Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Good Life

“A rich industrialist from the North was horrified to find a Southern fisherman lying leisurely beside his boat. ‘Why aren’t you fishing?’ asked the industrialist.

“ ‘Because I have caught enough fish for the day,’ said the fisherman.

“ ‘Why don’t you catch some more?

“ ‘What would I do with them?

“ ‘You could earn more money,’ was the reply. ‘With that, you could fix a motor to your boat, go into deeper waters and catch more fish. Then you would make enough money to buy nylon nets. These would bring you more fish and more money. Soon you would have enough money to own two boats . . . maybe even a fleet of boats. Then you would be a rich man like me.

“ ‘What would I do then?

“ ‘Then you could really enjoy life.’

“ ‘What do you think I am doing right now?’ said the fisherman.”

                                                                                                              Anthony de Mello

Friday, May 4, 2012

Change, God and Mama Dove

As I walked out of the house this morning, coffee and laptop in hand, the warm humid air hit my face, revealing that another South Texas Summer is quickly setting in.  As I wiped the almost instantaneous sweat from my brow, I glanced up at the large palm tree to the left.  As has become the routine lately, I anticipated my eyes meeting those of my new friend; "Mama Dove", as we've affectionately called her.  About two feet above eye level, resting in the nook of a couple of dead branches, are usually the small dark black eyes that cautiously watch my movements as I pass by.  There was more nervousness in her glances when we first discovered her, but as the days passed by, she soon relaxed, realizing that neither me nor my family were much of a threat.  There seemed to be a silent trust that had developed.  She seemed to know that we all knew what she was up to and appeared to be comfortable in her new temporary home.  I began to enjoy greeting her as I came and went.  "Hey, Mama Dove!  How are those babies doing?  When's the big day?"  Over the last couple of days, by her relaxed glances, it was almost as if she was sharing her experience with me.  I enjoyed having her around. 

But this morning, instead of seeing her welcoming face or tale feathers, depending on her position of choice, I saw only an empty nest.  I would have assumed that she was simply making a food run, but apparently nesting doves have a very specific routine, and those don't take place until evening, as the sun begins to set.  After setting down my coffee and backpack, I walked outside and into the garage to get my ladder, still expecting her to swoop down any second and assume her maternal post.  But as I set the ladder near the tree and made my way up toward the nest, I quickly realized that it was empty and the realization of what was going on set in.  She was gone and the eggs had hatched.  Nature had upheld it's end of the bargain and the anticipation of life finally came to fruition.  The wheels on the bus go round and round.  

There are literally thousands of birds born each and every day.  There should be no reason that I lament the absence of Mama Dove and the two eggs that she patiently and dutifully watched over for so long.  But as I picked up one of the shells that I found on the ground cover below, I felt a little sadness at the change that just occurred.  Something that I had come to depend on, look forward to and even enjoy, was removed from my life and I felt the subtle sting of "change".  And change can suck sometimes.  None of us really like it, but it happens none the less.  And this little window into nature revealed that change occurs in all aspects of life; even those that seem to have nothing to do with us.

Mama Dove's big change had become a small change for me.  The system of God's creation transpired in this little birds life and by chance, and blessing, I was able to be a part of it.  Nature has no time tables.  Nature has no schedules.  Nature has no dependence on anything other than itself and it's self-reliance, and this got me thinking about a much bigger picture.  These small pictures of nature, God's sovereign creation, reveal to us just how little control we have to what happens to us.  Mama Dove's eggs would hatch, whether she wanted them to or not.  And as long as she did the job that God created her to do, everything would go as planned.  Why is that simple concept so difficult for human beings to grasp?

All of nature, besides man, seems to have a trusting grasp on the perfect flow of nature and the creation that surrounds them.  Just because we might have superior intellects, does that give us the privilege of worry and the authority of control?  Just because the mind delves into reason, does that allow us to usurp what God has already perfectly set in motion, without flaw or glitch?  Or could it be that we are the flaws and glitches to the process?

I wonder is God has been revealing Scripture to me, just outside my front door.  Has He been whispering to me through Mama Dove, " Jake, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; what you will write today or who you will minister to; or about your body, what you will wear; or about your hair and how it's falling out.  Is not life more than food, books, hair and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; look at Mama Dove; she doesn't sow or reap or store away in barns, in fact, she just sits there all day long, 24/7, and yet I feed her.  Are you not much more valuable than her?  Is not your family?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" - Matthew 6:25-27 (Paraphrase mine)                               

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Lost Passage From The Gospel of John: Jesus Teaches on the Kingdom of God

From the Gospel of John.  Chapter a verse unknown

On his way to Galilee, Jesus and his disciples saw a man sitting on the side of the road.  The man appeared troubled and was weeping.  Jesus approached the man and sat beside him.

As he continued to weep, Jesus put his arm around the man and drew him close.  So the man leaned against Jesus and began to weep even more.

Jesus' disciples approach them and said, "Rabbi, who is this man to us?  Why should his troubles concern us so?"

"The weight of a mountain lies on this man's shoulders, " said Jesus, "a weight so heavy that he is not able to bear it any longer.  It is for this reason that our paths have crossed.  Where else are would we to go at this moment?  For you, the Kingdom of God lies in Jerusalem, in the streets where all can see and praise awaits you.  For you, the Kingdom of God lies in Rome, beholding a great military victory.  For you, the Kingdom of God lies in a destination.  Somewhere we must go to.  But I tell you the truth.  The Kingdom of God is here, in this moment, lifting the burdens from this man's shoulders and carrying it for him.  The Kingdom of God is here and now."

At this, Jesus' disciples were amazed and said nothing more.  They sat down with Jesus and the man and asked Jesus to teach them more about the Kingdom.  They also made a fire and prepared a meal to share together.

Jesus said to them, "Are you still unsure of what I have told you?  There is nothing more you need to know of the Kingdom of God, but what you see here.  You're questioning and doubts only delay us."

After they shared a meal together, the man looked at Jesus and said, "Lord, I see the Kingdom of God.  It is at hand and I believe in the words you speak.  I will follow you."

Jesus looked at the man with compassion.  "You do believe and you will follow. But for now, my path is not your path.  Leave your burdens here.  Go and reveal the Kingdom of God, just as you have seen it, for where you go, the Kingdom will be."

Immediately, the man got up, picked up his cloak and went on his way, praising the Lord and declaring the Kingdom of God.

Jesus' disciples said nothing, but left this place, also praising God and declaring His Kingdom in it's fullness."