Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

ALMA antennas under the Milky Way

  • Have you ever wondered if God is real?
  • Have you ever wondered if your prayers are heard?
  • Have you ever wondered if your dreams, your hopes, your deepest longings really will come true?
  • Have you ever begged to be spared from a certain suffering, but then you weren’t?
  • Did you ever have moments or days or seasons in your life that were totally beyond your control?

Chances are, if you’re human, you can most likely answer YES to the above questions.

Life can be so beautiful. It’s full of amazing moments: The birth of our children. The day we made eternal promises and said “I do” and “Forever”. The day we accomplished something so amazing, we surprised even ourselves. The day we looked out to the horizon and cried because what we saw was simply beyond words; it was indescribably beautiful. You wanted to just freeze time and stay in this place forever. And that’s always when the first stab of pain hits you. Because you know you simply can’t. Nothing here lasts forever.

When I was a child, I thought like a child. Kind of like Margaret of “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret”. I had the same prepubescent worries as she did. Will I ever even need a bra? Will I eventually become a woman in every way? Will a boy even like me….ever?  Does God exist or care about me?   Like Margaret, I wondered where is God more likely to hang? A synagogue? A cathedral?  A mountain top? At the beach?

But those thoughts passed, as did those days. As a child, you can’t even see yourself as a grown up, when you don’t have to feel so awkward or get your feelings hurt so much. We were young. We were naive. We didn’t yet know what we do now: Those were the best days.

Life would get more complicated, time would march forward whether we were ready or not, for what was headed our way. We were still at the beginning of our journey. We still had more hurt to go.

Sometimes parents divorced. Sometimes they died.   Friends moved away.   We outlived our favorite pets. First boyfriends or girlfriends finally arrived on the scene. But they quickly departed too, taking the first of many bites to come out of our vulnerable hearts. Sometimes we moved away or our friends did. Some friends died inexplicably young. In less than a decade we transitioned from girls and boys to women and men. By the time we turned our tassel, we realized some truths:

  • Life isn’t always fair.
  • The hard work of our lives isn’t over just because we graduated, it was merely beginning.
  • I’m not sure if I’m ready to be who I’m supposed to be.

We continued to learn more. We worked. We said I do and we had babies—babies who grew from toddlers to little kids to teenagers to adults almost as fast as one of those rotating doors in a hotel lobby.   From band-aids on boo- boos to full blown medical emergencies where lives are on the line, the days passed. From seeing many dreams realized and some crashed—all these things happened too.

We went to countless weddings, family barbecues and gatherings, and funerals. Two thirds of them were fun and full of promise. The other third, the funerals, many of which were beautiful, never got easier. They only got more frequent. That too made our hearts heavy. We knew where this is all headed.

Which brings me to the point we all ponder in life, especially in times of crisis? Are you there God? It’s me. It’s you. It’s all of us as humanity, but it’s each of us individually and we want to know are you there? Are you aware of me, in this moment?

It’s the question people struggle with at their core, until they finally decide to choose. Even if you make no choice as to what or whom you believe in, you have made a choice, if only to stay grounded in ambiguity, unsureness, maybe even anxiety and insecurity.

Don’t get me wrong. Believers struggle too. But deep down they know. It’s the essence of faith. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the being certain of that which we do not see.

Faith is truly a tightrope walk. It’s just like life—trying to find balance and not lose your head, especially when you are way out there, fairly far from the gravity of comfort zone, security, familiarity, easy street.   And yet you know, there is a safety net below. Should you fall, you’ll be caught before hitting bottom. It just doesn’t look like it. Or feel like it. You have to get your head and heart in alignment with a thing called trust.

God is like that. He is real. He is here. He is there. He is everywhere.   He sent his Son Jesus to catch us like a safety net, even when we’re way up(or out) there!

Each of us are so precious to him. He knows when we hurt, or fall, are sick, are weak, or when we lose, or succumb, or waver, or any other weakness as defined by us. But He knows differently; something we often can’t wrap our head around: His love is perfected in our weakness. We just have to be the willing Captain of the vessel called Self that will allow him to travel with us, in us, and pass through us in order to change our destination, and thus destiny by simply saying, not my will, but yours.

Jesus said in this world, we’re going to have some troubles and he was by no means exaggerating! But he also said to take heart, for he has overcome the world.   Every time I hear that, I rejoice a little more inside. I reclaim the parts of my heart that which is unfair or unbearable or unexplainable tries to conquer. The truth gets etched a little deeper each time. Because it frees me:

  • From having to have all the answers.
  • From being responsible for fixing that which I don’t have the power to do.
  • From focusing on why (the unfair/hard/unexplainable) of pain, and instead focus on the who I can trust with all this (God/Jesus).

We are not invisible to God. And although the universe is a fairly big place (science can’t even agree on where/if it ends and how long it’s been around), we are by no means small. We are not insignificant in God’s eyes.

We can look from the most powerful telescope billions of light years away and all we see are dots. But God can look across space and time and see us, every bit of us—our tears and our dreams-and all He can see are stars. We are His star, the crown jewel, the masterpiece of His creation.   Whether we are searching outward as far as our eye can see, or inward, as deep as our heart can bare, our heart beats strongest when we choose to simply be still and know He is there.

