Yesterday, in the park, Our Father gave us a feel of His Promise of Spring. We gathered feeling what Paul proclaimed and what the preachers now preach. We could see with our eyes that “all things ARE made new”. Little buds were on a few trees, blades of grass were bending upward breaking out of dirt. The breeze that the lord sends each month met me before Frog could spread the first table cloth. . It was warmly blowing . It blew all that was planned on my papers to the ground. How wonderful was Spring peeking through our winter yesterday. We all could sense Our Father’s hand reaching out to His children in a new way.
It was only natural for us to open with song like the birds do all day. We opened singing “Father let your Kingdom come” . Wide eyed children with small dollar store tamborines, nappy tired old children staring at lyrics, some singing, some dancing, some pondering. . . as the chorus repeated ” you make all things new. . in places we don’t chose. Halle hallelujah, Father let your kingdom come” https://youtu.be/EHIGm7qYVz4
“Unless you show us Lord , we will never see your kingdom. ” I prayed and we all stopped singing.
For months we have been learning anew the outline of what folks call “THE Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6. This prayer , this “way” or “manner ” Jesus taught us to pray neatly holds every prayer we have ever prayed. And yet, Jesus prods us ,calls us, prays for us, to pray it rightly from the heart. Yesterday we were going to enter the heart of what “thy kingdom come , thy will be done ” looked like ” here as in heaven”.
So, for the month of January I read Our Fathers word . . . “kingdom”. the word kingdom started long ago when Our Father had His Kingdom perfectly set in a garden. But , a rebellious angel set mission , out of jealousy towards Our Father, to destroy the kingdom. Our Father in His Love and Mercy for us would not let us be destroyed or His Kingdom . And so He sent His son to save both us and His Kingdom. It is a wonderful thing to have a Father like this. And One that wrote every battle plan of Love down for us in His Word.
By the time I got to the word “kingdom” in the new Testament, I saw Jesus bring the kingdom of Our Father back. He did everything that God wanted from the beginning. It was healing it was righteousness . It was love and joy and peace. More than anything, it was a perfect relationship with God. It was a perfect relationship where Jesus would ask anything of the Father and it would be done. It was perfect unity with the Father in knowing what to ask for. It was having the desires of the Father’s heart and seeing His heart manifest everywhere.
So from reference to reference I knew we must know who Our Father planned us to be and who we now can be ” in Christ “. So I prepared much for there was much to know from Genesis to Revelation. I had posters and handouts and songs and flyers and diagrams . I studied and prayed and studied again. And the day came … The first Tuesday of Febuary . . .it came like Spring . . .it came like a groundhog not scared of any shadow.
Standing before a handful in the park. I began to tell how Jesus said in Mark 1:15 The time is fulfilled the kingdom of heaven is at hand : Repent and believe The Gospel. I showed the 10 commandments, I spoke of how we all fall short, I spoke of God’s mercy saving us by the death of Jesus. I then spoke of the resurrection of Jesus proving we are now set free from sin. Each commandment Jesus has set us free to live obedience, not in slavery but as dear children. And I spoke of how the devil makes us forget this by condemning us or telling us there is no joy in obedience. I spoke much. I spoke too much. Everyone’s face was weary. It felt like winter was coming back.
Three children helped me by holding the 10 commandments poster upright as I taught. I thought perhaps they might be weary tooo. So ,in my soul ,I prayed. ” lord what do you want me to do ? How do you want your kingdom to come now?” I looked at the children awake alive . But all others looked weary .Suddenly I felt as if a hand came upon my shoulder to gently sit me down . Heavy but tender it came until I could not help but to sit on the bench.
I looked at the children and said ” can you tell me what Our Father wants us to know today. ?”
Suddenly a young girl named Isabella spoke. ” well I think I can.” she handed me the poster.
“He wants us to know to listen to God our Father talking to us. If we hear something some one says or we think about something that doesn’t obey these ,”…she pointed to the commandments” then it’s NOT God’s voice , It IS THE DEVIL! ” she emphasized with a stomp of the foot. “It’s not too hard . . . .there are only two voices . . . .and one loves you and the other wants bad for you. God can’t get anything done UNLESS WE listen to His voice! ”
Every face suddenly came alive . Some clapped , some raised hands , some said Amen , all heard the Big Precepts of God unfold like a new bloom before them.
“That is Wonderful” I said. Then, I asked my little teacher ,”so then how do you hear His voice?. ”
“well” she stopped for a moment while every ones face looked expectantly at her.
Putting her hands to her chin she slowly said “Well, I guess you gotta be like a child to be able to do that. ”
Suddenly I remembered, tucked in all the verses on the Kingdom was Jesus saying to me, to us, “AMEN AMEN I SAY TO YOU UNLESS you TURN AND BECOME LIKE CHILDREN YOU WILL NEVER ENTER THE KINGDOM of heaven” Matthew 18:3 ESV
Yes , little sister, with all our efforts and programs and resolutions and restrictions and all the ways of man to better himself , we are no closer to the kingdom than when we were first saved. It all begins with knowing and loving and trusting Our Father then acting as His children. To repent as a child is simply to come near Our Father and say “I am sorry, I was not listening, I want to obey”
And now little sister and all my brothers and sisters in the park, the kingdom of heaven … the revival of all of Our Fathers desire for us begins when we sit down under His Hand and know we are His children. . . . then we will hear and he will heal our land.
4.“However, when they persisted with their question, He raised Himself up and said, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. Then He bent down and went on writing on the ground with His finger.”
5.Now I passed by you again and looked upon you; behold, you were maturing and at the time for love, and I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I plighted My troth to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord, and you became Mine.”
“Attend to me, and hear me: I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily, Because of the voice of the enemy. . . my heart is pained within me. . . So I say to you oh Lord. . .”oh that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” from Psalm 55:1-6
Doodle went on today.
