The Scar Chapter 2

A week later, they were all eating dinner together, when a desperate knock came at the door. Zoe’s father went to the door, and spoke to someone out of sight of Zoe sitting at the table. She looked over her spoon as she sipped the vichyssoise her Mom had made. Her dad came back carrying a man in uniform with one arm around his shoulder. The uniformed man looked wan and frail. The mother got up and hurried to clear the table. Zoe backed away as the adults pushed everything off the table to make ready. Her father gave her a knowing glance which they exchanged with previous understanding: Do nothing.

“I barely got away.” said the man in uniform, who up close looked to be clad in the garb of a park ranger, though he reminded Zoe of a soldier from the Revolutionary war. The warm light of the chandelier above gave it that feel. Zoe’s eyes were transfixed on the man. He was middle aged and stared blankly at the light of the chandelier. She could see he was in a state of shock. The father and the mother talked with the man, and found out that this he had been attacked by a bear, and his bowels severely injured by the claws.

“Zoe,” shot out her father, “get some water.” She started for the door to go to the stream, but he said, “No use the water we’ve already boiled!” He said motioning to the refrigerator. She looked inside the opened refrigerator and located their carafe filled only half-way. The mother poured water on her own hands and did what they could to clean up the man. His breathing was shallow.

Zoe ached to help. Her mother was not picking it up, but her dad was. He kept looking from the man he was caring for to Zoe whose eyes remained glued to the poor man.

She got lost in a memory triggered by the sight of her father leaning over the man, but powerless to help. One time, little Zoe played with a little rocking horse her Dad had fashioned from with him of Micas polished. She tipped it over, and the side collision landed on the stone fireplace, and the head split off. It was the first moment when her world shattered, as children’s world’s often do. She didn’t know it, but her father’s outcry was not because it couldn’t be fixed, but because he felt what happened to it in his innermost being as if it were happening to him, because it had come out of him. She saw her dad seize with anguish for a moment that twisted his face, and then he looked at the girl’s face. Huge tears were just starting to gush forth, when he reached out and clasped her close to him in a comforting embrace. She did not mean to do it. He patted her on the back gently and rubbed her little head, and told her not to worry. He took the rocking horse with its shattered head into another room. She waited for him, turning over this new feeling of anguish that was not her own, but it was her dad’s. A short while later he came out of the room, and held wide the rocking horse remade. She ran up and gasped. Her daddy fixed it. He could fix anything.

But not this. She said to herself. I can fix this. Then she saw the man’s head tilt back unconscious. She could feel something was wrong inside him. Hope was waning, though she stood right there.

She begged her dad to do something. He did not look at her. Instead he said, “Be still.”

“He’s dying.”

“Silence!” he cried, still staring at the man.

The urgency of the situation swelled inside her. She had to do it. And so, she stretched out her hand past the adults toward the man.

What happened next was shattering. Suddenly, Zoe’s arm was caught in a flash of flame, and the unconscious man faintly heard the outcry of Zoe in pain. The father’s hand had turned molten pale yellow like lava hot in the mantel, and had grabbed the wrist of his daughter whose hand burned under his touch. She sank to her knees as the burning continued. Her screams startled everyone, except the man on the table who was barely conscious. The mother screamed and yelled, “STOP! Stop it please!!”

The firelight died down, and a thud was heard as a sizzling, darkening orange bracelet and glove of rock thudded to the ground with Zoe’s tender living wrist cuffed inside it. The mother’s face was fixed in fright and amazement. The mother’s face burned with tears and anger at her husband.

Zoe was still on the floor sobbing and holding her arm now with a warm but solid black mitten. Her skin was still tender from the burn. Thus her father found her and stood above her. She looked up with eyes pleading and crushed as she looked through the strands of her hair. “Papa?”

Her dad’s heart softened til it broke, and he sank to his knees beside her. He reached out his hands to her, but she pulled her arm away and started away. He reached further to embrace her, but she pushed him away.

“How could you?”

“I had to protect you.” He said softly.

