The term “Road Trip” immediately injects a vision of excitement and fun into an undertaking that often morphs into a mundane act of getting from here to there. When driving, we usually focus on where we were or where we are going. In the morning while driving to work we think about the challenges of today or about the family we left at home. When driving to Disneyland, we focus on Mickey Mouse and the Matterhorn; we are concerned with the destination (as we should be), the method to get there is generally unimportant. Although a road trip must have a starting and ending point (often the same place), the reason we get excited is because of the journey; it is the “getting to” part, not the here or there that produces a broad smile, and unleashes our inner world-explorer self. A road trip is about having fun with where we are at that moment in time, and less concerned about where we have been and where we will be. Often on a road trip there is not an established timetable, or schedule; you float from place to place absent the worry of being late.
She is perfect. From the tip of her black hair covered head to the bottom of her finger sized feet, she is as flawless as the finest diamond ever cut by a master jeweler. Perfection is not limited to her beautiful, 7 pound, 14 ounce body, with skin so soft you scarcely feel it when you touch her. Every part of her human and spiritual existence is unblemished, perfectly made in love, without even the hint of sin. In this moment, Renee only knows trust, love, and faith, no other worldly feeling or emotion has stained the brilliant white light that fills her tiny body. The strength in Renee’s hands when she grips my finger, just moments after she entered our world, unleashes love in me so powerful that I welcomed the tears that swelled in my eyes. The last time I felt love so pure and strong was when each of my children was born. Now I am beginning to understand how much God loves me, and what He sees when He looks at me. Continue reading
The group of thirty people, mostly men, a few women, and one lone boy standing off by himself, shuffled their feet to hold back the morning cold while they gathered at the base of the trail leading up the mountain. From their vantage point, everything in existence appeared to be up, and in reality, they were right. The mountain ahead was not significantly steep, but the trail was narrow and held many twists and turns, so getting lost was a real danger. The air was crisp, and the beauty of the mountain was stunning; striking rock formations of red and beige surrounded by dark green trees of massive proportions, interrupted by an occasional deep blue twisting line. It should have been a painting; maybe it was.
The apple fell to earth as the couple ran from the garden, landing with a small bounce allowing a lone seed to loosen from its fleshy white home and touch the fertile soil. Now free, the seed burrowed deep into the earth, past topsoil and roots which might compete for life giving nutrients, toward the safety of rock and clay. Here, in the moist and cold darkness of life’s foundation, the seed waited for the renewal of light into its world.
A mouse is a timid little creature, who under almost any circumstance when confronted with a dangerous situation will choose the option of flight over fight. This is a very logical position, given the non-threatening physical characteristics bestowed on the Mouse: short legs, a round body covered in white hair, a small mouth with smaller teeth, and a roar that closely resembles air slowly leaking from a balloon. A snake, on the other hand, seems content with fighting first and asking questions later. In fact, a snake rarely asks questions at all, they just strike. Also logical, because a snake’s body is designed for stealth, attack, and creating fear in an opponent or prey. It is not a coincidence then, that many snakes eat mice, so choosing to run, as opposed to joining a snake for dinner, is another good choice for a mouse. Sometimes though, running is not the first option.
Gnomes tend to be odd little creatures by any standard one wishes to measure against. For instance, their classified name: Gnome. It starts with a letter that is silent; one doesn’t pronounce the “G” so why even use it? Odd I would say. Then their bodies are out of proportion. Their feet are much too large given their height, or they are too short for their large, flat feet. Their heads are also large, and are flat on top. Not just less rounded, but flat, like a rectangular shaped pancake with grey fuzzy hair on top. Of course they have stubby fingers, big knees, awkward legs and beady eyes, which rounds out the entirely odd package. But then again, none of us are perfect; are we? Given all that could be considered less-than-beautiful about a Gnome, they still remain positive in their view of life and the world, a testimate to their ability to see the greater good in almost anything.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die”
“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
Genesis 1:1, 27; Genesis 2:15-17, 25
But God gave us the gift of free will, so that our love and adoration to Him would be real, and honest. Unfortunately, that left people to make their own choices, and their own mistakes. That first mistake lead to the end of paradise.