Or maybe it was YESTERDAY.Or. .. .
Maybe it was a certain time last night,. . . ..
Last night when a cry for her to be “unknotted” went barreling out of Daddy’s house .Maybe it was when we were all gathered together, talking to Our Father, about bringing Doodle home healed. Maybe , it was the very moment, when we were all were seeing pictures with the eyes of our heart and, SUDDENLY, one brother cried out “I see you untie a knot in her belly Lord. Loose her Lord!” . Some say now , that Doodle went on shortly after that cry.
But I don’t know how all that “untying of the knot” looked . . . I don’t even know what the knot inside her looked like. I just know the cry for Doodle sounded like it would send the hand of heaven right into Doodle. Right smack dab in and over and under the belly of her soul. And right there on her bed, in her belly, the Word would make a healing happen
. No one talked much after these words entered the room last night. We all just left them .But, like a vapor in the room, each Word drifted out the door ahead of us .(1)
I went home thinking a lot that night.. . . . I was thinking bout the first time I held a “doodle bug ” in my hand. And, then, I was thinking bout when I last held my sister “Doodle Bug” and tucked her in her bed.
My mind went from memories of 50 years to memories of YESTERDAY. Like a shoestring ready for tying, I had in one hand, my thoughts bout real live doodle bugs of childhood and, on the other hand ,my thoughts were about my real live sister “Doodle”. If Doodle needed unknotting as the brother cried, I needed a tying together. I needed these two memories to knot before I tripped and fell.(2)
In the left hand I held , LONG AGO. I would think about “LONG AGO” when I held a “doodle bug” in my hand. I would think about how I had walked many miles of the beach with my grandfather. How, after our long walk, when granddaddy felt I had enough swimming and shells , he headed me back along a long wooden seawalk .
Long ago, Granddaddy and I walked past sand dunes of seaweed and sticker beds to his green sedan. Here I saw him, in my mind ,taking the white hat off his bald head and brushing the sand off his feet .Then, I could see, on this one day LONG AGO, how I wandered under the planks to see a little bug . A little bug walking in circles. .
“Lookie Granddaddy,this bug is going round and round”. I said as I ran in circles in the sand kicking up dirt ” That’s just a antlion ” he called back
” What do you call it Granddaddy.?” I shouted
“just call it a doodle bug. . . call it a doodle bug ” he repeated.
But , then, at the same time, on my right hand was yesterday. . . it was just Yesterday “Doodle bug”. I shouted into the ICU room. “What are you doing here?”
“I had to see you so you could pray for me” Doodle said softly.
Long ago Granddaddy said, on that day,”And you, my little doodle bug, come on now over here into the car” He said as he opened the car door.
“But Granddaddy catch him for me . . . I wanna take him home.” I called back to him. I wanted to take the little bug home to my collection of butterflies and snails and inch worms.”please please get him for me” I whinned as I kept running in circles.
“I will be most excited to pray” I said YESTERDAY . Doodle’s face lifted, it lifted her glasses over her eyebrows.
“And now I know you know how to pray Vanessa ” Doodle encouraged ” you know you don’t have to use a lot of words AND you know that Our Daddy hears us right away” she said remembering our last time of prayer.https://vunglaub.com/2015/01/23/doodling-words/ We laughed . We could laugh because we were older . It had been a Long time since we last prayed.
But a real LONG TIME ago, Granddaddy walked over to the sand . Maybe smiling, maybe secretly delighting, he scooped both bug and grains in his hand.(3) He bent his knees and held his hand to let me see. “you hold it ” he said. Suddenly I saw the beetle who had relayed in the sand so furiously ,then roll into a tight ball and become perfectly still.
“What should we ask Daddy for together Doodle Bug?” I asked YESTERDAY “To Show you off for Jesus and you walk out of here tomorrow? ” I suggested.
“how about that I could just get some rest”. Doodle replied.
“anything else Doodle? come on . . .”I coaxed.” He’s sooo good lets ask for a lot. .”
“No , sister, that’s enough, we can ask for more tomorrow. Just some rest tonight.” she said as she took off her glasses and set them on the bedside table.
“well Doodle, I’m lifting you in prayer by the power of Jesus, into Daddy’s hand, where you can be as snug as a bug in a rug and get some rest” She laughed and let me pray. When enough was said, she entered her voice with a soft “now Amen”. Then, she closed her eyes and whispered “you get some rest with Daddy too.”
The next day I went to see Doodle. I went to see how her rest would restore. Restore her right out the door. I went to see how we might then go out ,on a spring day and chase butterflies with Rita Skeeter. I went with flowers and a card full of pictures of places I wanted to go with her. Places where we would have room to raise our hands out to Daddy. Places where we could stretch out before Jesus. And places where we could run wild with the Holy Ghost. Places for the well and the rested.
That was yesterday . But LONG AGO, I remember seeing the bug in my Granddaddy’s hand and being very afraid and sad. “What happened Granddaddy? Did he die?” I asked.
YESTERDAY , I was afraid and sad again. I looked and looked in many rooms but did not find Doodle. When I sat down exhausted, Rita said “I’m sorry but Doodle passed on last night” I wept. Jesus wept. The Holy Ghost grieved. “Daddy, Abba,Father “……we all cried.
I fell asleep weeping and remembering LONG AGO Granddaddy’s reply “The bug is “resting” . ” He is showing you what to do .” He lowered his hand back to the ground to roll the bug onto the sand . ” But this is not your home . . .this is this little doodle bug’s home and we are leaving him right here to rest “(3)
He grabbed my arm while talking about “resting” and “naps” and “don’t be so busy” and “you have way to much energy” Arguing and pulling against His arm I cried , ” But, ill never get to see lil doodle again. . .”