 

God is so big, He is real, and is involved in the details of our lives.   Verses (promises) that inspired this story:  Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Hebrews 11:1, 1 Corinthians 13:11 John 16:33, Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 46:10

Books I’d recommend to anyone who is searching:Purpose Driven Life

Search for Significance

0 MA 370Photo Credit: Romeo Ranoco/Reuters

The mystery of missing flight Malaysian Airlines 370 only intensifies with each passing day.  How can 239 souls simply vanish?  As the investigation has changed from finding a fallen aircraft to searching for evil intent that commandeered this aircraft and where did they all go, the agony of not knowing is surely some of the most unimaginable pain someone could ever know.

I can’t even fathom the pain these families are enduring as they have surely been “all over the map” emotionally, logistically, and probably spiritually.  How does one keep faith and hope alive in an ever-changing crisis?

You simply get up and go on, trusting God in every breathe, moment, and step.  Sometimes you don’t even know you have faith or hope, until you look back and you realize that’s all you had or you wouldn’t be here now.

I have never experienced the depth of unknown that these families have, but the few intensely difficult, extremely painful circumstances I have had to endure, all in relatively short order, has both tested and strengthened my faith.

These are the questions we wrestle with whenever the intensely painful unknown occurs:

Why did this happen?

Did I do something to cause this?  Did I deserve this?

Could I (or others) have prevented this?

Where is God in all this?  Is He even aware I can not deal with this for one more minute, even more so, one more day? 

And yet you do.  You will.    Though time stops in your world, the rest of the world keeps on moving forward.

And everything in life is divided into two chapters:

BEFORE and AFTER

You know the moment this occurs, from here until the end of your life, everything else will be referenced by assigning whether it happened before or after.  I don’t know why.  It’s just the way the mind works.

I’ve read the posts.  I’ve seen the news.  I’ve heard every speculation imaginable, as have you.  But this is what my heart knows:

THERE ARE 239 LOST SOULS ON BOARD

My heart hurts because we struggle when we cannot know what only God knows.

It also hurts because each of these souls are so very precious to not only their families, but to God.

My heart hurts because I’ve walked the solitary path of unfathomable grief that only the bravest wish to hear.

My heart hurts because I know what it means to have to wake up with unknowing.

My heart hurts because I know life is brief; and despite our best executed plans, our dreams of how we wish our future to be can’t be guaranteed.

My heart hurts because I’ve known through harsh experiences, what it means to cry out to God to save someone, please just SAVE THEM.  It may be their life; it may be their soul.

Sometimes God seems silent.  I’ve learned not to mistake God’s silence for God’s absence.

We are not in control; we settle for a certain comfort in thinking we are.

Certainly, our soul hungers to know that those we love are okay.  Especially when we are suddenly severed from someone we love.  Like phantom limb pain, our hearts throbs with longing and memory and beats to the rhythm of hope, no matter how slim.  Wherever we are, we feel as if we are held hostage to both yesterday and tomorrow, barely enduring today.

Every time you hear or read a story, remember that talk is cheap and media can dull our mind if we don’t hear properly: that is to say with intention, not just attention.   The investigators have a job to do.  But so do we:

Those of us who believe, have a calling to pray for the souls of each person on board MA 370 as well as their families.  These souls who disappeared in the sky over a week ago are this: BELOVED friend, coworkers, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, beloved grandchild of many remaining souls here on earth.

Pray for wisdom.  Pray for resolution.  Pray for miracles.  Pray for the peace that passes understanding in Christ Jesus.    May you see this and appreciate your own family and life more.  Don’t leave angry.  Say I love you before you say good-bye.   Find, and then focus on what really matters.

Today I pray that God has the souls of Malaysian Air Flight 370 are in the palm of His hand, that they are in His perfect care, as the families carry on in courage and hope.    Because they too were/are loved.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.  Romans 10:1 

 U2’s  One Tree Hill – Auckland, NZ

U2 – “No Ordinary Love” — Video Download for U2.com subscribers.

Yep!  I’m a huge U2 fan. Me and a few other million friends.   They’re an extraordinary band not only because their melodies so easily latch on to our auditory taste buds, but more importantly their lyrics speak to a  much deeper place in our soul.  U2’s  music evokes memory and dreams and hopes.  They aren’t the pop flavor of the day, they speak messages of wisdom, if we have ears willing to hear.   A vision beyond visibility becomes a possibility when one is appropriately inspired.

I’m so looking forward to hearing all the songs that will ultimately comprise the soundtrack of Mandela:  Long Walk to Freedom  Not only is Mandela a mentor and inspiration for Bono personally, but also he holds a special place in people’s hearts all over the world who have seen or experienced or are touched by suppression, imprisonment, injustice or perhaps are fighting for freedom and human rights.

Even if you’re not a freedom fighter who has taken to the streets, you may be a prayer warrior or encourager  somewhere in the life or lives of those who struggle.  That’s what Jesus did when he read these prophetic words from the book of Isaiah to the people of Nazareth:

“The Lord has put his Spirit in me,
because he appointed me to tell the Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to tell the captives they are free
and to tell the blind that they can see again.
God sent me to free those who have been treated unfairly.  Luke 4:18

I have a friend who for a long span of time wasn’t free.   For a time he was held captive internally by choices, as well as externally by unjust circumstances.   So as I wrote to the face of a friend I’ve never met until very recently, I reminded him that “You don’t have to walk around outside to taste freedom.”  You can get free inside first.  In fact, it’s probably a good idea.   And just because there are so many things you can’t see at this time, doesn’t mean you can’t have a vision of what life will look like soon, very soon.

