Seeing the Beginning from the End

Isaiah42“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.” – Isaiah 42:1

The summer I was 15, God spoke this verse into my spirit and it changed my life forever. Last night, 28 years later, the same verse did it again.

The summer of 1985 I was your typical church-going teenager. We were at a summer camp at Christian Retreat in Bradenton, Florida for a week – it was actually one of two separate camps there I went to that summer. I was interested in having fun, enjoying the services, and meeting girls that would come from around the country. I was also at a place of just generally trying to figure out what life would look like in a few years after I would graduate from high school. Again, I was pretty much the typical church-going teenage male.

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The Day After Your Answer Dies

So here I sit on the day before Easter, thinking about what the disciples were doing on THATjesusonthecross-2925 Saturday some 2,000 years ago.  I know there is an historical argument for what day of the week Jesus was actually crucified on – but that’s not the subject or point of this post.  I’m simply putting myself in the place of that group of men (and women) and wondering what they were thinking.

The Gospels don’t give us much detail about what took place on that day.  We do know historically it was the day of preparation between Israel’s weekly Sabbath and the annual Sabbath that took place during Passover.  What does that tell us… it means there were normal things  they needed to do in the midst of their questions and grief.  It also tells me during those times we wonder where God is or what He is up to – yes, even in the darkest of hours – life still goes on.

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Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink!

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
– from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
 
The words of this poem ran through my mind this morning as I looked out our back windows at the Bay.  All you can see is the sun glistening off all of this water – people in boats fishing, sea birds diving for fish and sunning themselves on the docks, the bobbing of crab trap markers.  But the water out there isn’t the problem – its the lack of water in here that is! 
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The start of a new Revolution

As someone who has worked with young people for more than 20 years now, I’ve had the opportunity to see the world through many sets of eyes.  I’ve seen what excites them, what stirs their emotion, and what can cause them to sit back and simply be amazed.  The one constant emotion that I have seen pop up over the years is anger.  Anger at the people and situations that bring suffering to others in the world.  But what do they do with that anger?  What can they do when the problem seems bigger than them, and an impossible one to take on?  Unfortunately, many times nothing happens and they let the motivation fizzle out before great change has taken place.

Then there is this generation that has been emerging for the last few years.  They’ve heard the mantra of change, but have seen very little of it come from the people in power.  Just like a young David from the story in 1 Samuel 17, they have arrived on the scene at a time of inactivity and stalemate caused by the fear of giants – things like political correctness, greed, and fear of offending have immobilized the generation that has gone before them.  But these that are coming in, they can not sit idly by letting their courage become atrophied like that of those who are there but do nothing, for they know that there is STILL a battle to fight.

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Seeing God in “The Hunger Games”

I think that the first I’d heard of The Hunger Games was in a FaceBook conversation between a high school teacher I know and some of her students.  I love to read and have a heart for teens, so when I heard an outline of the story I knew I had to read it for myself.  Of course, then I found out it isn’t just one book but three, and I was thrilled.  There is nothing like a continuing story to wet the appetite of an avid reader.  I remember years ago discovering a paperback book series about the Oregon Trail that numbered into 30 or 40 books… I think I bought the whole set at a used book store in town and I devoured a book every couple of days.  Needless to say, if The Hunger Games story went on beyond the three books, I’d be one happy camper. So, when I found out that the books were being turned into movies as well, I got about as excited as any other fan of the series.

If you’re not familiar with the book, here is the story in a nutshell.  It is written from the perspective of a sixteen-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen who lives in one of the 13 “districts” in the country of Panem, which is what is left of North America after some future war.  Everything is run by the Capitol, a highly advanced city that seems to hold complete power over the rest of the nation.  The Hunger Games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 to 18 are selected through a lottery system from each of the districts  to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive.  The citizens of the Capitol find the most perverse pleasure in following what happens to the contestants from the comfort of their over-indulgent lives, and seem to love hearing the Gamekeeper’s creepy mantra, “Happy Hunger Games!  And may the odds ever be in your favor.”  Think of it as “The Truman Show” meets “Survivor” meets “Lord of the Flies” – or the extreme end result of our cultural fascination with reality television.  The story has families ripped apart, sacrifices being made, a disgust for the disconnected masses of the cultural elite, and a love story or two woven in between. Continue reading