Looking back at the bug ,as it uncurled and scurried in the sand, I let my loose hand free and began to wave “Good bye Doodle Bug”
That was a LONG TIME ago before I knew Doodle Bug. That was when Our Father showed us pictures as children, like shadows , of what will soon come.(4) Now is the time when Doodle bug will never move backwards, or play with me again ,on this earth.
Yet, Now is the time Doodle bug will never long for rest . She is loosed in heaven entering a rest where all that we believe is seen. .(5) Doodle bug has put her glasses down . She sees everything brilliantly. She sees face to face Our Father and Our Savior. She is loosed to see what she longed to believe. The knot of sin and death is undone.!(6)
Long ago and Yesterday have met in Forever in my hands as I write and remember. And in the place of Forever, no more prayer is needed for my sister Doodle. She is resting in the AMEN.(7)
Psalm 141:2 tells us that our prayers are “set before (the Lord) as incense” and Jeremiah 1:12 tells us “you have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it”
Ecclesiastes 4:6, 12.” Better is a handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit. . a threefold chord is not quickly broken. ” So it is , an agreement with the Holy Spirit, in the midst of a conflict of our souls ,will bring the unbroken strength of quietness and trust in God.
Our earthly fathers are only a hint of the image , a shadow of the glory, of our Heavenly Father who watches over us every moment saying”The Lord thy God is in the midst of the thee, He is mighty and he will save and He REJOICES OVER THEE WITH JOY AND HE WILL REST IN HIS LOVE HE WILL JOY OVER THEEE WITH SINGING.
Psalms 144:4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow Colossians 2:17 These are a shadow of the things to come But the substance belongs to Christ.
“Now this I say brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption . . . Behold a mystery We shall not all SLEEP BUT WE Shall all be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51. “For now we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face Now we know in part but then we shall know just as we are truly known “1 Corinthians 13:12
The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through out Lord Jesus Christ.I Corinthians 15:57
“To go to heaven fully to enjoy God is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, children, or the company of earthly friends , are but shadows. Bu the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean. ” Jonathan Edwards
SHORT POSTS OF ADORATION IN BUSY TIMES OF VOCATION
The room is lit with lights . Small lights , large lights, like spotlights on a stage . Lights from pumps for the heart, pumps for the lungs, pumps for medications, pumps for suctions, pumps for feedings and the pump I brought. The pump in place of the kidney.
A large light beams from the ceiling onto the center stage, a bed. It is light. Bright but not natural. Every beam shines small and with purpose onto the stage where one man is set central. A man ready for the performance of his life.
Eight adult children sit in the background of the pumps. I, the nurse, watch the man on the stage. They watch me. We all look for signs as to who to believe. We listen to the minor roles speak.” His prognosis is Poor” “his heart is good as dead””his kidneys are shot”” His lungs are filled with fluid” . The words that hovered on computer and paper and minds all around are now released. Unbelieving words that never can land rightly. They only ricochet around and around the room.
I wait my turn. Then , enter with words. I recite the script that I have memorized for years. “Ill do the best I can ” I say. Clear loud with confidence. The words leave to join the chorus of dancing phrases.
Suddenly, impromptu a voice enters. ” do your best ,that’s all we can ask” the small plea bends around a pole from the back of the room. Another well memorized line from audience and cast heard over and over many episodes in the same theatre.
The script is the same but the players are different. Their movements seem to contradict the plot.The small voice calling “do your best” has a face tilted up and not down. Shadows from lights show a bend. A glimpse away from the stage I see hands held tight. Nothing moves but a bible dripping and dipping off one bended knee.
Moving the props and changing the scene, I wonder. Could she break away from script and call for another playwrit?. Could she ask for more if she wanted? Who is writing the lines on her bended knee?.
I drop syringe and lift up my mask. My part must be abandoned. I step away from the stage. Away from the lights, away from the camera, away from the script, dodging every word that lingers in the room.
I look at the face of the voice to say “Yes,That is all you can ask of me. But of Him . . HIM who made this man. . .please ask much more”
1. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
2. “Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you. Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’”
My father has walked and talked in what believers call ” a healing” for three years.It was not a complete healing. The cancer in my father’s bowel has not grown further but has instead , at times ,decreased in size and not gone to new territories in his body. Standing at attention to every report, brothers and sisters in my church , like the Centurion soldiers (matt 8:5-10), have prayed and believed with me for my father. And now, weekly on Sunday, we rejoice in my telling of the containment of the cancer .
As for my father, forgive him Heavenly Father, for he does not know. He is an agnostic. And he has easily ignored the divine hand that has held and healed him these three years. Instead, ignorant , he has chosen to work and wine and dine and write plays and poems without interruption . . . without any interrupting thought of The Eternal Creator God.
Like many of us who need the same forgiveness , the act of ” living well” has had a way of interfering with” thinking rightly” about Our God. Yet ,in a moment, a word from a doctor jolts believing and unbelieving minds to desperately long for something miraculous. We long for the “Eternal” to extend what is called “terminal” , the “Creator” to fix His created thing. Our thoughts line up like soldiers on mission to find hope. . . . . we look for merciful deliverance from a terminal end.
“it may be 6 months , one more Christmas, the BOWEL cancer has grown ..” we hear.
“It is inoperable.” Dr S said as she crossed her legs, turning to my father ,with ipad displaying my fathers latest medical results on her lap.
Bowels and Bathrooms
“The bowels of existence do not speak unto man except as man ” Friedrich Nietzsche
Suddenly, both our minds were jolted to thoughts of mortality, the end of life as my father knows it. We left the office to walk down a hall that had grown longer than ever before. “Am I going to die?” my father asks
” I don’t know when?” I answer (1)
“This may be my terminal point , this Christmas.” my father speculates
“But you know there is an eternal point for you as well”. I offer
“I don’t want to hear that religious fairy tale ! I’d rather my soul live in the bowels of hell than to have to pay homage to another, . . . that God of yours” my father says angrily .