This is seeing:   Believing what right now you can only hope for and resting confidently in assurance that God will use your hour of trial or suffering and turn it into something beautiful, or redemptive.  But it requires something of you first:

No Ordinary Love

Extraordinary love requires faith, being confident in that which you hope for and being sure of what you can not see.  (Hebrews 11:1) That’s no ordinary love.  Extraordinary love also requires sacrifice; it’s going to cost you something you value: your time, your money, your safety, your reputation, your safety net  or perhaps your freedom.  In some cases, even your very life.

“We can’t fall any further if we can’t feel ordinary love.”   Show someone in need some love today.     Take the plunge.  Give until it hurts.  Give with all you’ve got.  And even when you’re drowning in your own personal ocean of adversity and difficulty, remember you were loved first by no ordinary love,  so this pain you feel from time to time is only your heart cracking around the hard places until it becomes smooth as polished precious stones.

Don’t give up.  Look up.  Reach higher.  Assist the poor.  Minister to the hurting.  Forgive what seems unforgivable.   Show love in the name of freedom, in the name of justice and mercy, in the name of compassion, in the name of righteousness and then wait, and watch what God will do.   Perhaps if we each can show love to even just one, especially the difficult one, God can transform the ordinary to extraordinary.

May you find ways to show love today and be joyful in the anticipation of what God can do with just a bit of ordinary love.

POST SCRIPT 12/06/2013:  I started this entry about a week ago.  But I didn’t finish.  God had other plans.  I saw some miracles this week and witnessed first hand just how fast God can transform an isolated  captive person into a person being released into freedom and into loving capable hands.  ALL THIS, on the day Nelson Mandela has passed.  The world lost a true hero, a compassionate soul, and someone who fully understood  this truth: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.(1 Peter 4:8)  Rest in peace Nelson Mandela.  And welcome home too.  You leave a legacy of powerful truth spoken in love for the rest of us to aspire to.

Allow me to close with some wisdom of Nelson Mandela, who capably showed us light can chase away the dark and love is stronger than hate:

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” —Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Bono Light IMG_6811 (2)

Let there be light!  That’s what God said when he first created the world.  But did you know, he also said it about us in Ephesians 5:8?

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

 So what does this mean?  Does it mean live as if you’re a famous rock star and all the world’s a stage with the spot light on you?  Of course not; you already know this.

If you’re  Christian, you already know  just how dark, how shameful, how sinful you perhaps once were, or currently struggle with, or have the capacity to be.  That’s because our flesh wants what it wantsWe want control.  We want things, people, power or influence.    It’s the underlying motive beneath all our wants that determines whether we are walking as children of the light or darkness.

I snapped this pic of Bono at the 2nd of only three concerts I’ve ever seen him.  He was so close and yet….so far away.   It was taken with an ordinary point and shoot camera at just the right moment, a split second of perfect timing.   It almost seems like heaven’s light is shining down.

 But I know the truth.  Bono is only a man.  Nothing more; nothing less. He has made references before that he doesn’t feel comfortable if fans (strangers to him!) see him as a Messiah.  He’s clearly not.    Yet, he does carry a certain light, or at least seems to be perceived that way by tens (hundreds?) of thousands of U2 fans, and maybe even some people that aren’t even big fans of U2’s music.  

That’s because of his heart.  If you follow news about him then you know what he’s done to shine a light on Africa, and how he’s been instrumental in trying to reduce and eliminate hunger, poverty, political corruption, and the hopelessness these things cause.  You know he’s worked with world leaders in the political arena to bring attention and change to a silent suffering.  He’s used his rock star status to influence and to be a beacon of light—to bring attention to, hope, help, cure, and above all love at a time that clearly God has appointed for him.

He’s not Jesus.  But he gets it when it comes to carrying His light.  Yet it’s not Bono’s responsibility to carry it alone.  He’s a torch bearer.  He once sang, that “I’d join the movement, if I found one I could believe in.”    We live in a dark world in uncertain times.  But in a world of self-indulgent twerkers, endless me-centered  and copy-cat celebrities publicly showcasing their life of flashy material excess and simultaneous emptiness, Bono has been singing for quite some time to the beat of a different tune:

 A higher frequency.  This unmistakable calling of light.  The example of a love in action, not merely words spoken or sung.  He doesn’t just sing to us.  U2’s lyrics challenge us.  (“Am I buggin you?  I don’t mean to bug ya!”)  Kind of like Jesus.    How are you going to step out today knowing what you know of the world’s pockets of suffering?  Will you turn away in apathy?  Or will you reach out in faith  willing to risk  your reputation or security?     Are you brave enough to show goodness, kindness, compassion, or  mercy today to someone you don’t know or is hard to love? 

Truth has a way of showing us which direction we’re going to walk  in life. The incredible light that is ours simply by receiving.  This incredible gift of love that is ours to multiply simply by giving it all away.

So let there be light!  Because you too are loved!

