Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Christmas Poem - 2006

In the toughest of times
The seasons still change
Winter comes round
Bringing Christmas again
I’m tempted to shut down
to simply hibernate
close the blinds, turn the phones off
say to all “Go away!”
But in the tough times HE came
In a lowly cattle stall
He came as a baby
Helpless and small
To Joseph and Mary
So far from their home
To the city of David
By edict from Rome

The tough times had just started
The family soon fled
When the angel warned them
What was in Herod’s head
He would kill all the young ones
To be rid of the king
The stars had announced
And the wise men had seen.

It was tough to be walking each day
Town to town
No home, no bed, no pillow they found
Hunted and praised, revered and reviled
Surely wrong for God’s only child

It was the Father who sent him
And to him he cried
As he prayed in the garden
No one at his side
His sweat like blood
So tormented was he
By the pain he saw coming
Up on Calvary

“Not my will, by thine.”
In submission complete
To pain he went forward
As he rose to his feet.
It was pain and rejection
The sin of the world
On the face of perfection
Such insults were hurled.

He cried out in pain and deep agony
But still he went forward for you and for me
It was the tough times the worst of the worst
And he went through it all for he thought of me first

So this Christmas I remember
The God born to man
The son of the father
Salvation’s only plan
And I sing through my tears
Of that holy incarnation
My Jesus, My Savior
The hope of the nations

My troubles seem smaller
As I remember this
My heart so much lighter
As I walk in the midst
Of truths so profound
I cannot comprehend
That God to this world
His own Son did he send
For miserable people
The worst and the least
No other could save us
But our great High Priest.

Life is Hard but God is Good

I do not negate any of what I said previously. It is legitimate to wonder, to question, to wrestle, if you will, with God. I still don't understand what he allows, but I am not beating myself up for the struggle. After all, Jesus, the very God-in-flesh, struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane. His struggle was far worse than mine, for his suffering was to be far greater than I can even imagine. If he struggled and asked to be let out of his suffering, I am comforted that it is okay for me to struggle. I need to follow his example and his conclusion, which was "nevertheless, not my will, but yours." I do that. Begrudgingly, perhaps. With resignation, sometimes. But I do submit to the will of God.

With this latest struggle I have come to a place of peace. Peace at last. I have come to find that I have friends that truly care, even if they do not understand. I have friends that are there for me in ways I especially needed, and that I have people in my life who understand the struggle and will not beat me up or preach at me for struggling.

I have asked God to allow me to be shifted off my axis, to have a complete shift in view if it will allow me to have a closer, deeper relationship with him, and I have embarrassed myself by crying in front of nearly everyone I know.

Today and yesterday I feel like the burden has been lifted in small and large ways. Oh, I'm still unsure that we will get out of this in the financial shape we had planned on. We have had to take on more debt to get through it, but I do see the way to the other side.

On that side I feel a greater sense of compassion and purpose and mission toward the truly poor in this world. Even more I believe that I cannot turn my back on or ignore the horrors going on in the world beyond my country.

Yes, there are poor here, but for most of them it is not a matter of a roof, just the size of that roof. For most it is not a matter of clothing, but the kind and style of that clothing. Please don't misunderstand, I know about the great financial pressures there are in this country because of our affluence relative to much of the world. The poor in our country are not immune. It takes more money to live in poverty in this country than it does to live in wealth in some others. I understand that.

But there are few people in this country who are literally starving to death. In many other countries there are people who starve to death every day. There is an entire continent that has been ravished by AIDS, leaving it's children orphaned and raising other children, with NOTHING.

In my shortsightedness and pride I have found myself thinking at times that a lot of these problems are brought on by the corruption of governments and are the result of sinful lifestyles, and so allowed myself the luxury of doing nothing.

What I think God is showing me is that I have no right. For when I was dead in my own trespasses and sins, Christ died for me. He came not because I was upright and moral, but because I was without hope. How then can I claim to be his follower and do nothing to help those who are without hope? How can I refuse to aid people around the world made in his image because I don't like how they are living? When was that option presented?

So, part of what I am thinking about is how to revamp my financial world so that I am living a lifestyle that I can afford and support, and finding ways to save and alter those expenses so that I can fulfill one of the purposes that God has for me. How can I continue to live up to the very top of my income, living in fact like most Americans, and be unable to help those in need. I who have so much, should never be grasping after more.

Once we are out of this mess, and in gratitude for God's help through this mess, I must put my time talents and treasures to help the poor, the sick, the downtrodden.

To this end, I have been moved by a rock star. Someone I have looked at in disdain in the past for what seemed like arrogance. I have watched an interview with Bono. I have seen in twice in its entirety and another time in an abbreviated version. The heart of this man and the simple truths he talked about, and his call to the church to take up the cause of the poor, the downtrodden, the sick and those living without justice speaks to me. I hear the voice of God saying, "Listen. This is for real."

So I am trying to find ways to be a part. You may have noticed the "One Campaign" information on this page. I am more committed than ever to this as one of the venues God is using. I don't believe that I should not do what I believe is the right thing just because some immoral, amoral, hedonistic Hollywood actor types are part of it. In fact, I should probably be ashamed that they have gone where God's church should have led the way.

We are His hands, we are His feet. We have worried so about keeping His hands and feet unsoiled that we haven't done the work he asked of us in Matthew 25.

Anyway, that's where I am today. I am much more at peace with God. Do I understand? No I don't. Do I like what has been happening? NO. But I will cling to God's words which tell me that he is good and loving, merciful and kind and that he has my very best interests at heart. At the very least he has His best interests at heart, and seeing how he spent his time and gave himself in the past, how can I doubt that he is working some grander purpose here?