Monday, October 26, 2009

Hell. No!

What is Hell?
Is it a place of eternal damnation, suffering, anguish, torment as medieval art portrays it to be?

Or is a place where its inhabitants get exaclty everything they always wanted? Just like heaven.

Those in Hell have wanted to be free of God. They will get that. Those in Hell have always wanted to be self-directed. I suppose they will get that. But if that is really, really bad for us here, won't that be a really, really bad thing there? And getting that, won't that be what they really, really wanted all along? Yes!

And no.
I may tend to choose anger over forgiveness - and think I like it - but do I want to be angry for eternity? That would be hell's reality for the one whose anger causes them to reject God's forgiveness I may be a selfish, self-centered person, seeing things from my perspective alone, never able to empathize with another. This, then would be my hell. Thoughts of myself would consume me. Perhaps that is what the fires of Hell are - the self-consuming lusts one has - for eternity.
No! I don't really want what I think I want. The things I think I want ultimately don't satisfy me. In the end, I'll do it "for the hell of it".

So. No lake of fire? No pitch forks? No demons tearing at flesh?

I don't think so. I don't know for sure, but I don't think so. I'm just working through some ideas..........

Of course, I won't ever know, because I'm not going there. Hell is not my future.

Praise God!

Can you tell I'm reading C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce? This work is not a treatise on Hell's real properties; rather, he explores the ontological fitness of its residents through conversations between them and residents of heaven, whom they knew while living on earth. Quite a read.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Brother Lee

My dear Brother Lee.

He lives far away on a mountain in Rutland, Vermont. It is one of the prettiest places I have been in the United States. My header picture is across the road out his front door. We haven't seen each other much since he graduated college - he moved there and I ended up in L.A. Recently, however, circumstances have brought us together several times and each time is special to me.

When I was a little girl, he gave me The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis for my birthday and a whole new world opened - a love for story as well as a love for an author and his friends was born. At this time, Lee was a college man. That and the fact that he was my older brother gave the gift a gravitas. It told me he was sharing something special and thought I could handle it. I remember feeling great love for him and from him.

I also remember one Saturday morning long ago. His job was to mow the lawns. It was warm and he was finishing up his work. He called in to me to make him a fried egg sandwich. I had never made a fried egg before so I was nervous about breaking an egg, turning on flame.... And I didn't want to disappoint my big brother. But I made the sandwich. And when he was washing his plate, having devoured the sandwich, he turned and thanked me. I melted inside with love.

I never forgot either compliment.

From where I sit, his life is one of service. His job serves people in need. He travels and speaks to groups and helps people. He visits sick neighbors. He clears ski trails in the woods so others can ski comfortably. I'm sure there is much I don't know but I deeply admire what I do know.

And one of the best things I know is that we love each other.

Lee just turned 60.

You make it look really good, Lee!

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then?

I cannot say.

J.R.R. Tolkein
one of C.S. Lewis' friends

Friday, October 16, 2009

leaving things behind

My friend Margie and I recently met with some wonderful new homeschooling moms. They are bright, energetic, thoughtful ladies. I am posting summary notes from that evening here.

We wrote a list of 5 things we would want to pass on to our children if we were to die soon. We weren't being morbid. Just reflective! Forward thinking. As we said, if you don't know what it is you want to teach, you'll end up teaching nothing.

Try making your own list. Refine it from time to time. See if you are accomplishing the things you think you want to accomplish. Be open to God adjusting the list. He may give you success!! Cross that one off (or keep adding to it, deepening it, broadening it....) and add more. Adjust your list as time passes. Watch your list mature as you and your children mature.

There were 5 things on Margie's and my list that we discussed:

Love free from idolatry. Idolatry prevents us from loving God and others.

Looking to something/someone other than God to supply our needs and wants is idolatry. (Norm Wakefield) We pondered another of his statements, "Whatever makes us angry is the very thing we idolize." We are angry when someone/something doesn't deliver what we think it should deliver, assuming that we would feel good, feel happy by controlling how our needs should be fulfilled. Hmmm. Scary thought. "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry." Col. 3:5 "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." I John 5:21
Consider this next time you are angry. Watch your children. Observe what makes them angry. What is the idol? Self? Possessions? Being right? Being heard? This issue of idolatry/anger is perhaps where I struggle the most. It is the area that I could most receive finger pointing. It is the area in myself I most want to "veil" (see the Till We Have Faces posts). That means it is the area about which God most cares, where I most need Him, where He most wants to meet meall the while being the one thing I most want to hide from Him.

Choose forgiveness. Reject bitterness.
Forgive quickly. "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." Heb 12:15 The "many" can be your own children. We have to help them not be bitter AND we must guard against it in ourselves lest we teach them bitterness and defile them.

Parent trusting God. Don't parent out of fear/control.
Fear and control are the opposite of trusting God.
"Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.
But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment
. " Isaiah 50:10, 11
It is better to sit with God in the unknown, in the darkness than to figure your own way out of the difficulty or suffering you or your child(ren) are experiencing. God is in control. If He chooses pain and sorrow for you, then so be it. It is better to be with Him there than to get out of it. Judgment will come from lighting our own fires.
There are many verses on suffering. To avoid it is to miss so much.

Accept your own weaknesses and those in your children as built in by God.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." II Cor 12:9
It is in our weakness that the strength of God is seen, perfected (worked thoroughly) in us. His grace sustains us while that work is being done. So we get His grace AND His strength. Oh, what we miss when we disdain the way He made us. How would He get the glory in something other than what He made? Accept yourself. Help your children to accept themselves. It is our true selves that can truly love God and that God loves.

Live in hope. Don't live in regret for things done in the past.
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. " Philippians 3:13 Hindsight is helpful as long as we turn forward again. Learning from the past is healthy. Getting stuck looking backwards is harmful. That's when we fall. Look ahead. The past is done. You can't change it. Learn from it but live in the kingdom come and coming. Live in hope.

Sunday, October 11, 2009