“…and I choose joy…”

Choose joy…

Today I read an interesting post. It spoke about how there is just so much ugly in the world – anger, violence, disrespect, war, famine, disease, deception…. over and over. It is almost like people are choosing the wrong thing on purpose…

There are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.

Stairway to heaven – Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant

In this post, the writer urged everyone to choose joy, to choose the right path. Choose to write, to compose, to dance, to sing in the rain, to love this crazy life and to be the light to others by the way in which we live. To be that example of a life well-lived.

Our son showed us a video last night. The video showed a pile on the floor of one jelly bean for every day you are going to live. I’ve lived over twenty-three thousand days. That’s a pretty big pile of jelly beans, so far. I’m hoping for ninety, so I have another 20,000+ to go! How many days did I waste? How many spent doing absolutely nothing of consequence? The video broke down bathroom time, TV time, relationship time, even how much time you will spend commuting! It brought me to a sobering moment – of the waste of what God granted to me.

Francis Chan and the Rope

Francis Chan is an evangelical pastor. I happen to like his approach. A lot of people do not like him because he keeps straying from his “lane” and sliding over into mainstream beliefs and he’s dissed the evangelical movement a little here and there. He’s sort of a spiritual rebel and I gotta say, I like it! The photo above is when he spoke about “what are we preparing for?” and he showed red paint at the end of a long rope. In his explanation, he said we spend so much time worrying about the red section and then we forget about all that length of rope, representing eternity. The red section is our time here on earth. It is very short. In light of eternity, it is miniscule. But we focus on paying bills and getting married, buying the right house and driving the right car. Some women collect purses or watches. Some men collect guns or sports memorabilia or fishing trophies. It is pretty insane. We seem to put our investments where our heart lays. Where is your investment?

Investments

I have been digging into my soul today. There are corners that need to be mucked out, that is for sure. Great Lent is just ahead. The readings for the Pharisee and the Publican were just read in Church. And once again I had to look at myself from the perspective of the Pharisee, and Publican, both.

Now he also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and told others they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt. “Two men went up to the temple to pray; one a Pharisee and one a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and began praying in this manner to himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: swindlers, crooked, adulterers, or even this tax collector. I fast twice a week and I pay tithes all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to raise his eyes toward heaven, but was beating his chest, saying ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner.’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other one; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 12:9-14 (NASB)

Do I attend church so others can see me pray? Do I perform gestures or dress in a certain way as to gain approval from those around me? Or do I attend church because I need to be there?

The church is not a hotel for saints, it is a hospital for sinners.

St. Augustine of hippo

For me, finding God has been pretty much a lifelong pursuit. I have been baptized seven (7) times – you read that right. Seven times. Why? Each time my parents changed churches, we were baptized again. Because each time it was a different denomination of Protestant. Guess they didn’t trust the other guy. When I entered the Catholic Church, the priest and I met many times. He asked me about baptism and confirmation and any other sacraments I may have had. When he learned of all my baptisms, he asked if I had been baptized as an infant and I let him know that I had – St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. He said, “Yay! Trinitarian! We’ll take it!” I thought that was hilarious. But that started me onto another path, searching for God.

The Pathway to God…

I had an interesting chat with a friend’s mom yesterday. She told me she had left the Church for 17 years and the infant son of her daughter brought her back. And she discovered Christ in the Tabernacle. She knows, with no doubt in her heart, that Jesus is there, always. And she visits Him often. She worries for her daughter, because she no longer attends Mass, but I assured her the faith was there, just not the practice. She may not attend Mass, but my friend is a prayer warrior! Their pathways are different, but their common goal is Christ. And although many of us worship differently, we all share a common belief in Christ.

I really hate arguing about faith details, because to some, your salvation is judged by the denomination of the church you attend; how believers look down on you if you are not of their particular persuasion. People are becoming more and more black and white – judgmental. I am trying, as hard as I can, to be more accepting of others. To ignore, or look past the package, and see the person. As far as I believe, we are all endeavoring to make it to the presence of God in Heaven. The route might be different, but the goal (as I said before) is the same. I would propose we support one another in our chosen pathway, and assist as best we can. There are people who purport to be Christians, but they do not treat others like Christ would. They neither support nor encourage our walk with God. And that, my friends, is sad. Heaven is a big, big tent. None of us have been there and returned to explain the details. We all have the Scriptures and various preachers telling us how to proceed. Well, proceed with caution!

Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture! declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:1
The Cross and Crown

Today it is blowing snow. We are expecting up to 5″ just this afternoon. And we are supposed to get 2-3″ every day over the next week. The sun must be up there because we have “light” but it is hard to see the back fence. I know the sun is there, because I have seen it. I have spent gloriously sunny days mucking about in my garden. I know the brightness and the warmth of the sun on my head. I know the tingle my skin gets when I have had too much sun. And today, in a pretty crazy snow storm, I am choosing the joy of the sun! I know it is there, even though I cannot see or feel it. I know it is there.

God is there. Always. The King of Heaven, who hung on the cross for me. He is there always. Like my friend’s mom believes when she visits the tabernacle – He is there. And so today, it is a joyful day. Among the muck of the world and people losing their freedoms, shortages on the market shelves, and the black and white of it all, and all this snow – both God and the Son are there. So today, I am joyful.

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