Monday, August 27, 2012

Candy and Cockroaches

There are a few indomitable truths in the universe. Arizona summer is hot. If you jump in a lake you'll get wet. The Cubs will never win a world series (sorry Austin). And there are a few sure-fire ways to get kids either completely distracted or completely focused. One of these is candy. If you tell a kid that there is candy in their future depending on their behavior over the next few minutes/hours/days, their yours. But once they feel like they've achieved sufficient success to merit said candy future, there is no hope of deterring them. They will see that candy future realized. Also, bugs. This last Sunday I was teaching the Bible story to our kids in service, when out of the blue one of the girls squawks out, "What is THAT!" and points to one of the biggest cockroaches I've ever seen crawling towards them on the floor. The girls lost it. Everyone was up on chairs and screaming. It didn't help that this particular cockroach seemed unaffected by the screams and proceeded to meander through the entire girls' section. Naturally most of the boys were trying to step on it. One bold 6th-grader finally managed to accomplish this, leaving a half-dead, half-limbed cockroach in the midst of 4 or 5 1st-grade girls. It took about ten minutes total from the moment of seeing the bug, to getting it squished to cleaning it up and disposing of the evidence before I was able to continue with the story. I doubt the most of the kids heard a word of what I said from that point on. If you want to get kids off-topic or distracted or just focused on something other than what they're focusing on at the time, either tell them they might get some candy, or find a cockroach and run it across the floor in front of them. There's no looking back. It's an indomitable truth.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Beauty of God

Taken in from a certain perspective, death is an ugly thing. The pain, separation, and grief that comes with death is not a fun thing to witness or experience. Recently, I attended two funerals for the parents/grandparents of good friends of mine. It's hard to watch people you care about in such emotional pain, knowing there's not much you can do about it except give them a shoulder to cry on if they need it. The process of death can be ugly. Often there's physical pain involved. Sometimes it can be even brutal and gruesome. Death can be an ugly thing.

Birth can be an ugly thing as well, again, when taken in from a certain perspective. The physical aspects of birth are not particularly pleasant. There's a lot of blood. It's kind of a disgusting process. There's so much pain involved in child-birth it can get unbearable to watch. As I was standing next to my wife while she gave birth to our son, the pain that was evident on her face was excruciatingly hard for me to watch.

Life can, obviously, be an ugly thing. There are things in this world that cause us to cringe; things that bring out the ugliness in us as humans.

Death. Birth. Life. They can all be ugly things.

Yet, death can be a beautiful thing. For a follower and disciple of Christ, death is going home. It's an end to pain. It's an end to sadness and the ugliness of life. Birth is a beautiful thing. It's the beginning of a brand new life in this world. It causes joy, hope, and love to well up inside those who experience it. Life, can be a beautiful thing. The experiences of a lifetime, coupled with the joy of living with those who love God and love us, bring beauty into our lives like nothing else in this world can. The beauty of a sunset; the thrill of a ballgame; the peace of a quiet lake; these all bring beauty into our lives.

So perspective, gained from what influences we choose to allow into our lives, be it good, holy and Godly, or sinful and wrong, is what determines how we see existence. God created the world simply to be. When taken in from His perspective, He saw that "it was good." We simply exist. But when we live for God and His purposes, we can become beautiful. Death is. Birth is. Life is. It's all a part of existence. If our perspective dictates that one of these is ugly, we can't simply cut it out of existence. We all experience death. We all experience birth (at least in some form, even if it's simply that we were born at one point). We all live life in some capacity. The thing that we can control and change, is our perspective. Do I look at the world and existence through the lens of pain, sin and simple worldliness? Or do I look at the world through the lens of Christ and what He has done for us on the cross; through the lens of His love for me and the world He has created?

The beauty of existence can only come from God. It's a part of who He is. Pure beauty can be defined by God. Once we pass the threshold of death, push through the ugliness that comes from various aspects of our existence, we can see the full beauty of heaven and the grace, love and peace that God has planned for us.

Death. Birth. Life. They can be ugly things. But when looked at from the right perspective, we can get a glimpse of the beauty of God.