All Things Are Connected

If there is one thing I know for sure in life, it is this:

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS COINCIDENCE

    Not a single moment, not a since chance meeting, not a single happenstance, not a single similarity, not a single bit.  It’s as if God weaves an invisible thread through time, space, geography, and lives tying events and people together, as He weaves together a grand tapestry too big for our eyes to fully grasp.

Yet like a jigsaw puzzle, we intuitively (well, those who are intuitively aware) know that something more is at work here.   Even disappointments in life are known as “divine appointments” if viewed through the lens of a different perspective, that is a mind that is higher than our own.

I personally know out of my deepest sorrows, the deepest joys were birthed.  In times of abandonment, I found connection simply by being aware of the God who created me and those He works through as he introduced them to me.  The core of who I most truly am started as a simple seed (that which my heart most truly desires).  It was planted and took root down low in the dirt. Then it was watered with tears.  Yet now it is shooting up and starting to bloom with buds that when opened bring me incredible joy and occasionally even others!

So I’ve learned some things as I’ve matured.  Nothing and no one God puts on your path is random.  We may not quite get the connection, but God does.   It’s up to us to seek God’s wisdom as we assimilate our experiences, to go with the flow, and hopefully not unravel or knot-tie what God has designs on.

Here’s a perfect example of how nothing is coincidence; all things are connected:  (And this happens to me repeatedly in life, I could write a dozen pages, but will refrain as our time is valuable.)

Tuesday I was at my friend Rebecca’s home.  On her refrigerator was a picture of a mom.  I said, “Hey, how do you know Julie?”  She replied, “That’s not Julie, that’s my cousin Rachel.”

Well she looks exactly like my friend Julie!  But I see now that it is not because there are different kids in the picture.  Well, everybody has a twin!” I say.

I think to myself, I should send a Facebook message to my friend Julie and tell her she has a twin on this earth, but I get busy that night so I don’t.  The next day, I kid you not, I run into Julie at the library. 

“Oh my gosh!” I tell her.  “I was just thinking of you last night!”  I tell Julie the story of my friend Rebecca who has a near carbon copy photo of her on her refrigerator.    She chuckles, and we talk about other things.  She tells me she may be moving to my neighborhood because that just so happens to be where Julie’s in laws live, and they may be combining homes due to aging parent concerns.

So we talk about that for a while.  Then she talks about her brother in law who sometimes gets a ride to church from a friend in my neighborhood named Dan.  She can’t remember his last name.  I tell her the only Dan I know is Dan Allen.   And she says, “Right!  That’s the same one.”

WHAT?!?!  I say in awe.  Well Dan Allen is the husband of my friend Rebecca (are you following me still?) who has the twin picture of Julie on her refrigerator.   “No way!”  Julie says.

      Not only is the world getting smaller, but it just shrunk twice, right before our very eyes.

By now our conversation has drifted with our walking out of the library and towards a playground where our kids can play together for a while.  She tells me that tomorrow she plans to take her kids to the zoo.  WHOA!  Wait a dog gone minute I say!  I had just made plans that morning to take my kid to the zoo tomorrow too!

Today I did go to the zoo.  I don’t know if Julie went as it rained so hard, it was basically a monsoon, but still the coincidences were so….well, connecting!

But wait there is more!  Julie used to have a neighbor named Rob.  Two years ago, Rob was giving away a stray cat he had become attached to but couldn’t keep.  So I met Rob through Julie due to a plea she made on Facebook while trying to help Rob who was desperate to find a home for his cat.   This is how I got my cat Toby who is now part of our family.

So a few months ago my mother-in-law breaks her leg.  She returns home from the hospital and needs intensive physical therapy.  She has a great therapist she tells us about as she learns new exercises each week.  Well, after eight weeks or so, as he wraps up his visits with her, he spots a photograph on her dresser.

“Is that Liz?” he asks her. On her dresser, Rob had spotted a photo of me taken almost 30 years ago when I married my husband.  (How did he even recognize me?)  “Yes it is,” she replies, “Liz is my daughter in law.”  “Well Liz adopted a cat of mine that I could no longer keep when I got married a year ago.”

And you could take it even further still.  Where did I meet Julie?  At our church.  About thirty years after we went to the same middle school together.

Maybe you chalk up these encounters as coincidence!  I do not.  I believe in “seeing thru a glass darkly.”  If we do not understand these connections that are good, friendly, or amusing, how much more can we not understand that which connects and binds us to one another in hurtful, disappointing, or destructive ways?

I am not excusing bad behavior or random acts of harm or disappointment that none of us are immune to.  I only know there is always more than meets the eye.  There is more to hear than our ears find audible.  There is more to grasp than our minds can understand.

We can’t make sense of our lives if we rely only on our own understanding.  But when we rely on God, the bigger picture becomes more in focus, the fine details are sharpened, and life becomes vivid, clearer, brighter, and yes–happier. 

        I believe we gain wisdom as we become more intuitive.  And we gain that intuition, as we deepen our faith.  In becoming wiser and more intuitive, we also learn to appreciate the people God introduces to us as well as circumstances and coincidences God allows to happen.  We start to realize they too have a place, a season, and a purpose in our life as well.    

