In Between

Suzy and the kids had to drive for over three hours to visit me when I was on sabbatical. She told me that there were times when she and Kelley, or she and Caroline would crank up the radio to an oldies station and sing along while they traveled to visit me. This was an in between time for my family and me. They were in between DC and Cumberland, Md. We were all in between our past life and an uncertain future. The kids were in between adolescence and adulthood. One described it as a time where we were on a trapeze having let go of one bar and hoping there would be another bar that would swing out and we could grab ahold.

In those times of being in between it helps to sing. For Suzy and the kids it helped to get caught up in “oldies” and bring back memories of more certain times before they faced uncertainty square in the face again. But I also refer to another type of singing in those in between times. Singing in the more broader context means recognizing where we are and celebrating our extraordinary aliveness. Songs reflect our emotions — joy and sadness, in love and heartbroken, celebration and mourning, courage and weakness, etc. Each of these songs of life mean we are alive in the present — “in between” our past and our future.
As you meditate this weekend consider whether you are “in between.” Consider what song reflects your status, and ask yourself if it wouldn’t help to have someone sing along with you. If there is no one handy, God has one hell of a voice. Just consider the songs of nature.

There Are No Secrets

An old film I enjoyed was called “Sneakers” and it starred Robert Redford. In the movie Redford and his team steal the ultimate decryption device, and its secret pass word is the phrase “There are no secrets.” With 24 hours news coverage, cameras in every cell phone and on every street corner, and the government listening in to every phone conversation and email message we make, I think having no secrets is pretty much the way things are. Yes, I may be exaggerating a little about the government, or not, but one has to agree that the time of “no secrets” is here.

Yet, that has always been the case. God and our conscience know all that we do — good and bad. We may be able to hide our misdeeds from our spouse, our family, or our friends, but usually it all comes out. We may be in denial about ourselves from time to time, I know I’ve been, but it doesn’t last.
That is why prayer and confession are so important. We can’t hide from God or ourselves, so we might as well “fess up,” seek forgiveness, and “begin again.”  Prayer and confession are like taking a long bath or rain shower with good water pressure. It refreshes not only our outward appearance it washes the soul clean. That is why confession is so essential to a faithful life. We all make mistakes, we all do things we are not proud of, we all need to start over. Confession allows us to do just that. It also keeps us in constant communication with God.
Try it, and to quote another favorite movie, “It will be like you dipped your feet in magic waters.”

Obedience

My son sent me a book. I haven’t started it yet, but I’m drawn to the title — A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Discipleship In An Instant Society. “Obedience” immediately wants me to disobey. “Long Obedience” rebels against my need for immediate gratification. “Same Direction” sounds like some kind of group dynamic I usually walk away from. “Discipleship” make me nervous because of all my failings. And, “Instant Society” is one of my pet peeves. Yet, when you put it all together I am intrigued, and can’t wait to call Walter and ask him why he sent it. I suspect this will not be the last time you hear about the book.

Words are funny things. We react to certain words like I have described above. The words we speak tell us a lot about who we are and what we believe. Notice I said “us.” Our words may mean something different to our listeners. Have you ever said something to a spouse or friend and they react, “What do you mean. What you just said doesn’t make any sense.” And you respond indigently, “Oh. You know what I mean.”
Every now and then take a moment to listen to what you say and ask yourself is that what I wanted to convey. Are my words “authentic” or am I speaking to please the listener?
The other day I caught myself speaking in mid-sentence realizing my words were not who I was or what I believed. Fortunately I could remedy the outburst. But it caused me to remember to listen to my own words a lot more carefully.

Friend

My novel, When Men Betray, according to my publisher is a legal thriller, and they are right of course. But if you were to ask me what I started out to write, I would say it was a book about “Friendship.” The word “friend” is on of the most powerful words in our language. From the biblical  perspective the word “friend” intimates a deep and abiding relationship. Abraham was known as God’s friend. In Ecclesiastes it is noted that “Two are better than one… For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help” (4:9)

Jesus says, “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for ones’ friends. He told his disciples and us, “you are my friends.”
We all need friends, and it is appropriate on occasion to spend your morning’s meditation on friendships. Who are or have been the significant friends in your life? What made a certain person your “friend?” And, what is keeping you from reaching out to a friend who needs you right now?