Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reconciled Wreckage

When I was little, I never struggled with the command to "love thy neighbor." My neighbors consisted of longtime family friends and numerous children close to my age. Now however, I as an adult I'm beginning to understand the difficulty behind such a command. I live next door to a special family. I say special because while I originally wrote off some of their interesting behaviors as cultural differences...I since have changed for no explanation. No explanation for the weekly activity where they hose their driveway off into ours or when they put their dog on an extend-a-leash so he can come poop in our yard. Yes, there is not explanation for this. I even took them Christmas cookies for heaven's sake! But, this is simply the background information for my latest 'lesson from the sand.'
You see, I recently joined a Bible study on Romans. In Romans 5 we see this beautiful picture of reconciliation. To reconcile means to change something, to take it as an enemy and make it a friend. As silly as this sounds, being a visual person, when I thought 'enemy' I saw the neighbors and my driveway full of bits of random trash from the latest hose down.
So, while I would like to say that I ran home and worked on that reconciliation, I mulled it over for a bit--and today, 2 weeks later, I decided to reconcile. I took a sack and filled it with the findings of my driveway. As I collected the pieces I began to think more on Romans 5. I looked at the items I'd collected, scraps of electrical wire, a broken shoe string, a soggy abandoned newspaper, a rusty safety pin and I found myself scoffing, "I don't have to do this! This isn't my mess."
And it was at that moment that I truly understood the reconciliation of Romans 5. God didn't have to reconcile with us either. He didn't force sin upon us causing our separation from him. It wasn't His mess. But, you see God doesn't wait for us to pick ourselves up, wash off and glue it all back together. Rather, He sent us Jesus. I couldn't help but feel that on some small level, God was showing me the work of Jesus Christ--that he came down to us, on our level to dig through our dirt and mess and reconcile us, trashy wreckage hardly worth more than the broken glass I was retrieving. "But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom 5:8).
I finished gathering the trash--pieces of rusty metal, a handful of remains from what looked to be a windshield, scattered toy pieces and thirteen cents. I took them inside and carefully examined the stack. I knew the lesson I'd learned needed to be captured--the reconciliation needed completion. I carefully chose a several bits of the trash, my enemy and carried it into my studio where it could become my friend.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Raking Rusty Scissors

So after a great deal of begging, my husband caved into letting me get a puppy a few months ago. I came home with 4 month old Labradoodle.

Now in her 7th month, she has picked up a nasty habit of chewing and for those of you who have ever had a dog, you're laughing or cringing in sympathy, for the dog-less neighbors, your blood is boiling from the never-ending pieces of plastic and bones and goodness knows what else the wind carries into your well manicured lawn.

Well a couple weeks ago, in an effort to not bring my own neighbors to the aforementioned point of emotion I decided to rake our yard of these pieces previously known as toys (and the cotton stuffing that I realized was not snow when it never melted away!)

As I was raking along, something caught my attention--being the saver/collector/pack-rat that I am, this is of no surprise to those who know me. But there, amidst some leaves, cotton, and sticks were (was) a pair of scissors. Old, rusted out scissors, a mere few feet from my labradoodle's dog house. Initially I picked them up and slipped them in my pocket with every intention of just getting them thrown away where they couldn't cause an additional vet trip.

Later that night, as I pulled off my sweatshirt I felt the lump in the pocket containing the old scissors. As I carefully removed them, I couldn't help but pause to ponder the life of this tool. And as much as my initial intentions had been to let them go--I found myself suddenly attached. Because as I held in my hands a rusty pair of old scissors, I couldn't help but think of the endless object lessons such a finding held...

1 Peter 1:24-25 "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever."

You see, as I reflected on this verse and held my new found scissors--I realized how much I had in common with this inanimate object. A reminder of how fleeting our lives really are. A reminder of the rust of slothfulness. A reminder that we are no more than tools of a God greater than we can even comprehend.

The rusty scissors have a special place on my tool board in my studio room. I can't imagine the day will come that I will no longer need their subtle reminder, and I imagine this blog is only the beginning of the things they provoke.