      Why did you even read this far?   Maybe it was just coincidence.  Perhaps–or maybe it really was something more.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)

As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man. Proverbs 27:19 (ESV)

Article Reposted from Following Link: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/augustweb-only/bono-0805.html?start=1

The following exchange between Bono and Assayas took place just days after the Madrid train bombings in March 2004, an act of terrorism that left 191 dead and more than 1,800 wounded. The two men were discussing how terrorism is often carried out in the name of religion when Bono turned the conversation to Christianity, expressing his preference for God’s grace over “karma,” offering an articulate apologetic for the deity of Christ, and giving a clear presentation of the gospel message.

Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond [sighs] in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that’s not so easy.

Assayas: What about the God of the Old Testament? He wasn’t so “peace and love”?

Bono There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.

Assayas: Speaking of bloody action movies, we were talking about South and Central America last time. The Jesuit priests arrived there with the gospel in one hand and a rifle in the other.

Bono I know, I know. Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. [laughs] A list of instructions where there was once conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship. Why are you chuckling?

Assayas: I was wondering if you said all of that to the Pope the day you met him.

Bono Let’s not get too hard on the Holy Roman Church here. The Church has its problems, but the older I get, the more comfort I find there. The physical experience of being in a crowd of largely humble people, heads bowed, murmuring prayers, stories told in stained-glass windows …

Assayas: So you won’t be critical.

Bono No, I can be critical, especially on the topic of contraception. But when I meet someone like Sister Benedicta and see her work with AIDS orphans in Addis Ababa, or Sister Ann doing the same in Malawi, or Father Jack Fenukan and his group Concern all over Africa, when I meet priests and nuns tending to the sick and the poor and giving up much easier lives to do so, I surrender a little easier.

Assayas: But you met the man himself. Was it a great experience?

Bono … We all knew why we were there. The Pontiff was about to make an important statement about the inhumanity and injustice of poor countries spending so much of their national income paying back old loans to rich countries. Serious business. He was fighting hard against his Parkinson’s. It was clearly an act of will for him to be there. I was oddly moved … by his humility, and then by the incredible speech he made, even if it was in whispers. During the preamble, he seemed to be staring at me. I wondered. Was it the fact that I was wearing my blue fly-shades? So I took them off in case I was causing some offense. When I was introduced to him, he was still staring at them. He kept looking at them in my hand, so I offered them to him as a gift in return for the rosary he had just given me.

Assayas: Didn’t he put them on?

Bono Not only did he put them on, he smiled the wickedest grin you could ever imagine. He was a comedian. His sense of humor was completely intact. Flashbulbs popped, and I thought: “Wow! The Drop the Debt campaign will have the Pope in my glasses on the front page of every newspaper.”

Assayas: I don’t remember seeing that photograph anywhere, though.

Bono Nor did we. It seems his courtiers did not have the same sense of humor. Fair enough. I guess they could see the T-shirts.

Later in the conversation:

Assayas: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Assayas: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

Bono I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Assayas: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

Bono You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled… . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched …

Bono later says it all comes down to how we regard Jesus:

Bono: …If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. …When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s— and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that’s the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.

Bono That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

From Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas, by Michka Assayas, copyright © 2005 by Michka Assayas.

(Note: While the book includes numerous passages of Bono discussing his Christian faith, it also includes occasional salty language from both parties.)

 

Liz’s Note:  11/19/12 — Hoping to post an original writing soon, but with so much unrest in the world these days, it’s inspiring to know we have an alternative to chaos in our life:  Grace.  May you find yours today!



It happened.  That thing you hoped wouldn’t.  You know, that thing you had no control of.

In writing and in life, I keep coming back to this theme:  We are not in control. 

Words are flowing out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe

       First the tears fall down your cheeks.  Tiny pools of sorrow dampen the floor.

Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

      There was nothing more you could do.  You did your part.  You did all you could.  The rest is up to God.  You still believe God, don’t you?    Yes?  Good.  Then there is no problem here.

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Still, it’s not fair!  Your spirit rebels.  I’ve got this, my child.  It’s not right.  You cry out because you’re hurting.  I’ve got this.  Let it go.  Do you trust me?

So you cry.  You cry until you feel dry.  There are no more words left to say.   This was never about you and what you wanted.  It falls under the category Higher Purposes.    My ways are higher than your ways you recall.  My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.

 Truth seeps in.  Doubts sit down for a while.  Cracks of light break through your tears given sufficient time to fall.  Your heart fell into darkness momentarily, but the light is slipping in and the dark is being forced to flee.

Images of broken light which
dance before me like a million eyes
That call me on and on across the universe

I’m not sure I understand this at all God.  You don’t have to.  You just have to let go and trust me. 

Thoughts meander like a
restless wind inside a letter box
they tumble blindly as
they make their way across the universe

I can’t think this one through.  I can’t find the reason to this one question:  Why?

You don’t have to have all the answers if you trust in Me.

Fine then.  I’m trusting You!  I’m stepping out in faith.  I’m leaving the comfort of my sorrows. 

Choose to be joyful.  Be grateful.  Be a light to others.

Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
exciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which
shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Several increments of time later:  You’re right.  I think I’m going to make it.  Even with scars, I’m going to be okay.

Indeed you will my child; indeed you will.

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Something’s gonna change my world

Lyrics to “Across the Universe”  (center text) – The Beatles

 

There’s crack in everything; that’s how the light get in. – Leonard Cohen

“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” – Madeleine L’Engle

Step into the confessional booth with me, will you?  I want to tell you a little secret, but shhhh!  Don’t tell anyone.

