Re-membering

This week is the definition of bittersweet for me. Last Sunday would have been my mom’s 80th birthday, and today will be the first October 30th since 1935 without my dad.

The title of this post is not a typo. The word remember means bringing back that which is broken. Imagine one of your arms being broken from your body. The act of restoring it to your shoulder is re-membering. IMG_5453

For several years in the 1990s, my parents served on the board of directors of an orphanage in Mexico. I had the privilege of visiting and ministering in this orphanage. It was an amazing experience I’ll never forget. Being with these children, with whom I could barely communicate because of the language barrier, touched my heart in a way I never knew possible. We laughed, played and even cried together. This was my first experience in such a ministry, and it never would have happened were it not for my parents.

This past Sunday, the 80th anniversary of my mom’s birth, we had a special missionary guest. His ministry?

Orphans in Haiti.

On the day that held a special place in my heart as I remembered my mom, God sent a messenger who re-animated a chamber in my heart for those with no parents or blood relatives.

Re-membering.

Today, as I think of my dad, and for the first time, being unable to see or even call him to wish him a special day and tell him I love him, I re-member his unwavering integrity and character. An imperfect man, yes, but one who wouldn’t allow himself to knowingly do the wrong thing whether people would know or not. HIs example has served as an inspiration to me throughout my adult life.

Re-membering their love and devotion to one another. Re-membering their steadfast pursuit and love of God and people. Re-membering the laughter. Re-membering the tears.

My heart was broken on March 20, 2009, and again on August 5, 2015. But as I re-member the parents God blessed me with, and think of those who have no parents, my heart is restored and filled with joy, humility, and resolve. A resolve to make a difference in lives, just as my parents did. By any means necessary. Even if it seems crazy. Even if it seems impossible. Even if it seems too late. Even if it seems too expensive.

God showed me through my parents that all He needs is a willing heart, and lives will be changed.

It must start with mine.

Thank you Mom and Dad. I miss you. But you are part of me as I re-member you. May my life be a continuation of the spiritual heritage you began. I look forward to seeing you again, but first, there is work to be done here.

Beauty In The Breakdown

I admit, I am about the least mechanical guy you’ve ever met. However, in the first 12-15 years of having a driver’s license, I learned a lot about cars.

Involuntarily.

Up until 2005, when I bought my first and only brand new car, I was happy to have a car that was less than 10 years old and under 120,000 miles. Older cars that go through multiple owners are prone to breakdown. Yeah, those were the cars I had. My cars broke down just about everywhere. Sometimes conveniently located near home and familiar people and repair shops, and sometimes in very unfamiliar places, hours from home. Sometimes in the light of a week day, other times, late on a weekend night. Sometimes in the safety of a quiet neighborhood, sometimes on the narrow shoulder of a busy California freeway. And those days were well before cell phones. Some breakdowns are less harrowing and complicated than others, but no one ever says, “wow, that was a great time for my car to crap out on me.”

When the engine light comes on, it’s literally a signal that something is not working as it should. It may be something very simple, or it may be an indicator that something serious is happening. These signals should not be ignored, or your problem and the cost to fix it may become significantly worse.

Life is very much the same. The problem is likely something deep inside, beyond what the eye can see. You may hear a strange noise, smell something that isn’t right, or notice that things aren’t operating as they should. When things are going well, it’s easy to take things for granted. You think that changing the oil every 3,000 miles and the occasional filter changes are all you need. However, there are literally tens of thousands of parts, wires, bolts, belts, brackets, plugs…the list goes on. They can go wrong without warning. Similarly in life, there are a lot of moving parts. You can do the simple day-to-day maintenance, but there are a million little things that, if not taken care of, can leave you on the side of the road.

The big difference between cars and life is that when you’re stuck on the side of the road Woman-broken-down-carin life, your Mechanic is right there waiting for you. Instead of sitting on the roadside calling a tow truck to get you to a mechanic, God is right there waiting for you to call on Him. The thing is, He is not interested in just MacGyver-ing your life just to get you back on the road.  He also isn’t interested in restoring it to the way it was. He wants to make you better than you were before.

Unless you are a mechanic, nobody brings one with them everywhere they go. And even if you are a mechanic, there are certain things you can’t do without all the tools and parts necessary. And who knows how to fix what’s wrong better than the one who built it in the first place? In life, not only can God fix anything at any time, but He is always with you.

“and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”  Matthew 28:20b

I find myself on the side of the road right now. I have been cruising along, singing a song. But God knows there are some things under the hood that need some attention. I could pop the hood and look around for fire, smoke, noises or leaks, but I wouldn’t know what to do with them if I found them. That’s God’s job. Mine is to let Him in there and do what only He can do. He’s ready to get His hands dirty. The thing is, it’s not enough to sit on the roadside fiddling with my phone while He does all the work. I’ve got to get my hands dirty, too. He wants to show me where the problems are. How to identify them. How to prevent them from becoming something catastrophic. How to get peak performance out of my life, beyond what I thought this old machine could even do.

Getting stuck on the side of the road is inevitable. Both with cars and in life. It’s not if, but when.

Maybe you’re not stuck on the side of the road right now. Here’s where it gets fun. You don’t have to be. Even if things are going well and humming along, let God in there to examine what’s under the hood. Let Him show you where things are misfiring. You may not even be able to tell that something isn’t operating as it should. You may learn about something you weren’t even aware of that exists in your life, just like I had never heard of a solenoid until my 1974 Pinto needed one. Maybe you’re missing something you should have, or maybe you have something you shouldn’t. Either way, Let God in to assess and change things as He sees fit to make you a better you. He knows just what to do because He is the one who made you!

73 “You made me; you created me.
Now give me the sense to follow your commands.
74 May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy,
for I have put my hope in your word.
75 I know, O Lord, that your regulations are fair;
you disciplined me because I needed it.
76 Now let your unfailing love comfort me,
just as you promised me, your servant.
77 Surround me with your tender mercies so I may live,
for your instructions are my delight.”  Psalm 119:73-77