Monday, August 18, 2008

When the World Turns Upside Down

The crowd stood on the dock watching the three ships sail west.  Some shook their heads, some shed tears, few if any thought they would ever see their loved ones again.  Everyone in the world KNEW.  It wasn't that they THOUGHT they knew, they KNEW.  Scholars knew, scientists knew, theologians knew, paupers on the street knew, even little children knew.  It was the truth, undebateable, undeniable, any other thought unfathomable, which is why all thought they were saying good-bye for the last time.


Thus the shock when the three ships appeared on the horizon many months later.  Christopher Columbus stepped off the ship signaling that the universe had changed.  What was the undeniable fact?  The world is flat.  Everybody knew that.  The maps detailed it, religious leaders defended it, nothing else was ever considered.  Yet they had not sailed off of the edge of the world. 


The entire known world had been wrong and had to REORIENT themselves to the TRUTH that the world was round and Chris Columbus was a genius rather than a madman. 


As I look at the Christianity we know in western civilization and contrast it with what I see in the accounts of Jesus by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as well as the early church in the book of Acts, it appears much the same.  Is it possible we have been so inculturated by the American version of Christianity that we think we know, but are missing the truth? 


Here are Jesus' words:

John 14:12 (NIV)  "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."


If Jesus meant what He said, and He did, is it possible we are missing it just as badly as those who thought the world was flat!  Is it possible that the Christianity that we've gotten used to is not what Jesus had in mind?  That it is too passive, too powerless, too safe, too meaningless, too boring, too lifeless? 


Is it possible what Jesus brought is MIRACULOUS LIVING? That is God engaged in our lives in supernatural ways?  Ways beyond the normal "miracles" of birth and love, etc.?  The miraculous living of seeing the extraordinary become the ordinary as if we are in a different dimension?


I think so.  C.S. Lewis had it right when he wrote,


     We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (The Weight of Glory and other addresses, C.S. Lewis.)


Can you imagine how dizzying it was?  How the minds of the scientists, mapmakers, rulers of the world were reeling when Chris Columbus pulled his boat to the curb and unloaded his groceries from North America?  But the journey into the danger and discomfort and unknown was worth it, changing the world and the destinies of millions of people.


It is the same with us.  It will be dizzying for us to take a hard look at what we have long assumed to be true, leave our comfort, risk our reputations, venture into the unknown to live into the Kingdom of God Jesus offers. But the journey will be worth it as Jesus changes our worlds and the eternal destinies of many.


Will you take the journey with me?


Boldly, Herb 


(To listen to Herb via the internet go to )

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sometimes There Just Aren't Enough Hugs

I’ve come to the conclusion there just aren’t enough hugs, that no matter how many times you embrace a person you love deeply, it will never, ever, ever, ever be enough. It is simply impossible to fill up your heart.

Where did this come from? Sending off my kids to college. (Read: tearing my soul apart by letting my kids grow up, become adults and move away from home).

Sent the first one off and was completely unprepared for the antics of my heart. In my head I knew it was right, he was in God’s place for him, he was ready and it was all-good. Yet my heart was in full-scale mutiny, “Nooooooooo. Don’t let him go, bring him back, spin the clock in reverse, hold him tight, protect him and never let him go.” I’ve never had such a civil war in my body. “Let him go – hold on to him-let him go-hold onto him…” During the long 8-hour drive home my heart won and I sobbed like a baby.

One of the hardest pieces of letting go that first time was my perceived regret combined with the finality of the moment. I wished I had spent more time, done more things, had more conversations about the important issues of life, taught more skills, and on and on and on. And I wished I’d hugged him more. As if that would have made it easier to have him out of hugging range. My son now tells me I did enough of all those things (perhaps even too many of some).

So I determined I would do more of those things with the remaining 3 kids. And I did. Probably to their chagrin. The next one went off to school and it still wasn’t enough. I stepped up the effort with the third, she left, still not enough. One more chance, all out blitz in his final year. I dropped him off last weekend and my head and heart rekindled the war. I’m thinking, “C’mon. What more could I have done?” The answer: nothing. It was not lack of effort, it is a reality that I hate living with and can no longer deny.

It is not possible to fill up our hearts. There just simply are not enough hugs.

No matter how many times, we will always wish for one more hug.
No matter how many times, our hearts will break when we have to say good-bye.
It is not something I did or didn’t do; it is the reality of life that doesn’t make any sense to our heads. There is nothing that can keep us from longing for those we love.

And it is not just hugs. You can replace “hugs” with all the other things we enjoy. Smiles, dinners, walks, ballgames, concerts, touches, laughs, and on and on and on. We think, “Just one more…” Take it from a dad who keep giving “just one more” – doesn’t work. There just aren’t enough to fill our hearts.

There are always regrets. But truth is, it is impossible to do everything we wanted to because it would have taken 60 years of 48-hour days. There just isn’t enough time or resources. So choices are made, and our faulty best really is enough. Better be because there is nothing more.

Hence, the empty nest is here. Sure, the youngest two will come home from college and be with us for a while, but not as children. An era is over. It is right. It is good. It is as it should be. It just stinks that my heart can hurt this bad when things are going the way they should!!! But I’ve realized that if I let myself bawl and grieve it, the memories get brighter, stronger and more meaningful as the loss fades. And grieving allows me to let go in a healthy way, develop an even stronger, healthier relationship with these adults that look an awful lot like the little kids that used to run around our house.

Boldly, Herb

Psalm 30:5 (NIV) "weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."

(To listen to Herb via the internet go to )