“He is your God too , you just don’t know it yet” I reply as we walk.
” The bowels of hell my dear. .” my father chants in a kinder tone.
” speaking of bowels “, he smiles as if to apologize for his outburst ” I must use the restroom before we leave”.
My father turns away from me and shuffles down the long corridor back towards the restrooms at Mayo clinic.
“I’ll wait here ” I say as I sit on a bench .
Waiting here, I think of prayers prayed for . I consider God’s specific answer to specific prayers. We have prayed for my father to experience the mercy and love of God through Jesus. And yet, I have only thus far watched my father turn and spin with every reaching of the Lord’s hand.
This resistance has had me so desperate that ,on one Tuesday night, I begged some brothers for prayer again . The dear brothers initiated a prayer for my father that I expect answered. I expect an answer, by the power of God, before my father’s earthly departure. One brother in particular, Mr Larry Fussell ,prayed “may your Daddy have a glimpse of what hell looks like so he’ll change his stubborn mind about going there” .
After an “Amen”, Mr . Fussell grabbed my arm and said “I just don’t want to even think about him going there when Our Father’s got such a better place for us. . . .may Jesus turn him around”.
“i amen that ” I said to Mr. Fussell.
That night many of us prayed and tarried for my father to agree with Our Father and so run into the eternally merciful arms of “Our Father who Art in Heaven” . That was a year ago.
These prayers prayed for my father remain as a sweet aroma , an incense for my hope filled soul. When I am with my father, I imagine that this aroma fills the air around my dad like a cloud . And like a cloud driven by wind I pray it follows him everywhere.
Then , I pray that the aroma is so strong that it produces a hunger in the “hounds of heaven” (2) https://youtu.be/V6hNu8U7NScth that may be released to retrieve my father back to his Creator, his Father, his Master and his Lord .
Sometimes, I even see these hungry hounds guarding my father’s feet from the very bowels of hell . . .AND even chasing them into the “Bowels of Christ” Then, from these imaginings I rise and say: .
“I beseech you from the bowels of Christ , Dad, to think it possible that you may be mistaken (about the bowels of hell”( Oliver Cromwell)
My heart shouts these words as I watch my father come back towards me down the hall.
“Bloody hell! They are cleaning the water closet. I’ve got to use another one” My spirit of shout is subdued to a sluggish slur “Ill wait here while you go “I say.
Iremain on the bench in the hallway of Mayo Clinic to write this story on my phone. It is triggered by a thought of Christmas.
Many pass by me, each to a destination . Do we really know of the final destinations that Our father has prepared for souls ? That thought is too weighty , so, I think of Christmas . . . . a last Christmas this year .. really will the “bell toll?” . . naw, I chose to think of memories of last Christmas NOT the fears of this being ” the last Christmas. . . .”
Bowels and Church Bells
Last Christmas eve , my father went to church. Every Christmas Eve that I can remember my father has consistently set suit , tie and a certain time to go to church. He always chose midnight. There is something strange and compelling about the midnight hour.And, midnight would always come quickly on December 24th.
When I recall many December 24th’s , I see my father dressed in tuxedo at 8pm for cocktail , conversation and caviar. I see him standing as a great orator in the living room ready for discourse with friends . I hear his intense philisophical bantering about the futility of life and stupidity of having faith . I see how he would use controversy mixed with literary dialogue to introduce his greatest ideology , the future of His “New World Order”.
His ‘new world order’ was an Order where scientists reign as the governing body. An order where “true culture and art are the only legal pastimes’. Additionally, he would edict a decree against the breeding ground of “faith” by mandating a ban on ” the primitive culture, churches and ritual” .
Finally, with eloquent words from Voltaire and other “enlightened men” he would pronounce an Order where “the abomination of the lower class would be culminated by prohibiting all fantasies produced by Faith .” The only reigning expression of life that he would allow to remain would be ART and SCIENCE .
Once the company was convinced of the corruptness of religion and the grossness of Faith , he would invite them to toast with a shot of brandy or schnapps . “to Lord M ” they would say “and the New World Order”.
With toasting glasses ringing like bells , I would know it’s time to slip on my black patent leather shoes for my yearly ride to church.
How upside down it all was. The worship seemed to be for the man, my father. and the entertainment seemed to be the ritual of the church.
“let us go celebrate the’ philosopy of hypocricy'” his faithful followers would quote my Father as they drove to church on Christmas Eve.
The tradition of midnight candlelight service captured my fathers senses since he was baptized in 1933. On that date, the date of his baptism, my father was first seen by heaven, in a large ornate Anglican church in downtown Jacksonville.
Now, ever since his first sniff of incense and his first hearing of church bells and his first sight of a cross pointing downward to his frailty, my father senses have longed for the celebration and majesty displayed in the season.
But last Christmas, last Christmas when invited to church ,my father announced. . .”I am not going for all that raving about saving, I’m only going for the pageantry of Christmas” he reminded me 80 years later as he sat weakly on the side of his bed .
Dutifully , I looked at him, setting aside shirt and pants and coat for our traditional trip to church on Christmas Eve.
“No religion okay. Religion is the opiate of the masses” he quoted Stalin as he looked back at me with a childlike grin.
“Im going for the sake of art and ART ALONE” he announced with the defiance of an adolesent child
.” I will only go to a church that appreciates art. I will only go to the Anglican or Catholic church where there is some art and culture”
“fine” I threw his pants across the bed ” Halleluiah !” I shouted displaying a charisma from my Pentacostal church
“Well,You know all art declares there is an Artist” I shouted from the closet looking for a shirt.” I just want you to know I don’t believe in religion either, religion does nothing for my soul,” I say as I sail a red dress shirt across the bed ” I believe in God! and we worship because He is beautiful”. I think beyond my words, . . . most certainly our worship is God’s artwork for Himself.
