There’s a number of people who tell me that following Jesus isn’t a good idea,
or at least the way I’m doing it.
My doctors tell me I’m too stressed.
Some friends tell me that they don’t want to watch my life, because it’s too painful for them.
My atheist friends tell me that I’m too smart to be caught up by one guy.
My Christian friends tell me that I go too far.
My progressive friends say I’m not political enough
My conservative friends say my economics are too radical.
My fundamentalist friends say I’m too flexible with the Bible and
My liberal friends imply I should be more intellectual
(not that they would judge).I’d love to be living a different life myself.
One that doesn’t pressure me all the time.
One that doesn’t push my cultural buttons everyday.
One that doesn’t cause me to be anxious about people on the edge of dying.
One that doesn’t require so many memorial services.
Maybe a life that paid a regular salary would be nice.
A life that gave me more opportunities to meditate and write.
Where I could watch my health a bit better and could give my wife the life she deserves.
But if I gave up on this life,
If I chose some other religious vocation–
The life of a middle class pastor or a professor in a Bible school or to be an advocate for the homeless—
I’d be living a lie.
I’d no longer be following Jesus.
I am not pointing fingers at other professions, I can’t do that.
I’m only talking about me.
This is what I have to do to follow Jesus.
To take an easier, more mainstream path is no longer following Jesus.
I must follow this path until I am no longer able to follow this path
Because of physical incapacity
Or because I am too much of a jerk.
(Being a jerk for Jesus isn’t following Jesus at all.)
Well one of my projects is the creation of a forest around the meditation garden. I currently have a few dozen trees of different species now in different stages of maturity and some ground covers and some weeds. Most folks chide me for letting them grow but I have discovered that there are some varieties of finches and humming birds who have a taste for these weeds and it is fun to watch a bird the size of your thumb nail perch on the stock of these skinny little weeds and feed.
Yesterday was a bit of a scorcher and so today I was out early to water the new forest. As I was dragging the hose over there was a whole chorus of birds large and small and even a couple of squirrels sitting on the fence and up in the trees chirping and squawking with excitement. then I chose my sprinkler of choice and turned on the water and as I came around the Motor Home to see if there were any adjustments needed there was the whole crew preening and/or just standing and getting soaked. Even as I approached they did not stop and so after making sure I was getting the first 5 trees I turned and left them to their baths. I will let them have a good 20 minute soak for these trees are the youngest of the forest and need to develop their roots.
Ya know in the book of Romans in the first chapter around verse 18 it talks about how God’s glory is manifested through His creation, and I have noticed that if you take a human and deprive him/her of the basics they will revert back to a base form after a while. But with just the most simple thing like a shower and a kind word they can be transformed before your vary eyes and it is just such a miraculous event. In Romans 8 it says that the whole of Creation awaits with great expectation the revealing of the sons of God. When I set up the sprinkler and turned it, I was revealing my status as one of the sons of God to a portion of Creation and when I can provide a shower and some food and a kind word I am revealing my status as a son of God.
So go water God’s Garden, both the flowers and the weeds.
So having an official license to baptize worms and a fishing pole with all the appropriate doodads I went to try it all out at the Mt Hood Community Pond. I found a spot and sat down and attached the sinker and the hook and a float and the bait and cast it out about 30 feet into the shadows of the pond.
There was the flutter of large wings and a heron came and landed some 20 feet away. He stood there looking at me for a few minutes and then proceeded to walk out to within about 10 feet of the bobber, plunge his head into the water and snag a fish. With an expert flip he then swallowed it whole, looked at me, and flew off.
Undeterred I reeled in the line and cast to a different part of the pond. There was this piercing cry from above and there was a large hawk sitting at the top of a tall snag. Then the hawk through himself out and then plunged to the surface of the pond about 5 feet from the bobber and snatches a good 12-inch trout and flies off.
