Meanderings: Every now and then time catches me. Something reminds me how fast life is passing and how different things are. I ruminate on memories, remembering old times and old friends… It is like being outside myself – looking into a room I cannot enter.
Recently I had two “time” moments like this. I thought of my high school friend Jim, because this past week was the 30th anniversary of the Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut, Lebanon. The lives of 220 Marines, 18 sailors and several Army soldiers were gone in an instant. Most were in the prime of life. One of them, my friend, was 19 years old. He volunteered for the Marines.
I knew Jim because we were both soccer players. He was fast, aggressive and full of high spirits. He could make you laugh so hard your stomach would hurt. After we graduated from different high schools, we remained friends for a while. He was a good kid – I still have his graduation picture piled up in a box of memorabilia. Like most Americans, I had forgotten the date of the bombing, though I have never forgotten Jim.
The second memory was that of “the General”. My family and I have been going to the same Chinese restaurant since I was a kid. The staff is like family to each other – they make careers there and are genuinely happy to see their regular customers. One of our favourite servers there was a tall, older gentleman we called the General. Kind and talkative, he was capable, well-mannered and very humble. It was years before I found out why his nickname was the General….it is because he WAS a Vietnamese general….in the Vietnam War. He didn’t want to talk about his time in the service, only sharing that the current war in the middle east had greatly saddened him. He told us, “If everyone really knew what hell war was, NO ONE would ever want to fight one.”
I learned this week that the General just passed away of a brain tumour. He was 72. No more wars for him.
Crooked Paths: So why do I share these two snapshots? Well because the older I become, the more sanguine I am about the condition of the human heart. I could certainly go on a rant here about politics, about who is right and who is wrong, about foreign policy and sovereignty of a nation….but that is NOT the point here. Whether it is an act of despicable terrorism, of aggression in the theater of war between nations, an act of gun-violence in a school yard, gang-murder on the streets of the city, or abuse in the homes across America….it is all a reflection of human pride, ego and man’s dark and sinful heart and our inability to stop ourselves. It is as old as time itself, as it was Lucifer’s ego and pride in himself that got him thrown out of heaven and away from God. Human beings have followed that example ever since, beginning with Adam and Eve.
I truly believe that the farther we take ourselves away from the heart of God, the deeper we as a society will go into the depth of depravity, pain and sin in ourselves and against others. We have collectively told God to move over and move out….of our lives…so we shall reap what we sow.
I am incredulous that just today in the news I heard that 50% of American’s believe that zombie’s and aliens from another planet are real…yet less than 50% of American’s believe in God, and even less acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, who came to this earth to pay our sin debt and give us salvation through belief in Him. We have no proof of the undead walking around or aliens visiting in our local Starbucks, yet we have the Word of God, the Bible at our fingertips…and it is the most read book (and historically accurate) in world history! It occurs to me that perhaps people are willing to believe in the zombies and aliens because there is no risk in that…no accountability. To submit our lives and lifestyles to Jesus Christ will cost us something….and require us to allow light to shine into the dark spaces of our lives.
Straightened Paths: So, though my post is a bit melancholy today, I write to remind all of us that we have choices. We can seek the truth and light of Jesus Christ, and through His spirit in us, walk with Him and be given transformed hearts filled with His spirit….or we can choose darkness, hate and evil. It really is up to us. We can fill our days with the distractions of all the “things” we are pursuing or we can spend time with God, gathering wisdom and strength from Him – allowing the renewal of our minds through His Word. We can make a difference in other’s lives for positive; by praying for and serving others…Who in your “kingdom of influence” can you love on for Christ? Who is the marginalized, the homeless, the hungry, the single mom, the fatherless kid, the angry teenager, the broken-hearted wife, the unbelieving friend in your realm? Do you see them? Do I see them?
One day, Jesus will return to this earth and we will all be accountable for what is in our hearts. For those whose hearts belong to Him, He will wipe away every tear…in the meantime – what will we do with the time He has given us? There are so many in our lives who no longer have the opportunity to make a difference – so for the General, for Jim, for my friends and family who are gone…. for Jesus, I will take action today and tomorrow to seek the Lord while He may be found, I will choose to multiply the love Jesus gives me..and fill my mind and heart not with darkness, but with the light of Life, Jesus Christ. Will you join me?
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Homelessness: Up Close and Personal (mysemesterinsegovia.wordpress.com)
What Jesus Wants More than Your Service (ourdailybread101.wordpress.com)