more than cliches
It has been an interesting week. As is my norm I am having difficulty organizing my thoughts, but I will give it a shot. One of our board member’s wife passed away this week. She had been battling cancer for two years. Her physical body lost the fight. It seems that on this side of eternity cancer had the last blow. She has now passed from this side of eternity into the other. I’m not sure if you know the movie Cinderalla Man, but the main character James Braddock, a boxer, appears to be on the downhill side of his career. His age is getting the best of him and he is losing his "punch" if you will. He suffers a broken hand and has to fight to make ends meet and to provide for his family. During his struggle to eat and survive he works at a lock loading dock. His hand is broke so he is forced to use his "weaker" arm and hand in order to keep the job. He works through struggle and combats against physical pain. What appears to be a means to provide simple electricity, beans, rice and food for his kids turns out to be the catalyst for a revived career. As the movie goes James Braddock boxes again and become a world champion.
I bring the movie to the surface of our thinking because I want our thinking to be challenged. James Braddock was knocked out, but he stood again. He was defeated, but he stood again. He battled hopelessness, but he stood again. He suffered personal loss, but he stood again. His manliness was attacked, but he stood again. He was humbled by uncontrollable circumstances, but he stood again. A woman of God and destiny was taken, but we stand again. A mother who had yet seen some of her children married is gone, but we stand again. A grandmother who was waiting to spoil more grandbabies died before those tender moments, but we stand again. The family stands again.
During the family's standing they positioned themselves defiant against cancer. I agree. I stand, linked arm to arm with them, defiant against cancer. Like many of you, this is personal. Cancer killed my mom, and God in his graciousness received her into his heavenly kingdom. It's personal. So with those who have suffered loss and are battling the disease I stand. What are our other options? Staying on the mat? Staying on the canvas? I don't think so. It's not in our nature to concede to an enemy that's already been defeated. Jesus gave us total victory. I am not contending for it, just trying to enforce it as the byproduct his crucifixion and my love relationship with God.
That's only the beginning of the week. She passed away early in the week and by the end of the week we had been asked to cry out for justice and contend for her resurrection. Yes, that's right, her resurrection. Unfulfilled promises were sitting on the table and no one had a right to those more than she. So four of us, myself and 3 other very close friends drove the funeral home to go after the impossible, raising the dead. Impossible to the unbelieving, but not to the believing. Jesus said all things are possible for those who believe. Therein lies my tension. I believe, but as I looked at an embalmed body laying in a casket I struggled to believe. Could I, could we handle the weight of the breakthrough? If she rose again could we handle the measure of such a breakthrough? I don't know. My sense is, right now, NO. But even though this resurrection did not take place, and we may have been knocked down, we stand together today. WE STAND! As my friend Bill Vanderbush said this morning, "we will not let today's obstacles keep us from pursuing what God has destined to give us. Heaven is our place of destination, but until then we are to bring heaven to earth." I like that and I agree!
I was standing in front of the casket and one million thoughts must have been moving through my mind. They seemed to come and go as fast as a shooting star. I can't write them all simply because I don't remember them all. But I do remember feeling as uncomfortable as I had ever felt. Part of me did not want to enter the viewing room because I did not want my doubt to corrupt the faithlevel in the room. I did not want to go in because I could only imagine what the Funeral Director thought. Yes, I was weird. Lawrence says we have officially drank all of the kool-aid. But why not? What did we have to lose? Some of our reputation? That's probably a good thing. So there I stood, in a room full of people, yet alone as if I were Tom Hanks stranded on an island. I prayed. I prayed in the spirit a great amount. I layed hands on her head. I expected her eyes to pop open. I cried out quietly with the rest for God to break in and breath life into her as he did Adam on that powerful day of humanity initiation to the world. It did not happen.
I stood there confronted by all the cliches that we throw out there as believers. You know them, "you are a worldchanger. You are changing the world. You are shaping history. You are making a difference. You are a powerful man of God. You are woman of destiny.....etc, etc. etc. I agree with them, yet as I stook there staring at the cold lifeless body I could hear the Spirit of God yelling at me, "Do you believe all those things Lance? They are easier said than done? Do you really believe them or do you just say them because that's what you are supposed to say?" I don't know that I have answer to the Spirit's questions or know fully the results of his diagnosis. But this is what I do know, I am still standing. So are my friends. My faith level was increased just by being there. God's presence was real and it was thick.
I have a long way to go. Cancer tried to knock me down in September of 2005 when it killed my mom. Cancer has tried many times since to intimidate me and use medical statistics as a testimony of it's power. However I think of many who have been healed of cancer. I think of Jesus' own death and resurrection and know that any victory cancer gets is only temporary. God reigns. He reigns supreme over sickness, disease, death, infirmity. God reigns supreme. I choose to stand today and shake my fist in the face of all that is evil because I have tasted and seen that God is good. His sweet goodness leaves a taste in my mouth that the bitter herb of death can never take away.
the christian walk has to be more than cliches. the world does not need cliches. your local bookstore has volumes of books with cute cliches and one liners that might help us make more money, be better leaders, write computer code or know the inside story of some historic figure. the world does not need more cliches, it needs men and women demonstrating the power of God as they live a life of bridal affection for God. two things have become more clear ot me in the last 12 months.
1. God is deeply in love with me and I in him. I am a son and he is my father. I have a powerful love for him that continues to grow each day.
2. If children are the fruit of marital intimacy, then the fruit of my intimacy with God is a lifestyle of signs, wonders and miracles. I burn to demonstrate God's goodness over every obstruction.
I hope to draw you near to the possibilities that exist within the realms of intimacy with God. I hope to answer this question in my life, "how far can someone go in the love of God?" I want to know. I want to answer that question. I hope you answer it as well. May God grant you the courage to do all that is in your heart.
until next time.....BURN!