My father interrupted my thoughts. “Hells Bells. . . stop that nonsense, stop being a attorney for that felon God. . . and bring me some champagne that I may lubricate my soul to prepare for this ritual of yours and of all the masses” my father shouted back.
The Bowels of Hell : No Beauty
The Catholic Church where my husband attends is built in the 70’s. It is not ornate or particularly profound in its display of the doctrines of Christ as other sanctuaries in the Catholic faith. Sometimes, it feels as if the Lutherans were on the building committee. A large wooden carving of The Good Shepherd greets you like a massive metamorphosis of a trunk of a tree outside the church entrance. The interior is large sanctuary style seating over 1000 facing an altar where a large simple concrete crucifix hangs before long window panes etched with a vine and grapes. Stations of the cross sit simply as a back drop around the sanctuary.
Yet, something about Christmas Eve makes the most simple become most sacred. The sancutuary in the Christmas season smells of pine from trees lined across the altar. Candles cast warm glow over faces , even the faces of Jesus in each stations of the cross glows. Red tapestry drape the altar. Art unflolds in celebration. Every thing seems to bend or lift to the coming King. And my soul continues to say “He is beautiful”
“we are going to be late if we stop at the liquor store” I explained to my husband.
“He wants a miniature to make it through mass” my husband replied.
We arrived five minutes before mass. My fathers miniatures of Bushnells Irish wiskey was tucked upright in his pocket. My husband and my daughter proceeded me in entering the sanctuary.
“come on .hurry on pop” I said to my father. He followed behind deliberate and delicate . He walked deliberate because of his age but delicately because he thought himself an artist..
The prelude of the entrance hymn was playing. A soloist was singing Handel’s Messiah. She served a soprano “who may abide the Day of His coming?who shall stand when He appeareth?. . .” I waited for a response. It is strange how year after year , no one ever answers Handels questions (3) . . . they just sing as if they have the answer.
I genuflect as I enter the pew . I like to bend my knee imagining that I am right in front of Jesus. It is my present for him at Christmas. Since a little girl my knee would bend. My knee knew more than my soul knew for many years. But now my soul knows . So the song surrounded my soul as a Thankyou note for letting it know what the knee already knew . Everything, sound and smell and note ,caused my knee and soul to linger longer than ever before last Christmas eve.
So long did I linger that I felt my father fall against me . “Bloody Hell” he shouted. His words echoed along the walls and up the ceiling to the etched glass . Most every face turned.
The soloist stuttered.
Lifting one finger up , my father declared
” well ,bloody hell lets get on with the show”
The soloist continued to sing ” And He shall purify. .” from Handel.
” Why did you have to shout in church ?” I scowled at my father as we sat . Our flesh sat instead of submitting to the ritual of kneeling to pray.
“what? ” my father looked impish yet child like.
“Hell” I said.”you shouted bloody hell.” I explained .” Nevermind” I shook my head and began to sing the assigned hymn. Singing words without my soul, I began to think. . .
Why in the hell would my father shout “hell” and make his life choice “hell” ? Hell. Hell has no art on its walls. “Hell has no song in its sanctuary. Hell is chaos with no center point.
Hell is a place void of the Glory of God.
This church, with its order and beauty and song, as every church, show glimpses of Glory.
Truly all that inhabits the earth shows hints of the Glory of God. People with all their expressions of beauty, in sanctuaries, out of sanctuaries, only reflect hues of the true beauty of the glory of God.
There is no place where there is a complete void of a glimpse of the glory of God. But Hell…Hell is void of all glory, all beauty. Hell holds no reflection of the beauty of the Glory of God. Truly,Hell is “bloody hell” it is “true very true hell”.
In its bowels there is not one song to make the soul bend. not one painting to cause the eye to wonder. There is not one story to transcend the soul to new thought and new lands. There is probably not one color. All that is hell bound will be separated from light and life and love. It will not be “a hell of a place” but a “place of pure Hell. “
For there is no beauty in the bowels of hell.
THE BOWELS OF HELL: NO END
My thoughts fired like bullet upon bullet through three hymns. And my father and I continued to worship together in the church. Soon together the Christian and the Atheist said the Nicene Creed .
“and He descended into hell”.
I looked over at him when we said “hell” yet again. Together.
We smiled and then kept reading. I soon tucked the creed in the hymnal and said it by rote memory so that I could pray with my spirit . Praying in the Holy Ghost that my father chose another destination..
My prayer was interrupted as I thought how the church looked at him when he screamed “bloody hell” . I thought how most of the church folks had their bodies turned toward him as he shouted.
How quickly they turned from the altar to a man in mortal distress. But they did not know he was in distress. Can they really recognize the hell bound. Might the screams” hell ” send them tarrying and falling and pleading like we did the night my church prayed. What would happen if there is no one to plead for my father? If my church or this church no longer prays?
I returned to pray ” Don’t let him go there Abba Father. Don’t let him go to hell .How awful it is and he does not know” I pray.” And Father ,why did you send your son there?” I pondered
” I wouldn’t even send my father in all his ways there for a day. . . and you. . . . and you oh Father sent your son”
On the third day He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father(interceding for my father)
Some Church folks don’t use the word ” Hell.” They soften old King James junkies with words like Sheol, and Gehenna. And they speak of a place where there are two levels one for the righteous and one for the damned.
In the Bible, the one person most talked about, by Jesus, for going to heaven ,as a destination, is the man named Lazarus. And the One most examined for going to hell, as a destination , is the anonymous “rich man”. These two men oppose one another in a sad story of Love consummated by Lazarus , and Love pleaded for by the rich man.
