I Talk to Machines

I Talk to Machines

1 Kings 19:12: After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

I don’t know if you’ve heard the song from the musical Paint Your Wagon called “I Talk to the Trees.” There is at least one person, then, who talks to the trees. For a while, some people who cultivated plants talked to them, my mother among them. She said that helped them grow.

I can’t raise any kind of plant, but I do talk to appliances and cars. I think it’s a good idea to stay on good terms with them, so I talk to them and they return the favor.

Take my car, for example. When I push the “open” button on the fob, my Mazda tells me it has received the order and is complying by means of a single blink of the parking lights. It’s as if it’s saying, “Yes!” as it opens the door. Then, when I get out of the car and push the “lock” button, it blinks twice, as if to say, “Good-bye!”

Then, when I don’t fasten my seat belt fast enough, it chimes once and that’s it. I’d call that a gentle reminder, unlike Becky’s Camry which sounds a piercing tone once as a reminder. If you don’t buckle your belt, it moves on to repeated piercing tones and finally to a continuous sound that would draw blood from your ears. At least it gets you to fasten your seat belt or suffer. It works.

I was thinking how God is like the warning system on my car, but instead of chimes, Jesus used a gentle knock. Whether or not we answer is up to us. God loves and respects us so much that God will not continue to hammer at us like the Camry tone, but stops until the next time when he comes with another gentle knock.

I believe that we must be listening for the gentle knock and open the door. And when we do, we will have the opportunity to be closer to God and to grow in God’s grace.

Praise God for God’s gentleness, for continuing to know and for loving us so much God returns until we open the door or not. It’s up to each us, and I pray that we will continue to open the door and let Jesus in.

 

Amen.

Too Close for Comfort

Too Close for Comfort

Isaiah 55:6: Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.

I don’t know if you’re claustrophobic or not. When someone asks me if I am, I say, “It depends.” And it does.

I’m claustrophobic when I’m in a crowded elevator. You know the drill in that case: stand as stiff as a ram rod, don’t touch anyone and, while your nerves are screaming for just a little room to breathe, YOU CAN’T LOOK AT ANYONE and so you ended up staring at the ceiling. When the door blessedly slides open, the enforced crowding ends, with people quickly scattering in all directions like those hombres who run with the bulls in Pamploma.

When telephone booths walked the earth, I couldn’t stand using one with the door closed. No matter the weather, I chatted through storms and hurricanes. Sure, I got wet or froze, but it was better than a panic attack.

When we were in New York once, we went to see a production of Mary Poppins in an ancient theater with seats suitable for Munchkins. I endured the closing in feeling until intermission when I knew I had to get out. I was having the beginnings of a panic attack and spent the rest of the musical across the street from the theater in a café, drinking caffeinated coffee to calm my nerves. And it worked.

Two places in which I don’t mind being in a small space are in a budget airline seat and during an MRI. I couldn’t figure this since these places are certifiably tight until a friend told me something I’d missed with the airplane and the MRI. Both of these have outlets which blow air in the passenger’s or patient’s face. For some reason this quiets the urge to panic. It’s too bad they haven’t discovered this on Broadway, although it might make it difficult to pay attention to the musical.

The point is that God is like that stream of fresh air. God invites us to be in God’s presence and suffuses through the inmost part of our being. And as a result, we are revived, sanctified, calmed and encouraged.

Praise God for drawing near to us, for offering us strength and new life and for sending his Son to die on a cross so that we might have eternal life and nothing to worry about.

Amen.

 

Farther Along

Farther Along

1 Corinthians 13:12: Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

I don’t know how you entertained yourself during worship services when you were a child, but I do know my brother and I had seemingly endless ways to do that and not so by the way to irritate our mother. One time we decided to use one of my cuff links as an interstellar battle cruiser. We were way ahead of George Lucas with this, but mom didn’t appreciate our visionary efforts. “If you don’t stop that,” she said, “I’ll march you out of here and put you in the nursery where you belong. Behave!”

This cooled our jets for the rest of that service, but Sunday comes one a week and we were at it the next time, singing hymns with different words that we found humorous. One of our favorites was based on “Bringing in the Sheaves.” Here’s a sample chorus:

Bringing in the sheaves, raking up the leaves

We shall come rejoicing rolling up our sleeves.

We did this and managed to live through another service by leaning forward and singing into the hymnal racks. Mom thought we were being pious. We never told her our secret, but I think she knew. She was just too tired to do anything.

The phrase “rolling up our sleeves” reminded me that this last Monday I had blood drawn for a routine test. To prepare, I rolled up my sleeve far enough to cut off circulation if I had left it that way. When I sat down at the place where the drawing of blood was to take place, the technician—and please nod if this has been your experience—rolled my sleeve another two turns, and my whole arm went numb. No, it really didn’t , but hurt like a big dog. At least that distracted me from the tiny pin prick of the needle.

I think my experience with drawing blood shows us how God deals with us. We have a constant call from God in which he says, metaphorically, “Roll up your sleeves! I have work for you to do!”

So, we roll up our metaphorical sleeves and go to work and proudly say to God, “Look what I did! Am I not your favorite believer?”

God says nothing, but reaches down and tightens our sleeves another notch or two. With this, we forget our pride and self-importance and work at a higher level. And when we do, we hear God say, “Well done, you good and faithful servant!”

Praise to God who holds us to a higher standard, who celebrate when we do God’s will and who loved us so much He gave up his son so that we might live and serve God forever. Amen