Tuesday, March 26, 2013

When Words Save Lives

I settle into the airway seat while we wail down the interstate. Mental checklists line up like a rabble of elementary boarding scholars waiting for roll call. All set. Light blue latex waits on my lap. (Medium please.)

The radio crackles; they've called the bird. We almost always do on a rollover.

At long last we cross the median to join a parade of flashing lights.
The secondary beat us there by three minutes, but this is our territory.
It's mayhem. The kind of mayhem an overloaded pickup truck leaves on the road when it tumbles.
And it looks like the Army, Navy, Marines, and National Guard are all on scene too. (figuratively.)

We elbow in.

Patient looks remarkably good considering. Ugliness on his hand and shoulder and sticky swelling questionableness on his head, but awake and talking. Just one thing:

"Does anybody speak spanish??"

I've got the head. We load him just in time to escape rotor wash. The bird hot drops a crew and takes off again.

"I kinda do."

Medics from three crews on one rig. And FD and LE orbiting around the outside, circling for turns at the open door, to fire more questions in.

I lean down to hear him. Me, the link between him and the guys that know way more than I do.
I've got the chart too. And I ask him questions, and I ask them for procedures and numbers and assessments. And I put everybody's answers on paper.

Then after ten minutes start to finish, I'm back in the airway seat with my feet up, headed for base.
He'll fly, we'll go back to listening to the radio.

It's in the peace of a quite firehouse that it hits me.


Love it. Spend almost an hour a day, every day, learning a new one.

But how many times has Heaven come to my rescue, sent down it's agents, stopped an interstate to land the bird,
and been almost entirely unable to give me any real aid at all, because I didn't know the language.

Because I'd never taken time to learn it.

To hear the voice of God is one thing. To understand it is another.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Better Part of Town [Distance between Virtue and Vice]

I hate to tell you this.
Or maybe I don't...

Have you ever noticed that the most despairing realities all have this flip side that makes them cradles for hope when Grace steps in? When you shift enough to give them a look from the other side?

I walk down main street and my American sensibilities are shattered by the irony of this Southeast Asian reality.
Mansion, shack, mansion, shack, shack, mansion. What?

I meander down almost ancient streets in Latin America, find myself striding with purpose (and maybe a twinge of fear?) past one doorway, strolling past the next with perfect calm.

I guess that's how they do it here. The distance between the good part of town and the bad is the thickness of a brick wall.
Seems so barbaric. Here, you know, we insulate ourselves. Our neighborhoods are zoned. And so we can rest easy on our sprawling front lawns knowing that all our neighbors are at least average citizens, and crime of any kind is at least 62 blocks away.


Do you know what has been pressed home to me this week?
Pressed home by the wanderings and returnings of my own heart, and photos of lands I love?

There is only one difference between the greatest bastion of virtue, and the "strongest bulwark of vice."
You know what it is?

"One sin fostered."

They're built on the same street. In fact, they share the same address.

I don't know about you, but that scares me more than a little.
And makes me run to Grace.

Jesus, forgive us.

The distance between the good part of town and the bad is far less than the thickness of a brick wall.
"The strongest bulwark of vice in our world is not the iniquitous life of the abandoned sinner or the degraded outcast; it is that life which otherwise appears virtuous, honorable, and noble, but in which one sin is fostered, one vice indulged. 

 To the soul that is struggling in secret against some giant temptation. . . such an example is one of the most powerful enticements to sin."

It doesn't take long to turn from light to darkness.

But then, it doesn't take Grace long to turn one from darkness into light...
Glory be.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bound to the Altar

See how his hand trembles, this giant of a man. 
See how it fumbles with soft leather strap, almost inept.
Hear broken sobs, from the given heart.
Watch him blink away tears so he can see what he's doing--
See to bind his son. His promised son.

By some reflex my head turns in real life, eyes squinted shut. As if to say "I don't want to watch this happen."

Amazing love.
But you know what I find almost more amazing?
See how his hand takes those straps, steady and strong.
See how he binds himself, soothes the broken, himself blinking away tears.
This strong son. The promised one.

Amazing love.

-  -  -  -  -

I pull out a second card. Because sometimes on sister's birthday one card won't say it all.

