Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bringing Your Life to Life

This morning I came across a few remarkable lines describing one man's startling discovery:
In the spring of 1953, I had left my job at Lawrenceville to be a full-time writer in New York, and it was that fall, with my third novel failing to come to life for me, that in some sense my life itself started to come to life for me - the possibility, at least, of a life in Christ, with Christ, and, on some fine day conceivably, even a life for Christ, if I could ever find out what such a life involved, could find somewhere in myself courage enough, faith enough, craziness and grace enough, to undertake the living of it. - Frederick Buechner

What would it take to bring your life to life?
Isn't that the question we are all asking in our quiet, reflective moments? What would it take for us to truly enjoy life and not just endure it? How can we satisfy our deepest longings, fill up our gaping emptiness, and find the delicious joy that others have found?

A thousand theories have been offered, tried, and found sorely lacking, failing to deliver as advertised. As far as I know, only one has proved valid and true. Jesus said, "I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10 KJV) Or, to state it more clearly, "My purpose is to give life in all its fullness." (NLT)

A little girl was asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" She smiled and replied, "Alive." Me too. May you and I find courage enough, faith enough, craziness and grace enough, to let Christ bring life to life.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Milk Bone Underwear

I think it was Norm Peterson on Cheers who once described his day like this: "It's a dog eat dog world, Woody, and I'm wearing Milk Bone underwear." Anybody been chewing on you this week? Have you been the target of criticism? I know it's no fun, but here are a few thoughts from some wise guys to help you put it in perspective:

“You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one.” - John Wooden

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” - Winston Churchill

“To bear defeat with dignity, to accept criticism with poise, to receive honors with humility -- these are marks of maturity and graciousness.” - William Arthur Ward

“I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas.” - Albert Einstein

Monday, February 16, 2009

Our Last Best Hope

As Vice President, George H. W. Bush represented the United States at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev's widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev's wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: she reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband's chest.

There, in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, and that the life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband." (Gary Thomas, "Wise Christians Clip Obituaries," Christianity Today)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

I have been marking the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth by reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's fine book, "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln." What an interesting read and a wonderful window into the character and savvy of our 16th president. It is also a fascinating study on the nature of leadership. Since I do most of my leisure reading at bedtime, I have been losing some serious sleep, just listening to Lincoln and wondering how history might read today, had this remarkable man not lived and served as he did.

Another thought has crossed my mind this week. What does a person have to contribute to life in this world in order to be remembered and honored 200 years later? What makes one life worthy of celebration after two centuries? What do you think? Liberate the oppressed? Lead in a crisis? Save a nation? Speak noble and profound words? Die a martyr's death for a worthy cause? Certainly it is no small thing to be so honored.

And, just to put it all in perspective, what about two millenia, what about being honored and remembered and followed two thousand years later? That takes more than noble ideals and wise words, more than setting people free, even more than dying a sacrificial death. You pretty much have to walk out of your own tomb. Yep. That would do it, wouldn't it?