“What about him?” she cried pointing to the man on the table, “I was given this gift for a reason, and you . . . you punish me for using it?”

“You have to trust me. Sometimes we parents do things that don’t make sense. Please, you have given me your heart.”

“Well, maybe I was wrong.” She fumed, and then she passed briskly to the wall and took her black stone-gloved wrist, and lifted her arm with a back hand thrust and smashed it against the stone wall. It had the desired effect. Her father’s face was torn by that familiar anguish. Tears started down his cheek as he felt the house’s pain and the bracelet’s destruction within him, but more so, his daughter’s repulsion of the very one who brought her into this world.

She saw his reaction and blackly accused, “You care more about your own creations than you do about me.”

“You are the BEST thing that ever came from me!” Roared her father in a sudden burst.

“Well, I’m not you!” She said.

She screamed and stormed out and slammed the door, threw herself onto her bed, punched her pillow for a while, then sobbed. She felt both the shattering truth that she had broken her father’s heart, just as much as he had broken hers.

The Scar Chapter 1

“Why do you feel like you always have to reinvent the wheel?” She asked him.

“Because,” he said, “I want to experience the wheel. If I don’t make the wheel, I don’t know it.”

This was said one time by a man who had special volcanic powers. He could generate fire and even pour of himself and it became as lava. As it cooled he fashioned it into shapes and stones, and as his skill grew, he could make anything. When he made something, he knew it through and through because it came from him, and was of his inner fire. He made a table, and knew that table because it came from out of him. When he was full grown, he made a whole house of various types of volcanic stone: obsidian, granite, and the pumice all shaped according to the desire and design of the craftsman.

One year there was a terrible flood, and his house was right in the middle of it, but it held fast because its foundation was fused by his lava to the bedrock. When the water receded, he saw that the water had washed away parts of the stone. He knew that weathering over time was going to destroy anything he made. So, he re-melted and replenished the stone where the water began its decay, and if any mold or mildew showed up on any of the rock, he would melt it away and patch the stone.

As the years went by, he met a woman who had hair the color of lava flowing down her head. He fell in love with her and invited her to his home. She looked around and found the stone work impressive, but a bit grim. She was not like him. She had the ability to nurture plants. Under her watchful care, she could cultivate living things to their full potential. Soon, they agreed that they wanted to live together for the rest of their lives, and so they got married.

They moved into the stone house, and soon the plant-loving woman had made space in the home for living things to grow. She moved things around in the house, and she did not understand that the lava-crafting man felt intently everything that she moved around, because he knew each thing, and why it was where it was, and how it was inside. She came to understand this over time, asking similar questions to the first question of this story. But, over time, both of them took ownership of what he made, as she was able to use his stone-work for her plants. Any time she needed a pot, he would make one for her, or planters, or wall-hangings—he fashioned them all for her. They were very happy together. The plants were protected, soil-enriched, and warmed, and the house looked much more like a home, and the air inside was fresh and less fumy.

However, the woman was unhappy after a while. Such a place was great for a house made of stone, but she wanted to move near the water so that she could nurture her plants more easily. At this, the man halted, because water was the very thing that would wear away at what he made, and compromise it. They sought a compromise, and when they had found one, they moved to that spot. The mountain they moved to in a very green country they built near a mountain stream. This suited the man fine because he had plenty of rock, and the water was being channeled down the stream which in the winter swelled to a river.

Then they had their first child. This child was gifted like his father and his mother but different. She had the ability to impart life to someone. One time when she was three years old, she found a butterfly that had been stepped on and lay still, but she picked it up, blew on it, and it came to life in her hands and it flew away. Her parents discovered soon that this priceless gift came with a price. She would grow ill, hurt, or deathly sick in proportion to the amount of life that she would give out. One time, she healed another child at school who skinned their knee, and she limped on her own leg for a week and then she got better. Word got out in the school that this girl was special, and the parents feared for her, so they left the mountain stone-home by the stream and got into a covered wagon and drifted from place to place. They home-schooled the girl, whose name was Zoe.  From her father, she learned that structures are first fluid, then they must be solid, but if need ever arises for them to mended or amended they can be melted and renewed. From her mother, she learned that life could only be given by something that life itself had grown.