The place of hell and the design of hell is often debated. But one thing is certain, Jesus last sermon was preached there. The Word declares that Jesus, God’s son, descended to preach in this place and to capture for himself those righteous souls separated from their body . And from there he sent the unrighteous to an eternal fire and those trusting in His righteousness to an eternal life. To the righteous he declared the sting of death forever gone to the unrighteous the sting of Death to forever to be felt.
“And sits at the right hand of the Father from whence he will come again to judge the quick and the dead . And His kingdom will have no end”
Even before our birth we were created for eternity : but a choice remains for either an eternity of LIFE or an eternity of DEATH. This eternity is buried in our hearts .From the position of life God has a place without end called ” heaven”. Yet from the position of death there is a place without end called ” hell.” .
“Holy” is what divides the road. It is the stop sign in the forked road of heaven and hell. The roads lead either to a final verdict of “holy” “Without sin” in heaven OR a final verdict of the”unholy” “dammned” in hell .
To think it simply , life along the roads in heaven are a consummation of every longing while life along roads in Hell are an intensifiying of every regret . And all of this in an Always, Forever, Everpresent State
The mortal body is but dust in the road as the soul begins its course to the doors of either heaven or hell . At the door, all will either encounter the Loving embrace of their Father who has made them “holy” by His Son going before them Or they will encounter the complete and final loneness of self ,separated, weeping longingly with no one going before them to make them “right” for His embrace. There is no escape, both places are the endpoint of an endless existence that encounters its Creators judgement . .a judgement previously encountered on the cross by Christ or a judgement encountered on the individual at the end of his mortal life.
The BOWELS OF HELL: NO RESSURECTION
“and we believe in one holy (Catholic) church , the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the dead.” the Nicene Creed
My father and I said ,together , the greatest promises of our Maker. We recited “we believe in , the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the dead”. The creed ends with a declaration of the proposal of God. The Proposal cries as it did in the garden for His first children.” I love you and I have prepared a place for you” It shouts. It is a display of love more glorious than any love song or story or art or church or person. It is the place where every longing for beauty and love is fulfilled. It is where you will come face to face with the one who Loved you first. The One who has rescued you from hell and resurrects you into His presence in Heaven.
“Amen” we said. “So be it” many pastors translate. I thought of this as my father put his book in pew. So be it. So be everything my father said last Christmas in his unbelief. Have Mercy Lord Jesus on my fathers unbelief. Have Mercy in this Year of Mercy.( 5)
The memory closes as I see my father come down a different corridor from the one he had gone.
I go to meet him “Where did you go? The bathroom was the other way. . .isn’t that where you said you were going” I ask
“yes, I don’t know what happened. Some how I got turned around but where I went was much better” my father continues “there is always a better place “
“yes there is always a better place” I reply “Amen”
bloody” was a common used word, type of cursing in british english since 1670 . implying” completely entirely, truly” not emphasizing blood however german/ Dutch may indicate intensifier related to God’s blood making the noun it modifies most true. Similarly, Austrailian usuage and indication for use when saying “Bloody struth” meaning “without a doubt , the truth”.
And it is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment Hebrew 9:27
Nicene Creed http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/nicene.htm I believe in one God the Father Almighty,Maker of heaven and earth,And of all things visible and invisible:And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God,
Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light,
Very God of very God,Begotten, not made,Being of one substance with the Father,
By whom all things were made;Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven,And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary,
And was made man,And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.
He suffered and was buried,And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,And ascended into heaven,And sitteth on the right hand of the Father.
And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead:
Whose kingdom shall have no end.And I believe in the Holy Ghost,
The Lord and giver of life,Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified,
Who spake by the Prophets.And I believe one Catholick and Apostolick Church.
I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.And I look for the Resurrection of the dead,And the life of the world to come.Amen.
2016 was designated the Year of Mercy by The Church. All year , everywhere you can hear the Lord cry ” listen to me you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness; I bring near my righteousness it is not far off and my salvation will not delay. I will put my slvation in you For My Glory Isaiah 46:12-13
“why must you pose as an criminal attorney for a dead man?” my father asked as we drove to his radiation treatments
“What do you mean” I asked.
“I mean God is dead” he said.
“Have I killed Him? ” I asked recalling a line from Nietzsche’s madman.
“No He is a felon. He did it to Himself” he replied.
What became a saying among the seeker , an artillery for the atheist and a point of repulsion for the Christian has now become a common phrase for many. Popularized currently by counter arguments that state “God is not dead” in movies and songs, many have become familiar with the phrase “God is dead”. The phrase itself is birthed in a nest of questions posed in Nietzsche’s “The madman”. It is a conclusion that erupts from an encasement of hypocrisy and skepticism. It is a rebellious creature of the soul for the unbeliever. And it is likewise a rebellious aspect of the soul of a believer who doubts . There is a strange blunt honesty in these three words that rivets like the three words of Pontius Pilate when he cried “What is truth?”
Listen to the angst in the agitated soul who sees God as dead. The angst is not so much from watching God’s death from an abortion of His own being in the cosmos . Nor is it a view of the suicide bombing of a Deists galaxy of belief, But ,rather it is written as an interrogator investigating the crime scene of a murder.
Where is God gone? he called out. “I mean to tell you!! We are all his murderers! But how have we done it? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole horizon? What did we do when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move? Away from all suns? Do we not dash on unceasingly? Backwards, sideways, forewards , in all directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray, as through infinite nothingness? Does not empty space breathe upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on continually, darker and darker? Shall we not have to light lanterns in the morning? Do we not hear the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? do we not smell the divine putrefaction? For even gods putrefy? God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him!
I looked over at my father, I had grown tired of defending God. I had grown tired as I pulled up to the Cancer Center. My readiness and my answer for the hope I carried within me felt depleted. I said “go ahead , go to the check in and I will meet you after I park”. He smiled as a boy who had first won a fight with his mother, Impish yet naive. He did not know of the havoc over his soul in heavenly places.
