Monthly Archives: February 2012
I write often about Christianity being a journey, a process of growing wiser and more loving. Lest, I sound like I think I’ve mastered this, I need to share one of my more recent challenges in my seventies.
Until my sixties, I was a compulsive people pleaser, a gracious Southern phoney, who almost never confronted anyone. At some point, in my last few years, for better or worse, I have become free to be real. Maybe it’s a stage of life or a change in hormones. Whatever it is, I have become much less tolerant of rude and dangerous drivers.
Recently, in a burst of anger, I tried to make an obscene gesture at a particularly obnoxious driver. Unfortunately, due to lack of experience and an increasingly erratic short term memory, I gave him a “thumbs up” instead.
Frustrated by this, I decided that the next time I would yell obscenities out my car window.
But the following Sunday, the theme of the sermon was, If we are not growing kinder as we age, something is wrong with our Christianity.
I really struggled with this and when the next road test came, I did manage to compromise. I yelled, “Jesus loves you, but everyone else thinks you’re an idiot.”
Some of us grow more slowly than others. Feel free to pray for me. I may be old, but God isn’t finished with me yet.
A joke about seniors illustrates very clearly how our priorities change as we age. Since I am currently re-evaluating what priorities are still within my skill set, this seemed like a timely re-post. 🙂
A senior citizen, who normally rode the Senior Center Bus on their outings, hadn’t shown up for several months. Then, one morning he showed up again.
Sam, his co-bus rider and pool playing buddy at the center, after being assured that Jim hadn’t been ill or out of town, asked him why he hadn’t been around lately.
“Well, I’ve met a lady at church and we’re going to get married. I came today to ask you to be my best man.”
“My goodness, sure I will. That’s great news. Tell me about her. Is she good looking?” Sam asked excitedly.
“Um, well, no, not really,” Jim replied hesitantly.
“Well, at our age that’s not as important as it used to be,” Sam assured him. “I bet she’s a real good cook.”
“Actually, she’s kind of a Kraft macaroni and cheese cook,” Jim said, shrugging.
“Oooh boy. You lucky son of a gun! I bet she must be hot to trot then. A between the sheets kinda gal?” Sam laughed, slapping his friend on the back.
Blushing and looking down at the floor, Jim mumbled, “She doesn’t seem very interested in sex.”
“Well, why in the world are you marrying her?” Sam exclaimed.
Jim looked up smiling, “She can drive.”
Dying is messy. Most people don’t manage to die with their hair styled or tidily in their best suit and tie. Looking good isn’t what death is about.
Dying is often painful, both emotionally and physically. Even those, who find peace from acceptance or joy from a sense of God’s loving presence, struggle before getting to that point. Dying isn’t comfortable or entertaining.
Dying is not a social event. It sometimes brings feelings of rejection, because some of our family and friends aren’t ready to face the reality of death, so they may get very busy elsewhere.
Dying is scary and lonely. Only a few have lived to tell about it. And though our loved ones may hold our hand, we know we must go alone.
Dying is an experience of total helplessness. No matter how rich or competent or powerful we are in life, dying wipes out the last illusion that we are in control.
Dying is the final cross. Not one we carry, but one we hang on, suspended between heaven and earth wondering if we’ve been abandoned on both sides.
Yet dying is the doorway to life. It’s a very narrow gate and it’s the only gate out.
The true Christian life (not the insurance game or the private club versions) is a series of deaths and resurrections that prepare us for that final one.
Deaths and resurrections such as:
Letting go of our need to look good by hiding behind masks: becoming free to be our truest and fullest self.
Letting go of our illusion of security from belonging to the right group: finding brothers and sisters where we never thought to look.
Letting go of our anesthetic of choice; work, competition, television, twitter, legalism, consumerism, food, sex, alcohol: by allowing ourselves to feel deeply the fears and sorrows of our lives, becoming capable of joy and love.
Letting go of our dependency on others: parents, spouses, friends, or anyone else for validation; recognizing the Spirit of God within our own hearts.
Letting go of needing talents, ministries, and achievements to feel valuable: finding inner peace from the unconditional love of God expressed in Jesus.
Letting go of everything as Jesus did:
“Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain, but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.” John 12:24-26
So, this is where it both ends and begins for us, on the cross with Jesus, being taken by Him through the doorway of death to eternal life.