Light is a Fascinating Thing – Advent Thoughts

4 12 2011

This is a”proem” (kinda prose, kinda poem) that I wrote recently for an Advent project that a friend of mine does each year. I thought  I would share it with you guys as well.

 

Light is a fascinating thing.

It may be as dominating as the sun,

As demure as the moon,

As penetrating as a flashlight,

Or as subtle as a candle.

Still, whatever its manifestation, it is in a word … present.

 

Its adversary – we are told – is darkness.

If you ask the opposite of light, will the response not be, “dark”?

But darkness is not light’s opposite, its enemy.

It is light’s absence.

It is the place light chooses not to be.

Darkness, no matter how powerful it may seem at any given time,

No matter how deep,

No matter how dense,

No matter how overpowering it claims to be,

It can only boast in light’s absence.

Never in light’s presence.

 

It cannot be light’s nemesis, for it has no power over light.

You cannot “turn on” the dark.

It can only wait until you “turn off” the light.

But rest assured, it waits.

And when the light goes away – even for a moment –

The darkness moves in.

Aggressively.

Opportunistically.

Imperialistically.

With something of an evil grin.

Realizing that light is simply not … present.

 

So it was in times long ago.

God – the Father of Lights – had been turned off to His people,

To all of His creation.

400 years of creatures groping in the darkness.

Simply because they had chosen to reject the light.

 

Stupid, stupid creatures.

Embracing darkness and shunning light.

Hating day and loving night.

Thinking “presence” was a given, not a gift.

Taking light for granted, not a grant.

And so nearness became absence,

And light was simply NOT – in a word … present.

 

 

Then on an unsuspecting night,

In an inconspicuous place,

For all too common people,

God turned the light on.

Emmanuel was born.

God was present …

With us. Among us. FOR us.

In Him was life and that life was the light of men.

 

The light shined in the darkness,

But the darkness still managed to not comprehend it.

Stupid, stupid creatures.

Emabracing darkness and shunning light.

Hating day and loving night.

Closing their eyes to the light that was once again,

Finally … present.

 

So the light was not put on a lampstand, but under a basket.

Hidden from the world, so that darkness could move in.

Aggressively.

Opportunistically.

Imperialistically.

With something of an evil grin.

Pretending that light was simply not … present.

 

But light could not be covered over by darkness, for it had chosen to be present.

And a light as subtle as a candle

Became as penetrating as a flashlight.

A light as demure as the moon

Became as dominating as the sun itself.

It showed that darkness was not its adversary;

Darkness was only its absence.

And on this one night it established in one moment and forevermore

That it was – in a word….

Present.

With us. Among us. For us.

And once and for all … IN us.

Light is a fascinating thing.

 

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” – 2 Cor. 4:6





“Daddy, I want some.”

15 08 2009

AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I’m sorry, I do speak before I think on occasion, although I do not recommend such a course of action and excoriate those who make a practice of it. What I meant to say was….

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

But I digress…

I have a two year old son. He is cute, sweet, good-natured – a lovely child by all normal standards. A precious gift of God to me. He – to this point anyway – is NOT channeling Damien, has refused the societal pressure to do the “terrible twos,” and is all-around a pretty sharp little creature. Aside from his obvious disregard for my personal space and need for privacy in the can (lavatory, for you sensitive types), I have only one complaint…

“I want some.”

Just typing those words raises my blood pressure well beyond my doctor’s recommendation. It is CONSTANT. It is “Waterboarding for Daddies.” Oh. My. Gosh. (I’m trying not to scream again, please bear with me).

It’s not that he’s really greedy, so much as it is that I am incredibly selfish. He’s not asking for stuff at stores or on TV commercials designed to make children they are entitled to all they see advertised. It’s just that no matter what I have in my hand to eat or drink, he wants some of it. Everything. ANYthing. Even now as I type this on a Saturday morning, he has crawled up next to me twice and asked for a sip of my coffee. My COFFEE. (Correction – now three times)

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!

It’s mine! Do you hear me? It’s mine! My coffee! My sandwich! My chips! My Coke! Mine! MINE! MINE! To quote W.C. Fields, “Leave me alone, kid, you bother me.”

(Did I say that out loud?)

Anyway, I didn’t ask you hear today to hear me confession about my failings as a parent and a human being in general. That just arose spontaneously. I was actually going to be all spiritual and talk about how we’re like that with God. Want. Want. Want. Want. Want. Spoiled little children that think we’re entitled to everything that’s advertised.  I guess that’s probably true of us; I know it’s true of me.

