Pastor's Blog

Living with (corrected) vision

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I started wearing glasses at six years old. Long before there were high index lenses. Gnarly old black coke bottles framed my over-sized bucket head fairly screaming, "I've lost my slide ruler!"

 My first school fight came not long after (same week?) I wore them to first grade. In my little six year old mind it made perfect sense to me that, since I couldn't see the glasses I was wearing, no one else could see my glasses either. When some other little six year old pointed at my new glasses I punched him. Hard.



Did I mention my Dad was a preacher?

This was a Christian school? 

Kind'a hard to explain, even now.

"Why did you hit the boy?"
" 'Cause he saw my glasses."

Oh well.

For reasons not meaningful to explain here, I still wear glasses. Tried contacts galore: glass, plastic, extended wear. Just never did work out. Who knows, one day I might do the surgery thing. Might ... but I doubt it. I have been blessed with naturally poor eyesight. But, aside from the six-year old fight, seeing through corrective lenses has never been a problem for me. Nowadays it's round high index lenses in frames matching my complexion. I'm just glad to still see. Could be much worse; I know it and am thankful. 

After all these years inability to see accurately apart from prescription lenses is an accepted fact of my life. This is my height. This is my weight. This is my hair color. I am left-handed. I wear glasses. 

Moving on.

Did you know what is true for my physical sight is true for my spiritual sight? It is. Left to myself, that is, without proper examination and corrective prescription, I am spiritually blind. I am. Left to myself I stumble over my pride, break relationships in my anger, jump recklessly (dangerously) to wrong assumptions, take hold of hot grudges, get lost in swamps of lust or self-absorption, zoom past unnoticed warning signs. Left to myself I do not see how much I hurt others or the extent of my own woundedness. 

Left to myself I do not see I am a sinner. Like my six year old self, when someone else points out what is plain about about me to everyone but me I hit back. Hard. Only now I am not six. I am just as likely to internalize my awareness of sin in self-defeating, even self-destructive, ways as I am to act it out upon others. The apostle Paul touches on this "sinner's state of mind" in Romans 7, describing a kind of perpetual internal war.

I need my spiritual sight fixed. At a 'meta' level, I am spiritually blind and only in Christ is true spiritual sight possible. I need to see myself accurately. I am sinner, yes! But in Christ I am a saved sinner. I live in a fallen world, yes! But because of Christ redemption and hope are always possible. 

I need to remember, also, this world's stunning beauty reflects the general grace of my Sovereign God. As lovely as this world is, as delightful its gifts: this world is not my home. I need to see that, too.

I must travel light, always thankful for the blessings of God but always knowing something far more amazing is yet to come. 

God help me see myself through the lens Your love and my time through the lens of Your eternity.

Posted by Tim Alexander with

Life in the Stalled Lane

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Born in 1960. That makes me a "late boomer." 

Owned every Eagles album. Nope, can't say their lyrics shaped my life. I liked their sound. I guess you could also say I liked their detachment. Maybe some of their better known phrases etched a groove or two in my psyche.

Glenn Frey got ancy on a L. A. freeway riding in a car driven by a drug dealer. Frey told the dealer/driver to slow down. The drug dealer's reply became "Life in the Fast Lane." The song became something of an anthem for a hard-charging life devoid of joy or purpose; self-destruction lived in a hurry. For boomers and other rah-rah devotees of bigger is better and now is not quick enough, "Life in the Fast Lane" functions like a tattoo you wish you'd never got but, nonetheless, soberly recalls who you were. But you still curl a corner smile whenever you hear Walsh's opening riffs. You know what's coming. 

Quite a few folks grind their jaws feeling their lives are "Lived in the Stalled Lane." Perhaps you've sat there. Lines of traffic moving past you but only red brake lights in front of you. Sitting still, wondering, "Put it in park or keep my foot on the brake?" It only makes the radio louder. You've become an island of immobility splashed by passing waves of action. It's frustrating.

Life in the "Stalled" lane. 

When will my kids grow up? Have I peaked at my job? Having lost traction for advancement am I now focused upon survival? I know there's a sweet spot of financial safety out there but, for me, not right here, not right now. Time to mow the lawn. Another cook-out with mostly the same people telling mostly the same stories. Didn't we make this trip last year? Two years ago? Was it better? I don't remember everything but this feels kind'a stale.

Life in the "Stalled" lane. 

Ripe for self-pity. Gullible to lies of how an affair will improve your life. Only too eager to jump at the new opportunity "guaranteed" to make you rich. Only too willing to dump the ballast of family or faith which, up to now, gave you stability. You're not un-happy. It's just your not as happy as you think you should be. More to the point, you're not as seemingly happy as the people you mistakenly envy. You want to escape from ... well, you.

Snap out of it.

Ask any resident eating n the nursing home lunchroom, "Would you rather be here or back home when your kids were young?" Walk by a playground and watch a toddler gleefully point out to his or her parent the tree, or the bug, or the dog, or the rock, or the mound of dirt at the base of the slide. What is that kid seeing you are not? Nothing. Not a thing. It is the sense of wonder within the child that distinguishes his or her sight from what you see in your your fatigue-lidded, gray-scale world. Life is not boring but you may be.

We carry our contentment within us.If contentment is an outer destination you'll never get there. The same could be said for a sense of wonder or the sense of purpose sprouting from the rich soil of earnest conviction.

If you find yourself fuming because you feel your life has stalled then I offer the following questions: 

When was I last thankful? Specifically thankful. For people, or a person. Did I tell them? For health? For recovery? For a meal, any meal? For the roof over my head or the clothes on my back? For sight? For hearing? For the seasons? For sleep at night? For waking up? I do not deny any harshness of life. Part of life is suffering, sometimes a significant part. But certainly not all of life. We have so much for which to be thankful. 

Whence comes my worth? If you really want to stall out, try outpacing - and then managing - your worth in the eyes of others. Your life is not an episode of American Idol (thank God that noxious show has run its course!) and your worth as a person is not decided by your last song. You are eternally, immeasurably valuable because you are made in God's image. Love prompted God to move heaven and earth for you. 

If you are stalled then I can only assume your sense of worth has been wrapped around the axles of a relentlessly grinding world. You are worth so much more than you can imagine. Don't let the world convince you otherwise. 

This day ... this very day ... is the day you can be thankful for some person or some gift of life. You can be a blessing somewhere to someone today.

I reckon that's pretty valuable. 


Posted by Tim Alexander with