Wednesday, December 21, 2016


My friend Marc is easily one of the wisest men I know.  I was talking with him at dinner one night, and he brought up the concept of “convergence”.

Convergence is something we see when we look back.  It’s that sense of a pattern, a nudge, a sense that someone knows something about you that you don’t when they give you a gift.  You may have a sense of something big coming your way, and you tremble in anticipation of its arrival, but you don’t know the when, or what, or why of it until it happens.  Then you look back at all the things that led up to it, and you recognize all that had to happen just so, at just the right time, in just the right way, against all odds, some that were good, some that were bad, some that you thought were completely inconsequential, and every hair stands on end.
That’s convergence.

We talked about how we take so many things in life for granted and then look back on them later and see events that were seemingly inconsequential at the time become significant.  He told me about a lesson that he used to teach his students as a high school English teacher where he would put together a calendar containing all the days of about 80 years in one sheet.  He would invite all the kids to come look down on the document laid out on the floor, and he would tell them, in effect, “Look closely at this.  This represents all of your days.  Don’t waste them.”  I imagined seeing that calendar at the beginning of my life, and at the end.  At the beginning I imagined being full of hope for all the days I still had ahead of me.  At the end I might be filled with regret at what I had never done, now faced with nothing left. 

When he told me about this I had just finished reading an amazing book by Donald Miller (who is now one of my favorite authors) titled, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”.  In it he talks about how to look at your life as a story, and how to write a better one.  In the book Miller says this: “What I'm saying is I think life is staggering and we're just used to it. We all are like spoiled children no longer impressed with the gifts we're given - it's just another sunset, just another rainstorm moving in over the mountain, just another child being born, just another funeral.”
It made me realize how much I take for granted in every day life.

Marc said when he thought about how my wife and I came together it was like a convergence of events that had been put in motion long before.  We had each gone through so many things that caused us to be made for each other. 
After my first wife died, and I began to consider dating as an actual possibility, I remember wondering if it was really worth it to start another relationship.  I was 52 and wondered if I had enough time left to really build a life with someone again.  Was starting over really worth it?  I eventually came to understand that I was giving the concept of time control over my life.  Time is a tool, not a god, and I have all the time I need regardless of when I start something new.  My success in life is not necessarily measured by what I complete.  It’s more by what I allow love to motivate me to do.  A relationship is not a task to be accomplished, but rather a love to be nurtured to the point that it cannot die, and that is not a function of time but of devotion.
It took me a while to learn this.  I had some painful stumbles, and made my share of mistakes, but then Brenda was there, through no plan of my own.  All the things that had been set in motion throughout our lives brought us to the right place, the right time, the right person.
This reminded me of something I had thought of a few weeks earlier and hadn’t told anyone about.  I was thinking about how God had so long ago set in motion the events that brought us together and made us fit.  I imagined it as though when God made the universe He made a perfect baseball, and He pitched that baseball out into the ether, then turned back to creating the world.  But that ball travelled across space and time and eons and epochs and eras.  Through all the events of the world from the beginning that ball was travelling in the background where no one but Him knew of its presence.  Then one day, against all odds, I was in a stadium, completely unqualified to stand at the plate, holding the perfect bat, with no pitcher on the mound.  All of a sudden I knew it was this very moment I had been made for.  I knew something was coming my way, and I heard His voice echo across the heavens when He said,
And I took that perfect bat, and I made a perfect swing with every ounce of my being, and that ball that had travelled all across time and distance from forever came down out of the sky in the most perfect of arcs to meet that swing, AND I HIT THAT BALL RIGHT OUT OF THE PARK BACK INTO THE UNIVERSE FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE!

And that is what it was like to fall in love with my wife, and I think of it that way every day.

Convergence.  It’s a God thing.
©Dan Bode 2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

What Do You Do With a Second-Hand Grave?

Jesus had a habit of using things for purposes other than what we intended them for.
When He arrived in Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday, everyone was getting ready for Passover.  He had sent a few of the disciples ahead of Him to secure the place where they would share the Passover meal.
Then when they finally get to the night where they sat together to celebrate the Passover as each of them has for their entire life up to this point Jesus does something different…..

“This is My blood, drink in remembrance of me….”

Their ears certainly pricked up at this I’m sure.  They definitely hadn’t heard that one before.

“Ummm, excuse me Jesus?  I’m pretty sure that’s not how my dad taught me to do that….”

“This is My body, take and eat in remembrance of me….”

He used the Passover as something different than what they had made of it then, but when the disciples all looked back on it later they realized that in reality it had been all about Him from the beginning anyway. 

And then, on the Third Day, He rose from the dead.

That really kind of threw a wrench in things.  

Even though He’d been telling everyone who would listen that He would, they still didn’t actually expect it to happen.  That’s not what graves are for.

And that begs the question:  Just exactly what do you do with a used grave?

A grave isn’t a grave until it has a dead body in it.  Once it has a body in it it’s not like you’re going to use it for something else.  It’s not a multi-purpose kind of thing, you know?
But a grave isn’t supposed to empty itself either is it?
What should have held Him securely for the rest of time simply didn’t.  He used for something else. 
What should have been the end, was instead used as a beginning.
He used it as the launching point for the means of our survival.

If I was the owner of that tomb, and stood in front of it a few days after sealing a dead body inside, knowing that the person I had buried actually did what He said He would do and rose again, I would wonder what to do with it. 
I could be practical, and keep trying to use it for what it was originally intended for.  I would know for a fact that there would be another dead body to put in there sooner or later.  I’ve seen death often enough in my own life to know the truth of this.

I tried putting myself in the shoes of Joseph of Arimathea, staring at that stone that should have been there, but was instead over there.  

Seeing the grave clothes folded there instead of being wrapped around the body where he had put them.

It’s difficult to fathom what could possibly be going through his head at that moment, but I think I know what I’d do.

I think I’d move in.

To be where He had been, but wasn’t.

To live where death was defeated.
Not present.

Had no authority.

Where the scent of mortal decay never lingered.

That would be a home like no other.

Then I realize that I’d just be falling into the trap that man has found himself in since the beginning.
We always want God to provide proof of Himself in what we can touch, see, taste, and hear.  Jesus showed up and gave us all that, and there were plenty then who still didn’t get it.

But here’s the thing:  I don’t have to own the empty grave, or live in it, to know the truth of what He’s done for me.  
All I need to know is that there really is a second hand grave out there, and it failed in its purpose the first time. 

It won’t ever get a second chance, but I always will.

Happy Easter.

© Dan Bode 2016