I often mention the park across from my home and that’s because if often reflects slices of our society. One of those slices that I see on most days is a kids pick-up game of baseball; no adults, no uniforms, and no trophies just baseball for the fun of it. The kids that show up for a game are good, for you can see line drives, shagged flies, cut-off throws, and double plays.
What I find really interesting is how a game begins. A kid shows up with his glove, bat, and ball and lays out some stones for the bases. Then he sits in the grass and waits for his buds. When enough kids show up the game begins.
My wife pointed out to me how their game is much like church. They wait for each other to show up. They practice to make themselves better at what they love. Everyone who shows up is accepted. They help each other improve through encouragement. Their shouting and laughter is like singing. Finally, there is a great amount of joy in doing something they love.
Baseball and church, who knew,
Last week I mentioned the coyote chorus that is sung nightly in the desert. They seem to be rejoicing that the pack is back together again. There is another animal that can be heard each night, and that’s the wild donkeys. The Jacks and Jennies are a complaining bunch, for those sad eyed creatures lack the ability to travel from point A to point B at night without letting everyone know what their complaints are. Throughout the desert night their hee-hawing echoes can be heard.
I talk with many people in the park across from my home and often I’m asked, “Do you ever see the donkeys?” I reply, “Yes, all the time.” They sound surprised at that response, for most of them have never seen or heard one. I tell them “Those beautiful creatures are there, you just have to look and listen for them.”
It’s the same with God. People say they have lived on this planet for years and have never seen or heard from God. My reply is the same, “I see Him and hear his echoes all the time. You just have to look and listen for Him.”
It starts with a distant howl after sunset. A lone coyote lets out his song into the night. He is simply calling to his pack, but the poet in me thinks he is saying, “I’m alone! Where are you? I need to get back!”
In the desert blackness is a reply; just as distant of a cry. It’s another member of the pack saying, “I’m over here; hurry and join me.” Shortly the other members of the pack add their voices. In my mind I picture silent padded feet trotting over the rocky desert floor to the meeting place. Each hurried on by the inborn nature to be together. When they meet they are overwhelmed with joy at being together again, and a coyote chorus begins. They sing because they don’t face the world alone.
After a week in the world I make my way to the church and think in a little way I’m like them. I want to see my Christian family and know that I’m not alone in this world; that there are others just like me. When we all arrive there is joy and singing because we are not alone in the night.
Jesus was heading to Galilee from Judea and took the shortcut through Samaria. This seems to be an innocuous act by us today. In the day for a Jewish Rabbi to enter Samaria was unheard of, but again Jesus was always controversial. Jesus was controversial because he always put his Father’s will first. Putting God first is the hard lesson for today’s Christian to learn.
A case on point is Paul. He became seized by Jesus on the Damascus Road (Cf. Acts 9) and later wrote about his life, “None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself…” (Acts 20:24). What Paul meant was he did not consider his own life important, but what was important was fulfilling the ministry that had been given to him by Jesus. On the Damascus Road, Paul became controversial too.
What is the lesson? It is the contrast between Christian service performed by common sense and emotion rather then based on Jesus’ call. Jesus calls us to put aside our life, our common sense, and our emotions, and to step out in faith remembering, “You are not your own” (1Cor 6:19b).
You are his,
When King David was bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, “Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled” (2 Sam. 6:6). Uzzah thought God needed a little help with the covenant, so he reached out to help God. In the next verse we read the act was irreverent, and Uzzah died next to the ark.
This week a friend sent me a text which said, “I’ve read the story and God wins in the end.” He was not the author of the saying, but it is a good reminder; our God is large and in charge.
We have this underlying fear that God will be bested in the end; he will not be able to fulfill his promises. When that little shoulder sitting demon whispers such doubts in our ear, we, like Uzzah, reach out to steady God’s ark by thinking, “God needs our help, God needs our wisdom, or God needs out input.” The resurrection of Jesus teaches us God does not need our help.