Wednesday, December 28, 2011

John 3:16

For God so loved the world
He gave his one and only son
so that whoever believes in Him
shall not perish
but have eternal life.

I am not one for memorizing Bible verses. I've nothing against it and I tend to remember things easily so it's a bit of a mystery as to why I avoid it. Yet Mom likes Max Lucado and I wanted to leave the book for her when I returned home so I arranged myself on the couch yesterday and began to read his exploration of this verse.

I finished it last night and recalled why I'm fond of Lucado as well - he has an approachable style. A gentle invitation to read and learn and think that I find both informative and soothing somehow. And woven into the hopeful stories and holy lessons were questions about the reader's reaction - my reaction - to this life and what comes after.

I believe in God, though my belief sometimes lacks passion. It's comfortable and cozy and I've ignored it more often than not of late. His love is a given. His mercy and grace absently taken for granted.

When Chienne's nails clicked against the floor in the hallway, my mom called for me to help her. Already awake, I rose and followed her down the hall, opening the sliding doors to the backyard and waiting until she was ready to return to bed. Once there though, I was restless. Unhappy. Afraid not of what comes after death but what comes next in this life.

So I came to the living room and turned on the light by Dad's chair, deciding I'd fill my glass with water before I continued to read the 40 devotionals at the end of Lucado's book. I grabbed a Cutie from the crisper with my glass of filtered water and returned to snuggle into the recliner and finish turning the pages.

While the book is quite focused, the end is a series of snapshots of Jesus life and it seemed somehow Christmas-y to page through them without pause (though I realize that's not the point of a devotional). I'd already made it to Day 20 and decided to eat my citrus fruit before finishing the text.

"Seedless, sweet and easy to peel," I murmured as I removed the rind, recalling the commercial for the tiny treats. Then I wondered why that message resided in memory while tracing my orange-scented fingertips over the embossed title of my book.

Life is seeming long to me lately. Like everything loops in this awful, depressing cycle while we do little but act badly and get frustrated and do more harm than good. Much as I enjoy the seasons of the upper Midwest, their endless rotation has begun to bore me. As blessed as I am to have my job - and I do know that I am - it seems like I'm helping few and spending most of my time spinning my wheels, lacking energy to do much other than watch television or play mindless games when I return home. We age - children grow taller and increasingly skilled, dogs lose their sight or hearing or ability to walk comfortably, my knee crackles sometimes and I've mostly stopped noticing the gray in my hair.

I believe - for me - a shift of focus is necessary. If I ignore the persistent cycles in favor of that which holds meaning, life once again becomes productive. I'm once again powerful - at least in my own sphere of influence - and can feel I'm doing something. My faithful canine hopped out of bed and clicked down the hall once again in search of me while I was writing. And I moved from my chair to the couch so she could curl up behind my knees. And perhaps it's that easy - getting up, taking a couple of steps to find a different spot and think from here rather than there.

If I sit with God - just dwell in His presence - rather than filling my life with noise to drown Him out... If I pray more and fret less... If I hum hymns rather than mutter curses... If I cling to hope rather than languishing in despair...

If I memorize a Bible verse rather than an advertisement...

For God so loved the world He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

It's small, but it's something. And it soothes me enough to want to sleep again.

Peace be with you.


Comrade PhysioProf said...

If you're talking about the christian god, that motherfucker is not a nice or peaceful dude at all. If that dude were all-powerful as advertised, why would he allow so many fuckers to suffer needlessly and blamelessly? It makes no fucken sense. The only thing that makes any sense at all is that he is a vindictive motherfucker that revels in making poor fucks suffer and laughs his fucken ass off while doing so.

post-doc said...

Dear, sweet PhysioProf - I'm happy to have this conversation with you (we say 'offline' at work, but this would be online but perhaps off-blog) for we differ in perspective here. I do not pretend to understand or accept needless suffering - or suffering at all - but I do know that God is merciful and peaceful and all-powerful. Always happy to trade reading lists with you though. And I'm wishing you and yours a very peaceful and nice evening.

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