Thursday, December 3, 2015

“I bring you good tidings…”

These words are familiar to most of us, particularly at this time of year.  These are the words of the angel announcing the birth of the Messiah.  I’ve never actually heard angelic voices, but I know good sounds when I hear them.  Some have even said someone “sings like an angel.”

I think we all know what that means; don’t we?  Hopefully, it is a compliment, basically applauding one’s rendition of lyrics and melodies that convey a message.  I love to sing.  I love good singing.  I loathe bad singing.  The Psalmist reminds us to “Make a joyful noise to the LORD,” and honestly that is all some of us can do.

But, what about those shepherds that night?  Out of nowhere shows up something (the angel of the Lord) they had never seen before blasting an announcement with the force of what we could imagine as a rock band-type sound system volume.  And the first words were:  “Fear not!”  If I was a shepherd back then, I probably would have said, “Yea, right!” as I high-tailed it away from there.

After this grand introduction the voice said to them, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”  In today’s vernacular, I imagine the angel saying, “Hey Dudes!  Listen up!  Have I got something to tell ya!”

And…they listened.  Shocked and in awe the shepherds were the first to know that the Savior of the world had come.  They heard; they believed; they did something (they went to see); and they spread the news.

As we are in the Advent season, all the world is eagerly waiting the celebration of the coming of the Christ.  ‘Tis the Season for hustle and bustle, for shopping and feasting, for music and laughter, for giving and receiving of gifts.  So many things to do, see and experience, that when it is all said and done, I wonder if we might miss the whole purpose?  Perhaps, there is too much noise and we do not hear what we really need to hear.

Are we so busy that we miss the voice calling out, “Hey!  Listen up!  There’s something more to this.  Don’t miss it!  It is for everyone!”

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

Monday, November 2, 2015

Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer
October 31, 2015

As I drive around the beautiful and spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains I am reminded of the work of God’s hand.  The vibrant and lush colors of Autumn are popping out; the clear and cool air allows for some awesome views from overlooks.

However, as we have gone into the autumn season, I am reminded of a final summer experience Susan and I had.  On Labor Day, we drove to Blue Ridge, Georgia and up the Toccoa River where we stepped into the cold (yes, cold!) flowing waters and tubed the Toccoa.  What began as an overcast morning, turned into one of the most beautiful, sunny mornings that afforded exactly what our bodies, minds and souls needed—nothing.

Not exactly “nothing,” but for two and a half hours we did “nothing.”  This “nothing” of an experience, however, reminded me of a few lessons. 

One, we all need respite.  We live in such a fast-paced, winner-takes-all society that if we do not stop, rest and retool, we will quickly burn out.  Once I plopped down into the inflated pink (yes, real men do wear pink!) inner tube, I didn’t have to decide much of anything.  I rested in physics to take me where I should go.

Second, as song writer Jack Johnson put it, it is better together.  As we checked in we were given an additional strap to tether our tubes so that we could stay connected.  We realized that we were on this journey together, and together it would be fun.  Drifting apart would have meant more energy to attempt to reconnect or catch up.

Third, goes along with “second,” the momentum of one helped when another got stuck.  Invariably an obstacle, usually a large rock, protruded out of the swift moving water and would catch the one in the front. While this manned inner tube sat there paralyzed against the fighting forces of rock and rushing water, the tethered inner tube would gently float around and find the current’s flow around the rock.  Being tethered the “free” tube would persuade the other to follow.  And this happened time and again.  It didn’t matter which one got stuck, the other was there to urge forward movement.

Fourth, life vests are for a purpose.  For the most part, I didn’t need this designer orange floatation device for its purpose, so I used it as a pillow.  Which by the new definition fulfilled its purpose!

Last, relying on others, particularly strangers, is important.  While we did not actually hear “Dueling Banjos” playing, several times I did wander if the tubing company would actually pick us up at the end and return us to our car.

Respite is not only a good thing, it is God-ordained.  Take it when you can; make it happen for your spiritual, emotional and physical health. 

Life is a journey that cannot and should not be done solo.  Find those whose life resonates with yours and tether together.  You won’t drift apart and when you get stuck, their momentum will help you along. 

If you cannot fully utilize something for its designed purpose, maybe there is a secondary function you can use it for. 

Relying on others requires trust.  Trust others around you and those whose paths you cross today to help you achieve today’s goals.

Mostly, go enjoy this adventure called life.