Perhaps, Frederick N and my father, Lord M have killed God with their minds. Their minds bent on logic and science as the measurement of the possible life of one called “God”, extinguished the possibility by probability. And yet, both probability and possibility, are merely by products of a Creator of all things. For the atheist to cling so solemnly to Nietzche’s cry is in itself a cry of contradiction . How foolish to say He is dead and at the same time so claim Him as having existed . Declaring His dead existence only limits His scope of existence. It sets His existence in a time frame not in Eternity..
But what of the Christian.? What of me? Weeping and moaning in a parked truck calling to God in complaint of his creation, my father? Has not both the saint and the sinner killed Him in our minds as we reduce the extent of His existence in all things. We say” He is over all things” and “all things are under His feet” from His very words. And yet, we reduce Him to an inactive God : a bellhop for desires, a life raft in trauma, or ever so distantly . . a corpse. Might we be jarred by His voice in Job to hear Him say:
Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man I will question you and you make it known to me ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding, Who determined its measurements . . have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused the dawn to know its place that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth. Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home?.(various Job 38)
I got out of the truck . The air was tenderly crisp. The flowers were budding in the front of the center. Creation was declaring a beauty. And in the beauty was a cry of Infinite Being . The cry of one who does not need an attorney for He represents Himself . He is saying “I am not Dead. Even though you try to kill me. Even when you say I have not heard. I have not acted , I say . I AM.” I AM. The breeze seemed to whisper “I AM”.
And Job replied “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you: Therefore I repent”. And so I too repent of killing you , limiting you in my mind FATHER.
Atheism is not a threat to God’s glory but an opportunity for Daddy, Our Father, to interrupt a soul’s mind for His glory ! These posts are to challenge the atheist and to challenge an authenticity to manifest in the Christian.
I have a Daddy . He is my Father in heaven. And I have a father. He is my father in the flesh given to me by Daddy . He calls himself “Lord M”. He dwells on this earth with me . He is an atheist and I am a Christian. We love each other dearly. And I am writing in honor of that love. But mainly, I am writing in honor of the Love Daddy has for both me and my father.
“Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place and cried incessantly:’I seek God!! I seek God!! as many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? Emigrated? Thus they yelled and laughed. ( the beginning of “the madman” from “the Gay Science Fredrick Nietzsche 1882)
My father is an architect, engineer and play-write, He has both a large and complex mind. He says that he has a mind with an affinity towards all subjects except “Theology and Medicine”. I have a smaller mind and am only fascinated with Theology and Medicine. Somehow , my father and I converse. There is an unsaid sense of a an unseen common ground. Perhaps it is because of the ” One” that is common in all these areas.
The plays that my father has authored are complex and historical and philosophical. Often my mind cannot manage the complexities. One particular play however captivated me. In 2005 my father wrote a play entitled “Costumes Unlimited”. It is a play of dialogue among very diverse characters captive in a costume shop. His list of “cast of characters” includes : “Madman” “Obsteperous”,”Cleavage”, “Jock”, “Susie”, “Chuck”, “Candi”, “John”, and “Street People”.. It is the “madman” that fascinated me most.
in the casting , my father “Lord M”, defines the “Madman” as “the philosopher Frederick Nietzsche in a cage. Either from arrogance, apprehension or angst, he does not step out of the cage”. A mocking counterpart to the “madman” is the character “Obstreperous” who is defined as a “god like proprietor of a costume shop. His salient quality is the arbitrarily use of power.” From these two characters I have learned much about how people “outside” the church view God. But greater, and deeper, have I learned how my life has fallen short in reflecting God.
The madman lit a latern
There is a darkness in this world. Perhaps all mankind can agree that there is both dark nights and “dark nights of the soul”. There are always times where we feel it necessary to have light. Both the mad man and the believer seek a light.
The Christian often quotes from Jesus how he is “the light of the world. ” He may sing every so often and ever so tritely “this little light of mine , I’m gonna let it shine”. But rare is there a true follower of Christ who knows deeply the source of his light and how great a light it is in a dark night. They are few and they are what Jesus calls the “blessed”. There is a radiance in their being. So they do not speak of shining the light , they indeed are seen as light. They need no lantern and Jesus gives them “oil”.
Sadly, more common is the singing christian with a sleeping heart and an oil-less lamp. They work hard to be like another or better than another .They repeat phrases that make themselves “sound” Christian. They do not resound Christ but rather mimic what they think sounds “Christian” They do not possess a life “not their own ” (belonging to God) but rather one very much their own. It is scheduled and fed like any other. These are the ones the madman sees and thus disbelieves . Perhaps it is these that he asks in the market “where is God?”. He disbelieves rather than believes that he will find God because he does not see anything miraculous in his midst.
Like the trite and hypocritical Christian who works to gain light , the madman ,who knows not the light , must also light his own lantern. There is a striving of both souls. Indeed, there is a madness in trying to create light when it is God’s realm and domain to do so. Perhaps that is why it is so odd that both light lanterns in bright morning hours. Might they be expecting a rising Light rather than trying to ignite their own light?
Surely for the Christian this should not be. The Christian should not be like the madman. But rather, the true Christian ,should be a great lantern from which the madman begins to see an illuminating of Christ.
For the madman : He is blind and knows not that God has provided light. What excuse is there for the hypocritical Christian man? The man like Obsteberous This man strives to obtain by control that which he already possesses by design. He cannot make light but rather is designed to carry the light.
Cried incessantly “I seek God”
Churches in the 80’s began to target the “seeker of God”. They were filled with welcoming Christian who were once lost but now “found” by God. They would sing “amazing grace my chains are gone” as if God had chased them down like “a hound from heaven”. And yet they opened doors inviting folks to “seek God”. They seemed to tell the world that the Creator was detouring. Were the Chritian people now asking : Had he stopped chasing? Was He only in this marketplace of a church? Did He limit His domain? Had these leaders of The Church agreed with the madman?