The problem is that I don’t think that it’s true of my son. I think he actually gets it right. He’s not asking for outlandish and expensive toys (well, not yet – which is why I have to write this blog now). He’s simply asking to share in the things that his father is enjoying. For some reason, in spite of the obvious character flaws of this dad he loves, he loves his dad and wants to share in the things his dad loves. (And his dad DOES love his coffee).

I know, it sounds naive and stuff – the “my child can do no wrong” garbage that parents spit out all the time from the vile, ignorant chasms of their gullible, mindless fantasy world. I am aware that my child is seeking stuff for “self” to some degree, to have something he doesn’t in order to enhance his life or whatever a two-year tells himself is the benefit. The question is whether or not something can be recognized as a benefit to self and part of something greater. Does Scriptures offer as a reward for doing righteously mitigate against the true righteousness of that very same act? And does the phrasing of that question completely confuse you?

Anyway, all that to draw this illustration out as long as I possibly can. My child wants to share in what I love, and that is at least some part of his incessant nagging and never-ending neediness. I don’t know that I can say the same about my attitude toward God. I’m not all that interested in what he’s already got on his agenda or already has in His hand for me. I like the shiny thing I saw on television or in my neighbor’s possession. Even the ongoing nature of my son’s pleading is Scriptural (remember the parables of the friend at midnight or the widow and the judge?). If I say no, he keeps coming back. When he senses that the “no” is ultimate, he pouts but he moves on. If God says no to me, I rarely stay after it, I just try to sneak into the kitchen and get my own coffee when he goes out to mow the yard.  If I sense the “no” is ultimate, I pout, and pout some more, and then I pout some more. My son talks to me again within 30 seconds. I may not want to speak to God for a while.

Do I love my Father enough that I simply want to share in what He is enjoying? Or do I ask for my own stuff? Do I ask persistently, relentlessly for Him to tip his own cup of coffee my way, or do I ask Him out of spiritual obligation while plotting my own self-made PB&J sandwich?

God wants us to ask. God wants us to ask relentlessly. God wants to give.

“What man among you, if his son asks for a fish, would give him a snake?” If you earthly sin-tainted and freakishly-selfish dads want to give to your children, how much more is God a giver?

But what if a child asks for the snake? Maybe that’s what we’re doing most of the time. Not paying attention to what He’s enjoying and what He loves and what’s already in His hand. Maybe we’re asking for the things that would do more to harm the relationship than be evidence of it.

Unless we become as little children…(the ones before they start understanding TV commercials).





Proud Papa

10 08 2009

Last night, I had the privilege of baptizing my oldest child. To answer the $64,000 question, no, I did not cry. I thought about it, but my left brain took over, analyzed the situation, and deduced that no benefit to anyone would come of it. Incidentally, I also processed in that moment that the idea of a $64,000 question is a little bit dated. Sure, it was probably huge in the 50’s, but 64,000 dollars these days wouldn’t pay for Wink Martindale’s veneers. (Yes, I know, it was Hal March and not Wink; but no one knows who Hal March is and I can’t be bothered with anachronisms in the middle of this baptism service). Oh, sorry, back to that.

John the apostle wrote of those under his leadership that “there is no greater joy than to know my children walk in truth.” I think that is even more true of parents. Passing on the faith to the next generation through your family is the Bible’s primary and purest form of evangelism. To watch a child grasp it and then embrace it as their own is a marvelous thing; to watch a child continue in that faith is even greater. To be the one who personally baptized my son as a professing disciple is really special, and it kinda felt cool to legally hold him under the water even if for a second…or two…or three. (Oh, c’mon, lighten up. It was getting all serious sounding and spiritual, and I was about to cry. Wait, no I wasn’t.) Sorry, back to the baptism.

My son and I have talked about baptism for a pretty good while. At first, I asked him to wait because he was young, and I really wanted him to have a better grasp of the meaning of baptism and the depth of commitment that it is. I know that sounds strange in our world of “down the aisle and into the tank, the convention wants our yearly rank,” but I wanted it to be his informed, public declaration of faith.

My plan worked too well, and he put it off the second time, stating that he wanted to see if his life matched up to the commitment. I explained to him that was not necessary, that baptism wasn’t about “having arrived.” Still, I found it pretty neat that a child would think that there’s something more to this than “pray the prayer, dip in the pool, now with God you’re really cool.” So we waited.

This year, he and I came back to the question again, and we both felt it was time. I almost cried. No wait, I didn’t.Thanks, left brain.

That brings us to last night. Kris Dekker baptized Colin Dekker, his son and his brother-in-Christ. I could not have been prouder or happier as a dad. Congratulations, Colin. Hold on to Jesus. Nothing’s more important.

Oh…Was that a tear drop that just hit my computer keyboard? I guess you’ll never know the answer, so Wink Martindale is taking his $64,000 and going home. Veneers and all.