Monday, July 24, 2006

Hope and Hurricanes

So... um... gosh! A lot's happened since we were last here, huh? Israel's in a rapidly-escalating war. Campisi's was voted the 'Best Pizza in Dallas'. David Hasselhoff has quit drinking. The 2006 Hurricane Forecast is out. (And didn't we just get through watching all the lame celebrity Hurricane Katrina fundraisers on TV?)

Wow. Life happens so quickly. I really had no idea it had been so long since I last blogged. Seems like some days our rumps barely leave the bed before we're jumping (or falling... or crawling) back in. Do you ever have those deja vu moments when you open the refrigerator... or pull back the shower curtain... and feel like you were just there... even though it was yesterday? Yeah. Life comes at us pretty fast. Somedays it's downright exhausting.

But back to that 2006 hurricane forecast. It's crazy stuff. Did you hear that NOAA is predicting 8 to 10 Atlantic storms this year, with 4 to 6 of them being "major"? Oh goody. Hope those people down on the Gulf are building houses with wheels. And fast motors.

Seriously. Didn't we just start rebuilding? Didn't we just survive last year's hurricanes? And yet here comes a new season of storms. MSNBC was interviewing a guy yesterday who stared straight into the camera and shrugged, "What's the point of rebuilding? I'll just get blown away again this year."

Hmm. We've all felt like that at one time or another, haven't we? Maybe we didn't lose our homes to Katrina, but we've all lost something to an unexpected event or misfortune. Some of us have lost jobs. Others have lost spouses. Or finances. Or dreams. It's hard to rebuild after devastation - be it emotional or physical. It's hard to find the motivation to start again. And besides, sometimes we do wonder what the point is - I mean, won't we just get blown away again?

A good friend just lost her younger brother in a car accident. She's devastated. Any of us would be. And she's also wondering: where do I go from here? In a time where everything is subject to change... in a place where nothing is guaranteed... where do you rebuild? How do you start over?
Gosh. A hurricane victim... a grieving sister... you... me... we all have the same fears. And hearing their questions reminded me of a childhood Sunday School story. The one about the "wise man". Jesus told it like this: A wise man built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. A foolish man built his house upon the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great CRASH!...

See, that's our answer. That's the difference. That's why - and where - we rebuild. That holds true in my life, anyway. Because, you see, when I've built my life... my home... my hopes... my dreams... upon the sand - upon the shifting shore of my wants and needs... on circumstance and come-what-may - the storms get me everytime.

But when I place my life... my home... my hopes... my dreams... upon "nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness" (as the old hymn goes), my house on the rock stands firm. It does not fall. It does not fail. Not ever. Why? Because its foundation isn't in this life. It isn't built on what happens today... or what will happen tomorrow. It isn't affected by hurricanes. Or death. Or lay-offs. Or divorce. It's firmly rooted in the promises and character of THE Foundation... of THE very Author and Finisher of my faith.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just exhausted. But as Katrina victims still struggle with why to rebuild; as my grieving friend still struggles with how to rebuild; as others of us still struggle with where to rebuild - I just needed a reminder. A reminder that amid hope and hurricanes, there is some stability. There is a House on the rock that will stand firm....

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
-Edward Mote, 1834

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Perspective Point

I have a headache today. The kind of headache that parks itself between your eyes and threatens to punch its way out through your peeper-sockets.

I've been engaged a very short time, and already I'm surprised by what it takes to plan a wedding. It's fun, but the walls have closed in fast. (A lot like that ride at Six Flags. You know, the ride park officials "retired" because the spinning, closing walls killed that old lady?) Yep. Like that. Already I can't see the forest for the trees. Already I'm sweating over the guest list. (Great Aunt So-And-So, or... no?) Already I'm second-guessing my menu. (White Cheddar Corn Chowder or... Crab Bisque?) Already I'm stuck on colors. (Moss green... or cranberry?) Don't get me wrong. It's a wonderful kind of stress. A happy stress. Wouldn't trade it. (Really, darling, I wouldn't.) But his idea of an elopement is sounding more tempting by the day. Gosh. No wonder they have TV shows about this stuff!

I think I'm letting it get a little out of hand, though. And no one likes things getting out of hand. Not brides, not nice, normal people... not anyone. So with that in mind, I decided I could use a little perspective. A put-down-the-bridal-magazine-and-evaluate-what's-really-important-here kind of moment....

...Oh yeah. This is nice.

It's funny how - in the grand scheme of things - this wedding is just a little blip on my life's radar. It's just a few hours, really, in a whole lifetime of moments and experiences and... life. Sure, it's important. I want to get it right. And sure, it's meaningful. I'll only do this once. But in terms of our lives, it's just a few hours. We'll blink, and all this will be over.

I pulled out this picture just now. It's of Inspiration Point, outside Eureka Springs, Arkansas. (Which is where we're getting married, by the way.) I took this picture on our second date. I remember looking through my camera lens at this lush, picturesque valley and marveling at how big God is. How high He is. How better-than-bird's-eye His perspective on everything must be. And at times like this, I wish I was with Him... sitting on His lap... reading through His glasses... seeing things from His vantage point... viewing things from His perspective....

There's a verse in Jeremiah I've always loved. Jeremiah 24:6. God says, "My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them."

Boy, life gets crazy. Some days you sit down with a headache between your eyes and wonder how you'll make it through another week. And still other days, you're high atop Inspiration Point, marveling at the peace that comes from a higher perspective.

Yep, life's crazy. But no matter where you're standing today in your own crazy life, I hope you take comfort - and strength - in knowing that God is divinely preoccupied with watching over you for your good. That from His perspective, the point is to watch over you, guide you, build you, and plant you - all so you will have a heart to know Him. (Jeremiah 24:7)

I don't know if it helps you, but it helps me. Wedding plans and eye-ball headaches or not - it helps me. And I guess that's the beauty of the view from perspective point.