Sunday, November 30, 2014

On Whom the Axe Falls

Carl and Pete prepared themselves for Thanksgiving. They knew what to expect, how it would happen, even who would do it. Clifford had explained everything to them and answered most of their questions as thoroughly as he could. Of all things, Clifford was honest, as honest as a butcher could be.

It was late in the day, the last day, and they were the only two left. They huddled in the back of the pen and gave thanks—for a good life, for good friends, and for the opportunity to provide celebration at the table of some loving family.
Clifford reached in and took Pete. Pete gave the obligatory squawk. He flapped his wings hard in a useless, though expected expression of struggle. But Pete wasn't really struggling. It was all for show. He had settled it days before and with strong resolve he was going willingly.
Carl was now alone. Something hot suddenly filled his throat making it hard to swallow. He was next. He wanted to cry but fought hard against the urge. The trembling within his heart spread quickly until he shook uncontrollably. He kept telling himself this was okay and would be over soon. But Clifford never returned. The minutes that were clicking off much too quickly suddenly slowed to a stop. Darkness came.
What does this mean? Why was he still here? Clifford came back in. He looked at Carl and shrugged, the quota had been met. Carl knew this had not been his day. He was alone. Everyone else who had been there the night before was gone. Only he was left. Why him? He’d never know. What could he do? Obviously nothing. He didn't know what to think. Should he be happy or sad? Regretful or glad?
He chose thankful. It covered everything. Thankful didn't require understanding or explanation. It just required a heart willing to be grateful for all things.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Caught in a Downward Spiral?

A downward spiral is a set of circumstances that create a nearly irresistible force to take us lower and deeper into our distress. Like an airplane that has lost its ability to maintain flight and begins to tumble to the earth with little chance of recovery, something has interfered with the expected and normal operational capabilities.

Downward spirals are typically the product of a bad decision. In the air, the pilot has demanded something from the airplane that it is not capable of doing. It stalls or the engine quits and the free-fall begins. In our lives, the spiral begins when we start making choices that contradict the expectations of faith. We demand something from life that life is incapable of delivering.

Often in the distress of being entrapped by this downward tug, we make choices that create results that only increase the speed at which we tumble. The faster we fall, the worse decisions we make. 

We, then, create a life that isn't capable of handling our circumstances.
Trying to maneuver through health crises without hope.
Watching the news without a Biblical world view.
Seeing our grandchildren grow up without us having confidence in God’s
Allowing temptations access to the inner sanctuary of our hearts without using
                  God’s way of escape.
Worrying about things we have no control over instead of praying.
Wanting things from God without knowing who He is.
Trudging through life without acknowledging God’s lordship over us.
Living by the impulses of our fleshly desires and expecting God’s blessings.
Believing our actions affect no one but us.
Grieving our loss without Heaven’s perspective.

God gave us a code to live by that makes our lives work as designed. Trying to live our lives by a different code not only will create the irresistible force to tumble us downward, but it will drive us further and deeper into despair and away from God’s intentions. The only hope is to look to Him for help.

If you are caught in the downward spiral today, I submit to you: Phil 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.