Might we both see how He has never lost one of us. Both the madman and the hypocrite need a shedding of scales and an unstopping of ears that they may know He is never far away. But the Christian , who possesses an eternal lantern, must not hide this lantern of glory beneath a bushel of blessings.
For what the true Christian proclaims is not themselves but Jesus Christ as Lord with the Christian as the servant for Jesus sake. For God who said “Let light shine out of darkness has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”2 Corinthians 4:5-6
For the Whole Earth is the Lord’s and Everything that is in it. ( Psalm 24:1, Psalm 50:12, 1 Corinthians 10:26)
Trance is a dog. In Genesis , I see God designed the first dog. The first of Trance’s kind, God made out of the ground. (Genesis 2:19). That was a long time ago. . . that was the beginning of time. In the beginning of time God created All things for HIS GLORY.
Nowadays, in these times, no one much says “made for His glory”. It is far removed from our texts and tweets and tags and toungue . So, now today, when I talk about Trance, folks say “He is just a dog”.
Sometimes, lots of times, I have used the same identification of another’s dog. “Geeze, it’s just a dog”, I whine when they express affections toward their dog.
Words suddenly put on an honor however when folks start showing pictures of their dogs. Suddenly, Our vocabulary dresses up with compliments when we see the dog. We say“ah, how cute, what an adorable face, wow what a pooch, ” We say lots of great words avoiding the few true words which resound from heaven ” that’s a creature of God’s glory”
Since Adam named the animals, God has given us freedom to name all things. Like the first day in the garden , “Trance” was named by his owners the first day they met him. Squatting in the Denver gravel floor of a shelter pen, My daughter and son-in-law had great dreams for their “dog” as they gave him his name. Their dog would go whereever the “Trance” Giant Bicycle could go. Surely, Names are from God for us to give but, the purpose of all things belongs to God.
When Trance was first “adopted” , he stood eager before his new mother and father. His eyes would fix on their face. Any twitch, any movement , he would follow. He did not flinch when kennel keepers moved around him . He was on mission.
His new owners said “I think he will be easy to train”, Trance watched them look at one another in agreement without blinking. He was a picture of obedience.
Obedience is a listening, a looking , a following a voice. Trance had the look of obedience. His ears erect, His eyes fixed , his feet ready to follow a command. When I saw him look at his parents, I thought how I was created to look at my Father in heaven. My ears erect for the Holy spirit, My eyes fixed on the face of Jesus, and my feet ready to follow the command of my Father.
My stance , my posture before my Maker was not like Trance.
I said his name , “Trance”. He quickly glanced at me and turned back to his new parents. It was as if he was preaching “Do you not know (old woman) that if you continually surrender yourself to (just) anyone to do their will, you are a slave to those who you obey, whether that be to Sin, which will ruin you or to obedience which leads to righteousness and LIFE?” Romans 6:16 AMP
It was as if Trance was barking. “Im not listening to you or to other dogs or to that kennel guard, I’m listening to the one who can set me free!!”
“He only likes to do one thing” my daughter would say. “he never quits, we have to make him lie down”.
Trance’s father threw the first ball for him. It was a yellow tennis ball. It was held in his masters hand high above Trance. Trance bent both neck and hip to look to the height of the ball. The ball was the mission yet to be executed. Trance knew if he did not look at his masters hand and the angle , time and velocity of the execution of the ball , he might not serve his master rightly with retrieval. Trance is a skilled retriever.
The first ball was tossed but a few feet. Subsequent balls were thrown farther and farther. In parking lots and prarries, across fields and woods,up mountains , down valleys, over puddles , into streams, on fences and rails and up into trees, Trance completes mission upon mission. And if , on occassion, a ball is lost, a mission failed, he returns ready for another chance.
From Denver, to Ashville, to my own backyard, Trance has taught me . How many times had I looked up in worship to hear a call , an assignment in the hand of my Lord for me, and not gone after it. And yet, when I had gone and returned, what joy and readiness I had for yet another assignment. But then, there were the times I had gone and it all seemed lost. What of these failures to please my master?. Was not Trance exhorting me , return, return, there is yet another one where that came from.
Was he not quoting Paul who ran with every command to “go” from the Lord? “Old woman , I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do : forgetting what lies behind (in the woods or stream) I strain forward to what lies ahead and so should you old woman press on tward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phillipians 3:12-13)
Obedience Lies Down
“So you have to make him lie down?” I asked my daughter
“yep, pretty much. Sometimes I fall asleep throwing the ball first”
Trance relentless pusuit to please his master haunted me. I often thought of missionaries and martyrs when I thought of Trance. Their focus to the mission yet their forgetfulness to the things of the world, like sleep and food ,humbled me. It seemed to be the ultimate fullfillment of God’s call for our obedience to Him. It seemed to be a beautiful picture of a life lived for His glory.
One day Trance was given a different mission . He was not to run , not to chase, not to retrieve. He was to carry on his neck the wedding rings of his parents. He was their “ring bearer”. It was an unfamiliar mission, but like an obedient servant he listened, he “heeled”, he approached the outdoor altar to present the rings. Children were thrilled, adults laughed, the parents were proud. The Father of all Creation rejoiced. Trance was part of a picture of Jesus and His church.
Three months later, yesterday afternoon, Trance looked at his Master, he was ready to obey yet again but there was a delay, a turn, there was a car. In moments Trance lay in my daughters arms lifeless. ” I held him but I could look and see he was going . . .” He was going to where there is no more need for obedience. He was going to lie down.
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”Revelation 5:13
Amen and Thank you God for Trance and all that was given to us through him!!