1/18/2013

Turning the Page

Moving away is like dying. Part of my heart will stay here with the people who have loved me so well. I will never get that part back until I see all of them again in Heaven together to celebrate the One who gave us hearts to begin with. But how I hate to leave them for now.

Anyone who has known me for more than five years knows how much I have said good-bye. One very close friend even described me as "loving to start over" when I was in my twenties. While there was comfort in that before I had kids, now there is a heavy sorrow. Starting over with children is a completely different galaxy of emotions. How can I explain to a three-year-old that almost everything he knows will change? Faces will look strange and sounds will be new. Even the air will feel different! Fortunately there will be many things that won't change. Toys, family, and certain rituals will be such a comfort. But I know too well what it's like to seek a friend's company and not be able to find them anywhere. God made each human being wonderfully unique and no one will ever replace them.

I am reminded of God's sorrow at knowing all of mankind and having to part eternally with many of them. All of the hairs on our heads are kept track of and every thought passes before God's perception. What an honor to be able to look forward to being with Him forever and to be a part of His story of love for us. Earthly good-byes are never as painful as they could be when I am saying them to my family in Christ. I know we will meet in Heaven and the reunion under the light of God's presence will be a party that will last hundreds of years. More reasons to look forward to my true Home.

If I could express my gratitude for all that my friends have helped me with here, it would take the rest of my life. This past year or so has been a trial beyond anything I could have imagined. But the outcome is glorious and the victory is God's. I am so blessed to be a benefactor of His winnings and a collector of His plunder. My family will "eat" for years on just what God has provided us through the souls in this town.

The looking ahead is so exciting. If it's been this good so far, what could the future possibly hold? The life laid before me is going to be better than any story written by human hands. There will be dark and difficult times but the resulting victories will be unfathomably great! God is a masterful storyteller. To trust Him is to play a part of perfection. When I let my own ideas try and change His plan I am messing with God's most epic revelation of Himself. But when I surrender my ideas and imagination to His will, He allows me to add my own unique touch on it and therefore play an important role that only I could play. Is this not the most miraculous thing; that God would let a broken creation influence His perfection? He first perfects us and then trusts us to trust Him and do what we can with what is His. So I will trust Him with all He's given me and I get to be a part of God's story.

1/01/2013

Thoughts on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I went and saw the first Hobbit movie last weekend. Once again I was taken by the hand into Middle Earth. I went willingly into the land where bright green and gold conflict with deep darkness and filth. The many creatures that sprung from the imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien all have their own wonderful uniqueness. These stories are such a marvelous description of the weak confounding the strong. I left with a grand feeling of triumph and security in my God. But there sure was a lot of falling happening in that movie. I probably jumped in my seat five times and gasped once as down... down... down people fell left and right. Of course, I won't tell you how the falling played into anything because if you haven't seen the movie then I'd ruin it for you.

It has been ten years since I read The Hobbit for myself. I remember falling madly in love with that book. It was soon after that I devoured all three volumes of the Lord of The Rings. Peter Jackson and the rest of them have done such a good job recreating the world and characters of those literary masterpieces. Unfortunately most of the fans miss the one marvelous point of the stories. They are far more rich and vibrant experiences when you enter into them with the Holy Spirit.

So many parallels, I can't write them all without giving away crucial scene spoilers. But I remember watching the team of dwarves, the hobbit, and Gandalf running and fighting and the unseen hand of what they called "Fate" saving them and keeping them just barely out of death's clutches. "Fate" this and "Fate" that. Oh just come right out and say it, it's GOD! Gandalf being a different sort of wizard is definitely a picture-type of a child of God. His submission to this "Fate" person, that from now on I shall call God, mirrors that of Jesus' complete oneness with Him. There are many things that Gandalf knows and trusts that only a supernatural wisdom could have revealed to him.

Leave it to Hollywood to implant a lie in the midst of it all. The disappointing moment for me was when I was jolted back to our fallen reality where human virtues reign. During a moment where Gandalf said some things that were very much out of character for him, I smelled the devil's handiwork. Tolkien was probably doing the face palm up in Heaven when that part of the script was written. He said, while gazing toward the audience, "I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love." The Hollywood Gandalf was talking about why he chose Bilbo for the journey and he mentioned some ridiculous crud like how it gives him courage to have the little guy around. Ok, I can see that perhaps it does make people feel better to see the underdog overcome huge obstacles of fear. But don't give me the "random acts of kindness" spiel where humanity has the power to save itself. So if that's hogwash, then why did Gandalf choose Bilbo?

Sometimes we don't know why God asks us to do something. There is a hunch or a feeling we get that doesn't conflict with God's Word and we go with it. We can be sure that His ways are higher than our ways and then watch expectantly for His hand to move. More often than not God uses the weak things and the lowly things to glorify Himself. Even at the very end of Tolkien's stories it is the lowliest creature of them all that saves the world unknowingly.

I recall all the physical testing and all the beatings the main characters had to endure. They haven't completed their mission and they are already half-alive from battles and hardships. It reminds me of the endurance that is required of me during my spiritual testing from the enemy. God has used every single tear I have cried to wash my past wounds clean and equip me for His glorious purposes. No pain is wasted here. God can use it all! The opposition of the world, the flesh, and the devil only makes me stronger as I hold fast to my LORD Jesus' hand in the storm.

So much application from that movie and book and so little time to write it all down. One thing remains: God's Unseen Hand. He arranges my circumstances in ways that look absolutely perilous but turn out perfectly according to His plan. This life is for grinding and smoothing. Adventure is a great way to see what we're made of. Bring it!