Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 288 - The Clear View

I was cooking last night and I heard this loud thud.  I knew what it was as I have heard it many times before but this time it was a little louder than the normal thud.  When I finished cutting the onions for my tomato, pasta creation, I wiped my hands quickly and turned to see if the cardinal that had run into the sliding glass door so many times before was dazed or dead from a broken neck.  As I looked outside, I was suddenly aware of why the thud was louder than normal.  A sharp-shinned baby hawk had ran into the window and was perched on the patio furniture with bright yellow eyes obviously stunned.

I yelled for anybody who could hear me in the house.  Nobody was nearby, I grabbed the camera to take a photo as I had never seen a baby so close before.  The yellow eyes were amazing.  How do such beautiful creatures soar so high and then with eyes of precision run into an image of reflection of oneself?  The hawk must have been chasing one of the fifty or so small birds that are in our back yard.  In pursuit of what he valued as the prize or the chase of the prize, he had a clear view that suddenly changed to a reflection of itself before crashing.

I thought about life and how we do that.  How we pursue what we value as the prize or even the chasing of the dream as the prize only to run into something that was clearly the path and had suddenly changed into a brick wall. We saw the image of ourselves and realized that we were the enemy.  We have met the enemy and he is us.  We are our own worst enemy.  It is only with a loud thud, a dazed conscience and a body in shock that we stop long enough to evaluate the situation.  What is it that we are chasing that may not be the path in which we are supposed to follow? 

Our destiny is one of many options and paths.  My belief is that we have more than one path to reach the correct destiny.  There are reasons we make mistakes or run into glass doors along the way, to stop momentarily to reflect on the once clear vision that suddenly was our own reflection that we have run into - head first.

Is it just a coincidence that the quote "We are our own worst enemy." was used on the first 1970 Earth Day poster by the creator of the character Pogo by Walt Kelly.  Are we tending to the earth as our global population has reached 9 Billion?  Will we be able to take care of her creatures like the hawks of the sky, the dolphins of the ocean or the mammals of the forest if we keep flying without true vision of the glass door?  Are we giving back to the soil after we have eaten the vegetables/fruits from the garden?  Are we composting?  Are we feeding the creatures that complete the life cycle?

As I reached for the camera, the hawk flew off before being able to take the picture.  Thankful for the moment and the vivid lesson learned from it, I pondered and wondered if I was going in the right direction God wants me to go?  I've surrendered the decision of my path to him, I have faith that he will lead me to the place I'm supposed to be as I search a new beginning all while being filled with fear of the unknown.  I wish I could be like that hawk and just jump for my first flight without fear and let the wind carry me as it caresses the feathers of my fragile wings.  Even if I did run into a few glass doors, I would have the courage to fly once I recovered once again.  With faith, I soon will again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day 287 - March Madness - You've Got To Have Faith

The one thing that drives me nuts about President Obama is that he doesn't pronounce the word "to" properly.  He is always saying "ta".  We have ta do this, we are going ta do that, etc.  The original title to this blog was We Gotta Have Faith, which is a George Michaels song. George Michaels is from England and it reminded me of the relationship we have with England.  With the recent event of the British Prime Minister visiting President Obama who took him to the opening game of the NCAA tournament of Western Kentucky University vs. S. Mississippi Valley State where WKU was getting their butts whipped.  President Obama shared with the Prime Minister the terms of the game as the Prime Minister promised to take him to a game of Cricket to share the terms of that game.  The next day at their press conference I learned something new.  We invest in the UK 8 times the amount China does and the UK invests in the USA 4 times the amount China does.  The relationship between the mother country of England and it's child USA is one of trust, mutual respect and faith.  We invest in each other because we believe in each other.

Over twenty years ago, a man who I don't even remember wrote down bible scriptures that corresponded to the times in our lives that we are searching for answers.  I rediscovered this lately and saw the time about "when you don't know where you're going" phrase which corresponded to Romans chapter 4 and 5.  I reread those chapters last night and it answered a question I always had about fairness.  I never understood why a person can commit murder and still get to heaven and a person who never breaks any rules can get to heaven.  Why is this fair?

