Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Call the Dog by Name

Have you ever watched a dog for someone?  We recently did for three weeks. Overall, the dog, Charlie, was a good-natured dog. His weakness was that whenever we left the house, he sprayed pee on various objects and would poop multiple times to show his distress. We did not enjoy returning home to see what he left us. He was becoming a nuisance.

One night, however, I was taking my baby daughter to bed. She speaks four words so far: mama, dada, hi, and doggie.  But as I walked her across the dim upstairs landing to the bedroom, she heard him moving at the foot of the stairs.

"Do you hear that?" I said. "That's the doggie. Where is the doggie?"

Suddenly she called to him.


She was staring down into the dark stairwell, and she beckoned with her hand for him to come.

I was in shock.  When I told my wife the next day that our daughter's fifth word was Charlie, she was strangely moved.

"It almost makes me want to keep him around," she said. "I can forgive him a lot of things if she likes him."

I know, personally, that I spray a lot of objects in God's house and leave poop here and there for him to clean up.

But his beloved son, Jesus, takes my name on his lips. He says my name. Not only does he call my name in the darkness, he has carved my name on his hands forever. That has to count for something.

"He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."

"But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine."

"See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands."  Isaiah 49:16

Friday, April 14, 2017

Crawling to Father

The other night I was at a church function for Valentine's Day. I was standing up on the stage with some others, competing in a silly Family Feud-style game.

There was a rustle in the audience. I looked out and saw, crawling away from the banquet tables, my baby daughter. She was crawling towards me, a determined expression on her face. She would put her head down and crawl across the carpet, then stop and raise her head to see where I was and adjust course.  When she finally reached the stage, she started climbing painstakingly, determinedly up the stairs to where I stood at the top.

Before she could get all the way up, I stepped down and swooped her into my arms. Snug there against me in front of everyone, she looked perfectly contented, as though this was the most natural thing in the world. I held her for the remainder of the on-stage activity.

I had felt such warmth and affection as I watched her crawling away from everyone else and towards me. She had single-minded focus and would not be content until she was in my arms. I felt proud of her. She had acknowledged me before others, and I was certainly proud to acknowledge her as mine to the entire assembled audience.

"I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God's angels. But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God's angels."

Luke 12:8-9

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Comforting the Dead

The beggar Lazarus had a difficult life. As he lay outside the gate of the rich man's house, dogs would come up and lick his sores. He had no health care. He had no power. But he had faith.

After death, he lay in the arms of Father Abraham. Why? To be comforted. Abraham himself took this ragged beggar into his arms, to comfort him. Apparently reaching heaven does not instantly erase all past sorrows. It's a process.

We also see people in heaven who are discontent, or impatient. The martyrs call out, "How long until we are avenged?". Sounds a little different than our average Sunday School images of heaven.

But this comforting of Lazarus caught my eye. The other night my 10-month old daughter woke up and began crying. I hurried to her and picked her up, and held her. Her tears didn't stop immediately. It took a little time. I had to gently murmur to her, rocking her, holding her close.

After the trauma of this life, apparently at least some of us get the same treatment. We don't forget. There is nowhere in the BIble that says we do.  But we are comforted. We are pulled from the coffin and held in much older arms, gently murmured to, understood, loved.  I wonder how long it takes to calm down and find healing?  If the Lord's presence is there, the healing process goes quickly, I'm sure, but some wounds take time.

And then one day, all this current order of things will pass away. Tears and sorrow and loss will be from a previous age, for all things will be made new. And in the ages to come he will continue to surprise us with his mercy and grace.