Step Away From the Door

by Christopher MacDonald

I have this sad, yet oddly funny dream about a door to a big party in heaven. It saddens me because my fellow believers so obsess on whether  or not they are “In or not.”

They are invited to the Big Wedding Party and they come. Once in the door they stand there wondering for years if they are actually inside the door. Some argue with each other about if others are actually also invited or not – the ones inside. Others just wish to know “do we get to stay?” 

More arguing. I come by occasionally and suggest they come on in and grab a plate of food and a drink (wine or a Diet coke – whatever they enjoy – free bar). They hesitate. One of them calls me a “libertarian free loader.” Okay, whatever.  I like Diet Pepsi myself…and I’ve noticed I can load up on nachos and jumbo prawns without getting fat or flatulent.  

It’s a good party. When I have actually dreamed parts of this dream in my sleep, I have met folk like Kurt Russell there. Why Kurt Russell? I have no idea. Was he what you would expect? Pretty much. Nice guy.

Other people? Ah…Steve Buscemi, Elizabeth McGovern, Lady Gaga—oh, and I played beer pong for half an hour with Tom Waits with neither of us saying a word.

Eleven years later I come back by the door and four of the same people are there worried that they might lose their place at the door. Two of them are Calvinists. I make a joke about this but neither laughs. I forgot about the humor thing and Calvinists. Three others have left to go find a better way in through another “better door” (this door wasn’t to their liking).  

There are 17 new people all crowded and worried about whether they can stay at the door. The Son of Man often walks in and out of the door. He always knocks. Once He winked at me after He did this. I laughed after He came in and walked by me. 

Every time He shows up a few go with Him regardless. Like sheep after…well, you know.  But others stay, bickering at the door. 

It’s not really that funny when you think about it. Imagine if every Believer stopped thinking about the obvious and moved on into the Reality of life in Christ daily? What if they moved away from the entry hall of belief into the party waiting for them inside?

******

spoon_simple

Simplicity & Spaciousness.

In this Lenten season, at Oak Life Church, we have been looking at spaciousness, complexities, simplicity and how we see and hear—at least that is some of what I have been exposed to in this excellent series presented by Chris, Rachel, the worship team, and yesterday by our panel on “Isolation” so well organized by Gina and Kyle. *

It is a complex world and so we must be very wise. Jesus said as “wise as serpents, innocent as doves (Matt. 10:16) – coming to faith is not the time to “check your brain at the door,” it is the time to really pick it up and use the doggone thing in right manner.

A large part of that is understanding that not everything is of equal value. A.W. Tozer, writing in 1948, could easily be describing the Bay Area right now, nearly 70 years later:

“Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all. (italics mine)

Tozer goes on to say,

“If we would find God amid all the religious externals we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity. Now as always God discovers Himself to “babes” and hides Himself in thick darkness from the wise and the prudent. We must simplify our approach to Him. We must strip down to essentials (and they will be found to be blessedly few). We must put away all effort to impress, and come with the guileless candor of childhood. If we do this, without doubt God will quickly respond. When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself. The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the “and” lies our great woe. If we omit the “and” we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing. We need not fear that in seeking God only we may narrow our lives or restrict the motions of our expanding hearts. The opposite is true. We can well afford to make God our All, to concentrate, to sacrifice the many for the One.

(A. W. Tozer. The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine (Kindle Locations 137-145). Hovel Audio. Kindle Edition.)

Blissfully, I have nothing at all to add to this.

~Mac

* I feel so blessed (“Happy is the man”) by the gifts which are weekly exercised and employed so creatively and freely at Oak Life by my brothers and sisters. Too often over four decades have have witnessed such gifted ones sit unrecognized, disenfranchised, and halted. But not here. Oh how it makes my heart sing!

To The Bride and Groom

 

Title unknown. One of J.Rod Swenson’s infamous “Bob the Dog” paintings.

(In honor of Rod and Liz Ann Larson-Swenson’s union read aloud on their wedding day. )

The other day in a

Class I was teaching

We were figuring out

The Trinity like

Fifth graders trying out

Some new unknown

Hormone.

We the dust

Flirting and flitting with

Him Who ever Holds

Us up

Yet dives below our

Deathening prides

To pull up our

New lives.

So I laughed

A big Swedish laugh

(I’m half-Swedish, you know)

Okay,

So I laughed

A big half-Swedish laugh

At the metaphors

And J. Roderick

The big Swede rolled my way

Like a cord of lumber

Like a carton of

Fresh-tapped maple syrup

Wanting to slam-dance

And when he was done slamming

And yelling his deafening love

Into my left ear

I watched him lay down weeping

Beside a pool named Bethesda

I heard him cry toward

Each of the five porticos.

And you should know

When he cries

He cries like a herd of children.

This thug of love

His leathered ears hanging on

Like medals pinned

On the head of old wars

Suddenly revived and baptized

NO!

Cleansed and refashioned

In the reddened wells

Of faith, hope and love.

So, peddling and prowling he goes

Down lonely city streets

With his reborn ears

As soft as cream

Searching the echoes

Measuring the vibrations

Or grinning and thinking

About pattering up and

Wrapping around Liz Ann

The way a warm rain

Wraps and makes you laugh

Saying “It’s me

Me and It’s okay hmmmn

It’s okay…it’s me hmnnn.”

And they settle

Like two polished stones

Sunk down to pool’s bottom

Just off the Loveshack.

” Christopher!” Rod would say

” This is the part of the poem

Where you’re supposed to teach

Something.”

Rod would say that.

” Christopher!…You are a

Wonderful teacher!”

[SLAM! SLAM! like thick lumber and syrup]

And he’s right

It’s not like I’m the first one to interrupt a poem

Or be interrupted by life

Or by Life Himself!

But

Thank God we’ve been interrupted

And you have been interrupted

And God has interrupted us

And His interruption is always

Himself.

So

At the end of most weddings

We look to the bride and groom

And want them to be

All we were once

Meant to be.

I tell you this …

(This is the teaching part)

They are now

All YOU are still meant to be…

Beloved and betrothed

Spoken to and spoken for

Given and taken at

A great marriage feast.

Well

Then watch this remarkable woman

Watch this chosen man

Like those outside of time

Aiming to become Jesus

Metaphors infleshed.

But

When you look on them

Who are now married

The holy dancing laughter

Will infect you

The redemption will swirl and sing

With figures both named

And unnamable

Both here

And yet to come.

Pay attention.

Pay Attention.

Here’s to the Bride and Groom!

___________________________

© Christopher C. MacDonald, 2001. Azotuscafe.com