Monday, April 21, 2008

Revelations

God is not fair...

Isn't that wonderful? A friend of mine and I were talking through the night and through much of the early morning on Saturday night and one thing that she said repeatedly to me was... "I can't believe that there is a good God who allows so much suffering to happen. It doesn't seem fair" (all quotes are paraphrased as it is sometimes difficult to remember what was said in the early hours of the morning) And it isn't.

It isn't fair that some people starve while others gouge themselves on food.
It isn't fair that some people must beg for money while others have it thrown at them for hitting a ball or playing a role in a movie.
It isn't fair that some people are born into countries where corruption, disease, and hunger are rampant while others are born in countries where justice, healthcare, and provisions are plentiful.
These things aren't fair.

But...
It also isn't fair that each of us can make mistakes, some big and some small, everyday and be forgiven of them.
It isn't fair that we, who can only do good as a reflection of Him who is good, should get credit for making a difference.
It isn't fair that someone else had to make a sacrifice so that we might be free.

There is a lot that isn't fair. I agree with her. But, God gave us freedom. He gave us an amazing gift in that we can choose. We have a choice. My friend, who doesn't believe in God, is as free to make that choice as I am to give my life into His hands. In giving people the ability to choose God took away fairness. People can make good choices, which positively impact themselves and those around them. But people can also make bad choices, which hurt not only themselves but God knows how many other people.

My friend responded to this by asking, "Why? God could have made a world in which there was no bad. A paradise where every choice given to people was between one good option and another good option. Why couldn't God do this?"

I don't know. I guess because then there wouldn't be any good options. In order for there to be good there must also be bad. If there is no bad, logically, there can't be good. It wouldn't make sense. Not that things need to make sense. But where would the good be in a choice if it wasn't really an alternative? If the only thing that a person could do was something good, then they aren't really doing good. They are doing what they can do. Which means there is no choice, which means that God wouldn't have given us such a gift.

My friend brought up that "Heaven", which the two of us have talked about, "is that sort of place, why couldn't He have skipped the Earth part with all the suffering and just have created Heaven?"

Again, I don't know. I guess he could have skipped the Earth and suffering part. I feel relatively sure that God doesn't gain any pleasure from our suffering. But I'm not sure all the suffering was really part of the plan.

Somehow we then got into a discussion about 'God's laws'. And after fumbling through things for a few minutes I finally realized that we actually do know God's laws. Love God. Love your neighbor. Everything, from any religion I've heard about, pretty much boils down to these two laws.

To which God, through my friend, put me on the spot like few times that I can remember. My friend looks at me, at something like three in the morning and says, "That sounds a lot like a human king. Why does God need us to love him? Isn't that just being boastful or proud?"... I can hear my own voice echoing through this question as this is something I've dwelt on for years. Why does God need us to love him? What is God trying to show by requiring that his creations love him first and above everything else? An excellent question.

It took me a few minutes. Or maybe it took me a few years as I have actually been pondering this for a while. Why does God require our love? And then God showed me...

"He doesn't need our love." And really it's as simple as that. God isn't being boastful or prideful because it isn't something he needs for him.

"He doesn't need our love. But it is kind of like this. I love my family. I really do. There have been hard times. There were times when I was so angry at my family. They infuriated me. There were times when they disappointed me. There have been times when they have made me sad, or hurt me, or confused me to the point that I didn't know which way I was headed. But, because of my love for them I kept coming back to them. I kept giving them chances. I opened myself up to finding out why they made certain choices that impacted my life. And there were times in life it was only through the love that I had for them that I didn't just throw my hands up in frustration and walk away from the whole crazy lot of them. Only love."

"Now a lot of that could be said for my relationship with God too. There are times when I've been mad at God, frustrated when my life went down a different pathway than I would have chosen, sad about things that only God could have changed, confused about what His plan for me is, hurt when prayers weren't answered in my time or to my preference. And while I can physically see my family, I can touch them, I can hear their reasoning, I can talk things out with them, I can't really do that with God. I see him in a sunset but that doesn't show me a face that is hurt when I'm mad. I can hear him in the songs of children but that doesn't give me an explaination for why my plan didn't go accordingly. I can talk to Him, and do quite often, but it gets difficult to wait for answers from a God that I must have faith in because he isn't tangible. But God has given me a way to deal with all these emotions. He says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind". He tells us this not for Himself, but for us. Because when we love Him we are more apt to let go of our anger and come back to Him for an explanation. When we love Him we are more understanding when our life takes unexpected turns. When we love him our confusion doesn't matter anymore because we know that our life lays in the hands of one who is so powerful and so all-encompassingly GOOD that we need only sit back and enjoy the gift of life that we have been given. Our love for God is really another great gift that God has given us to help us remain faithful to Him."

