Archive for March, 2012

The Smile

March 21, 2012

It happened again last Saturday. An innocent day interrupted by a siren. And a hidden side of my wife has emerged again: My wife is an ambulance chaser.

I know in telling this I am a dead man. Yes, on the surface it isn’t a flattering image: Cheryl, riveted to lighted and loud vehicles, NASCAR-gripped fingers to the stirring wheel, left foot on the brake and right foot on the floor at all times. But twice now, while waiting for an ambulance for me and then at the hospital, I have seen an indescribable look from deep inside her. It shouts only one thing: Love.

This month is our thirty-ninth anniversary. When we married on St. Patrick’s Day I knew I had mastered love. Scientists are only now catching up to my deep insight and humility. They’ve decided the science of love tells the story. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, reeves up the desire to be with Cheryl. When we do something pleasurable dopamine squirts into my blood stream and I sing, “I want more.” It didn’t take me long to know I was hooked to that substance and Cheryl.

The chemistry parade continues. Another substance with a big name brings energy to be together constantly, and as one writer discovered, it helps with the “nuttiness that comes with romantic love.” I think Cheryl would say nutty fits me well. Serotonin was lower while we fell in love. Normally, it brings calm—hence the obsessing of a romantic heart when it is absent. My stash of serotonin dried up 40 years ago. Cheryl will have to tell you if I have ever obsessed over her—I’m not saying a word.

The adhesive that builds a bond is oxytocin. Called “the hormone of attachment and emotional empathy,” this super glue of love pushes us to look deeply into each other and causes us to trust. I’m glad for a steady stream of this stuff, especially during the hard times I have brought her way.

These researchers of romance have something to offer. The influence of physical, mental, and emotional factors is real. We are people, and even—especially—in romantic love our whole person is involved.

But God says something even greater is on display. Of marriage He says, “This is a profound mystery—but I am speaking about Christ and the church.” Earlier The Apostle said, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”

Wow, marriage is profoundly about Christ—and the smile I have loved for 40 years surfaces richer daily and each time in moments of crisis, reflecting the Savior’s strength, compassion, and sacrifice for all! Thank you Cheryl.

May the smile of Christ characterize all singles and couples for His glory!

Heart Check

“When being is divorced from doing, pious thoughts become an adequate substitute for washing dirty feet.” Brennan Manning

Psalm 27, Part Two: The Powerful Influence

This little Psalm 27 seems inconsequential at first glance. A further look uncovers monumental, core ideas. Like sin.

“For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my inquity, for it is great…Look upon my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins” (vss 14, 18).

David invites me to “fear the Lord.” It is the “secret of the LORD” NASB)–a life of joyful, obedient reverence characterized by worship and intimacy. I love this! We are invited to be close with the maker of the constellations and the smokies, protons and soaring eagles. Jesus, in final encouragements, calls His disciples friends and promised His joy in full. I have wonderful friends. With some I am especially close–but the closest among them is a small measure of the promise and joy of friendship with the Father and Son.

Sin gets in the way. Seeking to follow Jesus well and finish strong confronts it daily…sometimes, minute by minute.

I excel in this one thing: sin. King David and I are kindred spirits. Our sins are many–“sins.” They are an affront to the “name” of the Lord. They are “great.” Great in number; great in degree.

John Starke wrote, “Sin not only offends God, it disrupts the Christian’s communion with God and forces him to sense his Maker’s displeasure. This, of course, results in all sorts of unfortunate consequences, not the least of which is joylessness.”

A prisoner displays this vividly. Broken families do, too. Victims of oppression know this well. Sin makes its mark on the willing participant and victim.

But there is pardon! God will act consistently within His character, and preserve and vindicate His name–including pardon of my sin!

In one of my Bibles I have written across the top of Romans 6, “The power of addiction is the power of sin.” I am not sure who said it, but Romans 6 sings, “He broke the power of cancelled sin.” I struggle (Oh, may I not stop struggling alongside the victories), but I need not be enslaved to sin in Christ. I love this so much; I count on this all day long.

Jesus alone has taken away enslavement to sin and its power over me. He offers pardon, deep friendship, and intimacy the Creator of the universe. Unimaginable! Such immeasurable joy!

When It Rains It Pours

When It Rains It Pours
John Fields

Little things aren’t little.

I finished a different article for today’s column last Friday night with storms everywhere. I saved it in two separate places like I’ve been told countless times.

Saturday morning, before the sun woke up, we loaded up to take off for Georgia for my third granddaughter’s third birthday party. “What’s that sound from our 180,000 mile motor?” I asked my wife. She loves car motor questions. The noise faded and we courageously took off.

It was an especially fun Saturday since all my children and their kids came for the party. Joy, my oldest daughter, is good with computers and has her own blog with thousands of cooking fans. I asked her to help me with some computer questions. It takes a nation to keep me on track with my computer.

I fired up my laptop and it opens to the “blue screen of death.” I’m betting that isn’t a technical term, but Joy’s engineer/computer whiz husband called it that. Chad worked on it until they had to leave later that night. He theorizes the “thumb drive” I saved the article on may be corrupted. Great, the mafia has gotten into my computer and backup. Right now, my computer sits across the room glaring at me, begging for merciful words for a change while I use Cheryl’s computer. Like an old jeans, I really miss that article and my computer right now.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing
that the testing of your faith produces endurance…
so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Did I tell you as a prelude to the weekend our garage door opener had to be replaced Thursday, and that we’re in the midst of a basement leak and necessary renovation? I dream in “foggy mirror” paint.

The party and my daughters and grandkids were wonderful. Unbelievable Elmo-faced cupcakes. Wilder, age 5, read a book to me for the first time; Adeline sang a lovely song. Shawna, 9 months old, charmed everyone and, modestly speaking, seemed especially happy when with me.

In the morning, the sun and I woke up together and I hit the shower. Cold, water-filled tub toys everywhere. And then…I forgot our shampoo and soap…in another room. I just love Elmo soap and Snoopy Shampoo.

“…God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose.”

I reserve the glory of God and shaping of our character into the likeness of Christ for big things. But minuscule things matter to God, too.

When “it rains it pours” for you, what helps you the most?

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