Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dahnmaya's Song

This is one of my favorite passages. It comes from Philip Yancey’s book Prayer.

I have seen evidence of God's presence in the most unexpected places. During our trip to Nepal, a physical therapist gave my wife and me a tour of the Green Pastures Hospital, which specializes in leprosy rehabilitation. As we walked along an outdoor corridor, I noticed in a courtyard one of the ugliest human beings I have ever seen. Her hands were bandaged in gauze, she had deformed stumps where most people have feet, and her face showed the worst ravages of that cruel disease. Her nose had shrunken away so that, looking at her, I could see into her sinus cavity. Her eyes, mottled and covered with callus, let in no light; she was totally blind. Scars covered patches of skin on her arms.

We toured a unit of the hospital and returned along the same corridor. In the meantime this creature had crawled across the courtyard to the very edge of the walkway, pulling herself along the ground by planting her elbows and dragging her body like a wounded animal. I'm shamed to say my first thought was She's a beggar and she wants money. My wife, who has worked among the down-and-out, had a much more holy reaction. Without hesitation she bent down to the woman and put her arm around her. The old woman rested her head against Janet's shoulder and began singing a song in Nepali, a tune that we all instantly recognized: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

"Dahnmaya is one of our most devoted church members," the physical therapist later told us. "Most of our patients are Hindus, but we have a little Christian chapel here, and Dahnmaya comes every time the door opens. She's a prayer warrior. She loves to greet and welcome every visitor who comes to Green Pastures, and no doubt she heard us talking as we walked along the corridor."

A few months later we heard that Dahnmaya had died. Close to my desk I keep a photo that I snapped just as she was singing to Janet. Whenever I feel polluted by the beauty-obsessed celebrity culture I live in -- a culture in which people pay exorbitant sums to shorten their noses or plump up their breasts to achieve some impossible ideal of beauty while nine thousand people die each day from AIDS for lack of treatment and hospitals like Green Pastures scrape by on charity crumbs -- I pull out that photo. I see two beautiful women: my wife, smiling sweetly, wearing a brightly colored Nepali outfit she had bought the day before, holding in her arms an old crone who would flunk any beauty test ever devised except the one that matters most. Out of that deformed, hollow shell of a body, the light of God's presence shines out. The Holy Spirit found a home.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wild Things (spoiler free)

I hope you have seen the movie, but if not, I’m sure you’ve read the book.

Max is just a boy in a wolf suit. Or is he? In contrast to our predictable lives, Max finds adventure inside of himself, living the adventure that we only dream of. This adventure is limited only to his wild imagination.

Inside all of us is hope.
Inside all of us is fear.
Inside all of us is adventure.
Inside all of us is a Wild Thing.

Somewhere searching for a career I settled for predictability over adventure. I started out pursuing a passion and end up settling for a paycheck. What once began as a vision to liberate people from bondage turned into an attempt to impress the interviewers across the table.

This blog is confession.

I confess that the fear that is inside all of us got the better of me. Keeping me from living life adventurously, limited only by my imagination. I rationalized it by saying I was being ‘responsible’. I put my ‘boyish’ ways behind and tried to act like an adult.

I began to think differently when I read what Mark Batterson had to say about responsibility.

“So instead of making a life, all we do is make a living. And our deep-seated passions get buried beneath our day-to-day responsibilities. When God puts a passion in your heart, whether it be relieving a starvation in Africa or educating children in the inner city or making movies with redemptive messages, that God-ordained passion becomes your responsibility.”*

It is not irresponsible to live your passionate adventure. Far from it. Mark Batterson would call it obedience. This is a boy and his God. This is why I write. We don't have to have it all together, responsible, and organized.

*Batterson’s quote is from his book Wild Goose Chase. A great read!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Why I respect Jay Bakker

If anyone has a right to hate God, I think it would be Jay Bakker.

Don’t know him? You may remember his dad, Jim Bakker. Jim Bakker of TV’s Praise the Lord. Jim Bakker who was arrested for fraud. Jim Bakker, the first of many televangelist to fall into scandal. If anyone has a right to hate God, I think it would be Jay.

Imagine the hell of watching your prestigious father go from Christian television’s biggest hero to behind bars. Imagine the betrayal. Imagine how he was treated by self-righteous Christians for his father’s sins. My heart broke for him when I read his autobiography, where he recounted the fall. Jay did nothing wrong, but he suffered more than anyone.

Being abandoned by his father to prison, abandoned by the church who ridiculed him, Jay turned to rebellion, drugs and bitterness.

For years, Jay worked at a church he started in Atlanta, The Revolution. Late one night, while walking the streets of Atlanta, I was speaking with a man who ran a homeless shelter. He mentioned that The Revolution was a few blocks down the road. I asked him, “What do you think of Jay Bakker?”

“Jay is weird.” He replied, probably alluding to Jay’s liberal theology. “But Jay loves Jesus. I have no doubt about that.”

If anyone has the right to hate God, I think it would be Jay. But he doesn’t.

Jay found God’s grace when he extended it others. He forgave the people he hated the most, his father’s consultants turn betrayers.

Jay found God’s healing when he shared his pain to crowds of Christians. Finally accepted after years of chastisement, as they listened to his pain rather than hurl their insults, God healed.

When I think of this tattoo covered preacher, I don’t think of his father’s sins, nor his years of rebellion, I think only of God’s grace.

If Jay can love God after the undeserved hardships he has suffered, then so can we.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Keeping Whole

This is a difficult post for me to write because it happened so recently.

But here it is.

I quit my job.

There were several factors that made me decide to leave. But one of the strongest is that I was finally understanding my boss. And I didn’t like what I was seeing. I don’t wish to be disrespectful, nor slander him. But simply put, I did not see a man of integrity.

In response to leaving, I have had my own reality check. For years mentors have stressed to me the importance of a strong foundation of character before any pursuit of success. And now I know why. People may follow you for your successes, but they will remember you for your character. Were you who you said you were? Did you do what you said you would do?

What I'm saying is this: Do not take your integrity for granted. And do not take your boss's integrity for granted. Prior to this experience, I had only worked with people that had strong character. Looking back, I had assumed that I would never have a job experience under dishonesty. Now I know the right questions to ask. Now I know what to look out for.

My thoughts go to one of my favorite speakers, Erwin McManus. He said,
It’s wonderful when you look inside your own heart and like what you see.
As I walk away from this job, I still like what I see inside myself. And that is worth more to me than security, plans or budgets.

-LASTLY, its my birthday on Wednesday! Time to relax and have a fun week.