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In a mirror, grimly, and yet

If there’s one thing I like, it’s a clean bathroom mirror. Toothbrush splatters, water spots and the random dust and debris just don’t belong there. I like my reflection unimpeded. I shouldn’t have to squint through all that.

So I, like my mother before me, keep cleaning supplies close at hand. An under sink wash rag stands ready for the counters and sinks. A spray bottle of glass cleaner and a hefty roll of paper towels are tucked a little further back. OK OK, I know. I was a bit hasty recently applying the wash rag (it was clean, I swear!) to the offending splatters. Lesson learned: efficiency leaves water-splotched streaking behind. But they were nothing several spritzes of window cleaner and some healthy swoops with the pristine paper towels couldn’t handle. Voila! Pretty darn sparkly.

Until the morning came. And with it, the sun’s rising brilliance blazed in the transom window. Something about that beam delivered from just that angle at just that moment — a picture-perfect framing of my magnificent mirror handiwork. Which was, in a word, embarrassing: overlapping swipes and smudges that were simply a re-distribution of the mirror dirt I hadn’t removed at all. By this light, it was as if my pristine paper towel was nothing but a greasy rag or a re-purposed cloth working overtime.

Nary a clean speck to be seen.

And here I had been admiring it so … from a distance. Under careful examination, it was a mess!

Isn’t it glorious to know that our Maker, though seeing us through and through in that examinating and illuminating glow, doesn’t despair? Even as we spiff ourselves up to present our best, He neither chuckles nor dismisses. Oh what self-restraint it must take to look upon my grimy presentation, I think.

And then, in the fleeting flash of a spirit-ignited moment, I think better.

For just that moment I see that illuminated square of mirror in a dazzling display of sparkling pure reflection. Nary a hint of dust, dirt, smudge or swipe. Pristine. And in that split of a second I am immersed in gratitude for a Savior, the gift of God, who has offered himself that our mirror might actually be clean. A clean that our best efforts could never achieve.

Reflection, how I stand before you, unsatisfied with what I see. And yet, the crystal clear view from the other side sees me differently. Yes, as I am, but also as one day I may be. When, through the eyes of Love, I am able to see Thee for myself just as now I am seen.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

What a good, good thing is Good Friday, that we may look fully upon the anguish, the ugly and even the evil perpetuated on humankind by humankind and let it invite us to call upon the One with the power to cleanse even this.

Thanks be to God.

Is God Good All the Time?

“God is good …All the time!
And all the time …God is Good!”

heartsAh, the call and response of a faithful people. We like knowing how to respond. But do we believe it? Is God really good all the time? for the parent who’s just lost a child? for the man who’s just received a dire diagnosis? for the teen who is bullied, the wife who is abused? what of the family without a home? the children who live in fear? The list goes on and on.

Is God really all that good? Certainly a good God would have none of this.

Recently, I attended a funeral service for my friend Bill. He had been a good husband, good father, good son, good uncle, good friend, good businessman, and, by all accounts, a good Christian. His family suffered with him through nine months of brain cancer before they lost him. Is God still good?

What is good? According to me, it’s an outcome; it’s a judgment; it’s the feeling I have when everything goes my way. On those days I chime right in: God is good all the time and all the time God is good. But Bill and his family and friends remind me that that’s not the good that God is.

God is love; that’s way more than good. God made this substitution, so we can know that:

  • God is patient.
  • God is kind.
  • God does not envy, does not boast, is not proud.
  • God is not rude or self-seeking.
  • God is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs.
  • God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

This God I can actually see in those circumstances of sorrow and hurt and pain and loss. There may be no good in any of those, but there is God. God is so much better than good.

More than this, love is not just what God is but what God does.

  • God always protects.
  • God always trusts.
  • God always hopes.
  • God always perseveres.

Since Love does that, so can we, if we believe in love. God is there, no matter the circumstance, providing what we need to respond in love to the one who is in need. When we offer protection and trust, and when we hold onto hope that perseveres, we are in love. Love never fails.

God is so much better than good. God does good, in and through us, when we let God.

At Bill’s memorial service, a man came to the pulpit to share memories of their longtime friendship.  “People come into our lives for one of four reasons,” the man began. “To add, subtract, multiply or divide. Bill was an add-er.”

Oh my yes. Bill added so much; and somehow, there in the saddest of circumstances, it seemed that what Bill added, God was multiplying. Love is like that.

Stuck in the middle

That moment when you’re
r e a c h i n g
as far,
no, farther
than you’ve ever reached before.

Just a little. bit. more.
S T R E T C H I N G
further,
and further,
closer than you’ve ever been before.

Your thighs are burning
oh, it h u r t s,
but that’s how you get there.
Maximum separation,
until it flattens on the floor.
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That moment when you’re
. S T U C K .
Can’t go further.
Can’t get out.
Can’t get up.

One foot gone right,
the other so far left,
past pulling back, and well beyond shouting distance.
Here in the middle it’s
…aaaagonizing… and (embarrassing)

Must. choose. now.
rip and crumple,
turn and topple,
… S l i i i p p p i n g…
Now what?

Lift and pray.
Why do we wait?
Love wants to answer.
But true love waits
to be asked.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
~ 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

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