Monday, February 20, 2012

2 Timothy Chapter 1-Meditations On Power, Love and Discipline

The boom-boom-boom of my heart accompanied the wail of the siren. Inside the car lit up, from dark and black to glowing red. My father pulled the car over. Certainly the policeman was going to put him in jail. Seven years old I was certain my dad was guilty of something. The policeman, pure and innocent, was going to put him away. As a child I misunderstood the law and failed to trust my father.

The deacons, handing out bread-and-wine were somber, sober and serious. In silence I prayed for forgiveness as plate and cup made their way toward me. I glanced up and out, viewing the congregants. I knew the scripture—those that took the sacrament unworthily were in danger of dying. At present all remained safe and straight in their seats. As a new convert I misunderstood law and missed the heart of my Father.

Where was Timothy’s dad? Paul indicates Timothy grew up under the faith of grandma and mom. Were there positive male role models in his life? ‘Power,’ in a male context could have scary connotations. Misappropriated power seen in the violence of a horse race, the dominance of a (bad) husband, the mercilessness of a Pharisee. When God gives a spirit of power what does that look like?

“Timmy, stop calling your sister names! Go to your room now.” Discipline as a kid means changing behaviour to earn approval. Law is seen as change in outward appearance in accordance with desired behavior. The heart need not be involved.

When heart seeks the law in a context of Dad’s love it acts holistically. We seek inner transformation to become like our father. Foster writes, “We must beware how quickly we can latch onto this work or that word and turn it into a law. The moment we do so we qualify for Jesus’ stern pronouncement against the Pharisees: “They bind heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger” (Matt. 23:4). Our hearts should be stirred by law but moved toward God in grace.

“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you,” “I am sure that it is in you,” “Guard the treasure entrusted to you,” Paul says to Timothy. Timothy doubted God’s strong presence in him. Note the scaffold—no fatherly input in childhood coupled with doubt that God loves and treasures you. A certain system for the creation of timidity.

Paul pounds his point into Timothy’s head, “You have faith, you are treasured, you are loved.” Understanding the whole picture sets the solid framework, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” May the boom-boom-boom of our hearts beat in tune with the Fathers’.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hoover Dam and the Uncertainty Of Riches

“Since announcement of the construction timetable (to build Hoover Dam), hundreds of jobless men had been streaming into southern Nevada in caravans of wheezing automobiles, in Union Pacific boxcars, on horseback and even on foot…Most of the newcomers were greenhorns—unemployed factory workers, mechanics, salesmen, store clerks, lawyers, bankers and students---who had never performed physical labor or lived outdoors…”---Hoover Dam An American Adventure, by Joseph Stevens

Some seasons are simply paycheck to paycheck. We live in tension between need and want, living and longing. In my case, as of late, longing has given way to dissatisfaction. With discontent creep in goblins of greed whom do their best (and damned good they are) to steal joy and darken day.

I had a dog. For a season I had the Australian shepherd, the big yard and the gas barbeque. I miss the freedom ownership of a house brings. I long for the house, the garden, the storage---the stuff. I compare my stuff to the Joneses stuff. My stuff is older, smaller and less shiny. I get bogged down in the seeking of riches believing my contentment lies therein.

Hot showers and a full fridge are things I take for granted. I overlook the joy that flows out of a Sunday free from work---stretching out on the new couch with a good book and hot cup of Costa Rican. Wind on my cheek and warm sun, orange juice in the morning, buttered biscuits and bacon, the purr of my car engine, and even ‘hellos’ in hallways at work are deep riches to delight in.

I practice delighting deliberately. Sunsets in the desert can be beautiful. I walk outside to view a good one. Days off are spent with a loved one and started with hot coffee in a favorite cup—made more glorious today as cold wind and hard rain assail the neighborhood.

I am learning to enjoy all things. Riches, the prophet tells us, will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. This week I am practicing satisfaction in the riches I already possess. Concurrently I am cultivating friendship with the Joneses in hopes that they’ll let me house sit while they leave town on vacation.