Four words-- This morning I pondered with tears what it must take to stand like a rock, on a breaker out in the tide while the waves crash over. Like lighthouses do... 
Because you, I, we... We're out there, and the sandy shore from whence we've come is washing out, getting ever more distant. Carried away by churning foam while the water around gets deeper. 
I mean, there's the clinging, the scratching, the white-kunckled hold. But anemones and starfish have many more hands than we do. And none of them are permanent fixtures. 
So it must be, that to stand rock-like, we need nothing less than to be bound to that rock by a power outside of our own. Greater than our own. Bound so firmly that neither fear nor fatigue can ever make us ask for release of reprieve.  
Because it's in the midst of the worst storms that the world most needs lighthouses...
Prisoner on the rock. the Rock. 
Bind yourself there. 
               Love you forever.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Live By It [Motto #142]

I already have a motto.

But I write new ones constantly anyway.
Because I live best by truth thus synthesized. And because they come back when I need them when I do.
Seek nothing until you have sought God;
            Seek nothing you cannot seek for God.
Because if what you are after can't be pursued for the sake of Jesus Christ,
it isn't worth pursuing.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Soldier and the Cross [New Battlefields]

Fatigue propels me towards sleep. Sleep, only so peaceful under these circumstances.
I have only a week left, and as happens every time I am about to return to the "Land of the Free," I have this burning...

I have been writing here. More, not less, than at home in fact. But those words are destined for published page, not the blog. Thus long silence.

In the mean time though, the moments before sleep claims my attention are filled with other things.
Like, this desperation that every friend I have in the great West would come to understand the extent of other battlefields, the importance of other battlefields...

And then I found this. It's not a blogpost. It's raw off of a journal page two years old. But it's 570 words worth of what God will do with the life of every man or woman that claims victory over the battlefield between their own ears, and becomes available to God to go off a bit further...

Oh, make that every one of us, Your Grace...

A splattering of photos. More on Google+ and Instagram. 

20 miles on jungle trails in the foothills of the Andes with these shoes. Happiness.

if only a photo could actually capture it...
hilltops full of Inca ruins...
I have learned that starlight is enough. Leave the flashlight at home.

multiple exposures. learning a new game.
home away from home.
that sky...


February 2011:

When a child of the Highest finds himself at the foot of the cross, the first thing God does it to commission him as a soldier.

What do soldiers do? Fight.
And who do soldiers fight? Enemies.

David has a great deal to say about enemies. It seems he had a lot of them. Until recently I thought I didn't have enemies... But now I realize I do.

My enemies are inside me. They seek my hurt. They watch for my life. They wait in the darkness, in the silence, to find a moment of weakness and send me plummenting to my death.

I have enemies alright.

And these I am commissioned to fight.

The first commission given to a soldier after he has knelt at the foot of the cross is the fight against his own selfish heart. The selfish heart is the farthest thing possible from the cross of Jesus Christ. It, (along with its cherished sentiments, pride, vanity, impurity, and a host of others) represents the first battle to be won.

But here is where many fail.
They fail to look beyond the first battle to the endless expanse beyond.

And after fighting the terrors inside teir own breasts, they come crushed to the foot of the cross-- (the earnest ones do)

"I'm done. I'm broken. There is nothing left. I'm tired of being beaten to pulp. I can't stand up, I can't even sit up! All I can do is lie on my face, moan over my bruises, and try to survive. It isn't worth it."

And indeed, such an existence wouldn't be.

But that is not the end of all things.
It is only the beginning.

For you see, a soldier lives entirely between the foot of the cross, and the battlefield.

But as he gets stronger, his battlefields change.
His enemies change.

It is God's intention that the territory farthest from the cross, that inhabited by selfishness, pride, impurity..., should become His. He does not intend that the soldier should always be stuck down in the valley a day's hike from Calvary.

One battle is to prepare the soldier for the next...
The distance between the battlefield and the foot of the cross grows less and less.
Until the soldier is no longer fighting for his life... But fighting for the Cross..

This is what it means to be a soldier.

And as the battlefield changes, so do the enemies. No longer are they demons out solo, trying to crush out one little life.

These are the legions, the best of the best (worst of the worst) and they are trying to uproot the cross itself.

But this soldier is the best of God's best too. He's a "Navy SEAL" of the kingdom of God. And with burning muscles, one arm around the cross and the other armed with his sword; his own blood spattering on the stones around him, he grips, he defends that cross. Nothing but death can separate them.

But that's not all.
There is One sacrifice.
But there are thousands of crosses.

And so God comes to His special forces; those who cannot be separated from the cross and yet live. And looking lovingly upon them He asks for volunteers...

"See this cross?"
"Yes Sir."
"I need this cross planted over there. in the heart of darkness."
"I go, Sir."
"You will spill your blood, and may lose your life."
"But will the cross stand where I fall?"
"The cross always stands. I promise."

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