Zoe understood that her parents were trying to protect her, but she longed to share her gift with the world. She did not know yet how precious a gift it was, or how terrible the world could be to such a one with such a gift. She became familiar with the stories of the Bible. In them, Jesus from Nazareth healed people, and the people ended up crucifying him. She wondered if maybe that might happen to her. She found in the Bible, the same fire that her dad said helped him to create things, and the same life that grew the things her mother cultivated.

As time went on and as she used her gift, she collected two sets of scars. One set was resulting form the wounds that she incurred, the second set was from wounds of others she had healed. This second set was her favorite.

One day, fifteen-year-old Zoe sat beside her father on the edge of a cliff staring out over the woodlands in the evening.

“It’s like I can get inside what people are feeling and experience it myself.” She voiced to her father.

“Yes,” he said, “When you let it happen to you, it becomes a part of you. I would encourage you to do something: learn from your mother. What she knows is probably more important than what I know.”

“But Mom,” she said haltingly, “It’s like she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t get inside things the way we do.”

“No, she doesn’t. But she values that which is outside herself. That is the lesson she can teach you better than I can. Perhaps one day, you’ll meet someone who will teach you this lesson even more.”

“Have you ever gotten to know her from the inside? You know what I mean.”

The Dad smiled and said, “Your mother is self-less in a way that I am not, and yet she gives of herself all the time. . . like you.” He said patting her on her shoulder. “You’ve been given two very different parents, but you will never fully become like either of us. I know you, because you came from me, and yet, I know that somehow, God is going to make you, something more than either of us, something different. And He’s the only one who can.”

Then he gave her a side-hug pulling her in close and kissing her head.

The Happy Christian

How to be a Happy Christian in the World Today

A message from Luke 6:20-26.

  • There are a lot of passages that seem far removed from today’s world, but this one is very close to reality.
  • Passage is Luke’s shorter account of the Sermon on the Mount in Luke 6:20-49. The longer one is Matthew 5.
  • The audience is: Jesus’ disciples. How many disciples did Jesus have? Vs. 17 (Not just the twelve)
  • I’m not going to use the word “disciples), going to call them: students.
  • Jesus has spent the night in prayer, and the day healing the sick
  • And Jesus lifts his eyes to see his students, and speaks to them.

He presents a contrast in the opening verses which is a different contrast from Matthew 5. In Matthew 5, it’s all about “Blessings” and laws that believers used to hear were updated to what they were now supposed to follow. In Luke 6, Jesus contrasts “Blessings” with “Woes.” In both, he is addressing his students (Again, not the 12, but all of those who are following Him, and learning from him.)

Now, since we are followers of Jesus who get to listen in on Jesus training the twelve, we can place ourselves right in this audience alongside the listeners of His day, and we can hear that Jesus is speaking directly to us who are seeking to follow Him and be like Him.

Here are the two lists side by side.

Luke 6:20-26

I did not realize that Jesus was talking to his students when he gave both lists. As a Christian in America, I see myself on the side of the list I do NOT want to be on. We spend so much time accumulating wealth, serving our own satisfaction, our entertainment, and the good opinion of men, when all we’re doing is securing deep pain for ourselves in the future. In living for the present, we sacrifice the eternal future God promises to those who are poor, hungry, weeping, hated, ostracized, ridiculed, and cast aside because of Jesus.

Is Jesus saying that wealth, satisfaction, entertainment, and good reputation are evil things? No. Neither is being poor, hungry, weeping, and hated and ridiculed necessarily good things. He’s pointing out two paths of those who follow Him. One path involves being comfortable, worldly, unbroken, and well thought of, the other is living in want, poverty, sorrow, and ignominy for Jesus’ sake.

Some I could see may start to object. Can’t I serve Jesus and still be comfortable? You can, but you miss out on over-exuberant joy. You miss out on the deep laughter that comes from honest hearts, you miss out on the true satisfaction that smells of eternity, and you miss out on the Kingdom of Heaven. And that is a tragedy of which Jesus said, “Deep pain to you.”

