Thursday, July 4, 2013

Setting the Record Straight

July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!! 
          Yesterday, my 12-year-old made me feel like a certified genius when he asked me, "Mom, does England have a 4th of July?" 
          Thinking this was a chance to put on my schoolteacher hat, (which is, admittedly, rather dusty) I replied, "No, honey. See, July 4th stands for-"
       "GOTCHA!!" he crowed. The hat slipped off my head. What? Huh? How...?
        "Mom" he said, in that tone of voice. "Every place has a 4th of July. They just don't call it Independence day! What, do you think England goes: July 3, July 5th?"
       Wow. Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader, please don't call me. 
        I had a conversation with God this morning that made me want to write to you. Now, my conversations with God are frequent, but they are also often one-sided. I HEAR His voice. I literally do. I just don't give Him a chance to speak that often. It goes back to that listening thing. But anyway...
         We had an answer to our prayers last night. And the angel whom God worked through would flip the Pope in his grave. A gay HIV+ man that we hardly know is giving us $5,000 to buy a new car. When Jared told me this over the phone, I was truly speechless. Then I laid down on the floor in the YMCA next to the climbing wall, and laughed and kicked my feet in delight. Not because of getting a new car, but because of how wonderful and appropriate the vessel is. Can you imagine what the traditional church would think if I told them that this type of man listened to God, and worked with Him to provide our needs? I can imagine the look on my ex-husband's face, and I'd almost give the full $5,000 just to see it!!
          So this morning, I'm thinking about it, and I'm awed and humbled by the way God works. No one can argue that God colors outside the lines! And the whole idea that He worked through a social and religious outcast just delights me. It would have been an awesome gift no matter who it came from, but it is just so perfect that it came from this man. So many would argue that, because of his lifestyle, he is miles away from God. Some would even go so far as to say God hates him, and that St. Peter put a lock on those pearly gates the minute this guy winked at the busboy. And yet here I sit, smiling at the thought of doing some car shopping with my baby boy, whose first--and sometimes only--conversation consists of, "Car! Car go! Car have tires?"
            At this point, God tapped me on the shoulder. "You know," He said gently. "I never asked that that guy fantasize about Halle Berry. I only asked that he be compassionate and generous to those in need."
           I focused. Instantly. So He continued. "I have never asked that you speak eloquently, and be full of witty comebacks, and always have the right thing to say. I only ask that you speak the truth in love and humility, offer comfort and encouragement, and give me the kudos when something great happens in your life."
          "I have never commanded you to be a size 10. I only ask that you look to me for your emotional needs instead to the ice cream carton."
           "I have never asked you to keep a spotless, Martha Stewart home. I only ask that you are welcoming and gracious to whomever steps inside your door."
           "I have never asked you to provide name-brand clothing or private flute lessons to your children. I only ask that you appreciate them for who they are, and let them know differences should be respected, not judged."
           It is magnificent and exciting to live in a country that offers us the freedom that we are celebrating today. But so many times, we fashion our own chains to wrap ourselves and other in, so we aren't really living in freedom at all. Our ancestors didn't fight so that hate groups can scream insults at a funeral. And Jesus didn't die so that we could live in a cage made of fear, self-condemnation, and hollow rituals. 
           He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. And because He did, the whole town came and heard the words of Jesus. He ate dinner with Zaccheus. And because He did, many many people got to see first-hand how Mercy and Truth can change someone's life. 
            This evening, I'm going to watch fireworks and sing the Star-Spangled Banner. (Okay, lip sync) And I'm grateful for the opportunities my country provides. But even more than that, I want to recognize and celebrate the freedom that Love brings. I'm going to rejoice that I can be free of bitterness, guilt, fear, and shame. Open the doors of your cage, people. He's handed you the key, and the lock is on the inside.   
           He has shown thee, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee. But to deal justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.--Micah 6:8
          As always, He gets the last word! Love you guys!