(Me whispering): I may be the only woman on the planet that will tell you this, but I have NOT read that book everyone is talking about.

It’s true.   Other friends have already informed me it’s ripe with never-in-real-life characters and plot, seasoned with weak writing, full of mental diagrams of how to have pretzel-twisting, mind-blowing, well you know.    The thing is I’m so past that.  I mean really, really long past.  Not as in a thing of the past, but in a girl, I’m so over it kind of way.   I’m past the point in my life, where that would be the Mount Everest not yet scaled, the utter pinnacle of exquisite satisfaction.

Ask anyone who’s been married long enough, or been around the block a few times too many, you will find something in common:  Your appetite changes.  Translation:  You grow up.  You mature.  You want connection not sex.  You want time to be SLOW and not rushed.  You want endurance, not intensity.  You want real not surreal.  You want relationship not temporary satisfaction. 

As I draw nearer to the half-century mark (just thinking fifty years seems surreal to even write) I find what I obsess most over is: hanging on.  Hanging on to love, people, relationships, memories, these are the precious jewels that we accidentally let fall through our hands like sifting sand in our vain attempts to manage our own lives more efficiently.

I’m at that precarious stage of life when I often don’t see my friends for long stretches of time, except sadly, when it’s time to go to another parent’s funeral.   I buy sympathy cards by the box now, instead of on occasion.   Sadder still, is going to the funeral of friends my age.   Recently, I found my high school actually has a Facebook page simply titled Angels beside the name of my school.  Scrolling through it was humbling, as I am keenly aware the time to realize my dreams and the things I want to accomplish may be on the shorter end of the gauge than longer.

Then I thought about it.  Maybe life has never been totally about accomplishing our goals and dreams.  Not that we shouldn’t have them, but maybe it’s so much more.  Maybe it’s about the life and dreams God had planned for us from the day we were born.    Maybe it’s about the kind of person He is molding us in to, and not the profession or ambitions that we define as who we are or wish to become.

If you’re like me, you may feel like life and our over-crammed daily schedule is whizzing by at breakneck speed.  Technology has amplified the affect.  With exponential forms of electronic communication to reach, inform, pester, entertain, beg , or demand us,  it sometimes feels like it’s changed us to that which we were never designed to be:  Too busy to connect.

So I’m working on consolidating my life a bit.  Organize the photos.  Purchase only the essential.  Spend less time on Facebook and more actual Face Time with those I love and am actually friends with.

Above all I pray.  As I get older, maybe it’s the natural order of things, but I find I pray more.  I need to pray more.  I want to pray more.    I actually love to pray more.

Life is so short.  Some dreams come true and others don’t for all of us.    Still, if you’re here—well, then you’ve got a lot to be grateful for.  That’s reason enough to pray.  But if you’re suffering, that’s even more reason, because God wants to use it to make you better, stronger, kinder, smarter, healed and whole, or something else yet defined.    You don’t always get to choose your suffering, only your response to it.

Love those you have left in your left.  Make necessary repairs.    Think of all you have to be thankful for.   And pray.

Pray because our God is awesome!  Pray because He wants to bless you.  Pray because you need Him to reveal something about that which is causing you pain.  Pray because you need to know.  Pray for others.  Pray because once you actually start to count your blessings, you realize it’s not only more than you can count, it’s so much more than you deserve.    Pray because you don’t have to know it all or control it all.  Pray because you are alive and you still can.

Mick Jagger sang “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” until he publicly claimed he hoped he never had to sing it again.  Apparently the repetition of singing it failed to sustain satisfaction despite the royalties it provided.  Paul Simon reminds us in his clever song there really is at least fifty ways to leave your lover; another testimony that relational satisfaction is often temporal.

My only conclusion?  Fifty Shades is cotton candy compared to The Real Thing.   Fleshly desires or eternal?  Happy for now or satisfied forever?   Pick one.

So we cry out, whisper, or silently say our prayers.  And we wait, oh how we wait–trusting that God has heard us, all the while believing He is good and in control and that He loves us.    We step out in trust blindly walking by faith, knowing we don’t have to know it all, have it all, do it all, or be that which we can’t be.

We may spend periods of our life in solitude, but we are never alone.  We are indeed richly loved.  And that’s a mind-blowing connection and lasting satisfaction, we can joyfully hold on to.

And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.  Isaiah 58:11 (ESV)

Video:  Bono: A Conversation about Christianity

Who do you follow?  Click on Faces on Facebook, blogs, websites, YouTube, people, pets, places, ideas, or ideologies and chances are there’s a LIKE, SHARE, or FOLLOW button attached to it.

I’m a bit of a U2 fan.  OK, maybe too much so sometimes.  It’s just that I really in truly love their music more than ANYTHING else around.  It’s just me, my personal preferences.  Besides the technical genius of the Edge, the backbone and muscle found in Larry and Adam, you’d have to be fairly unaware in life to not know the lead singer and some say heart of the band is—Bono.  Even that’s debatable because most U2 fans know what makes the band endure through the decades is that each member is absolutely vital to the other.  Bono just happens to be the person in front.

