A Bigger Picture. (Part 1)

At the start, He was there.
In the end, He’ll be there.

Let me try to explain to you what my view of God was. He was a big guy who ruled Heaven, which was somewhere up above me (and hell was somewhere below me). He loved me enough to die for me so I wouldn’t have to experience separation from him except for my own choice. He loved to give good gifts to his children and any time bad things happened it was a consequence of my own sin. Direct punishment for dropping the S bomb in front of girls. Or something like that. Anger was part of his character, but he loved bigger. He was strong and he was the man’s man.

Everything is changing. First of all, I believed God was “up” there in heaven which was somewhere on the other side of the stars. If I could just jump high enough I could maybe stick my head in the lower levels of heaven. It was a place with gold streets, gates made of diamonds and lakes perfect for water skiing. There would be huge banquets and a yard for football. It was a place attainable after passing from this life to the next. I don’t think I buy it. Might I suggest, heaven is in the here and now. All around. Hiding just behind the shadow of this world we currently live in. I almost feel I could take a knife and cut a hole in the cling wrap of the world and hiding just behind this layer would be a place where colors are more colorful and fruits are sweater and love is more perfect and everything is bigger and there is no sickness and no disease and no decay. I feel like it’s just out of reach. Right around the next corner. Or hiding in the folds of a new adventure. And the best part, trying to catch it is the greatest game of all. I imagine little kids chasing their daddy’s and just before they catch him he slips into the closet or behind a closed door. It’s a cosmic game of tag. You and I both know, sometimes dad used to let us catch him. And then, heaven explodes into earth. And for a moment, everything else gets the volume turned down and sickness is healed, brokeness restored, and joy overflows. It’s a just enough of a taste to keep us needing more. I’m not sure how theologically sound this is, but I kind of feel like heaven will look like this world. Except we will find heaven is real and this world is fake.

Seek first my Kingdom…

Everything is changing. This thing called love and the way I perceive it are drastically changing. It’s amazing to me how this beautiful gift can cause so much pain, heartache, and grief. Maybe, just maybe, the problem isn’t with love but with those through which love is communicated. There is a disconnect between the Giver of love and those who receive it. We live in a broken world and when sin entered, it started to decay. The innocence was lost and it began to break down. And it affected the way we love. We seem to have this idea of love being a powerful emotion which sweeps us off our feet and puts little butterflies in our stomachs. We get the warm fuzzies and when it happens, it can’t be ignored or stopped. Beautiful relationships are destroyed over the idea that love “just happens” or “it just feels right” or “I don’t understand it but I have to go with it.” Even I have believed these emotions, that is, until everything started to change. I have said and heard it said, “I am falling in love with you.” Two things here.
1. Falling implies an uncontrolled descent with an unpleasant pounding when the descent reaches its end.
2. I usually fall when I trip on something and the tripping is usually an accident.
So, maybe we should start saying, “I am accidently tripping and entering into an uncontrolled descent with a few bruises at the end with you.” Sadly enough, with our current views on love, this is what usually happens. And with this paradox is where my view of God began to change. The greatest love story ever told starts the night before the first nail pierced his skin. The scene unfolds and we have Jesus alone, praying in the garden. Jesus has a problem. There is this bride he longs for, needs, desires, yearns for, and calls to. As it stands in the moment, he is separated from his bride. He knows the only way to come into fellowship and intimacy with her is to face the most humiliating and painful death the world has ever seen. He is faced with two choices. Walk away or give up his life for his bride. My favorite part is next. The greatest pick up line in all of pick up lines.

“Father, It’s not about what I want, but what you want. Your will be done.”

And the love story begins. Jesus makes the choice to love his bride knowing severe discomfort was less then a few hours away. Now if love was a feeling, he would have walked away because no one wants to feel excruciating pain. I can assure you, when Jesus was on the cross, loving his bride did not “just feel right.” It didn’t just happen and I’ll be willing to bet he wasn’t swept off his feet. But because he made the choice in the garden, this world has never known a greater love story. (Oh, and in case you don’t know the ending, he gets the girl. Honestly, what bride would say, “no thanks” after what Jesus did for her? Exactly.) Love is not a feeling or an emotion; it’s a choice. Feelings and emotions come and go. Love was never intended to come and go but be the rock on which the house is built. It’s a choice. I think the next time I get the opportunity to love ‘that someone special’, I will look her in the eyes and I won’t say, “I’m falling in love with you,” but, “I choose to love you.” Knowing full well I am echoing the words of Jesus and in so doing carrying the promise to represent the rock on which the house is built and to go anywhere or do anything, even lay down my life, so the two of us can have fellowship with one another.

“Today, beloved, I choose to love you.”

You may be wondering what all this has to do with Thailand and this blog, which is just supposed to update you on the comings and going while we are here. I think, however, this trip to Thailand is a chapter of the journey I have been on the past few months and by reading, you have become a part of this journey and are following along as I discover a God bigger and better than I could have ever imagined. And since you are following, I want you to discover the things I am discovering. I feel like this particular blog is part 1 and there could be several more parts to, “A bigger picture.” I explored two areas in which things have been turned upside down and I can already think of several more. However, I wanted to get this up as soon as possible so you could begin to track these thoughts with me and maybe develop some of your own.

On a lighter note. Bobby and I have a new friend.

This little joker popped his head out on the wall right above where I was sitting and started yelping. If you have never heard a gecko yelp, it can be quite intimidating at first. But, he’s friendly.

Bobby went live with his website just a few hours ago. He’s got some cool pictures and more information on what we’re doing over here. You can check it out here.