Posts Tagged ‘father’

Grace, Love & Bunny Hills

A few days ago I took a group of all ages from our church on a “Family Ski Day” a few hours drive from home. I love to ski, but living in Illinois has only offered me opportunities nearby, and probably only about once every other year. Still, I look forward to it every chance I get – and dream of someday going down an actual long ski run. I don’t enjoy the “Black Diamond” hills as much as a long, side-to-side, “Blue Square”.

This trip was different, however, as I brought our oldest daughter along. I secretly hoped she’d be a prodigy so we could enjoy a bit of skiing on the biggest slopes the valley of Andalusia, IL could offer. I took a quick video of her first attempt on a bunny hill so I could capture & share the memory.img_0397

Fast forward 6 hours later – she was still bubbling over with delight as she cruised down the bunny hill, using her ski poles to increase speed on the way down. She loved it. There was a small part of me that wanted to see her experience a larger hill – for her own sake – but also so that we could share that experience together. But her cup of excitement was filled and flowing with joy as her eyes communicated that she was thrilled to be skiing down the hill and riding the “magic carpet” back up, over and over again. She granted me permission, more than once, to go enjoy some more extreme skiing for a bit. I took her up on that offer a few times, and each time returned expecting her to tell me she was growing weary and wanted a larger, steeper hill. Instead, I could see her smile still beaming from a football field away. She was in the zone and loving every bit of it. I’d gently ask her if she wanted to try something a little different, and explore a larger hill. “No thanks, dad! I’m loving this.”

I smiled, loving her. As her father, I wanted so much more for her – and knew someday she may enjoy cruising the larger slopes. But also as her father, I loved watching her gain confidence and grow in excitement over her abilities here – where things were a bit easier to stay in control.

There are moments in scripture where I hear the same kind of love Jesus has for his disciples. He came as God in flesh, to reveal a way of loving and living never before seen in humanity. He gathered a small group of followers and began taking them down the bunny hills of revealing God’s Love. They were thrilled.

He began pointing to some of the larger slopes, and inviting them to adventure…and they took a few tumbles. Peter asks Jesus how this new approach to forgiveness works in Matthew 18:21, and you can imagine Jesus nudging him along on new ground. The disciples begin to rebuke people who were bringing children to him, and Jesus reminds them to keep their knees bent, and body relaxed (ski talk for a grace-full approach) in Luke 19:14.

There’s a bit more exasperation in his love during other moments. Times like the disciples freaking out about the storm in Mark 4:38, or Peter using his sword in Matthew 26:51-52. You can imagine Jesus patiently wanting so much more for his followers, even as he understood they were limited and still maturing in their faith.  The smile coming over his face, as he closed his eyes to imagine the ways God’s Love was yet to be revealed by His followers in the years and millennia to come. Then perhaps a bit of sadness in the corner of one eye, as he understood humanity would also continue to stumble on such large slopes.

There is a moment, in Luke 24:36, where Jesus comes back to the bunny hill to check on his followers. He waits a bit, hearing their conversation and smiling to hear their excitement as they share stories of his resurrection. This group of random men – fishermen, tax collectors, zealots, all brought together and united by the stirring of God’s Love. He knew they were being prepared for so much more…and they would invite others into the mission as well. He finally spoke up, “Peace be with you.”
They couldn’t imagine the places He’d just returned from and were stunned to see his scars. But as he began to talk to them in those final moments, they realized the grand picture of what he’d always been inviting them to join. They were no doubt overwhelmed by the love of this Savior who’d spent so much time on the bunny hills with them. They believed His promise that a power was coming that would enable them to Love & Live as He had.

May we be newly aware of such grace and love, and see how the Spirit might guide us to reveal His Love in ways we never imagined on the bunny hills…

I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20-26)

Reminder: Check out the adventure of faith our family is launching out into!

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we dance.

