Sunday, June 29, 2008

Conflict Resolution

The last day of June, at least for this year.
Conflict resolution (a short one this time!)

Donald Miller writes in his book Searching for God Knows What
"The very scary thing about religion, to me, is that people actually believe God is who they think He is."
Pretty profound if you ask me. Examine the cause for every social or political conflict that affects this planet. It can really boil down to people putting the identity of the Creator in their own little comfortable or confusing box, so that they can have it their way, as if life is some fast-food joint.
My latest conflict? I bought a new pair of Oakley's today. How will I avoid losing or misplacing them? I seem to always lose my sunglasses before the break-in period has expired. And, as I type this, I just swallowed an ice cube from my medium Iced Mocha. Brainfreeze sets in rapidly. I guess I can't resolve this one on my own and I can't blame it on God.

Feasts Whispers and Apologies

29 June 2008

Now it is Sunday. I enjoyed our eclectic worship gathering at the Well this morning. We focused on worshiping God through fellowship, and specifically in sharing meals…Matt showed us though scripture how often God related to people through feasting and breaking bread, as they used to say. These events bring us together and they help us remember. In the old days people were given specific commands to remember by celebrating through big dinners like the feast of tens, the feast of unleavened bread, etc. Jesus frequently met with people over a meal, and of course is pretty well known for his last supper. We really do connect with people a lot more deeply when we are sharing a meal. Ya know? Right now, I want to share a cup of coffee with someone, and since I'm at the Blue Stem (AGAIN!), I guess I'm sharing coffee with a lot of people. I'm not really talking to many of them though, except Beth the barrista, who was also at the Well this morning, and my friend Siul, who drove here with me.

I looked at my journal notes from last week, and I wrote this status update (now expired):

"…having been given much, still wanting to do something more exciting with this life, but not necessarily with a uniform and body armor, for I'm reluctant to be blown to smithereens…"

I think I'm still in that place. But, as I, look beyond the frustrations, I realize it has been a really good week of examining and seeing truth in the day to day, and moving forward. We often don't see our role or purpose when we are staring at the floor, on looking where our feet take us along the journey, I think. But when we get outside of ourselves, take a look at the aerial view, we can see the progress a little clearer. I reconnected with a really old friend this week (she's not really old, and neither am I), and we discussed some of the deepest, most painful things that have affected our lives. It is eerily uncanny how much these tragedies we have both experienced in life parallel. And God has begun to move mountains before and through our lives.

I don't make it a habit to study Greek like some of my crazy friends, but I always find it fascinating to see who significant the choice of words, can, through translation, affect the intended outcome of a statement. For example, in Greek, I think, there are several words that describe hearing or understanding. The word "Ous", is like detecting a faint whisper. But "Akuom" is like really understanding what that whisper is conveying. I really like that. You Greek scholars can correct me if you want. Do you ever feel like, when you are trying to make a decision, or are confused about something, you suddenly begin to detect a faint whisper? Usually you won't hear that whisper at all, until you quiet yourself and stop all the stressing, complaining, and fear. I think that tugging on our hearts and that whisper is the Holy Spirit telling us, "its going to be alright". Sometimes all we need to hear is "I Love You" faintly whispered in our ear. The warm breath of those three words whispered by a lover, can be more comforting than anything else in this world. And yet, when we reach Akuom, and begin to really discern what that sweet whisper is saying we KNOW that it will be alright.

Here is an apology that someone important once wrote to me. I rediscovered it this afternoon while leafing through my old Bible. It was written on a crumpled piece of paper obscurely hidden in the back leaf of the cover. As I read through the note, I was tearfully taken aback at the reality of the fact that it should have been me apologizing to her. In her letter, she said that she learned that if she wanted something she should seek it by honest means, rather than through lies and deceit. Lies just catch up with you, she wrote. But more importantly, she goes on, lying destroys relationship and trust. There is such simple truth in that statement; Truth that we often learn through so much incredible pain sometimes. In concluding her apology, she quotes the band, Pillar: "If I could, I'd take back all the lies and all of those times I hurt you. I don't know if I'll ever know exactly how much I hurt you; and knowing that hurts me everyday."

If I could, I would take back all the lies.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

