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Posts Tagged ‘choose life’

rainbow in havTeach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. [Psalm 90:12, NIV]
Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. [Psalm 90:12, Living Translation]

Get it? Pay attention. That’s the beginning of wisdom. Our lives are flying by and most of the time, we are missing it. I know I have allowed time to flee without marking its passing. The reason I know this? Because I remember so little. The days fly and the memories with them.

I cannot tell you the number of times, while hanging out with old friends, one of them will say, “Remember when we–” and he or she tells the story. I play along, but sadly, I really don’t remember. A part of me even thinks, was that me in the story? It’s a loss for the event might have been a source of growing and learning. Instead, it drifted into the ether of time.

Yesterday, I was blessed with a coincidental moment of witnessing a most amazing rainbow. The weather gave no warning of its appearance, but I just happened to be outside with the dogs for their morning duties in the back yard. I ran back into the house and got a shot or two off and I was glad I managed to capture it. If only my mind with use more due diligence for other moments.

It’s a rather futile sorrow, that which has been lost to memory. I know that. But I cannot help but think that God has brought this verse to me today for a specific reason. Count the time. Mark it. Live fully. Embrace the moment and take a picture with the mind. Be in it.

Today is my birthday. And like all birthdays that come to us as we move into our senior years, I am reminded of the brevity of life but encouraged by what can still happen. It has been a year of losses but also a year of renewal and re-invention.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life. [Psalm 143:8, NIV]

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Photo by Irm Brown

Photo by Irm Brown

It’s more than likely that our use of “rise and shine” for waking someone up in the morning derived from this biblical reference. The history of the phrase found even more traction in the military and apparently, it’s use is around the world, although the British tend to add, “wakey-wakey” to it.

Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you—rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you! [Isaiah 60:1, AMP]

Let us return to the biblical reference however for it is quite rich in meaning. I am particularly struck by the elaborated Amplified version which gives us more information about the original Hebrew; specifically, arise from depression and difficult circumstances to a new day, a new life, a new opportunity.

We choose to arise, whether it’s from our beds or from a dreary despondency (I’m not speaking of clinical depression here). Even those who are deep in the mire of chemical dependency are often told they will hit rock bottom before looking up. It’s a small moment, this turning with “I will.”

Along with that first instant comes the next: a promise to shine; not with our own power or light but with God’s power and light. When a person surrenders to the Presence, then light rises within and fills the “temple” (body/soul) [I Corinthians 6:9]. And with this light, we can truly “see.” Another word for this encounter is revelation (understanding).

Wakey-wakey!

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Artwork by Nathan Johnson

Artwork by Nathan Johnson

This question, “where were you?” changes its meaning by the emphasis put on each word. “WHERE were you?” versus “where WERE you?” versus “where were YOU?” And what emphasis did God use when he first spoke to Job?

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?Tell me, if you understand. . . . “ [Job 38:4, NIV]

Is it about place or time or person?

I’m pretty sure it’s about person, that neither Job or you or I were present in the time of creation energy. We can describe and count and observe and hypothesize, but we’ll never really “know” or understand Godwork.

Partially, the problem is that we continue to anthropomorphize God. We keep making very big and very wrong assumptions about God as though a jealous God is like a jealous man or woman. Or that fearing God is like fearing cockroaches or stink bugs. Or that listening to God is like listening to U2 or Taylor Swift. These words are human words used to describe human feelings and activities. It’s simply not the same with God.

I used to believe that Abraham had the God thing down. After all, didn’t he negotiate the salvation of his cousin Lot from the clutches of Sodom (or was it Gomorrah)? Really? Did Abraham actually bring up something that God had not considered? Was Abraham bargaining with God or was he really bargaining with himself, the value of human life against virtue and right living.

And so, here we come to Job who finally hears God, a God who asks Job question after question after question in order to lock in a simple truth: God is God and human is not God. Creator envisions creation; human lives in it, molding what is given. We do the same with our lives. We have much freedom in the managing of our persons. But the spark of life came from God alone.

For my scant few years, maybe they will be as many as 100 or maybe only 85 or even less, I cannot know. But for this time, I am given the opportunity to partner with God in gratitude, sharing in the work of creativity and love and joy and relationships. Or not.

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” [Deuteronomy 30:19, NLT]

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Based on Genesis 2:1-9 and Notes from Zondervan’s Spiritual Renewal Bible (hereinafter called SRB).

My first thoughts today were all about “why.” Why is there a “second” creation story? Why do we have the big overview in chapter 1, only to rewrite the story in chapter 2 (with changes and anomalies). This is probably a huge controversy out there in Bible land or, at the least, fodder for commentators and PhD candidates.

In the SRB notes, it is noted that in 2:4, it is the first time that God is referred to as Yahweh, the Hebrew form for God, the unnameable one, and yet the One that is in relationship with human. And so it occurred to me that this part of the Bible is the relationship story between Yahweh, the creator and his created humans. And, if it’s anything like the creative process I go through (as well as thousands of other writers), the creation part is fun and almost easy, but it’s the re-write that is hard. It’s in the rewrite that the product is transformed and perfected.

We are all in the human rewrite process.

So, how did this happen? I’m guessing that God followed through on his big plan (see Creation Story & Me) and decided to replicate himself. But here’s the hinky part: God is a being of free will of choice. And as a result, created beings have the same DNA.

One of the ways we see immediately this situation is the two trees in the garden (planted together in the center of the garden) where one, from which human could freely eat, was the tree of life (yum!) and the other was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We know this story. Don’t eat from the second tree. Choose wisely.

But, here’s where we humans tend to  be perpetual teenagers: when told not to do something, it becomes the very thing we want to do. God is saying, “I made you and you can choose to be like me” by following in my path, eating from the tree of life, etc. Or you can choose to be “not like me” by eating of the other tree. (This is really interesting since we know that the “serpent/Satan” convinced human that eating of the second tree would be the “more like God” choice when, in reality, the opposite was true. Lies, lies, and more lies. But I get ahead of myself.)

As parents, aren’t we doing the same thing: be like me. Learn from my mistakes. Let me warn you about the second tree (or whatever it might be) and yet, they often choose outside of our hope for them. And as a result, a different path is trudged.

We had those choices. We still do.

Will I be a perpetual teenager and keep choosing my own way or will I finally get it?

Choose God’s way.

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