Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Courage will now be your best defence against the storm that is at hand-—that and such hope as I bring.

I love you, O LORD my strength, O LORD my stronghold, my crag, and my haven. Psalm 18:1

Torre fuerte es el nombre del Señor
Torre fuerte es el nombre del Señor
A El correrá el justo
Y levantado sera.
A El correrá el justo
Y levantado sera.

The thing is that I really don’t want to live the easy life, with big squishy pillows built up like a big wall around me, and particularly stuffed in my ears.

A true life is messy.
A true life is painful.
A true life doesn’t have easy answers.

And whether I am hearing about little dreadlock boy’s mom’s attempted drug overdose suicide, or the nice little girl in fifth period weeping because she has never met her mother or walking the girl who has been in School Suspension all year through the persuasive speech outline during sixth period about the need to come to class ready to learn even though she stood up in class and screamed that I F’in hate you, Miss a bunch of times first period.  And she isn’t even my first period class, but she’s in my fourth period class, but was sent out from someone else’s class. And even if she hates me, she always ends up in my class, three or four times a day. Yesterday was a full day.

Or whether I am reading Ann Voskamp’s latest post: What the news isn’t telling you.

And there really isn’t anything new under the sun.

Last night I sat on my couch and read more of Mary by the Jewish historian Sholem Asch. And these chapters were about the little boy Yeshua learning about evil as he watched a file of chained Canaanite slaves driven by men with scourges in their hands.

And he asks Joseph, “Abba, they do this because the human heart is evil and they know no better? And Joseph nodded and let the boy proceed.

“Abba, will God ever change the hearts of men?”

“Surely He will, my son. Did He not say through His prophet–‘A new spirit I will kindle in their hearts?’”

And when Yeshua was a sturdy eleven-year-old lad, a horde of legionaries burst through the streets of Nazareth on their way to crush the rebellion in Sepphoris to the north. And in the night, they saw the vermilion glow of fire staining the sky, the clouds flared red like flocks of sheep caught in a forest fire.

And when the family loaded their ass with anything that came to hand, ready to join their brother citizens in the saving of the Sepphorite exiles, Yeshua demanded to go with his father. And he witnessed the bound prisoners, guarded by Roman soldiers who were marching them to the sea for shipment. And when they drew near to the outer gate, they were greeted by a vision of stark horror: two rows of crosses astride the road, each made of intersecting timbers that had the nakedness of recent cutting. And each rood bore the impaled body of a dying man, his belly writhing, his veins swelling and cracking in the heat of thirst, his wounds festering under the steady sun.

And yesterday as my mean girl table worked on their project they asked when slavery started.  And I answered, “Since the beginning of history.”

Let him see, Miriam,” said Joseph softly. “He must see all and know.”

No one had disciplined Yeshua to the love of God; it sprang unprompted from his innermost being. God could be responsible for no injustice. And whenever Yeshua saw evil practiced, he felt the sting of it in his own soul. For he saw it not only as a crime against fellow men, but as an affront to his heavenly Father. It seemed to him that whatever sorrow man sustained at the hand of sin, God suffered infinitely more.

After their return from Sepphoris, Joseph climbed one of the hills that overlooked their town, and reminded the grieving boy of a deeper truth. “Come and see, Yeshua, how great is God’s world.” And as they looked to the north, to the great chain of the snow mountains of Hermon, Joseph reminded him of our hope, that God would send His Messiah, so that the people that walk in darkness may see a great light, and in that day the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.

Sin is great, but His love is greater still.

And as the Yeshua was comforted by the words of Isaiah, so am I comforted.

And I remember when things felt heavy and embattled in Mexico, my heart would sing the Marco Witt song, “Torre Fuerte,” and I was comforted. He is my strong tower.

And Alan just returned from a quick weekend trip to Alamos, Mexico. He was a birthday present for a friend who he played soccer with, twenty-five years ago. And it was a good time, even bookended with a seven-hour truck ride down and an all-night bus ride back, with old friends and lots of carne asado. And music. Lots of music. And affirming recollections of impact and purpose. And for some inexplicable reason, the brother of Marco Witt is storing some ultralights on the front of the ranch property. And there are lots of broken windows and weeds. Because life is like that.

And there are lots of broken windows at Doolen as well. Someone jumped the fence and smashed dozens of windows in the A building over the weekend. And yep, there are weeds too.

And His love is greater still.

And I want my feet planted on the high tower strong and joyful. Not a grim weary look on my face, but singing in the sun, sword unsheathed. Out of doubt, out of dark, to the day’s rising. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.  -Tolkien

And maybe the Catalina mountain range is not as fabled as Mount Carmel, but still the morning rays gleam off the crags of Cathedral Rock as my nice new Schwinn bicycle leans into the North.

I love You, Lord, my strength, my haven.