Once again I reel in the bait and and redeploy to another spot. A few minutes passed then the bobber began to bounce when my friend the heron showed up and snatched a fish not more than a few feet from the bobber and flew off again.
So I decided to call it quits. As I was reeling in the bobber a group of ducks chased it all the way to the bank. I am going to try another spot tomorrow.
I know this because people tell me that I am, so I must be. I do use up whatever energy I have doing a lot of stuff, that’s for sure (but I still have time for a number of movies).
I spend my days with the homeless, mostly.
I get food with the homeless and for the homeless and local poor families. A ton of food a week for four hundred people.
I work to make work for those who don’t have work. Sometimes I am able to pay them.
I make peace amidst violence.
I encourage Jesus’ followers to serve those who need service.
I make disciples and preach sermons and lead worship.
I only do this because I firmly believe that it is what Jesus did
and if he were here he’d be doing something like what I do
(if not exactly these actions).
Jesus, if here in our “first world” would be hanging around the third world that exists within it.
If Jesus were here, he’d be healing those who can’t get healed.
He’d provide justice for those who have no recourse for justice.
He’d feed the hungry, comfort the outcast, make disciples.
He did all that, so I’d expect him to do the same.
* * *
This doesn’t mean I’m always like Jesus, God knows.
I have days when instead of making peace I make enemies.
Instead of making disciples I make haters of God.
Instead of helping the needy I push them away.
I hate days like that. Moments like that.
But I remember that my goal isn’t balance.
It isn’t happiness or personal fulfillment.
My only goal is following Jesus.
Diver was cycling through downtown Gresham, near the Safeway when he noticed a crouching body between the two transformers. As he came closer, he saw it was Emily, and no wonder she was shivering. She was wearing a tank top and kapri pants, no shoes or socks, and it was just beginning to snow.
“What do you think you’re doing, out here in the cold?” Diver exclaimed.
“It’s not my fault,” she said through chattering teeth, “Bob threw me out. I couldn’t even get my clothes.”
Diver nodded. Emily and Bob had been having problems. Or maybe Bob is Emily’s problem.
“Just wait here. I’ll see what I can do.” Diver rides across the street to an apartment building, through the parking lot to the dumpster. He opens it up, and there it is! Just what he was looking for, in a plastic bag.
He rides across the street and hands the bag over to Emily. Quickly, she grabs the coat and gloves and throws them on. She wonders, “Did you have these stashed?”
“No,” Diver said. “But I knew if I looked around enough, I’d find just what you need.”
When you are in need, look for the person with nothing.
Those who live on trust and compassion will always find what is needed.
The Anawim community house was in dire need. There was not enough food to feed the thirteen people in the house, and very little even for the children in the house. I didn’t know what to do, but to pray. I’d learned from George Mueller that when the circumstances were dire, God will step in. So I let my needs go before God and asked him for money or food so no one would go hungry. No one had ever gone hungry in our house and I wouldn’t let it happen this time. But there was nothing I could do but pray.
Diver stepped in, “I’m going on a ride!”
“Okay,” I said. I wasn’t going to burden him with my concerns. It’s in God’s hands now.
Diver goes out on his bike and trailer, thinking about looking in some dumpsters, but not really being in the mood. He starts to ride south and something niggles at him and he turns around and begins to ride north.
After about a mile and a half of riding, he passed by the local Fred Meyers. Not really thinking of anything, he decided to glance in their dumpster. Before he had found some nice flowers they had thrown away.
As he glanced over the rim, it wasn’t flowers he saw. Something much nicer…
About an hour later, I was cleaning up and Diver comes strolling in. “How much room do we have in the freezers?” he asks.
“Plenty. We don’t have much food in the house.”
“Well, we do now. I just filled my trailer full of frozen food.”
In came seafood, chicken patties, and corndogs, all into the freezer. I immediately thanked God and Diver because it’s good to show gratitude. It’s a healthy practice.
“Seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”