On Living, Really Living

“Living means decisions. Living means writing your every word and action and thought and drool spot down in forever. It means writing your story within the Story. It means being terrible at it. It means failing and knowing that, somehow, all of our messes will still contribute, that the creative God has merely given Himself a greater challenge – drawing glory from our clumsy botching of the past. We are like factory workers in a slapstick comedy, standing at our positions beside the too-fast conveyor belt that flings the future and all of our possible actions at us. Corn syrup and food coloring everywhere (along with cheese and ceramic figurines).

Do your best. Live. Create. Fail.
How many thieves can we fit on this cross?How many of us can be dead in Lazarus’s tomb?
Is there room for more dry bones in this valley? Because I could lie down.
I can complain in a wilderness.
Or maybe deny Christ three times?
Resent the righteous?
Shoo away some children?
Fail to grow figs?
Panic in a storm?
Forget God’s law?
Pursue my lusts?
Sell out my Maker?
Hang myself in a field?
So glad I could help.

And from it all, from the compost of our efforts, God brings glory – a world of ripe grain in the wind.

By His grace, we are the water made wine. We are the dust made flesh made dust made flesh again. We are the whores made brides and the thieves made saints and the killers made apostles. We are the dead made living.

We are His cross.”

– N.D. Wilson, Death by Living (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2013), 166-67.

After I Realized I Had Been Robbed

Were I quicker on my feet I would have said the following to the college student at the coffee shop who, I believe, stole my pen:

“Eh-hem… I realize that I’m fallible, so forgive me if my postulation is wrong. But, I came here with a pen which I used and set down there. I asked you to watch my stuff while I went to the bathroom. Now the pen is gone. I’ve thoroughly checked my backpack and the surrounding area to no avail. I don’t have the pen on my person and you said that you didn’t see anything happen to it.

“If the pen is not lying around here, if I don’t have it, and if nobody else took it then I’d like to postulate that you closed your eyes, grabbed my pen and are currently in possession of it. I’d like to let you know that stealing is both rude and wrong, as is lying.

“None the less, I’d like you to keep my pen as a gift from me. I hope it lasts long and writes smoothly for you. If you ever attend a Billy Graham Crusade, I hope you use it to sign your ‘decision card for Jesus.’ Have a nice day. Goodbye.”

However, insofar as I’m not quicker on my feet, I simply furrowed my brow and went home; one pen poorer than before.

“Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.”

Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like a usurpt town, to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your Viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy.
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again;
Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

– John Donne, Holy Sonnets, XIV.

Gandalf the Exegete

“‘Good morning!’ said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.

“‘What do you mean?’ he said. ‘Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning, or that it is a morning to be good on?'”

– The Hobbit (New York: Ballantine Books, 1985), 17-18.

“The man Jesus Christ laid death in his grave”

Though the Earth cried out for blood
Satisfied her hunger was
Her billows calmed on raging seas
For the souls on men she craved

Sun and moon from balcony
Turned their head in disbelief
Their precious Love would taste the sting
Disfigured and disdained

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke with the keys
Of Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

So three days in darkness slept
The Morning Sun of righteousness
But rose to shame the throes of death
And over turn his rule

Now daughters and the sons of men
Would pay not their dues again
The debt of blood they owed was rent
When the day rolled a new

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke holding keys
To Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke with keys
Of Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

He has cheated
Hell and seated
Us above the fall
In desperate places
He paid our wages
One time once and for all

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