Month: May 2015

Impound Lot Theology

Every time I have to pay a fine to get my car back from an impound lot, I have a new appreciation for the concept of redemption. (I also have a new appreciation for my need to acquire common sense, but, you know, theology first, guys!)

The scene: it is 10:30 at night and every spot in the apartment parking lot is full. I drive around twice, and think, “Aw man, I’ll have to park somewhere else and walk. I’m tired and it’s dark and there’s a suspicious-looking person lurking over there. But wait! The handicap space is open! Seriously, how many disabled people are going to need to get into the apartment before 7:30 AM? And no one really checks on these things, right?”

The next morning, my car is gone, and I know immediately what happened. So I call the friendly local towing company that is holding my car hostage and we work out a ransom.

It could have been worse...

It could have been worse…

So, yes. I’m still working on this being-an-adult thing.

I was probably easily the most cheerful person the impound lot people had ever encountered, because, you know, these things just happen sometimes. I have this built into my budget. (What other people call their “Emergency Fund,” I call my “Wow, That Was Stupid Fund” because I assume anything that happens will be my fault. It usually is.) And despite the fact that I doubt I inconvenienced a single handicapped person by parking my car for a few hours in their designated spot, I did break a rule and I did receive a just penalty for it. (more…)

The Still, Small…Hulk?

Ultron3

It’s like a reverse Elijah story.

Maybe you know the one. Picture Elijah the prophet, dusty, wild-eyed, storming in and out of the royal court to declare the world of the Lord and then disappearing to let others deal with the consequences. But then picture him on the run from Queen Jezebel and her threats, collapsed in a wilderness cave, exhausted and dusty and terrified.

Until God came and both put him in his place and encouraged him at the same time.

How he did it, though, that’s the real story. A whirlwind whipped past the cave, shattering rock. Then an earthquake, making the ground tremble. Then a fire, blazing with heat even in the desert. But God wasn’t in any of them.

And then there came a quiet whisper, a still small voice. And Elijah listened, and he knew. It was him.

You have to think that Elijah was waiting, all along, for God to speak in something loud and dramatic. That each time a force of nature swept past his little cave he wondered, “Is this it? Is this what I’ve been waiting for?” I even wonder if he was a little disappointed when, time after time, it wasn’t. If maybe he wondered if God was going to show up after all.

I say that because that’s what I would have felt. Maybe you know what I mean. Even when we don’t try to, we place certain expectations on God. We schedule him in during the most likely times, and when he doesn’t arrive, we are disappointed. (more…)

Mother’s Day for the Rest of Us

It was Mother’s Day during my senior year of college, and the church was giving packets of flower seeds to the moms in the congregation, ones with a little verse attached: “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” Proverbs 31:28.

Proverbs

One of the high school students at the door handed me a packet of zinnia seeds. “Here, Amy, you’ll be a good mom someday. That’s close enough.”

And I smiled and gave her a hug, because at twenty-one, no one expected me to actually be a mom yet. Oh, sure, my grandma was a little impatient for me to get married, but I was content in my singleness, happy to have a youth group full of girls I called “my kids,” and glad that someone thought I’d be a good mom…and maybe I would be someday. I took the packet, ready to plant those flower seeds in a styrofoam cup and set it on my dorm room window, waiting for something to take root and bloom in its own good time.

Then I looked around the sanctuary, and saw the faces of other women, some holding seed packets, some trying to dart out the doors before someone realized this was not meant for them.

And I realized: on this day celebrating motherhood, some women are hurting.

I love Proverbs 31, often preached on Mother’s Day. Nothing against it. Really. But sometimes, it takes a long time for your children to rise up and call you blessed.

Sometimes it never happens at all. (more…)

Four Reasons Why Camping is Biblical

Okay, I’ll admit it: the idea of abandoning your nice, comfortable homes with well-stocked fridges and wireless Internet to tromp around in the wilderness and sleep under a tarp zipped over a frame is a little odd. But not only is camping fun, it is also biblical. Here are four reasons why Christians should go camping.

Reason One: Character

I will start, as I usually do, with Calvin and Hobbes. The title character’s wise and extremely longsuffering father has this to say about camping:

Calvin

This is much like the apostle Paul, who says in Romans 5:3-4, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character.” He and Calvin’s dad would be great friends. And who wouldn’t want to develop more character?

Reason Two: Community

But you might say, “I get plenty of chances to develop character without seeking it out intentionally. Book me a room at Comfort Inn.” So, let me go on to talk about the second benefit of camping: togetherness.

Modern life, even entertainment, seems to be designed more to keep us apart than bring us together. Watch a movie, you’re looking at a screen and not each other. Go to an amusement park, you’re jerked around through all kinds of sensory overload. And so on and so forth.

Camping forces you away from the chaos and noise for a little while, and you have pretty much just…each other for entertainment. And rocks and trees and dirt, but no matter how irritating my friends and family members can occasionally be, they are more interesting than plant matter. (I’m sure they’re quite flattered.) (more…)