Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Love Does Not Fail

So, a note of explanation: I started to post this a few days ago and then took it down because it just didn't "flow" the way I like it to, and it was pretty raw and I didn't want to overwhelm anyone. Then I realized that it's choppy because that's how I learned it. That's the way my life is right now. This is reality for me. Stuff hits me at random times that are far from convenient for me. I write the way stuff hits me - so this time you get the plain reality. It's ok if you don't like it, because I wrote it for me more than anyone else...

I know what Love looks like now.
Now, when I put my hand out to hold hers and there is no one to take it.
Now, when I start to put my arm around shoulders no longer there.
I was her person.
She was my person.
No matter what we dealt with or what conflicts we had between us there was never a doubt in either of us that we would remain faithful to each other.  There was simply no other way to do this other than together.
In the absence of all the things that negatively impacted us I can see and better understand what the undiluted essence of that Love really looks like.
She is gone yet that Love still exists.

Love lives on.
Love endures emotions, events, appearances, and even death.
Love doesn't fail - we do.
Love is an entity that lives and exists independently of me.  Whether I choose to allow it to live within me is my choice, but its existence is separate, and so it endures.
Love is a calling to which I am not now being called.
Regardless of the fact that I am not able or ready to express Love in the way I was taught, and which I fully embraced, I am still intensely aware of its existence, and it influences every aspect of my life now, probably to an even greater degree than before.
I cannot escape it.

I'm a fixer. I want to be able to correct whatever is wrong and move on.
Get through the pain, put aside the discomfort, take a deep breath, go on.
I can't fix this.
One day I blinked and everything changed.
I was powerless.

When Sue died it was as if a dam broke and everyone was so overwhelmingly there that my family and I felt nothing but comfort and grace.  I literally felt as though I was in the middle of a room where I would have simply collapsed from a complete lack of strength, but I couldn’t fall because there were so many people packed in the room with me the simple fact of their presence held me up.  That is love.
I never understood what love was until now.  I still don’t fully understand it, but I know it is much more than I ever had any hope of understanding before.  As my life is being completely disassembled down to the tiniest piece, when everything I thought I knew is completely redefined, even then I discover that my knowledge of love was only scratching the surface.  In the process of my "recreation" I feel as though this element of love is being built into me at a cellular level.

I discovered something recently.

My heartbeat changed.

I have always had moments when I am still and my heart will beat so hard that it rocks my whole body. It doesn’t beat faster, but what seems to me to be four or five times as hard as normal.
More intense.  It's at those times where I can sit and meditate on my own heartbeat and listen to how it works in exactly the way God made it to work. That’s where I became accustomed to the pattern and rhythm of my own heart.
Recently I had one of those moments. My heart got louder to me and I listened to it beat again.

It has altered.

There is a physically different rhythm than before.
My doctor checked it.
I'm fine, but I am different now.
This change is consuming everything within me and I keep trying to find a way to control something that is most certainly uncontrollable.  It is a change I try to stop simply out of fear of the unknown, because believe me - there are a lot of unknowns right now.
Pieces of me are missing.
Regardless of the state of our relationship, or the emotions we felt at any given time, we still shared a rhythm.  A connection whose existence I was never consciously aware of until it was severed.  Every minute of every day is different now.  The fabric of life has been completely unraveled, and is now being rewoven.  Every single thing is cast in a different light.
Every. Single. Thing.

There is a tree I’ve been watching grow for several years.  I’ve always seen it as having some kind of spiritual application, but I never put it into written words.  I never expected to apply it so intimately to myself.  It used to be an ordinary tree.  About 25 feet tall, green leaves, sturdy branches, climbable.
Sacramento is sometimes called the “City of Trees” due to their abundance so this one went largely unnoticed.  Several years ago in a particularly severe storm the tree fell over.  It is in the front yard of a house, and when it fell it came down right across the walkway that led from the sidewalk to the front door.  The trunk, now horizontal, was about 3 feet off the ground as several branches had been pounded into the soil by the weight of its fall.  Some of the roots were sticking up in the air, and some were still anchored in the earth.
I would drive by this tree a few times a week, and each time I expected to see that it had been cut up and removed.  It never was.
There are other ways to get to the front door of the house.  I don’t know the owners so I don’t know their reasons for keeping the tree there, but I’m glad they did.  After a while they put a swing on one of the branches.  It was now the perfect height for it.  As more time went by, and I continued to watch, the tree passed through the seasons.

And it grew.

