Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Goodbye John Paul

Every culture and social sphere has those people. People who are just known by all the others in those same spheres. There seems to be, in human nature, a need to just zero in on someone for no other reason than to simply admire them. In the Christian realm, John Paul Jackson, who died today, was that person--or at least one of them. 

Yesterday, when I wrote the original text (well the first paragraph up there is still from my original blog entry) for this post, I more or less had in mind not John Paul but my memories of the way people admired him and others like him. For the most part, those memories are not overtly positive, and I personally believe admiring leaders is actually a burden to them in the long run. That is why I do not do it. On the other hand, I am fiercely loyal. 

Anyway, in my attempt to communicate why I choose not to be in awe of other people's fame, I feel like disrespect for a whole array of individuals was imparted instead. I can't let those words stand so they are gone now.

My problem was and still is that I never knew John Paul Jackson, yet his sudden departure from this life has left my heart in acute pain. I think I was a little angry about that yesterday. I do not feel like I have the right to mourn for someone I don't know. 

Except not mourning has proven not to be an option. Tears keep falling out of my eyes even when I will them to stay in. 

Maybe when I was not looking he became a father in the faith. I don't know. Truthfully, most of the time I listened to him my tendency was to mentally argue most of his points. Then I would begrudgingly admit he was right (well, not all the time, but usually) and go through the same thing a few days later. I have been watching him weekly on youTube and Streams for four years now. 

When you feel some dissonance over what another person is talking about for that long I guess you do not pay attention to the love that creeps in for that same person. But I guess that is what happened to me. And to many other people around the world, too...

John Paul Jackson, you have seen your Father's face. You are finally in His arms. God Bless you, John Paul, and thank you for your faithful service to Our Lord, Savior, and King--Jesus Christ. You ran a most excellent race. Peace be with your family, and God, bless them richly with your comfort and care, too. Not just now but forever. 

You are and will be sorely missed.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Psalm 46:10

Whether it is during my favorite show Major Crimes (sorry Downton Abbey fans), or written in a Facebook post, lately "Be still and know that I am God," keeps showing up in the unlikeliest of places. 

Ever the anxious person, I have come to realize that this scripture is more than a nice sentiment to calm jumpy nerves. Rather this is a command and now I see that until I learn to submit to it, there will be no forward movement in my life. 

Why? Because everything else is striving. It's human effort. The Hebrew translation of "be still" is rapha which means to cause yourselves to let go or "let yourselves become weak." Poetically it even means "the place of the dead." 

What if this means to cause yourselves to become weak to the point that you appear dead? 

Why would we ever do that? Because the Hebrew name of God in this passage is, Ribbano Shei Olam, which means Master of the Universe. Basically, we let go to learn of God's salvation (which is amazingly spectacular) rather than to continue to trust in our own attempts to save ourselves which do not even pale in comparison. 

Also, the present meaning of the verb to know is different than how the ancient Hebrews understood it. 

In our Western culture to know something basically means we have memorized a fact. We know that apples grow on trees for instance. To the Hebrews, however, to know something means to experience it. We know God parted the Red Sea because we remember this has been written in Scripture. The Israelites knew it because they were standing on the bottom of the dry Red Sea floor while giant walls of water towered over them to their left and to their right. 

God is not asking us to cognitively remember the fact that He is good. He is asking us to be still in order to experience His goodness that we may know in our hearts how lovely He is. For our sake. Not for His. He knows He is good. But this...this is for our healing. 

The hardest about being still for me is that it stirs up the ire of friends. They do not verbalize it, but it is so apparent they constantly strain to keep the question, "Why are you not doing anything?" from tumbling out of their lips. My stillness frustrates them!

I understand, yet even so, I cannot help but think of a growing baby in a womb. Does a mother really need to do anything but to eat and rest for her child to develop in her body? No. And so it is with our healing and faith. Things come together in a secret, dark place usually without our awareness and when it is time, what has developed and matured will be brought forth into the light. God will make it happen and when He does, it His Name that is to be praised. Not ours. 

So be still today, and know He is God. Our Father loves you. And He has great things in store for you. Your lives matter.

Thank you, Hebrew for Christians, for your notes on Psalm 46:10!