ImageIt’s fourth of July and we’re going home.  The bags are packed, the kids are packed, and night is falling.  Fireworks will be missed this year.

    Or maybe not.

Cruising down the interstate, an orange moon slides in and out of dark shadows.  Hot and muggy is the soup outside, but we’re protected in our A/C aluminum can.

    Darker and darker the sky becomes.

 

After a brief history lesson on the birth of our nation, independence from a king, and tense times for the colonies, I say “Look out for fireworks.  Look for the lights. Keep your eyes peeled.”  In my rearview mirror, the whites of eyes are as big as the moon.

Going home. The lifelong journey for the redeemed, both young and old.  Hot and muggy the path may be.  Darker the sky may appear.

    But the King is coming.  Has come.  And is here.

New birth through a Savior. Independence from being my own crummy king.  And freedom to love the King.  Colonies of light who hold the Light are scattered across the land.

    Or interstate.

“Look for fireworks. Look for the lights. Keep your eyes peeled.”

A glimmer.  Then a white sparkle of lights brightens the sky behind a silhouette of trees.  My daughter gasps.  To the left, another.  Over the bridge. To the right, some more.  A green, purple, red, and orange display showers the sky.

    All along the interstate.

I grip the wheel, juggling between keeping my eyes on the road and twisting my head to find the multi-colored displays of light jumping out of the distant trees and darkened landscape.

    Then it arrives.

An interstellar burst and kaleidoscope of colors litters the face of the sky.  We pull over and watch the finale.  Glory. Hallelujah.

    All along the interstate. Going home.

Colonies of light.  Going home. Yet, holding up the Light.  No one after lighting a lamp covers it, but puts it on a stand, so that all may see.

    For all those driving along the interstate.

The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

    Glory. Hallelujah. 

“O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:55

 

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Corinthians 5:21.

The pain of crucifixion by man,

unbearable.

The pain of being forsaken by the Father,

unfathomable.

The nails that held his body,

unthinkable.

The love that held him there,

“so amazing, so divine. Demands my life, my soul, my all.”

On this side of the western world, it’s been one year.

One year of trying. One year of failing. One year of encouraging. One year of prodding. Sometimes gently. Sometimes a little too strong. Lord, forgive me. But it has all been worth it.

A lazy afternoon.  I’m tired on this Sunday.  It’s been a long morning.  But warmer weather is sneaking into March eager for spring, and so is my daughter as she tugs on my leg wanting to go outside.

Out we go.  But only to do one thing we’ve been doing this year.

Mastering that two-wheel bike.

We’re not much of a bike culture on this side of the western world.  Unless it’s a Harley Davidson, of course.  And I don’t ride my bike to work that often. Unless, a stroke of insanity dances across my brain.  It did one day.  So I took out my bike worn from its college days and whispered, “It’s just you and me baby.”  To the road we flew taking the route I am so familiar with each morning.  The freedom.  The thrill.  The work.  Now I’m sweating.  And complaining.  Will I get there?

But there’s no complaining from my daughter on this day. Or this side of the western world.  She wants to ride her bike.  She wants to stare down that asphalt that has taken skinned knees.  But most importantly she wants to know.  Do I have her back?

Yes I do sweetheart.

Will you catch me if I fall?

Yes.

Will you help me as I ride?

Yes.

Do you think I can do this?

Yes. And I will be running alongside of you never taking my eye off of you.

She grips the handlebars.  The white around her knuckles shows.  Relax.  She takes a deep breath.  She straps on the helmet of her salvation, protecting her skull.  Bludgeoning from the rock-hard pavement is not in the schedule today.

And not on my watch.

She’s ready.

We set out along the driveway.  I hold her shoulders. She begins to pedal.  I’m holding. Running.  She wobbles with the wheel.  My grip is firm. She’s pedaling.  I’m running. Faster.  And it happens so fast. Time stops.

I’m no longer holding. She’s riding.

I keep running.  I’m cheering her on. But she’s focused. She hasn’t taken this one year on just to share a few moments of glory on the driveway.  The road is on her sights.

I’m breathing faster. Running beside her. Holding my hands out just in case.  She turns.  The road is hers. No turning back. I cheer out loud.  Who cares about the neighbors right now.  I want the whole world to hear.

I watch her ride.  The wind whipping her hair. Her legs pumping the pedals.  And the joy that spreads to her heart as she glides into the sunset.  One year rolling by.

On this side of the western world.

But there’s another world.  I want to ride. I want to gaze into the bright Son and feel His presence, like the wind hitting my face.  But I still ask. Do you have my back?

Yes.

Will you catch me if I fall?

Yes.

Will you help me as I ride?

Yes.

Do you think I can do this?

Yes. And I will be running alongside of you never taking my eye off of you.

It’s getting pretty warm outside.  And with the warmer weather comes the bane of my yard… weeds.  However, I thought this article by Paul Tripp on tending the weeds of our own soul, especially as it relates to the people we love and serve, was quite appropriate for anyone… at any season.

The Elephant Room.  Some of you have been wondering about this event that has been offered through simulcast and online. Enough has been said over the web on it and the controversy that it created.  I just want to point you to some good posts on grasping why it was controversial and some wise thoughts on its implications.  Bottom line (this is my opinion), it was unwise to hold such a venue (online and to thousands) with the people that were invited (TD Jakes, a Oneness Pentecostal, who is considered outside the bounds of orthodox Christian doctrine, alongside other pastors who are within the bounds of orthodox Christian doctrine).  It further exacerbates doctrinal confusion and portrays that doctrine doesn’t matter as a pastor.  Not convinced?  Confused?  Then click and read some of the posts below that explain it much better…

Justin Taylor breaks down what happened and offers very thorough and wise reflection…

Thabiti Anyabwile offers a brave and passionate response why he is disappointed…

Tim Raymond explains how the Elephant Room can be a danger to redefining the pastoral office…

Kevin DeYoung offers seven thoughts on the event (very poignant)…

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.”    ~Hebrews 11:8-9

As I read today from Genesis and a cross-reference passage from Hebrews (the passage quoted above), the Lord impressed this hard upon me… it should not be of our concern where we are going when God calls us to obey that gives us assurance of faith, but with whom is going with us: God himself.  By faith Abraham obeyed.  Not because he trusted he knew where he was going. It says, “he went out, not knowing where he was going.” No, he obeyed because he trusted in the one He knew who was going with him.  That’s what mattered.  Not where, but with whom is going with him.  God. His faith was in God and His character.  Oh, to trust Him more.  It’s my prayer this morning and for our church today.