The branches that had pierced the soil when it fell became roots.
The roots that were now exposed to the air became branches and grew leaves.
It continued to do what it was created to do.
It is still a tree, but different.
Everything about it has fundamentally changed, and yet it thrives.

Like that tree I am forced now to grow in ways that are alien to me.
It hurts.
But it heals too.
While some pieces are missing other pieces are reforming to heal those wounds.
Like the tree I pursue the same purpose, but in a crucially different way.
It is simultaneously terrible, and glorious.
I do not control my life, but I do control my decisions in light of the events that occur within it.
God is not complacent, and He does not expect me to be either.
His unfailing love for me is an active, living thing.
There is more to this life than I will ever know.
©Dan Bode 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Barabbas: The One They Wanted

“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor.
"Barabbas," they answered. Matt. 27:21

We always settle for so much less.  They could have had the Savior and they chose the criminal instead. 
What did they get for their trouble?
The name "Barabbas" is significant.  The pre-fix “Bar” means “son of”.
“Abbas” was the name often used to address a priest or rabbi.  It also means "Father".
It seems oddly symbolic to me that one whose name literally meant "Son of the father" was exchanged for "The Son of The Father".
I believe there is a distinct possibility that Barabbas was the son of a priest.  I wonder if his father was among those inciting the crowd against Jesus?  What lengths would a father go to in order to save his son?
“Please ask for my son!  This Jesus is upsetting our entire nation, but my son has killed only a few!  It will be better to be rid of this one who foments rebellion!  He's just a carpenter's son! What is He worth to us?  Please, you know me, Barabbas is my son!”
What person, if they were any kind of good parent, would not ask to save their own child?
It's easy for me to look back and call them all fools for giving Him up.
I know who He is now, but there was a time...
There was a time when I cared little and less for Him.  There was a time when I would have been one of the crowd screaming the name of "Barabbas" in foaming rage instead of the name of "Jesus" in quiet reverence. 
There was a time in my life, that I now shudder to remember, when Jesus was just an inconvenience.

And what of Barabbas?  What did he think of his good fortune?
Did he ever see the face of the one for whom he was exchanged?
Did he ever understand that Christ literally died in his stead?
Did he change, or simply return to a criminal life?
Did the sacrifice of Christ make any difference to him?

Does it for you?

But what true parent among us could possibly make the choice to sacrifice one child to save another?
I couldn't.  I have no means to determine which would live or die.  I would die myself before making that choice.
God does.
He made that choice.
So Jesus was the One of us that died for all of us.
The Best of us, for the rest of us.
God knows how much He loves us.
The sacrifice He made was far more brutal for Him than for us. 
We are merely spectators to His actions, but we are invited to be participants.
There are many roles in this drama.
The priests.
The crowd who hated Him.
The crowd who adored Him.
Many more.

When Easter comes around which one will you choose? 
Will you be the one they want, or the one He wants?
©Dan Bode 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Being Holy

"You shall Be holy as I am holy."
What is it to be like God?
There are times when I feel Him so clearly it's like lightning running through my veins. But there are other times when my blood is my own and I plod through life as though I were alone.
He calls me to share His glory. He calls me to be used to my greatest potential in those very times when I feel Him the least. In my weakest He is strong, and so I am strong.
My memory of Him must be my reality in those times of His seeming absence.
God showed me how to be like Him by becoming like me.
Christ wore flesh like mine.
He knew the absence of God.
Suspended there that day between earth and sky, He knew.
He knows it now.
"I created you to be able to be like Me. To reflect the light of My presence in the dark places you go. I know the reality you face every day. That's exactly why I call you to be like me. It's the only way you'll survive. It's the armor you need. Just because you may feel alone does not make it true."

It's Palm Sunday. He's almost there. People adore Him when they think they will get what they want from Him, but we forget that He has already become like us.
We forget He already knows what we want, as well as the truth of what we need.
It's my turn now.
I am a vessel, into which He has poured His blood, His Life.
I am His son, as He is my Father.
Even if I become so short sighted that I can't see Him in front of me I can still see well enough to follow His bloody footprints that show me where I need to go. The scary part is that when I put my foot in His footprints - they match.
This day begins the final approach to Easter. Our proof of the hope of new life.
Easter was a conscious act of God to bring all the power of Heaven to bear on my own soul and yours.
The hope of Resurrection means more now than I ever thought it could.
It's not what I feel anymore.
It's what I know.
©Dan Bode 2012