earn have a save in a ball game. Then, we talk about Jesus saving all of us if we turn to him, and this is the most important kind of salvation of all. Thanks be to God for God’s saving grace and for his son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Being Present

Being Present
Matthew 25:7-12: “Then all the bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The bridesmaids who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
I don’t know if you saw or heard the news recently about the study showing that watching Sesame Street has benefits similar to going to pre-school. When I first heard this, I thought, Forget that! The interaction and social learning in a preschool will never be replaced by a television program. When I actually tool time to read the article about the study, the authors asked the same question: Do kids need preschool if a TV show works just as well?
Yes, they said, and so did the “Sesame Street” educational team. Head Start, the authors woite, was designed to provide more than an academic boost: It delivers family support, medical and dental services, and development of emotional skills that help kids in social settings that they can’t get sitting in front of the television.
However, the authors see their study as a clear lesson in the value of a (very cheap) mass-media complement to preschool.
I’m glad that the authors of the study recognized the importance of face to face interaction for all of us, just not for preschoolers.
The local writers group I belong to, Write by the Rails, was started by four people in the summer of 2011, but I became aware of it through Facebook, and it was four months before I met any of the members face to face. It was a strange feeling not knowing them personally because as we all know, someone can seem quite right in the media, but when we meet them personally it can be a different story enitrely. Fortunately, the members of my group were more or less as advertised, and are now some of my favorite people. That goes to show something— but I don’t know what.
The spiritual implication of this story is this: to be a part of the Kingdom we can’t call it in. We have to put some face time into our walk and witness. When the bridesmaids weren’t present for the start of the banquet, they lost out, not only on some good food, but also the chance for a relationship with the bridegroom.
I pray that each of us may be fully present in the Kingdom for ourselves and also for any others who just might miss the banquet. And may this be so for each of us.

Same Day Delivery

Same Day Delivery

Isaiah 40:31: They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

I don’t know if you’ve heard that Amazon.com is now offering same day delivery for Amazon Prime customers in our area. I was excited by this development since it means that Nacho the Cat will not be in danger of starving if I run out of Little Friskies Pate canned cat food before noon. Actually, there’s not much danger of that anyhow since Nacho could live off her body fat for a couple of weeks. Now, we wouldn’t be able to stand her plaintive demands for sustenance, but those aren’t as bad as the Dreadful Claw of Retribution which is visited upon our tender extremities if we don’t comply with her demands immediately.

Of course, I could take my lazy self to the Food Lion a mile away and buy some cat food there, but it’s more thrilling to hear the doorbell ring and know there’s a package for us. Hey, it’s only cat food, but there’s such a thrill to opening any kind of package. If you are of a certain age, and I am and some of you are, I’m sure you remember taping a quarter to an index card and sending it off to Battle Creek Michigan for some tiny oddment with a half-life of about twenty minutes. I experienced such incredible anticipation for the two or three weeks it took for my prize to arrive, and eventually realized that waiting was so much better than the cheap plastic trinket that eventually arrived.

We as contemporary Americans don’t like to wait. We’ll go to any length to avoid lines. We’ll do most anything to shave a few seconds off what we’re doing, which leads to a peculiar phenomenon we’ve noticed that has to do with drive-in windows (which really should be called drive-up windows since you don’t actually drive in to the restaurant or pharmacy unless you have problems telling the accelerator apart from the brake). Whether it be Chik-Fil-A or CVS, people would rather sit in line waiting for their food or prescriptions for ten minutes than park, go in, get their food or medication, pay and drive off in less time that it takes for the last person in line at the drive-in to reach the window.

We grow restless when we don’t have something to do, whether it be read or make lists or play Candy Crush on our smart phones. There’s nothing wrong with these activities with the exception of Candy Crush, which I figured out after a while is a game of chance, and since I don’t gamble, took it off my phone, but there is tremendous value in sitting perfectly still and doing what seems like nothing. The Psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God,” and if we are always doing something, anything, we won’t hear the still small voice.
Achieving such a state of mind is much like other disciplines: it requires commitment, practice and perseverance.

If we are able to stop and wait on God, we can experience the peace that passes understanding and enjoy the tranquil spirit, overflowing joy and unconditional love that God wants us to have. May this be so for each of us.