Asaph has long been one of my favorite characters in the Bible. In case you’re not familiar, Asaph is one of three music leaders that David commissioned to lead worship at the Tabernacle before the Temple was built. David would often send psalms to these leaders, and they would sing them – or lead others in singing them. This was a pretty serious job, and these music leaders had a pretty incredible responsibility. They led worship at the site that the Lord had chosen to dwell! Continue reading
I’ve got a great family. I really do. In fact, just the other day I found myself telling a customer at work how blessed I feel to have such great parents and brothers. And, while my whole family is pretty awesome, I feel like my mom deserves some special attention. After all, it is Mother’s Day weekend. Continue reading
What a brilliant Creator we must have! Even apart from the intricacies that determine the workings of our universe, or the complexities of our own solar system, or even the delicate placement of this rock we call Earth that allows for the existence of life, even if we just look at the lives of us homo sapiens, I can’t help but think that we have a brilliant Creator.
I say this because lately I’ve become almost hyper-aware of the similarities we share as part of this human condition. Incredibly, about 99.9% of any one person’s DNA is identical to any other person’s. But that’s not really what’s got my attention. What truly amazes me are the experiences that we all share. Continue reading
Yeah, yeah… You’ve heard it before. In fact, it’s almost become cliche’. “We don’t have the promise of tomorrow” or “You never know which breath will be your last” or any of a number of other phrases intended to inspire us to live life like it ought to be lived.
Truth be told though, they don’t. At least not for me anyway. It’s too easy for the weight of those words to sink past relevance and slip right on into vagueness. I mean, really? No promise of tomorrow?
This whole thought tangent started as I listened to the well-meaning lyrics of a song on the radio. The artist claims that if they had one last breath, they’d give it to Christ. Or if they only had one more song, they’d sing it for Him. One more prayer, they’d pray it… You get the picture.
The fact is, I would too. And it’d be easy. If I knew I only had one breath left, of course I’d use if to confess Christ and ask to spend eternity with Him. Wouldn’t you? I mean, why not? What’s to lose? It’s your last breath anyway.
The same thing goes for any other cause or movement or ideal that we believe in. Of course we’d pledge our “last breath” if we knew when that was. “If this were my last day on earth, I’d spend it being nice to everyone.” Or, “If this were my last day, I’d spend it telling everyone how much I love them”… Or feeding the hungry, or helping the helpless, or clothing the naked, or encouraging the down-and-out, or speaking hope into broken life. EASY! Your last day is a one-time gig.
I think the real issue isn’t the last breath, it’s all the times we breathe between now and then. Because even though we don’t have any promise of tomorrow, we sure as heck act like we do. Or at least I do.
I go through most days focused on what’s going on “tomorrow”. Through every stage of my life, I — at least to some degree — spend it anticipating the greener grass that is the next stage.
I could argue that there is a positive element to this way of living. That anticipation and dreams and goals are what drive us to become better, more successful people; and I’d be right. But not if those things inhibit our ability to live life right where we’re at.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, let’s stop this insane thinking that we can get by calling ourselves advocates of whatever cause we choose just by pledging our “last breaths”. Let’s live life – each breath, each day – speaking what we know to be truth. In my case that truth (at its core) is two-fold.
First, in as simple of terms as I can manage, I believe that the Creator of this universe knows me by name, and that he loves me and you with reckless abandon. So much so that he sacrificed his own life so that we could spend eternity with him rather than pay the consequences of our shortcomings. Pretty big deal.
Second, I believe that life is meant to be lived with other people. That the Creator intended this part of our journey to be spent together. I realize, like everyone that experiences this human condition, that life sucks sometimes. That things happen that we don’t understand, and that things don’t always turn out the way we’d intended. But I believe that these times are easier when we find ourselves surrounded with other people that understand this and that can offer support and encouragement.
So this is me attempting to spend a breath between the one I took as I started writing and the last one I’ll ever take speaking truth. My challenge to you will come as a question: How will you spend the moments between this one and your last?
Over the last few weeks I’ve become increasingly frustrated. Frustrated mainly by the fact that I just completed my Bachelor’s degree, and I still don’t know what I want to do. I have, however, become quite aware of what I don’t want to do. But let me back up a bit.
When I moved to Indianapolis about two years ago I got into banking because that’s what was available. I started out part-time as a Financial Services Rep, at a location inside of a Walmart store on the south side of town. This morning, as I ran a teller line at a traditional branch on the north side of town, I realized how much has changed… and how much more I’d like for it to change. I’m now at my third branch, working as a full-time Personal Banker, and spending a lot of time as the unofficial admin for our regional manager. Honestly, I really enjoy the admin part. It’s supposed to become a full-time admin gig soon. It can’t happen fast enough.
You know that feeling, right? I mean, I know I’m not the only individual that gets burnt out doing the same old same old waiting for a change of pace. I’m reminded of Hunter and Lauren (my favorite kiddos on the planet) with their “Where’s Waldo” books. And I feel like Waldo. Lost in a sea of faces and colors and confusion. Just wishing life wasn’t so chaotic.
It’s times like these that I get a lot of strength from one of Asaph’s psalms. (According to some Bible Encyclopedia online, Asaph is one of David’s choir leaders.) Opening line of Psalm 77 (from the Message): “I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might, I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens.” An absolutely profound passage in my opinion. Asaph goes on to explain this terrible predicament in which he’s found himself. He describes his days and nights blending together, strumming on his guitar wondering how to get his life together. I love how he admits that he’s not even quite sure what’s bothering him… he’s just messed up. Kinda makes me feel good to know I’m not the only one.
So, Asaph describes his situation. But then he does something incredible. He starts to remember all the cool things God had done for his people in the past. He relays this beautiful, poetic version of God splitting the Red Sea for the Hebrews:
Ocean saw you in action, God,
saw you and trembled with fear;
Deep Ocean was scared to death.
Clouds belched buckets of rain,
Sky exploded with thunder,
your arrows flashing this way and that.
From Whirlwind came your thundering voice,
Lightning exposed the world,
Earth reeled and rocked.
You strode right through Ocean,
walked straight through roaring Ocean,
but nobody saw you come or go.
Hidden in the hands of Moses and Aaron,
You led your people like a flock of sheep.
He goes on to tell some other epic stories of God’s intervention. He starts to get the fact that no matter where he’s at, there’s a God that gets it, and is able to help. In reality, he realizes that God is pretty much the best ever at “Where’s Waldo?” Because even when he was going through hell, God knew exactly where he was at.
That’s where I’m at right now. Feeling like life’s not moving fast enough. Like I’m lost in a sea of chaos. But I have plenty of my own “Red Sea” sagas to reflect on. Plenty of times where He’s worked things out for me and/or my family. Too many times, in fact, to believe for a minute that He doesn’t know where I’m at.
So, what are your stories? What’s He done for you when nobody else could make a difference? Think about next time you feel like Waldo.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about mercy lately…. Possibly because it seems that I require more than most people! Whatever the reason, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts.