Take God to the World? Or Join Him There?
- 2009 26 Dec
Everyone is held captive by the presentation of Abba Father's creative signature.
Forty only comes along once in a lifetime; I don't care if it is the "new twenty." My lovely wife wanted to celebrate her birthday away from it all, so we stopped the treadmill and walked off to rest a spell.
Residents of Northern California have many options for recreation. The snow of Tahoe, some wine in Napa, or the enticing draw of the "big city" of San Francisco. But we decided we had been there, done that; how about a weekend stay along the coast? So, it was off to a beautiful bed and breakfast in Point Arena.
We drove to the coast, arriving at Bodega Bay near noon to join the most historic and beautiful shoreline commute in the world, "Highway 1." It was a brilliantly sunny, 75-degree day, and being a Friday people were ready to start the weekend early. Cars were pulled over at every turn with the passengers standing and "just looking" at the beauty called the Pacific North Coast.
Resting along the highway's turnout was a 20-something male leaning against his Jeep staring off into the sea mist distance. He's the poster male for the post-modern, post-Christian emerging generation. Shirt off, tattoos tanning in the sunlight, refreshing himself with a cold beer. He's just staring as his eyes grasp the ocean's waves slamming against the rocks. He's in the hold of contentment, a calm and peaceful trance that starts at the eye and ends in the heart. What is it that keeps an emerging young man's attention?
As we journeyed further, turning around another bend we found another male. A mid-forties weekend warrior resting on a blanket beside his fully "bling-ed" bicycle. He's attempting to read a book in the midst of the sound of the sea and the mist of the tide, but each time his eyes start to fall, something - someone - reaches out to lift his chin to witness a current story of creativity unfolding in front of him. What captivates a weekend warrior's thriller heart?
The twisting and turning trek continues. My beautiful bride decides a break from the vertigo voyage is deserved, so we pull off at a local watering hole for a drink. In the bar walks an older Iranian man. He's loud, obnoxious and very well received by the room's community. He orders a beer, strikes up a voluble conversation that entertains the entire patronage. He's recovering from the damage caused by a divorce and losing his job over the grief. A drink near noon with a few good friends will help pass the pain for now. What informs an elderly Iranian man that the pain he's feeling is not natural?
My wife and I take our last swig and I decide to pay for the tab near the bar - right beside "The Loud Iranian." I make a point to greet him; he returns the salutation by sticking out his hand to shake and pull me into his circle of friends. I started with, "Sure does seem like a tough time, considering all that you're going through." He says, "Hey, I'm called 'the neighborhood terrorist,' it's par for the course for me... I have to hold it together, this life is all I get - I love you man." He kept saying that..."I love you man," as if he was trying to convince himself that this is the best that love has to offer.
We exchange a laugh, I gave him a hug (a real hug) and I silently prayed for him as I walked out the door. "Remember, you met the Iranian Terrorists and I love you man," he said in a blameless, half-intoxicated state as I walked out the door. How does a wounded heart know to seek out community in the midst of pain?
We finally made it to our destination and sat down for dinner on the coast. As the sun began to fall into the ocean, more and more of the inhabitants strolled outside to the deck to drink in the sights. They peer out at the pier with uniformity, it's fully sunset and the show is about to begin - again. The powerful orange-sphere first rests upon the horizon's water, then slowly falls beneath the surface entering history's rest. The party stops for a moment as the disappearing fire ball bids a farewell. How does a party know to come to a halt when the sun says goodbye for a night?
And then it hit me: so many believe that we Christians are responsible to take God to the world, but when you look close enough - He is already there.
We, the redeemed of Graceland, are called to simply join Him, as He desires to reach others with the same love that reached you and me. They may call it by another name - meditation, being 'at one' with nature, or just admiring the scenery. Don't freak, it's the same; people, humans made in the image of God, admiring the signature of a Creator who calls himself Father.
I have a friend who climbs mountains on the weekend. He tells me he climbs for the peace and relationship - "being one with the universe." I encourage him to continue, and ask him to consider that the feelings he has when he reaches the summit of his climb are an experience with God who is reaching out to touch him personally. He chuckles and says, "Yeah, you might be right, I'll take what I can get." Even the most ardent agnostics pause at the summit to praise God.
I'll say it once again... it is not our responsibility to "take God to the marketplace," He's there, here. When we know Him as omnipresent He is. Whether He is recognized or ignored, His name signs every picture that we stop to celebrate.
"Earth is drenched in God's affectionate satisfaction. The skies were made by God's command. He breathes the word and the stars popped out. He scooped Sea into his jug, put Ocean in his keg. Earth-creatures, bow before God; world dwellers down on your knees! Here's why: he spoke and there it was, in place the moment he said so," Psalm 33:5-7, The Message.
You can't take Abba Father to the world, He's already there - leave the religious juice behind and join the party in the community.
Eric Hogue was the 2004 recipient of the Andy Anderson Award as Salem Communications' 'Talk Show Host of the Year'. Hogue is a former Pastor, veteran husband, a 'learning' father, and the common man's Christian. He is also credited with starting the 2003 re-call of California Governor Gray Davis. The Eric Hogue Show is heard weekday afternoons at 5 on The Spirit of the Bay, AM 1100 KFAX and AM 710 KFIA.
Here to view Eric's Crosswalk.com blog.