In the Storm

This is how I felt last night…driving through that very same storm in Salina, Kansas, and then finally seeking shelter at an eerie closed gas station off a barren stretch of 1-70 (flash scenes from some Alfred Hitchcock thriller). I departed for ColoradoKansas corridor, but for some reason I felt compelled to face the challenge. I'm tired of not standing up to things that are much bigger than me. After all, in facing my giants of yesteryear and today, I have given myself the moniker of Stoneslinger. I want to live up to that name. So I departed on what was supposed to have been a seven hour cruise. I had traveled no more than an hour when every radio station started broadcasting alert tones, and they didn't end with that "this is a test of the public emergency broadcast system" line. I was close to Salina, so I pulled off the highway, looking for a motel or restaurant for protection, but then the stormchasers announced that the tornado had already crossed I-70 and was heading north. They advised it should be clear for Westward travelers. That's me, I thought, so I jumped back on the interstate to continue my journey. Not more than seven minutes after I reached cruising speed, the broadcasters announced two more shelf clouds had formed southwest of my location proceeding at 60 MPH towards me! The spotters were reporting baseball size hail impacting the ground in various locations. It was dark and I couldn't see much, except for this huge shelf cloud that was beginning to descend to the ground encompassing the full view of my passenger side window. I was cruising at about 80 MPH myself, trying to "outrun the storm", but then radio announcers reported that several more tornados had already touched down. I was starting to perspire a little, and my AC was still refrigerating the Subaru quite well. By this time I was in the barren amber waves of grain part of Kansas, and I was starting to mentally designate various ditches and low areas as rallypoints to return to if one of these Giants brandished its vortex of violent swirling air in my general direction, and then…I found exit 225. And, I saw a light. Aha, a gas station, the only sign of humanity or safety for miles around. I pulled in and was relieved to see its lights were on and a few other people had sought shelter there. I pulled my car under the gaspump awning, and dashed inside. The three other travelers were already watching the close captioned storm reports traversing the screen below an extremely stupid gameshow. The first storm passed to our south, and was relative harmless. The gas station attendant said it was past his beer time, and needed to lock up, so we proceeded to our two cars, but before departing, the other travelers told me new storms had been reported and they were moving directly toward our location. We had lost access to the apparent shelter of the gas station, so we parked our cars really close together and huddled inside. And those storms were violent. I remember experiencing a few minutes of real fear, or maybe I should say respect, as the rain and hail began to swirl in a circular direction outside my windshield. I had been more comfortable when it was flying sideways! And then, I noticed these grenade like explosions in the pavement in front of my covered car: Hailstones were impacting with force. My car was rocking back and forth, and I just begin to pray, and thanked God for revealing to me his power and might in a very real way. The radio station DJs had now moved to their basement shelters, as tornados touched down and plowed through the city of Salina, and then ironically moved on to Manhattan (Kansas State) where I normally spend my evenings. last night with full knowledge that a severe storm was moving toward me along the 1-70 central

After another 45 minutes, my fellow safetyseekers and I decided to head West before something else blew in. Except for one fuel stop, I kept the pedal to the medal all the way to the Colorado Border, where, at about 0230 AM, with drooping eyes, and a post adrenaline attack crash, finally found a truck stop. I managed to brush my teeth before falling into a dead sleep in the reclined passenger seat of my faithful Subaru. I woke up about four hours later with a mild case of frost-bite beginning to grow on my toes.

Colorado is a little cooler than Kansas, I learned. And they operate in a different timezone. After thawing my feet out and consuming an unappetizing greasy breakfast at Denny's I kicked my spurs into the Subaru and zoomed West on Colorado 24, and promptly ran into a tumbleweed and a llama. Welcome back to the West, Rob, they said. The tumbleweed disappeared under the car and the llama, spitting at me with his eyes, remained corralled behind a fence. The tumbleweed brought back memories from El Paso days, but I wasn't quite prepared for the llama attack, and all I could think about was Samantha reciting lines from the Emperor's New Groove: "Not your Llama!".

I arrived in the Springs about an hour or so later, and reacquainted myself with that sprawling little city nestled in the foothills of Pike's Peak. It wasn't even 9 AM yet, and I didn't have an appointment to meet my friends until after 5PM, so I decided to drive up to the magnificent Garden of the Gods, where I changed into shorts, grabbed my camelback, and ranhiked (I just invented that word) for about two hours. And, glancing at Pikes Peak, I am in awe at the greatness and majesty of God. I experienced Him in the fiercest part of the storm, and in the calm sunrise illuminating the mountain before me.

And now, my cup of coffee is dry, and I need to remount the Subaru and head for the hills. Mercy covers all.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Naked Thoughts From My Journal Today

Naked thoughts.

Many events and feelings have occurred since I last wrote. I have been quite lazy in keeping up with my writing. And now I don’t remember much…it’s all jumbled together.

Tornados, firing many powerful weapons, experiencing the heat and discomfort of wearing body armor for hours at a time, knowing that perhaps, one day it will save my life; all the while still wondering what my role is in all this madness of countering an evil insurgency.

Losing contact with my daughters even more, missing them until it hurts, and then fighting the desire to miss them so it doesn’t hurt so much; realizing tonight that they now have a baby sister as Kelli has given birth to some other man’s daughter: the ultimate betrayal, with which I have no basis to judge or hold grudge.

Traveling though Kansas to visit my dear friend who wallows behind bars for 9 more months, yet remains at peace with where God has him at the moment.

Forgetting to cancel reservations at an extremely expensive Hilton Hotel in Kansas City and being charged for the room I did not occupy.

Enjoying the unique friendships with all the Navy doctors I live with.

Struggling with sharing my faith.

Preparing for the ultimate and most challenging mission of my life, one month away.

Not knowing the future.

Not reading much.

Not reading much in God’s word; excusing it for the violence of my schedule, lack of personal space; but realizing the damage that is inflicted by lack of consistent truth in my life.

Missing my friends in Europe, and desiring deeper friendships here.

Lonely for the heart of a woman, someone to care for and to give away my everything in the deepest way.

Tears don’t fall much anymore. These eyes are dry and weary.

Ashamed of all my somethings.

Searching for God knows what.

Thankful for moments of peace.

Looking forward to resting in the freshness of Colorado this weekend.

Wanting to see the Lees and Williams next month.

Desiring to be less selfish and more of a servant.