Saturday, August 27, 2005

Distracted by Christ ::

We've heard the words before, but not the message. This time, we hear. Our attention may be captured in many different ways. A scary crisis awakens us to the un-predictability of life. More subtly, an unsettling restlessness may creep up during the best of times. It is uncanny.

The visit of distraction could just as well be an unexpected encouragement dur-ing depression, or a boredom that sets in just when we're starting to reach our goals. An inexplicable resentment rises from the still waters of contentment, or a breathtaking vista appears over the horizon on the road to nowhere. The wind changes. The mid-day sun darkens. A shooting star flashes in the corner of our eye. Whatever it is, it gives us pause. A godly pause.

Ironically, distraction is about focus. Many Christians struggle to keep their focus on Christ. They lament their inability to stay with the program of their prayers and devo-tions. They know what it is like to be focused and long for the inspiration and creativity they have experienced on occasion. Service came naturally, prayer was warm and meaningful, and the way was clear. They had the courage of Bunyan’s valiant warrior in Pilgrim’s Progress to storm the gates of God’s palace, defying all the worldly obsta-cles and demonic enemies who would prevent their entrance into salvation. Now, they have lost the time, the energy, the concentration, the direction; the courage. How to get back on track?

C.S. Lewis describes how the novice deals with distraction in prayer by seeking to "thrust it away by sheer will-power and . . . contin¬ue the normal prayer as if nothing had happened." By accepting the distraction as our present problem and making it the main theme of our prayers and endeavors, says Lewis, we will move closer to God.

Jesus modeled this distractibility by responding to an anonymous sickly woman who distracted him by touching his robe on a crowded street. On another occasion, he allowed children to come to him and presented them to his hearers as object lessons in faith. To enter the kingdom of heaven, he emphasized, we must come as one of the little ones. Could he have been saying that we should be as distractible as children, or as distractible as himself?

Distraction originates from outside us but resonates within. Christ stands at the door of our heart and beacons us to let God into our lives. The response comes from within. We need Christ's distraction to discover our purpose.

The challenge of distraction is to let go of our compulsions of holding onto Christ and instead allow Christ to lead us into a new awareness of God. Trust that God knows how to get your attention! For Abraham it was a starlit night when God revealed to him that his descendents would be as numerous as the stars in the sky For young Samuel, it was a call in the night from God with a message for the nation to repent. For Elijah it was a gentle whisper reminding him that God’s power was not just in the sensational. For John the Baptizer it was the Spirit as a descending dove revealing Jesus as the Christ. What is it for you?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Road Signs ::

With each nightfall Daniel felt more hopelessly lost. Days before, he had embarked on a solo hunting trip in the Alaskan wilderness, feeling confident and self-sufficient. With an unexpected storm and perpetually overcast skies, it was impossible to get his bearings sans the compass he’d forgotten to pack. Would he find his way out before his provisions expired?

Emerging from a dense forest into the afternoon light of a clearing, the hunter saw a welcome sign of hope: the back side of a sign post! Nearing the sign, he saw the beginning of a dirt road. With new energy in each step, he came around to the front of the sign just as a motorist slowed to a stop on the road. Showing a relieved grin, the hunter looked upon the exasperated face of the driver, and then at the sign, which he could now read. “End of Road.”

To one lost man, the sign was a nuisance at the end of a long day of frustrating map searching and wrong turns; to the other, a herald of salvation.

The meaning you assign to life’s road signs is unique to your perspective.

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This new blog is a road sign of sorts. It is the beginning of a deeper level of sharing my stuff on the web, namely excepts from my recently published book. It also corresponds with a redesign of Faithnet, which I must say is more neatly packaged these days. For whatever it represents, I pray that it is one of those signs that you'll be glad to see.