But why can’t I be happy now, and later? Why can’t I enjoy my comfort now, and still be exuberantly happy later?

What? Have you forgotten your mission? Why are you here anyway? You are here to represent God on earth. Does God accumulate wealth for himself, or does God make himself poor so that others can be rich? Is God deeply satisfied with his own food, or does God forgo His own satisfaction, so that others can have theirs? Does God seek his own entertainment, or does God weep for those who are in anguish and agony? Is God well thought of by the world, or do people cast Him aside like a crumpled up trash-wrapper? Which God do you serve? You’re made in His image, so why don’t you look like him?

Jesus said in this passage, “A student is not above his teacher; but everyone after he has been fully trained will be like his teacher.” This is why the students of Jesus in America today are in such a sorry state: because we have ceased growing to look like our teacher.

Either, you will spend your time, resources, and livelihood–which means poverty, hungry, weeping, and ridicule– for something that will last forever –God’s work to bring about good in this world and the life to come. Or you will use your time, resources, livelihood to procure something that in the end will mean nothing. You’ll feel comfortable now, but deep in your heart you will know that you wasted your time.

Remember what Jesus said to his students. You are the salt of the earth. You’re the only thing making this world flavorful. Don’t give up your saltiness.

Illustration: 2 pretzels passed out at the beginning.

This is the world with you wealthy, satisfied, entertained, and well thought of. (Eat the saltless pretzel)

This is the world with you being poor, hungry, weeping, and rejected. (Eat the salted pretzel)

Repent. How?

  1. Confess your sins to God and cease from them.
  2. Pursue Him devotionally in prayer.
  3. Obey His commands in whatever situation you are.
  4. Keep doing this until you have found your joy in Him again.

Only the Impoverished Cry

Woe! Woe! Sadness heaped upon Gladness crushing it into the stony ground.
Augh! That ilksome response to the anguish of agony writhing in a locked furnace
Wretchedness! That so many are mutilated, and shredded, lacerated with lovelessness.
Wicked! Foul empty catastrophes slake scrimmages of scum cauterized by needles.

Is there not a way that this pain can be expressed?
Is there not enough words leading to this forbidden place
Where hearts are un-wound with tears and sighing.
Must the cry of the earth continue to rise thus: How LONG O Lord?!

Blessed is the poor in spirit, because he can see the emptiness of riches.
Blessed is the one the Lord sets apart for Himself, so he can see eternity.
Blessed is the man who looks into the Word to find He who spoke it.
Blessed is the man who feels on his back the weight of Jesus’ cross.

Still they kneel and feed mouths open eyes closed
Their tongues lapping up the slimy, milky stuff that numbs their minds.
They’re reeling like drunkards blind searching for drink in a dark place
There’re no lights that can open the eyes of the drowsy.

How much uncleanliness can a soul bear, before it threatens to extinguish?
Breathe real air, my people. Do not suffer the violation of your sacred lungs.
Plant your foot on solid ground, do not go on swimming out to sea.
The mast upon which you lie will support you until you toss and turn.

Why?! This evil trenches itself into the good earth of God’s making
And plants itself a worthless, fruitless, and pitifully mocking weed.
You who wish to authorize such weeds to grow,
Do you so eagerly wish to eat the grass like cattle?

A Reckoning

From the deep chalice of my memories
I imbibe in the elixir of youthful life
While agonies breathe cries in muscles strained
By the ever-present struggle to master the day.

The soul’s tongue is fueled by that strong drink
So as to cast the shadows of pains far back
Against the wall with dark streaks overcome
By more than their present significance.

Oh to days long to be remembered
That lark in my throat that sang to the clouds
Carving pictures only the child’s eye can see
My wand’ring heart must not be loth to frequent.

And let this heart not soon forget
That moment when all days were a single breath–
Each breath, a gift of the whole of my life
No breathless dust of earth could ever tell.