Romans Chapter 4 talks about Abraham and his faith:  But didn't he earn his right to heaven by all the good things he did?  No, for being saved is a gift; if a person can earn it by being good, then it wouldn't be free --but it is!  It is given to those who do NOT work for it.  For God declares sinners to be good in his sight if they have faith in Christ to save them from God's wrath.  

King David spoke of this, describing the happiness of an undeserving sinner who is declared "not guilty" by God.  "Blessed, and to be envied,"  he said, "are those whose sins are forgiven and put out of sight.  Yes, what joy there is for anyone whose sins are no longer counted against him by the Lord." 

Now then, the question: Is this blessing given only to those who have faith in Christ but also keep the Jewish laws, or is the blessing also given to those who do not keep the Jewish rules, but only trust Christ? We look to Abraham for the answer who was saved before he became a Jew.  It wasn't until later on, after God had promised to bless him because of his faith [...]Abraham is the spiritual father of those who believe and are saved without obeying Jewish laws.  We see, then that those who do not keep these rules are justified by God through faith. 

It is clear, then, that God's promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was not because Abraham obeyed God's law as but because  he trusted God to keep his promise.  So if you still claim that God's blessings go to those who are "good enough," then you are saying that God's promises to those who have faith are meaningless, and faith is foolish.  But the fact of the matter is this:  when we try to gain God's blessing and salvation by keeping his laws we always end up under his anger, for we always fail to keep them.  The only way we can keep from breaking laws is not to have any to break!

God's blessings are given to us by faith, as a free gift; we are certain to get them whether or not we follow Jewish customs if we have faith like Abraham, for Abraham is the father of us all when it comes to matters of faith.  That is what the Scriptures mean when they say that God made Abraham the father of many nations.  God will accept all people in every nation who trust God as Abraham did.  And this promise is from God himself who makes the dead live again and speaks of future events with as much certainty as though they are already past.

...but Abraham never doubted.  He believed God, for his faith and trust grew every stronger, and he praised God for this blessing even before it happened.  He was completely sure that God was well able to do anything he promised.  And because of Abraham's faith God forgave his sins and declared him "not guilty."

Now this wonderful statement - that he accepted and approved through his faith - wasn't just for Abraham's benefit.  It was for us, too, assuring us that God will accept us in the same way he accepted Abraham - when we believe the promises of God who brought back Jesus our Lord from the dead.  He died for our sins and rose again to make us right with God, filling us with God's goodness. 

So there was my answer.  If we're unsure of where you're going, we need to have at MINIMUM, faith that God is going to lead us to where we need to be and go.  If you have faith, the events of one's life fall into place and unfold with time to show any one of us the view in the rear view mirror is with purpose and such precision that there is order in the chaos. 

Last night, the opening night of the tournament, we saw this in action with both BYU and WKU mens basketball teams that were down by 15 and 25 points respectively. Somehow the message was delivered and received (an important component to the process here) that they could do this and break all previous records.  BYU broke Dukes comeback against Kentucky in 1992 with the pass from Grant Hill to Christian Latner to upset Kentucky from a deficit of 22 points.  BYU came back from 25 points against a very competent and fast Iona team.  WKU played like a middle school team scoring 20 points in the first half.  Only 10 baskets (without free throws) in 20 minutes.  Are you kidding me?  1 basket every two minutes?  But within 5 minutes, they came back from a 15 point deficit and won!

I wondered what the Prime Minister thought as he sat there and watched this new history being made.  This is why I love basketball, it mirrors life.  Just when Jewel was still living in her car with her guitar, something down inside gave her the strength to have faith that she would be discovered, and she is a popular musician/singer today.  After Henry Ford had two failed car companies in 1893 and 1901, he launched Ford in 1903 and it was the only American Car Company who didn't accept a bail out from the US Government in 2008, 105 years later.  In our darkest hours, having faith will deliver great promises that we never could possibly imagine with our small limited human minds.  We've got ta' have the blessing of faith, whether with a got "to" or got "ta", it doesn't matter, it must exist in our minds and more importantly in our hearts.  That is what is so great about our NCAA Basketball brackets, every team has a shot, unlike the NCAA Football Championships.  It is a free gift that comes with March Madness.