Welcome Back, Nick.

Wow, it is has been a long time since i have written something here.  I was just looking back and seeing that i have been strangely absent for the last few weeks.  Sometimes, life just seems to take over, leaving little time for the things i enjoy most.

However, I’m re-committing to getting back to this blogging thing.  I’ve been learning lots over the past few weeks and it is time I start recording them here again.

I came across this quote from Bono (U2) the other day and thought it was insightful.

“I’m a believer, but sometimes I think religion is when
God, like Elvis, has left the building. When God has left the building
you get religion. But when God is in the house, you get something else.”

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Living Imitation

I honestly don’t like imitations. Every morning for breakfast, i have two eggo waffles and a cup of coffee. Pretty healthy, right? Well, i did recently switch to low-fat nutri-grain waffles. But, as much as i love this breakfast, just try and switch out my eggos for some cheap store brand version and i’ll flip out. They just don’t taste the same.

lucky_charmsI didn’t always eat that for breakfast, though. I remember being a little kid and only wanting to eat Lucky Charms! Remember those? I’d still buy them today if i didn’t look like such a kid when the cashier rings them up. Although, i am having a baby soon…maybe i can sneak them in that way! The problem was my mom was cheap. She didn’t like paying the price of Lucky Charms. So instead she would come home with some Malt-o-meal version of them like “Treasure Marshmellows.” But, you know as well as me that they weren’t quite the same.

I guess that is why when i came across Ephesians 5:1 the other day it kinda bothered me. I’ve read it a hundred times before, but only this time did i realize that i didn’t really like it. It says, “Therefore, be imitators of God…” And if there is anything that i don’t want to be it is a cheap imitation!

I suppose i feel like there is a lot of that out there already, you know? People pretending to be one thing. Imposters. Phonies. Knock-offs. Especially Christians. Doesn’t it seem like every time you turn around you meet someone that is only a cheap imposter of who Jesus was and is? In fact, i am embarrassed to identify myself as a christian most of the time because of all the “imitators” out there.

And yet, Ephesians 5:1 is clearly calling us to be “imitators of God.”

So, i looked in the mirror several weeks ago. And instead of seeing my amazingly handsome, young face looking back, for the briefest of moments, i saw my dad peering back at me. It was strange. It was only for a second, but i could have sworn i saw his face in the mirror i was looking into. And it occurred to me, i am becoming like my dad. In fact, i’ve been a little worried about this before. My hair is turning grey in spots. My abs are reverting from their chiseled beauty to the famous Loyd belly. But, it isn’t just physical. I was talking the other day and i caught myself saying something that my dad always used to say to me growing up. I was sitting in my office when it dawned on me that i have the same profession (if you wanna call it that) as my dad. I took a look around my office and realized my collection of books is catching up to his. But, it isn’t just that either. I was explaining some theology the other day and realized that i approach a lot of my critical thinking the way my dad does. I was counseling someone and noticed i was offering advice my dad has offered to me. In short, i am starting to look, think, act, and enjoy things that are the same as my dad.

Wow! I have tried many times to not be like my dad. Not that he is a bad guy (he is actually a phenomenal man), but because i have wanted to be my own. And yet, whether i want it or not, i have spent so much time with him and have been so influenced by his guidance in my life that i am starting to look like him. In fact, the other day, somebody came up to me and said. “i see a lot of your dad in you.”

I wonder if this is what Paul meant in Ephesians 5:1. What if he didn’t mean a cheap imitation at all? What if he meant that we are to be so absorbed in the relationship with our Creator that we would find ourselves simply thinking and loving and feeling and acting like Him? As if our DNA was being rewritten with His. What if He wasn’t calling for imposters, but for children who grow up with the imprint of their dad.

And so, i now want to be an “imitator.” I want my life to be shadowed by the Divine. I want my life to slowly start to mirror the image of God. I want people at the end of my days to say, “I saw a lot of his God in him.”

Living Imitation.

The God Who Cries…

“Tears are a liquid process of lacrimation to clean and lubricate the eyes. The word lacrimation may also be used in a medical or literary sense to refer to crying. Strong emotions, such as sorrow or elation, may lead to crying.”
— Webster Dictionary

Until last week, my daughter, Paytyn, didn’t have the ability to make tears. She would cry and scream, but all without tears. In fact, apparently it takes about a month after birth for a baby’s tear ducts to form completely so that they can shed actual tears.

Before now, I don’t think I had ever thought about life without tears. I just assumed that we were born with that ability right from the beginning. But, when I picked Paytyn up from her crib the other day (she had woken up suddenly and was crying) I noticed what had been absent. Her eyes were wet. I was shocked and asked Tania what was wrong with her. It was then that I learned she was simply learning to make tears.

baby cryingI had heard her cry many times already. But, now for the first time I was seeing her cry. As I held her in my arms that day, I found myself sad. Sad that life eventually had to know tears. Sad that life, which started without even the ability to truly cry, would eventually know so much.

As I held Paytyn, I realized that she would cry many tears in her life. Over parents that just don’t understand. Over skinned knees and pinched fingers. Over cruel comments. Over broken promises. Over relationships with boys and friends and even God.

And how sad that one day she went to sleep without the ability to cry, and woke up (maybe from a nightmare) crying never to stop.

Did you know we cry for several reasons. Basal tears keep our eyes lubricated and functioning properly. Reflex tears are the ones we shed to clear our eyes of a sudden burst of dust or onion vapors. And then there are crying or weeping tears (the kind I saw on Paytyn) that are born of emotional stress, sadness or even gladness.

In fact, crying, emotional tears are so different from the other two that their chemical makeup is not even the same as the other two. There is an entirely different recipe for these tears that we know as crying.

I have cried many tears so far in life. And as I think back on those moments, it make me sad to think that Paytyn will also grow up and know this particular recipe of tears and sadness. No one it seems is immune from tears. Not even God.

John 11:35 says that when Jesus came and found that his close friend had died, he knew the tears of sadness.

In Matthew 23, Jesus goes to a hill and looks and laments over Jerusalem, the city he loves. And it is difficult to read his words written there without seeing the tears of the God who looks on.

In Luke 22, on the night before Jesus is killed, it is recorded that he prayed so hard his sweat fell to the ground like blood. One has wonder what other moisture fell from his eyes in those darkest moments.

In fact, many stories in the Bible are easily read with the perspective of a God who weeps over the dilemma and plight of mankind.

baby crying 2 And so, Jesus was born like Paytyn. And somewhere at about month one, he succumbed to the same humanity as she. And he cried. Maybe nothing is more human. Maybe nothing identifies with the human condition more than a God that would enter a world of tears and shed his own.

So, as I held Paytyn that day, I softly brushed her tears away from her face, knowing that I would do this many times in her life. Knowing, I suppose, that she may do the same for me. But as I did I was reminded of this simple verse that is a promise for a day when finally the tears will cease.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
(Revelation 21:4)

I suppose Paytyn will cry many tears in this life to come. And I will wipe away as many as I see. But, eventually, when time is done, One who is greater than I will come and he will pick her up and hold her and wipe away her tears forever.

The tears will be many. But they are numbered.