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Instant bad mood. I search around for my screaming phone on the floor under my bed. The damn alarm clock continues to scream at the top of its lungs. Slowly gaining control of my sleeping body, I step out of bed, pick up my phone and turn off the alarm. The pain of waking up. In heaven, I will roll over and enjoy the waking up process just as much as snuggling into bed and drifting off to sleep. (That is if we sleep in heaven.)
My world runs about me in fast forward. Honking impatiently at the slow moving car, spending what we don’t have for the newest item that hits the shelves, driving around our children to some place other than home. Why do I join the insanity of the crowd? I do believe in busying oneself with hard work, but that is not what is happening here. We are all consumed with what does not matter.
Now. What we want is now. The admiring stares of those we don’t know. Now. The praise of what drives us around. Now. Winners of the race. Packed pantries to overflowing. Fashonable jewelry on our bodies and extra in the closet. Fancy modern restaurants. Everything that our neighbors have. Our neighbors that we want to be like, not the ones outside of our neighborhood.
But all we think about is now and we laugh at anyone that suggests otherwise.
Ted Turner is famous for a lot of things, one of them is stating what is on his mind. Hey, I can respect that. He likes to chose his words so that other people listen. He doesn’t just fit into the crowd. I respect that also. But I wish that someone would tell him, and a whole lot of the rest of the world, that they are on the wrong train. When Turner quoted, “I’d rather go to hell. Heaven has got to be boring.” I wish someone would have asked him, “What do you want most in life?”….”It will be in heaven.”
Heaven is better than being a billionaire. There is money to spare, Hey, let’s pave these streets with gold. Heaven is better than pornography! THERE WILL BE PERFECT BODIES WALKING AROUND NAKED! And it will be a good thing! No one will be embarrassed! (There will be no sin in heaven. Pornography is a destructive, cruel sin. The point is, naked bodies will be good….and everywhere.) Heaven is better than Hawaii. All the food will be paid in full! Heaven is better than Christmas! That baby Jesus, he will be with us! It doesn’t sound boring to me!
And what will not be in heaven? Babies without mommies. Wheelchairs won’t be needed in heaven, or medicine, or hospitals. There will not be divorce, no one’s heart will be broken. What have you been through? What hurts? What tugs at your heart and makes you cry out, “That is not right!” God will end it. He will make all the wrongs undone and he will wipe away that tear.
“Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we want is coming.” Tim Keller.
So, look at this world. Read the Bible. Take a look at what is good in this world. LORD, FIX MY PRIORITIES! SET MY MIND ON THINGS ETERNAL! Get ready. It is going to be the best party of all of eternity. Don’t throw away your invitation.
Pushing against the open wound of the nail stuck in his foot, his human body pressed against the shocking pain until his chest was able to gasp and then he released, feeling the choking pressure against his chest. Beyond the worst day in history, his was the worst life. No other suffering on earth could begin to even comprehend his bursting heart that bled water and blood at the rejection of his Father, the breaking of the Trinity, perfect holiness carrying the burden of complete sin.
Mary looked on, her mind overcome with what she beheld. She is the only mother that, rightly, ascended her son to her personal God. She remembered the miracle of the joy of a virgin birth announced by the Angel Gabriel. Her marriage with Joseph had forever been bonded with the realization that they had been sent here to raise the God of the Universe. Her life, her faith, her son, her everything hung in agonizing pain and she could do nothing to relieve him. Everything was dying here. Satan had won.
He, literally, stood in heaven in the very presence of God himself. Lucifer was the director of the choir, spending his days in worship of God Almighty. His voice, his body, his eternal life was beyond beauty, it was heaven. He, literally, spent his days in the perfection of heaven. Lucifer believed in God, as real as anything he had ever seen, touched, or experienced in any capacity. If there was even this life that he lived, he knew it was created by God that sat upon his throne. And yet Satan turned. And he was flung into the fiery pit of Hell. Even the demons believe, believe in the one true God of the Universe, and their belief does not save them.
My Western culture holds tight to few things, but remaining in the hearts of the vast majority of Western thinkers is the foundation of LIFE, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of HAPPINESS. And I will take it! I cling, with those that vary so much from me, to the belief that these ideals have made my home nation who we are today. We are a people that stop whatever we are doing to fight for freedom, as well we should. We believe that one life is important, we believe in holding debates and agreeing to disagree, we believe in differing opinions and a different perspective of personal happiness, and we believe in not taking away those rights from our neighbors. But somewhere along the way, this belief was skewed into the belief of believing:
“Believe whatever you want to believe.”
“It does not matter what you believe, as long as you have enough faith.”
And this is why we see our culture beginning to crumble. From inside the church, inside the educational system, inside government, and the very core of our foundation: the family. We are falling apart because we no longer cling to right and wrong, we believe that as long as you believe in something, that is all that matters. But what if BELIEF DOES NOT MATTER. Faith is not what saves us. Even the demons believe and shutter.