A year ago today I met Bono.  I just happened to be in NYC, a place I’ve only been to three times in my life.  He just happened to be at the Letterman Theater outside my hotel on my last day in NYC.  I didn’t know U2 was in town, even more, just outside my hotel across the street a few feet away.   I found out randomly when I overheard another hotel patron telling her friend that they were in town.

I ran across the street and tried to get Letterman tickets.  I waited in line, interviewed, and didn’t get picked.  I left and did some sightseeing with my adult daughter in Battery Park.   We came back, and I went to the theater one more time where Letterman was filming.  Everyone had showed up.  There were no extra tickets; I was told I didn’t need to stay.  I knew Bono and The Edge were inside.  I wanted to meet them; I wanted to meet Bono!

I was beside myself with excitement. I sort of felt like a cross between the swooning moms who fainted over Elvis during my childhood and young teens who camp out and fast for days for a change to meet “The Bieb-ster”.   I ran back to my hotel to change and brush my hair.  I was determined to find a way.  Then I started calming down.  Then I started crying.  What’s wrong with me?

HE’S ONLY A MAN

Suddenly, there was a fire drill only on our floor.  I had to evacuate anyway.  I thought maybe, just maybe I’d go downstairs one last time and see if anything was going on in the back of the theater around the corner.  God?  What are you trying to tell me?

He’s only a man my child.  He’s definitely not Jesus.  He’s Bono, but at the end of the day, he’s still a man.

I quit running.  I started walking instead.  I told God something important:  I know!

So I surrendered.  If it was meant to be—fine.  If not, I could live with that.  Only four days prior, I had driven from this same hotel to see U2 in Philadelphia.  It was my third and best U2 concert of all.  Don’t be greedy with your blessings Liz!

I got there in the nick of time.  I had a blast and made some quick connections with other U2 fans; or as I sometimes say, “I found MY people!”

The backdoors opened.  Out walked the Edge and then Bono.  Then it happened.  I met Bono!  I wasn’t shaking.  I wasn’t falling down. I was able to speak coherently.   He’s just a man.  But for a brief second in time, I saw his eyes and perhaps he saw mine.  I told him to tell Nelson Mandela Happy Birthday.  I found out later, he was on his way to have lunch with him, but I didn’t know that at the time.  I wasn’t inside the theater when they were taping.  I just knew.  Because sometimes our souls just know.  I knew how close they are, and I remembered the audience singing Happy Birthday to Nelson at Bono’s request four days earlier in Philadelphia.

Then he said what I still refer to as just one word:  Yeah!!!!!

Yeah (YES)!   YES is such an affirmative word.  It may sound cliché, but I knew in my heart that day, it was time for me to start saying yes to pursuing some dreams I’ve carried around for a while.  It was as if God was whispering,

Your dreams can be a reality!  Why do you even doubt?

 Not because I met Bono, but because sometimes God just comes down and blesses you with something amazing, that you didn’t deserve, that you wouldn’t have seen coming in your wildest imagination.

At the end of the day, and the whole of my life, I am a U2 fan to the core, especially Bono.  But I actually follow WHO he follows.  I think that’s why I and millions of other fans connect so deeply.   It’s more than even U2’s great music.  It’s their connection to those that suffer in this world and making us not just aware, but challenging us to do.   To start where you are, and to branch out, that is the key.

Yes I’m a fan of U2, so I’ve hit my fill of LIKE buttons and commented volumes.

But I FOLLOW Christ, not perfectly, but absolutely, and that’s something I really want to SHARE.    Christ forgives, redeems, saves, loves, challenges, and changes us IF we let him.  Only God knows what plans He has for you though we’re guaranteed a few things as we go:  tragedy, triumph, love, loss.  So how do we survive it all?

Love.  Pray.  Hope.  Persevere.  Trust.

I’m many things—a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and a writer.  I’m a fan of U2.  I’m a follower of Jesus—like my brother Paul, we are ONE in Christ. And that’s reason to REJOICE!

NOTE:  I’ve read these quotes.  They can be found in these books, great reads for U2 fans regarding Bono’s views and struggles in his faith walk.

 

What is it about a beach sunrise that trumps a regular sunrise?  Yesterday morning I had my feet propped up on a deck rail, a warm coffee in my hand, two sweet dogs laying by my side, and watching the ocean on the horizon.

Such sweet relief!   Our souls often feel weathered due to the storms we’re forced to endure. We learn:

Change is the only constant we navigate by

Waves continuously change and crash, but the sea and the mysterious laws that govern it are eternally constant. I sat there vaguely pondering  this, but mostly I was trance like in a state of non-thought.

Then my dear friend of twenty years came out with a plate of delicious fresh garden tomatoes grown with the help of her hands and love for gardening.  We sipped our coffee as we watched the sea.  “Look!” she said.  “Dolphins!”    A pair of dolphins were swimming just past the waves’ breaking  point parallel to the shore line.

I rarely stay at such quiet beaches, so I had yet to see dolphins at sunrise.  I’ve hoped for it on many trips, but never got to see them with my own eyes–until yesterday.

It’s real, I thought.  I never saw dolphins swim at sunrise before, not because they didn’t exist or I wasn’t looking hard enough, but because it wasn’t my time to see.  Prayers are answered in God’s time, not ours.