As the two of us sat upon the rocks, meters from the lapping ocean waves, and staring up into the brilliant full moon that shown down upon us we both realized that for the first time the law, Love the Lord your God, was actually a gift from a benevolent ruler. I don't know if my friend is any closer to being able to know God, but I think he gave both of us something to think about, and maybe, "by God and power", as the Krio saying here goes, a seed was planted that night.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The moments we live for

Today the incredible happened. I was working on report cards while my kids ate there snack this morning. Then they finished their snack without my needing to tell them to, put their bags away without my needing to tell them to, and miraculously, went and got busy with educational type activities without my needing to tell them to. Some kids worked with clocks. Some kids played a reading game. Some kids traded money back and forth. The volume of the room was decent. When one child got tired of playing the reading game she quietly went and joined the clock gang. And for twenty+ minutes I got to sit back and watch my amazing kids teach themselves, without any guidance from a teacher.

It was amazing! One of those moments that happens once in a blue moon, can easily be missed, but if identified makes a teacher's heart glow with pride.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Speed Racer!!!
or
The Flash!!!
or
Greased Lightning!!!
Call it what you will, but that is one fine piece of machinery right there folks. Many people passed this miracle on wheels by before yours truelly was struck by love at first sight. Walking down the overcrowded streets of Freetown a glimpse of heaven caught my eye. And like the wise Wayne once said, "She will be mine, oh yes, she will be mine". And thirty minutes later, my pocket slightly more empty, and a new set of break pads freshly attached, I wheeled this beaut into those same over crowded streets of Freetown. A quick ride home, a quicker change of clothes, and FREEDOM! Speeding over winding roads, the ocean breeze running through my hair (while I don't have much I could still feel the breeze running through it), over hills, around walkers, through cars, rider and bike melding perfectly to create a blur the likes of which haven't been seen in these parts in many a day.
This was not the end but rather the beginning of a new age in Freetown. Rarely in history are individuals able to identify a groundbreaking, earthshattering, beginning of an era moment at that time, most people would say that such recognition is best left to historians to fight and argue about hundreds of years later. This would not be one of those moments. At the very start of this relationship it went down in the books as a lifechanging event.
Later rides include, but are not limited to...
The ride to the grocery to pick up ingredients for dinner. While it may sound like a boring old ride to many readers, DON'T BE DECEIVED!!!, between the rocky path, the unseasonal downpour, and the extremelly large backpack full of breakable goods, dodging in and out of traffic was made much more difficult than normal. Overall an extremelly harrowing experience.
The ride to the football match. Aww, such memories. Thus far the closest to town the dynamic duo has gone, the traffic was much worse than the west side of town normally boasts. The early morning jaunt was just the warm up that the doctor called for before jumping into a ninty minute game of football.
The epic ride to work. I live just above sea level. My school is on top of a mountain. A calf burning ride up...and up...and up. The bike and rider made the trip in less than half an hour but were able to enjoy splendid views of town that someone in a lamo car wouldn't have time to see. The throngs of people lining the street waved flags and called for autographs from the superstar, but alas the pace of half a mile an hour could not be broken for anything, whether it be adoring fans or gigantic army vehicles that almost ran me over. Finally, after climbing a mountain and losing half my weight in sweat, school was in sight. I coasted down the only hill I'd seen that morning to make it to my classroom an hour before school started. (I didn't know how long it would take to get up the mountain)
The real fun happened after school ended and it was time to go home. The gigantic, collosal, can't even see the top mountain that me and the machine got to crawl up that morning was now ready to be tamed in a splendid blend of athleticism, perfected mechanics, and dumb luck. The mountain was humbled as man and machine raced round bends, overtook cars and people, and generally just fell in a controlled manner down her sides. The mountain almost got its revenge when a couple goats wandered out in front of the man/bike combo, but even this was not enough to stop the decent that was to be known throughout the land as "the stupid white man on the rickety bike". For those of you who don't speak Krio that can be translated into English as "Wow"!
The adventures will continue. No rode is safe from the two who travel as one (which I'm thinking of making into my Indian name). No hill can't be tamed. No really big mountain can't be avoided. Yes, this is definitelly the beginning of a new era.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Songwriter?

Wandering through the town, exploring on our own

without a map to show the way

Climbing up mountaintops, the world is at our feet

you make me feel like I could fly



And I say...

Where did you come from, and where do we go from here

So many things I'd like to say

My world is different now, I can't get you out of my mind

Can you help me find my way



A dark but star filled night, the sound of the sea on the rocks

Bearing our souls we sit and talk

The moon has crossed overhead, the hours fade into grey

I don't want this night to end



And I say...
Where did you come from, and where do we go from here
So many things I'd like to say
My world is different now, I can't get you out of my mind

I wonder if you're here to stay



My mind fills up with the days I'll never forget

Endless moments in the sun

We lay side by side, the surf washes over our toes

Writing messages in the sand



And I say...
Where did you come from, and where do we go from here
So many things I'd like to say
My world is different now, I can't get you out of my mind

But what part will you play



Can you help me find my way

I wonder if you're here to stay

So many things I'd like to say...



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