Friday, July 28, 2006

Hoping for the 7th Day

Last night I was watching Over Hauled on The Learning Channel. I think they might be onto something. If you haven’t watched the show, it is similar to Extreme Home Makeover on ABC. The differences are they makeover someone’s car instead of their home, and instead of sending them on vacation while redoing the house, they pretend to steal or tow away the person’s car. Rather than checking in with warm and fuzzy stories with the family and Ty Penington, the person is prank called three times setting up the final scene where they are given their completely restored and customized car.

Last night as I watched the guy squirm both on the phone and in person as the prank calls were made, I couldn’t help but to sympathize with his pain. He had spent the last four years trying to restore, with his own resources, a 96 two door Chevy Tahoe. It looked pretty good from the outside. It was painted, had sweet rims, and was slightly lowered. The guy got a job as a mechanic at a GM dealership just so he could learn how to work on his truck. The guy did not lack for dedication. But with all his dedication and hard work on the outside, the most important things, the engine and transmission, were shot. All his hard work literally got him nowhere.

Thinking about it today, there were 3 prank calls each one trying to get the guy to lose his cool. I guess one could say the pranks were mini-trials of character. The guy was really pretty level headed about the whole thing, but you could hear him agonizing over the situation. While he was agonizing the “design team” was completely stripping down the Tahoe to restore it to beyond its original design. They put in six sub-woofers, custom leather seats, air suspension kit, custom paint including an air brush symbol of a bull dog (the guy had just bought a new puppy), and 20 inch chrome wheels, and a new engine and transmission, and more.

After seven days of restoration (interesting symbolic number), the completely customized Tahoe was ready to be delivered. The host of the show met with the owner of the truck in a last prank with the wrong Tahoe on a flat bed tow truck, trying to get the guy to settle for something other than his truck. The guy said “NO Way!” Finally, the host tells the guy he is on Overhaulin' and takes him to his truck at the makeover shop.

They guy is so humbled almost to the point of tears. He keeps going on and on about how this is so amazing. How it is more than he would ever dream of and how he wouldn’t change anything! He even says, “I think I have died and gone to heaven!” He goes around hugging every single person that had anything to do with the restoration project. Not only was the truck transformed but so was he! He even says, “You have changed my life for ever!” Lastly, his fiancĂ©, who had set up the whole thing comes out, and he just melts in her arms. His mom comes in and she too is overwhelmed by the whole thing.

Could this be a picture of how the Father works, allowing the pressures of the world to close in on us, while shaping our character along the way? All the while, He is completely working out all the details of the dream life project down to the minutest detail. Our best efforts with limited resources pales in comparison to His finished masterpiece, because only the Creator of our souls can restore the inner shape of our being. This put-back-better-than-before life is a life that was meant to be shared with others so that the Restoration Story might go on and on. So that others who feel as though life is cruel and hard might know there is hope around the corner. There can be a day 7 for every one.

My hope is that I am living the Over Hauled story of the restoration gospel. And while I am going through what seems like a cruel prank, this season is just character shaping for the customized kingdom life that is being worked on behind the scenes by the Extreme Maker of all things.

This has to be one of the most difficult passages in the sacred text:
“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

May those who read this story know that the One who is total restoration is working in your midst. Be strong, have heart, hope is on the way.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

ok FINE I'll write the book!

Well after many comments here and there, and a chance meeting with the co-author of a book about the spiritual journey while at Books-a-Million one day, I am making the commitment to write a book. I guess one would ask what is the name of this book and what is it about? The best that I can tell now the working title would be:

The Real Zoo: Opening the cages of the status quo to find real life.

Thank you to all the people who have encouraged me to make this leap of faith and tell the story that seems to be taking place all around us. I don't know who would read this book or what they would do with it or why, but it seems like this is the next step in my journey.

I am also encouraged to know that I am in good company with people who weren't qualified, certified, or licensed to do _______, but nevertheless stepped out into the unknown in search of the real life hidden beneath the status quo yet a life longing to be lived.

May it be written.

