July 5, 2007

Cutting Edge Meditations

Trash Bags
It was definitely a house, but from the beginning it showed very few indications of being a home.
My roommates and I were as different in lifestyle and life philosophies as we were in personality and background, but I suppose it really was a four-way choice that we never became friends. We were generally diplomatically tolerant; however, at times the underlying frustration tended to boil dangerously close to the surface.
There was an unstated agreement that we used our own things, ate alone, and that we shared the “house duties” in a precariously undefined manner.
And that’s what sparked the near spiritual crisis of the trash bags.
2007 1519 page28It was her turn to take out the kitchen trash, there was no doubt about that—I’d done it several times in a row. I came to the firm conclusion that she would fulfill her obligations (like it or not), and that she’d do it of her own initiative. It wasn’t really a big deal, so I was confident that she could handle it. A simple trip of about 100 yards from our garage to the dumpster would probably take her only five minutes, so I didn’t feel too sympathetic in my stubborn, silent sit-in.
Thankfully, it was late winter and fairly cold, so the smells didn’t rise with the height of the garbage; or maybe that was just one of Satan’s tools to keep the trash bag crisis quiet, simmering, continuous.
Soon, more than a week had passed. I sauntered haughtily by the garage door and relished the disdain I had for my irresponsible roommate. With two weeks of stalemate behind, I allowed thoughts of her immaturity and obvious spiritual depravity to run rampant through my mind.
After a month and a half of fewer words than ever, and a growing monument in our garage to the deteriorated hopes of reconciliation, I mentioned to a friend (with holy disdain) how petty and lazy my roommate was showing herself to be. My friend, of course, readily agreed.
After more than two months of a growing pile and a growing hate, the Holy Spirit struck me down, but my resistant heart still had a few lessons to learn.
Hours of tearful struggling on my knees had resulted in a growing conviction that I break the stalemate and take care of the problem. But by now, there must have been more than 30 bags of rotten garbage, and I was too overwhelmed to face the symbol of my own rebellion. So I called on Gina Rae, a dear friend and student.
On hearing the struggles of my story, Gina Rae wisely and solemnly shook her head and clucked her tongue. I had offered to pay her well for lugging our trash those few fateful yards to the dumpster, but instead she studied me from clear, honest eyes and offered a reprimand full
of clarity and wisdom.
“Miss Green, what have you tried so hard to teach us about surrendering our lives to Christ? What have you said again and again about the simple beauty of a walk with Christ? I’m ashamed of you! No, I will not accept your money to do your dirty work, but if you get into some grubby clothes, I’d be happy to work with you until we get the job done.”
Shocked into silence, I ran and changed. In less than two hours we had the mess cleaned up (and the dumpster completely full). Gina Rae grinned a proud response to my look of obvious relief. She took my hands and led me to my knees. We prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and recommitment, and I arose feeling better than I had in months.
My roommate never did know the spiritual turning point in my life, and I don’t think Gina Rae really comprehended how she’d helped her Bible teacher understand how to accept Christ once again. But the humbling difference in my outlook is something that makes me very thankful for roommates, students, and an ever-deepening understanding of my own sinful character and Christ’s unbelievable grace and power.
                                                                                                                        —Melanie Troxell, Lubbock, Texas
The “Invisible” Red Blur
On my mother’s dresser is a picture that has been around for nearly three decades. It’s a picture of my father and mother, a family friend, and me nestled in my mother’s arms at just 1 year old.
The picture has been there since it was first taken. I’ve seen it more than a hundred times since. The photo was taken just outside our old apartment building next to a wooded lot in front of a wall of trees. Or so I thought.
Just recently my mother mentioned in passing the picture and its correct location, a location that is several hundred miles away from where I had thought the picture had been taken. I was shocked, and maybe even a little disappointed. I looked at the picture closely with this new insight. There it was, now plain as day. Just over my father’s shoulder, about 50 feet behind us in the blurry background, sat a red van.
My father is toward the middle of the picture and is actually covering up a small portion of the vehicle. However, the red blur is hard to miss. It was as though it had been miraculously hidden from my view all these years, and had now been uncovered.
For so long I had an incorrect assumption about the picture, a misconception that would have immediately evaporated the second I noticed the van. A van wouldn’t have been parked in the woods near our apartment building. Now that I’ve seen the van, I can’t walk past that picture without noticing the red blur. How do you miss a red van in the middle of a photo for so long?
Unfortunately, we often do this with God’s pictures. There are those who grew up with certain biblical misconceptions, individuals who seem to cling to a few misused texts while passing blindly over the very verses that could open their eyes to the real truth. They may see the picture frequently, but tend to see only what their understanding sees. Their version of the picture doesn’t include a “red van.”
But what about our everyday devotions? What about our own understanding of things such as the character of Jesus or the God of the Old Testament? Do we allow the Bible to talk to us or have we gotten so used to the same picture that a mere passing glimpse jump-starts our own rendition of what we know to be true? Sometimes it is a challenge to look at the Bible for the first time when you have seen it so many times before.
Try to pick up the Book for the first time, every time. Look at it closely. Let it talk to you, teaching you only what is actually written on its pages. Hopefully then we will be able to see the red in the picture.
                                                                                                          —Chandler Riley, Silver Spring, Maryland