Sunday, April 8, 2012


So Moriah and I were sitting on the couch together the other morning engaging in what lately is the normal ritual.

I, in zombie-like fashion, am trying to rush to ingest my normal breakfast of peanut butter and jelly toast with proper British tea (splash of milk and some agave included)... all while just trying to dose up on a bit of unencouraging morning news.

I am barely breathing and chewing at the same time.

Moriah on the other hand is in her five-year-old-non-linear and totally fun loving all over the place sort of way... focused on peppering me with comments and questions far too thought or spirit-filled for such an early point in the morning. 

And I'm in not-listening-but-pretending-to-listen-Dad mode. Filled with, "Uh - huh"s and "wow"s and "yep"s. The drool is already forming in the corner of my mouth as I am lost in the headlines of the Today Show and its little intro jingle... "Buh - Buh- Buhhhhh.

I am so spiritual. Dad of the Year.

Needless to say, she wallops me with one huge statement, while climbing on me with all knees and elbows. Somewhere mid-jab, with way too much energy, she says, "Dad, you know... some people... they have nothing."

"Uh huh. Yup. They do."

"No Dad, I mean, they have NOTHING." (every syllable emphasized in dramatic five year old female fashion. Her face sliding over to eclipse my field of vision of Matt Lauer to fully engage me.)

Finally I caught myself not listening and sputtered out something slightly almost-helpful, while powering down the PB&J. Something Dad-ish. Something American or maybe suburban or maybe Suburbo-Christio-Merican: "Well you know what honey, you're right, some people do have nothing, and we are so very very lucky. We should be thankful for what we have."

Moriah pauses in all her elbows and knees there on my lap.

"Well that sounds mean."

"Well why honey?"

"Because they still have nothing."

(yeah, please re-read that for full effect)

We all say things like, "I was speechless." or "I didn't know what to say." But quite honestly here, this truth hit me so hard, cut past all the BS to such a degree, that there was no wiggle room, no saving face, no making myself feel better by explaining all the good we as a people do.

There was no chance to take this teaching moment (which I did later anyway because I am still Suburbo-Christio-Merican) to explain that this is why we try to make the world a better place by giving and caring and loving and sharing and all of those Christian or Yo Gabba Gabba* things, because Jesus wants us to.

And yep, it's true, and I've said it before: in all honesty, the plight of most of the planet or even folks down Broadway doesn't affect more than maybe an iota of our day to day existence, let alone or current oil or water consumption, the way we eat, or even the way we give of ourselves.

But as usual, this is about more than that.

This is just about how naked I was before the simple truth of Moriah's comment. How it sliced, in all its over-simplistic child-like sense of justice and fairness, directly to a very real and very profound point.

When we really get naked before the truth, we are really, well, naked. There is no excuse, there is no clothing there to cover the stuff that's a little saggy, or scarred, or pimply, or simply not what we want anyone to see... that we don't even really want to see.  In Hebrews 4:13 it says that "everything is laid bare before Him..." and somewhere between a naked body and a barren landscape with no brush to hide in... there we are.

There is a message for you and I that hits me hard this Easter. There is a message as blunt as the truth that Moriah decided to hit me with the other day. And quite honestly, this truth is much more profound, much more urgent.

The truth is that God is calling people to Him. And we have to have the ears to hear that call. And most of the time we're not listening.

In Luke 4, long before the Easter story, Jesus stands up in a synagogue, reads a prophecy out loud, and then tells everyone that today that is fulfilled right there in front of them. Kind of a bombshell. But don't get caught up in people's reactions, where most sermons go. Re-read it and think about what it is saying about what He has to say:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

There is a whole lot of voice going on there. A whole of proclamation.

Which means that somewhere on the receiving end, there is a set of ears that message was meant for.

Sometimes I think I am just a little too rich to hear the good news. Or maybe I am just a little too busy being imprisoned to hear that I am free. Or too busy not realizing what oppression really is in order to understand what it means for the Lord's favor to rest on me.

And sure, this line sounds Suburbo-Christio-Merican. Maybe. But maybe its simple truth. Maybe I'm sitting there with my PB&J more naked than I realize.

Today is Easter... Jesus is risen! We focus a lot on it. And it's very good. But today in the midst of the church celebration and the white colors with a little blue and a little green mixed in... beside all the eggs and friends and family and food...

I want to ask you to take a moment to get by yourself and quietly listen to what it is Jesus has proclaimed by doing what He has done: 

That you are His. More than you understand yourself to be. Maybe at times more than you want to be.
That you are free. And that you have much discovering to do about what this means.
That upon you rests God's favor. And this is not a get-out-of-hell-free card. It is so much richer than this.

I can't help but believe that there is an urgency to God's call, to Jesus' voice bearing this news. Because ahead of you and I is a lifetime of discovery of what it all means.

And as you sit there, while God is all knees and elbows nailing you with the truth, just join me in whispering what we so desperately need to be saying: "Lord, give me the ears to hear You."

Be His my friends. He is risen. Hallelujah.

- Jim

*Google it if necessary.