“He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.”
Genesis 3:10, 13
Mankind soon discovered that a life separate from God was no picnic, yet our suborn pride kept getting in the way of good choices. (Of God’s choices)
“So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.”
Exodus 1: 11-14
The moment Adam and Eve left the garden God started planning our return to Him, our eternal righteousness. He chose Moses, and unlikely hero to be a leader to His people.
“One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.”
“God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
Exodus 2:11-12; Exodus 3:14
Pharaoh did not obey God’s demands easily, but eventually relented.
During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”
Exodus 12:31, 32
God’s people escaped Egypt, but their stubborn pride once again got in the way. So, a journey that could have taken 11 days, took them 40 years to complete. Only one person who fled from Egypt crossed the river Jordan.
“Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.”
“Then the Lord said to him (Moses), “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”
Exodus 33: 3; Deuteronomy 34:4
For thousands of years we struggled to follow in God’s way. We fought Him, then obeyed Him, then fought Him once more. He sent many prophets to remind us of our divine destiny, but we just would not listen.
“The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.”
“No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side.”
Judges 6:1, 33
However, God’s plan for us was in full swing. He was sending forth great leaders and prophets to tell of a chosen one, a Savior for all time. Salvation was on its way.
“The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: “One of your own descendants I will place on your throne.”
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.”
Psalms 132:11; Isaiah 9:6,Jeremiah 23:5-6
Now was the time; God’s plan to right what was wronged in the garden was now in its final stretch. As foretold by dozens of people, the Savior of mankind would be born in Bethlehem. King of Kings; Lord of Lords. The Messiah.
“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Luke 1:26-35; Luke 2:4-7
For all of eternity God planned for Christmas day. Everything that transpired in history, from the garden to Abraham, Moses, David, and Mary: God’s overarching plan was to rid the world of sin, and bring all of humanity back home. To do all of that, He needed to enlist the help of His Son.
Why, after the many times people let Him down, why would God keep trying to bring us back to Him?
One word: Love
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Merry Christmas! This is your day to celebrate.
I own an old manual typewriter, similar to what you might see when visiting the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. Weighing at least 10 pounds, it comes in its own grey/green carrying case, proudly baring the name, Smith-Corona on a black and chrome nameplate. Inside is a beautiful instrument of mechanical artwork, operated solely by using the knowledge and creativity stored inside the human brain, and the strength of a pounding finger or two. For a writer going into battle against a stubborn book, it can be a brutal as the axe, or subtle as a fine blade. It doesn’t need a wall plug, internet or IT technician to operate, yet its simplicity is vastly outgunned in speed, agility, and brainpower of a modern computer. The typewriter is a beautiful metaphor to life.
This story is the prototype of my next book, a year long weekly devotional featuring short stories that kindle long thoughts about God. Fifty-two stories, hundreds of new ways to think about your relationship with God, and hopefully in an interesting and engaging way. Let me know what you think.
Outside my window on the fourth row, the runway raced underneath faster and faster until the nose of the jet lifted, dragging the rest of the 737 with it. The two powerful engines overpowered gravity for the moment; but eventually gravity would win the battle, it always did. So our pilot’s most important objective became choosing where and when the aircraft would submit to gravity and return to earth. Everyone on board flight 765 that day preferred the surrender be accomplished gently, on a runway at the Denver airport.
This year we vacationed in Oregon and Washington, anxious to experience the perfection of the Cascade Mountains, the unmatched beauty of the many rivers and lakes, and the grandeur of the Puget Sound. It would be a road trip for just my wife and me. We had purposely planned to be unplanned, granting ourselves the unusual gift of freedom to stop when we wanted, to wander off course as the urge prompted, and to be free from the chains of a schedule. When we left our home heading north the sunroof was open, the music was loud and our smiles were broad. We were on vacation.