It was Father’s Day – a pretty great one if I might add – and they’d each helped select a gift that would make me smile.  Addie got me a Detroit Redwings decal I could put on my new (to us, thanks to awesome friends!) car.  Sophie drew me a picture of myself, and put it in a nice small frame.  Even Phoebe got in on the action from Africa, and sent me a bowtie made out of African fabric.  Each of the girls helped answer questions in a small booklet, all about their daddy.  Apparently I’m a professional cuddler. (said in my best “King Julien” imitation voice)

All of the gifts were awesome, but one that instantly grew was from Ruby.  She helped select the soundtrack to the most recent Muppets movie.  Even though I’ve not seen it yet, the girls knew I’d be excited to experience anything new related to the Muppets.  This gift, of course, came with certain expectations.  We had all afternoon, as it was a Sunday.  No plans, and the girls knew that.  So what should we do?  9ojti

Open the soundtrack, play the music, and dance…of course. 🙂

Confession: We dance a lot in our house.  Two of our girls have had ballet lessons, but the 3rd daughter is the one who’ll convince you she’s had several years instruction.

We danced with them.  We watched them.  Their smiles, laughter, and movements were beautiful and lit up our living room.  This was the un-purchased gift that warmed a daddy’s heart on Father’s Day.

This is the activity we join together in, as we enjoy the gifts God has given us.  To dance and enjoy the goodness of His creation is not a denial of evil or suffering.   Yesterday morning, they were clearing a major area because of shots fired at a hotel.  A suicidal man was firing rounds into the air as many of us simply drove by on our way to work.  It was a morning that faced the harsh realization that our world includes suffering and brokenness.

But last night, over 80 people of varying ages and backgrounds gathered in our church gym.  We shared a meal, talking and telling stories.  We spilled drinks, and laughed as we cleaned up.  We sang songs, some goofy with motions and some straight out of the hymnal.  We told a story that had a 6 year old leading 70 year olds in making trumpet noises.  We confessed the painful truth that some of us have yet to see the response of God to prayers we’ve made for a long time.  We prayed.

Our lives as followers of Christ, are not denials of the evil in our world.  Our lives are powerful statements that even in a world where evil has made an impact, Jesus is Lord.  Even in a world where brokenness exists, beauty abounds even more.  In a world where wrong motivations and false Gods lead people astray – we invite people to dance with their Heavenly Father.

My kids are getting it.  One day at a time.  I think my church is getting it to.  I’m so proud and excited for the family, and church family, I get to dance with.

a poem – from John 19:26-27

Jesus, the Holy One, God’s only Son,

It had all been done, but not yet complete.

Not enthroned with the Father, on His mercy seat

But still hanging, what seemed like defeat, blood pumping pain through his body with every beat.

As each breath comes as painful sigh, out of the corner of his eye he sees…Mother.

Not like any other, so much more than a brother, because family had become more.

More than names, and DNA pumping through veins

More than strained awkward moments of gathering at holiday tables

More than Cain and Abel, or filling empty stables

 Because “Family”, Jesus said, shares more than a home – they share God

So even though it seems odd to not give the nod to those who share a name, Mary doesn’t complain

Because she’s come to believe, started to realize and see with new eyes

That God has a pretty big picture in mind, and it doesn’t even stop at human-kind

But for all of creation, the offer of “NEW”

So much bigger than fitting into the hearts of me and you

But not so big that he overlooks the least – the bullied, the voiceless, the powerless and freaks

The orphans and widows, are for whom his heart still beats, and so he reaches out again

In love to a friend

But so much more than a friendly other, a beloved brother, and introduces them for the first time

as Son and mother.

Saying much more than words in one simple introduction, like an induction to a new way of living

a way of giving up what we thought we knew for something capital “T” for True

And upon further review we hear something for us to do too.

 You see our painful lives tend to blur those around, like headphones, shutting out the sound and letting us drown in oceans of self absorption, and having our portion, we’re content to pray for our needs

 But even as he bleeds, the God-man leads us to old ways made new, challenging us to change our view and have hearts transformed, to let go of the norm.

To shed our obsession with self, and see with God’s eyes, and to be surprised by the people and things

Right outside our door, way outside our walls, or maybe. Even. Inside.

 So what happens when we let go of self, and reduce our emphasis on wealth or even health

Because true health won’t come from drugs and regiments to follow,

not having more surgeries or more pills to swallow

And true family doesn’t happen simply by being born

As we look out on a procreating nation, still torn

Truth only comes as we fix our eyes on Christ. And allow the author and perfecter of our lives

To speak His words that cause mountains to move, and holding palms open, having nothing to prove

To the King of All, to follow his way,

and like those who were near heard him say, as he was crucified on that day,

Words that came as a flood of love to obey

And living this way without caution, this situation offered no other option,

than the first Christ-centered adoption.

As new mother and new son saw each other and smiled

They realized they were both actually his child…

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