Friday, July 14, 2006

the yellow brick road to Haight Street in San Francisco

Yesterday we spent the day in California with our friends from CRASH exploring Haight Street in downtown San Francisco. As we walked up and down the streets of the vintage clothing shops, smoke shops, and everything in-between, I couldn’t help but to be overwhelmed by the sense that this is a city crawling with people who are searching. We joined in the pursuit of searching for something.
Whether it is a bargain priced pair of polka dot Chuck Taylor Converse, a Mighty Mouse vintage tee, or an ancient fighting dragon tattoo, we are all looking for something. I was mesmerized by the incredible beauty of the vintage shops. Both the interior and the exterior were rich with character and nostalgia.
The towering mini Victorian flats pressed up next to one another seemed to express the cultural relationship of people, proximity, and passion. There is something very romantic about the crown modeling, panoramic window panes, and contrasting enamel color tones of these majestic urban dwellings. One can only image what kinds of stories these homes might tell if they could speak an audible language. And yet without using words they seem to speak quite loudly of life that can be lived if one is truly willing to leave the world of certain expectations behind in search for an authentic life.
And of course the shop owners and patrons were equally unique and intriguing. Freedom of expression is the rule in this alternative fashion district. In a world that seems to dictate the rules of expression and of self identity, Haight Street is a yellow brick road to a sensual expression of the hidden life.

Some may view this little corner of San Francisco as one of America’s dirty little secrets, but others may scream to the rooftops celebrating the departure from the status quo. No matter one’s political or social position, it is hard to discredit the fact that on these narrow streets there is a cultural expression spanning four decades, not to mention the positive economical impact to this San Francisco district.
Darla and I have been dreaming in the secret places of our heart that one day we would open the doors of our own eclectic little shop of expression. We both love unique clothing, memorabilia from the last four decades, and bold expressions of faith. Could our trip down Haight Street be a sampling of what our future may hold, or is it once again just a temptation of a dream that will remain just that, a dream? Can our dreams come alive once again? It is time for this little boy and his little girl who found their hearts playing together nearly 17 years ago to step into the reality of a dream come true. Oh I hope that the One-who-dreams-all-things-into-being hears the cry of our hearts.

In a world of people who are afraid to dream, may we be a story of the ones who risked everything to follow the dream of their heart.

In the words of The Missionary Heart:

Care more than some think is wise.
Risk more than some think is safe.
Dream more than some think is practical.
Expect more than some think is possible.

Monday, July 03, 2006

do you remember the name of this road?

We are all travelers down some path to somewhere. Throughout ancient time, and the time we call today, there is a road that many travelers have found their way through.

The first mention of this road is from a sacred story of a group of newly freed slaves from Egypt on a long transformational journey to become a nation. As they moved across the land, they unknowingly learned many things about spiritual formation as a community. At one point in the pilgrimage, they came to a road bordered by a long time feudal family, the Edomites. The name Edom in their language translated “red.” Red was a physical reminder of Esau, the founding father of this region.

The community of newly freed slaves from Egypt traveled very diplomatically through this area called Edom. No doubt on some level there must have been a connection with the age old family wound stemming from Jacob and Esau (Genesis 32). This wound began as a small but bitter root of Resentment. I wonder what 400 years of carrying resentment looks like? No wonder this community of newly freed slaves kept saying, “We would have been better off….” They carried the ancient wound of Resentment deep within their heritage.

The name of this road bordering Edom was called the King’s Highway (Numbers 20). It was a road that stretched from Egypt to Assyria. But for this community of newly freed slaves it was the ancient highway to remember the wound of resentment. This highway was well known to many who had traveled before them, but to them it was an unknown road with many lessons to be learned along the way.

What is the life lesson of the destructive power of unresolved family of origin issues to those who are traveling along the King’s Highway? Maybe that is the point of the story; release from physical bondage is only one part of the transformational life of Freedom. The second half is to travel through oppression at the deepest level of one’s soul.

This doesn’t sound like a walk in the park to me. No wonder we find note after note in the sacred stories of history telling us to remember the Highway.

Isaiah said… “A highway will be there, it will be called the Way of the God-purified-Life.” (Is. 35:8)

What is the road that I am traveling down? Where am I leading my family? I am not alone on this journey.

Jeremiah said… “Set up road signs, put up guide posts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take.” (Jer. 31:21)

I would do well to write this journey down, making note of all the healing stops along the way.

Jesus said… “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt. 7:14)

No wonder this trek is so difficult, it strikes against the grain of the popular life of success. This must be the True Path of Life. I long to find my community of newly freed slaves, so that we might travel together along the King’s Highway.