Monday, May 30, 2011

Think Memorial Day, think Buffalo

It's Memorial Day and flags and graveside flowers abound. This is moving me in a non traditional way. Today I want to center my holiday around resourcefulness. So if this day finds you grieving loss, I mourn with you. I am completely aware that loss can take many forms, whether it is a loss through death, loss of a job, loss of a relationship, lost focus, lost ground or lost traction in your life. We all lose in life, and it wounds us. So help me digest the idea of being resourceful with our losses, you can't lose anything more by trying.

Whenever someone uses the world "resourceful" my mind immediately feeds me an image of a buffalo, in a field. And yes this went on before I moved to Oklahoma. I am pretty sure I imagine buffalo because when I was younger, all my grade school teachers got together once a year to see how often they could talk about buffalo. And more specifically how the Native Americans hunted buffalo, and used every part of it, not wasting a thing, not even a hoof. I am pretty sure I heard the Native Americans / buffalo lesson no less than 37 times before 6th grade. So when I think of the word resourceful I think of buffalo, every time. Well done grade school teachers, well done.

Ahh the majestic buffalo, let us drink in his majesty....

In spite of the repetitious nature of the buffalo lesson it has always fascinated me and I love the concept of not wasting anything. I like to recycle and I really want a compost tumbler. It may look like extra work to you but it jives with the very nature of who God is changing me into, I don't want to waste anything. Not a yogurt tub, not a moment with a friend, not a chance to grow, nothing.

This is a very God inspired movement I assure you. If you need proof read with me in John 9. I love John 9, because it's all about resourcefulness (among a ton of other things). Do you need me to link you to it and make your holiday a little more relaxing? Well fine, click here and type in John 9. I recommend you try either the message or the NIV versions, they are both delicious.

So there you have it, in summary Jesus and his disciples encounter a blind man, who has been blind his whole life. And in keeping with the thoughts of their day the disciples want to know why he is blind, they need an answer for why God would cause this man to be born this way (now you can sing lady gaga all day long, you're welcome) Anyway, then Jesus redirects completely and tells them to quit focusing on "why" and instead focus on "what." What can God do through this? How can God be glorified? And then he tells them, hey as long as you have daylight, (ie: if you are alive) ask this question: What can you do today that lines up with God's work? You have pain? Glorify.

The man at the gate had a painful life, his days consisted of begging for the cash he needed to meet the most basic of needs. He didn't just lose his sight, he never had it to begin with. If you follow human logic he had every right be pissed at God, and demand why he didn't get his fair share of the five senses. However, Jesus isn't interested in explaining why, he skips that path completely and heads straight in to the concept of glorifying God in spite of it.

I like to use the first few books of Genesis as a foundation for the rest of the bible. God didn't create us with pain, disease or death, but because sin entered the world we have to live in a world where those things are our reality. God didn't choose the pain for us, we sinned and it all fell apart. After that we had to learn to follow God in new parameters. To have a relationship with him sight unseen and to live lives that will end in bodies that will fail. So if you are like me you do not believe that God is on a throne somewhere up there sending death and pain at us like lightening bolts. He's not in heaving yelling: "Cancer for you! And depression to you! And a best friend in a car accident to you!" I think that when people say "This was a part of his plan for you"
at funerals or in hospital rooms it creates that version of God, and really confuses people.

To sum this idea up, God didn't send you this. Whatever your "this" is, it's part of our broken world. Your pain is not a punishment, you didn't directly cause your "this." But you are responsible for how you handle it, and you are called to glorify God in spite of it.

So if today finds you heavy with the loss of something, take heart and take a deep breath. Slowly start to shift the way you think about your loss. Start to imagine the beautiful things that can come out of it, and grow to trust God again. It would be hard to serve lightening bolt, cancer sending God. The good news is that you don't have to. The bible teaches us that God hurts when we hurt, painful loss wasn't part of his plan A for his children. However we live in plan B world, were hurt happens, and sometimes it happens, and happens, and happens.

So allow your wounds to heal in light of how much he loves you. Talk to someone who has been there and chooses life in spite of pain. Take their hand and let them help you along. After you have done that a bit, take a look around and I can almost guarantee you will find someone else hurting in the same way you were. Grab their hand and help them start to move forward. Let us be resourceful together with our hurts and losses as we remain faithful in God's work of redeeming what is broken.

Go team buffalo.

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