If you want a religion of faith, there is none greater than Islam. Muslims believe so wholeheartedly in the afterlife that parents proudly offer up their children to jihad. Wealthy husbands leave their life of comfort and their wives and children behind to strap bombs to their chests and die in the fight. WHY?! This blows our Western minds! IT IS BECAUSE OF THEIR FAITH! It is because they believe more boldly than the majority of Christian believers believe in their God that Allah is going to send them straight to a world of bliss where there will be more pretty girls waiting for them than they can comprehend. According to the words of the Qua-ran, girls that will never have to blow their nose or menstrate, girls with beautiful dark eyes, girls that can not take their eyes off of their martyr hero. And these men will have supernatural ability to have sex over and over again. This is why they want to leave this world as quickly as they possibly can! Because they have so very much FAITH!
So, why are Westerners running out of the church as soon as they are off to college? Why are Christian marriages just as likely to end in divorce as any? Why does our culture now criticize and despise Christians? Why are followers labeled as hateful as soon as they mention their God? IT IS BECAUSE FAITH HAS BECOME THE FOCAL POINT OF THE WESTERN CHURCH!
Now, Am I splitting hairs here? Don’t I, myself, speak of my faith and praise faith? Yes! An extremely important side note is that FAITH IS IMPORTANT, FAITH PERFORMS MIRACLES, FAITH IS NECESSARY AND GREAT! So, what am I complaining about? And it is this: Faith is not the most important, LOVE is!
Love is why Jesus nailed himself to the cross. Love is why Mary will be in heaven even when she lost all faith at the foot of the cross. The absence of love is why Satan was thrown out of heaven and into eternal damnation. The absence of love is the leader of jihad. And the absence of love is why the American church is falling apart.
Love restores marriages. Love rescues families. Love gathers people to church (not rules!). Love saves lives! The only answer is love.
AND THESE THREE REMAIN: FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE. BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.
I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise. My cry came before him, into his ears. He reached down from on high and took hold of me. He rescued me because he delighted in me. Who is the Rock except our God? The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! He shows unfailing love to his anointed. The song of David.
This God is mine! He is personal, so personal that blood is involved. With torturing whips and cries and sharp nails piercing his skin, he knew my name. He loved me. He loved me with his blood.
Speak of foolishness. Tell me the insanity. I ALREADY KNOW IT IS TRUE! It makes no sense that perfection would pay the price for sinful me! Love does not make sense! But it can not be argued against. It is known in my heart and there is no convincing me otherwise.
Love is blood. Love is heart beating. Love is forever. Not just in the good and the easy, quite the contrary, love is in the pain and the suffering. Love is just being together. And I never have to be separated from my Jesus. He is my love. And I am his. And his love is red. Written in the red words, written in his blood, written in eternity. Love is red.
“We read to know we are not alone.” – C.S. Lewis
Every time I read a book, I connect. I may feel connected to the author, but the author never knows me. I may feel connected to the characters, but they are not even real. I can connect to others if I discuss the book, but they can not know my emotion during the time of reading. I connect with God. Together we experience an adventure.
I write because:
Her picture lights up my smartphone, We’ve been playing phone tag and finally the time has arrived. Answering, I talk a million miles a minute. Mid sentence, my sister interrupts. She has witnessed a bird hit by a car, flapping and lying in pain. She runs to the rescue. While I am waiting on the return call, I realize how I had begun spilling, not choosing my words correctly and not asking first about her. Like writing, I wished I could push delete and start over.
That moment. I pause in overwhelming inspiration. My heart lives, love conquers, and all the world pauses and applauds the words of Victor Hugo. Just to say the name Les Miserables, inspires my life. The words of the book disappear and I am there in Paris and Fantine is my friend and the Thenardiers have slapped my face. The creation of a life, a story, a place that can impact our lives. I love to write because I love to read.
My daughter is a Renaissance girl. She wants to learn and to know everything. She is a girl of many talents. There are so many things where she is naturally gifted. But then there are so many other things that draw her attention and call out her name to be attended to. Like a child, that she is, she loses her focus and wants to move on. “Madison, God gave you this ability. He made you good at this. So, I believe you should do it.” I do not know if it means a career or a hobby, a full or part time, or temporary endeavor, but I believe that if God gives you a talent, it is a sin not to use it. I am a writer. I sit down and it appears. I write because He gave me the ability.
For years and years I wrote and tossed, wrote and tossed. It was an expression in me that I knew no other way to release. When life got to be too much, when my emotions were numb or charged, when questions of life were too much to endure, writing sat with me. He sat patiently and listened. He hugged me and wiped my tears off my cheeks. He cried. And then he cheered, fists in the air and rejoiced in answers found and God praised. Writing is a companion that has become one of my dearest friends.
Writing is a creation, it mimics the God that created. Writing allows me to start over and start fresh on a new sheet of white paper with a newly sharpened pencil. I write because I need to start over often. I write because I can. I write because I want to. I write because it is part of the definition of who I am. I am a writer, therefore I write.