There is nothing like the ocean that seems to settle our faith and our doubts between the temporary and the eternal  like watching the ocean for an extended period of time.  Our soul is soothed as we watch the ocean free from life’s pressures, distractions, noise, and rampant thoughts that compete for our attention.    Ah, to just watch the ocean with a truly open mind, and without awareness of time passing.

See God has planted the seed of eternity in every man’s heart.  It’s hard not to love the sea whose every breaking wave crashes onto shore, only to return softly back to itself.    From a distance it’s so beautiful.  But if you are standing at the waves’ breaking point, all you hear is loudness and feel its fury.  You certainly feel the power if you attempt to stand there.  Fixing your feet here is impossible.  But a few yards ahead or behind the breaking point, all is calm.

Our lives are exactly like that.  The storms come.   The circumstances come in bulk and threaten to pull us under.  We are standing at the breaking point where it’s loud, and we’re unsteady on our feet.  We see the shore and we see the horizon, but in the midst of the breaking point’s fury, we can’t seem to move further out to sea or return to shore.

Yes, viewing the ocean from the distance of being across the street, I had a wider and quieter view then when lying on the sand only a few feet from where the tide comes in.  I look at the sea from this distance and feel nothing but peace from the top of my head to the tips of my toes still sugared in bits of yesterday’s sand.  All is well with the world—or at least, in this moment, in mine.

Yet I know this same sea has blanketed fury on coastal cities in time past.  It’s destroyed property and taken lives.  Untold thousands have drawn their last breath of air before succumbing to the ocean’s depths.    Boats and ships sink.  Storms come.  People drown.   My worst sea nightmare would be of being stranded in a life boat, dying of thirst, yet wondering if I’d be rescued.

Yesterday I watched dolphins swim across the ocean.  Somewhere else in the world, in this very same sea, somebody else was on a sinking boat fighting to stay alive.  At their moment of peril, did dolphins cease to exist?  While I marveled at the magnificence of dolphins, did I not care for the person struggling in the sea just because I didn’t see them or know of it?

Our circumstances, perspectives, beliefs, and geography separate us, yet we are still united in our humanity.  When one suffers, humanity suffers even when others are not aware.  Thankfully, God sees the big picture of our lives with an ultra-wide angle lens—a perspective we can’t conceive.  It is not constrained by width or depth or time.   God is able to see both these moments, and every moment and every one.

I want to have and maintain peace like I did yesterday morning.  Can we have daily peace, even though there is continual chaos in the world, even in our own lives? If so, how God?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.  James 1:5-8

This is one of the hardest and truest bible verses to me.  We are told that it is our doubts that blow our lives all around, sometimes to bits!  Our circumstances and our emotions toss us in such a way we can’t find True North, we can’t navigate our way home.   We get pulled between other peoples’ words to us and expectations of us and our feelings towards it all.   We don’t find solutions, because we don’t believe we will.

We get tossed by each event that threatens to overtake us, simply because we’re out of control.  We already know that in many circumstances, the control was never ours to possess anyway.    Still we fight the Captain of our soul for command of the wheel.  Sometimes our own mutiny is the real cause of our undoing.

It’s been said that seeing is believing.  But the real truth is believing is seeing. 

Would I have believed in dolphins had I never seen them at sunrise yesterday?  Of course!  I’ve known dozens of people who have already seen them; I’d seen them on TV and pictures.  That’s a no-brainer.  Everyone knows dolphins exist.

But God?  That’s another matter.  It can be hard to either believe God exists or that He actually is good or cares for you or the world that you live in.  How could God care or be good when there are storms such as wars, disease, famine , poverty, injustice,  and cruelty inflicted on living beings that God breathed life into in the first place?  Are those people or creatures less valuable to God then we are?  Of course not!  Then why?

WHY is the question we don’t have the luxury of asking.  When we do, our brain is limited in the answers it provides.  We can’t find rationale for pain or unfairness; our limited explanations don’t satisfy.   That dissatisfaction breeds doubt, and the cycle of being tossed about commences.

WHY is the universal question whose answer is like the sea.  It rises up, and then rolls back out.  We think we almost know sometimes; we think we have our lives figured out.    Then the storms come.

We have to trust in our faith that assures WHO, and not the knowledge that seeks to explain WHY.  Don’t allow waves of doubt to take your truth back to sea.

Man tries to explain his life and events, and the most brilliant, pedigreed people still fail miserably.   Life is a mystery.   The question is can you be at peace and NOT have answers sometimes?

I hope so.  That’s faith—being comfortable in not knowing the outcome or why.   If we can choose to live our lives as mirrors, so that our words and deeds reflect  light and love, rather than a telescope that tries to see and explain time and circumstance—that’s visionIf we can choose to love God and believe he exists, even though life isn’t fair, that’s true freedom.  Doing these things diminishes doubts, until they eventually die.

We don’t get to choose the location, timing, or severity of our storms.  We only can decide on who is in charge of our ship that sails over every breaking wave.  Choose well so that you can navigate safely.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

 

Every breaking wave
On the shore
Tells  the next one there’ll be one more

I don’t know if I’m that strong
I don’t know if I’m that strong
Don’t know if I’m that strong
To be somebody
To need someone……….

……..The waves know
We’re on the rocks
Drowning is no sin

You know
That my heart
Is the same place yours has been

(Partial Lyrics—U2 –Every Breaking Wave)