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Archive for the ‘Redemption’ Category

Brian Jekel

“When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.”

Four lines, simply describing the ungilded, unremarkable, dastardly start of life. Though the first line speaks to the growing and beauty of the scene, there is nothing pretty or memorable about this birth, this first breath. We might make assumptions … poverty, physical disfigurement, flaws, a lacking of gifts.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The negative descriptives of the narrator’s self-debasement continue … what an image is drawn for the reader! He/she is ugly, unappealing and something to stay away from, like the devil himself … but unable even to cast a spell. Oh, how we have all had such thoughts of our self. Self-deprecating thoughts as we stare into a mirror, as we speak and our words seem to echo in our heads, while those around were immune to their sounds.

Wait! A hint is given … this is not human, this is a creature on four feet.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me:
I am dumb, I keep my secret still.

An outlaw! This four-legged creature is despised by society, since the beginning of time. Not the first to be fed (perhaps speaking of more than just nutrition), whipped, ridiculed. This being has been told, been shown how lowly it is … since it’s very beginning. It knows that it. is. nothing … nothing of value. to anyone.

BUT … though it knows it is senseless, unintelligent, even speechless

it has a secret!

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

An hour. One hour changed this creature forever. It recalls the noise about him, the soft feel of the fresh palms under his hooves.

The secret is revealed! The scales that had blinded this creature to the reality of it’s strength, it’s grand purpose … have fallen away. As Newton learned, also through ugly reality, this creature learned too that though it was once blind, it now can see.

A one hour ride through the city, redeemed this creature, this jackass.

*Though G. K. Chesterton never mentions the one who rode upon the back of this donkey, though Jerusalem is never whispered, both are shouted in the inner transformation of the narrative voice of the donkey. Perhaps, Chesterton knew, as we all do … deep down in our tattered outlaw hearts, that we all begin as a lowly, despised donkeys in need of one hour with our Savior.

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Ever since that first moment my eyes caught sight of them, I knew that they were coming down.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a strong believer in if it works for you, then you live and love your kitchen cabinets hanging from the ceiling.

But me … not so much … especially when they are blocking my view to a beautiful big sky which provides simply spectacular sunsets.

So, the other day, when the ‘guys’ left me home alone for a couple of hours or so …

First was to figure out how to remove the cabinets without destroying them (because I have plans for these cabinets). Then to see what was attached to what and where. That provided me knowledge as to what to remove in what order.

The outer (far right cabinet was first down).

Then the ‘trim’ piece of hefty melamine that covered the backs of the two cabinets, giving the illusion of one. I didn’t want it to drop fast and hard, so I got our my duct tape and taped it to the remaining cabinet so that I could have time to grab it, after the final screw was removed.

Success!

Then I detached the remaining cabinet from the ‘valence’ over the sink (that will be coming down, as soon as I figure out the electrical above it) then from the wall and voila … a clear view out my window!

The most challenging were the two hanging braces (I am certain there is a better name, but it is not retrievable in my head currently) in the ceiling. Their heads were coated in what seemed like silicone caulking. So, I did what any broadly-thinking handy person would do … I looked in my kitchen utensil drawer. There it was, a fondu fork, aka the ‘silicone-removal tool’.

Once these braces were down, so was I. Just sitting in my kitchen, enjoying the view (which I could also now see, for the first time while standing in my kitchen). It was a glorious view … it IS a glorious view!

I did lose just over ten square feet of storage, but I expected to lose it. So, when I unpacked two months ago, I didn’t use that space at all.

Let me tell you, the view was worth any extra storage space!

As I sat in my kitchen that evening, enjoying the beautiful view of the sunset, I was thinking about how open, how free my view has gotten, since unloading that storage space … since deconstructing what has been there from the beginning, but which was obstructing the view …

I hold onto things … do you?

I make space for stuff, simply because I always have … you?

There is something about being over the 50 year mark in life that has me purging of ‘stuff’. I am starting to see that if it doesn’t have purpose, or if it isn’t beautiful to me maybe I am better off, maybe my view is clearer, by clearing it out.

What I am seeing is that … well, I am seeing more. More time, more freedom, more clarity.

Some of the stuff in our lives is stuff that is physical. Maybe something bought on sale, or not. Maybe it’s stuff that someone special gave you, or was handed down from people who came before you. Maybe it is stuff that you only used once … or never used at all. It all requires space and maintenance. It all steals time from other things, more important things.

The thing is this stuff can also be stuff that isn’t physical. Maybe it is the beliefs you hold, the truths you believe. Maybe these have been handed down in the form of messages that play in your head, or words you parrot just like you heard them all of your life. These non-physical things also requires space and maintenance, they also steal time and energies from more important things.

These things can, quite simply, slow us down.

Like Hebrews 12:1 (God’s Word Translation) tells us:

“Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up.”

A runner doesn’t carry anything. The clothing they wear is minimal, light and even their bodies are lean. These athletes know that to run the race, whether short or long, you have to ensure you are not carrying anything more than what is needed to get to the finish line a winner.

Maybe, I need some personal deconstruction, a removing of that which has been obstructing my view, the view that God ordained for me, his servant and child, since the beginning.

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The Light of the World
William Holman Hunt
(1850-53)

Jesus is standing at the door …

A common message of those who follow the teachings, life and person of Jesus. For those of us who know him well, in our hearts, in our very souls that we have handed back over to him.

It is the message of life of Jesus, recorded in Revelation 3:20:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

In the mid 1800’s, William Holman Hunt created an allegorical painting of this passage, called The Light of the Word (above). The story it tells is fascinating and requires more than a mere passing glance.

We first see the image of Jesus, indicated by the halo or nimbus surrounding his head. He is carrying a lit lamp or lantern in one hand … reminding us that he is the light of the world (and in him no darkness). The light he carries only illuminates he and the door, only that which in his view, not behind him. With his other (right) hand, he is knocking on the door. A gentlemanly act, for one who could do away with the door with the flame he carries.

He knocks … he waits. Eyes off to the side, as if listening for footsteps approaching the door.

The door is covered with growth, brambles, weeds. It has not been opened for a long time. The resident has not emerged from this residence in years … why does Jesus knock? It would appear that no one is home. He knocks because he knows someone is inside (surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life … Psalm 23:6), as long as a soul lives, he pursues.

The door … notice anything? Anything important? Anything important that is missing?

A door knob … Jesus knocks as the door cannot be opened from the outside, from his side. This door can only be opened from the inside … and the overgrowth would indicate that the resident has not even peeked outside for a very, very long time.

Yet, despite the passage of time, despite the disinterest of the resident of this house for he who is knocking, Jesus waits …

I love how Isaiah 30:18 describes his waiting of the resident, of us:

“… the Lord longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore
He waits on high
to have compassion on you.”

His pursuit of us is endless, eternal. As long as we have breath in our lungs to say,

enter

he knocks, he waits.

The light of the world is just outside our doors. And he is knocking. He desires nothing more than to be invited in, to share his light. Yet, we have a part to play, we have to open the door … just

open.

the.

door.

In opening the door we find repentance, redemption. Not because of our opening the door, but because of the one who knocks, who waits for the key to unlock the door that sin has bolted.

Yet, we still need to respond to his knock.

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