Sunday, May 17, 2009

Atrium Entry - "This is Not a Fire Exit"

This is a very bitter sweet time in my life. May 15th brought overwhelming joy with the birth of my third child -Ezra Jos Wakeland, while May 16th brought much sadness with the death of my grandmother Melba Jo Wakeland. A whirlwind of emotion has cirlcled me as I have driven back and forth from one hospital to the other. It was very hard for me as the obvious need to be with my wife during childbirth pulled from one direction while the deep seeded family devotion and need to be with my dad pulled from the other. As always though, God provided the grace needed to make it through.

While I was processing all the feelings this morning I sent a text to my friend and pastor thanking the community of faith I am a part of for their prayers. As I wrote, I began to cry and decided that I needed to take a walk and talk to God a little myself.

My walk brought me to a glass door that looked like it led to a small garden area that would be just right for the occasion. On the door it said, Atrium Entry - "This is Not a Fire Exit." I read the sign as I walked outside, then I found a nice bench to sit on and began to pray. So many of my prayers begin with "God, I don't really know what's going on right now, but I need to be near you if I'm going to have enough strength and wisdom to lead my family through this. As I shared my obvious weakness with the God of the universe He began to comfort me as He always does. He quickly reminded me that the legacy Grandma left was a strong one that would last, and that she is now enjoying perfect peace with Him. I raised my tear soaked cheeks from my hands and looked up at all the windows surrounding me. I sat alone in the atrium, but there were many windows around me that led to offices, recovery rooms, and a small cafe. The windows were reflective and tinted so I couldn't tell if anyone was watching me or not. Not surprisingly, God used the situation to teach a little truth. My vision was blurred from the tears, but God turned my attention back to the glass door. Atrium Entry - "This is Not a Fire Exit." He reminded me that there are so many people in this world that in the midst of a fire (like loosing a loved one) don't know where to run. If someone running to save their life from a fire ended up going out that door they would be trapped with a burning building on all sides. Many of the hurting around us don't know where to run. It is such a great privilage to be able to run to the gentle, refreshing God that brings peace and safety in the midst of fire. I knew as I sat there that I was not alone, but some people still live in the illusion that they are by themselves in the atrium, tear soaked cheeks, and nobody to comfort and guide them. Even though that just through the windows there are many that could comfort them, and all around them is a God that gives perfect peace.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Follow Me

The journey of life sure is interesting. It's wonderful, awful, beautiful, and painful all wrapped up together, and most of the time there's no separating the good from the bad. Just take one big bite of it all.

I was eight years old when my journey with Jesus began. I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. I knew Jesus was a great man who did a great thing for me, and the alternative of burning in hell didn't sound too appealing either. It's just in the past decade though that the journey has intensified. I've been led to a place that I never anticipated Jesus would take me. Who is this man, and who am I for that matter. Why does everything in me seem so opposite of him so often, yet I'm striving to be like him. Just what is it that he wants from me. The more that I live near him, the more I realize that what he wants is everything.

It's interesting to think that people throughout history have been pursued by Jesus in much the same way. It doesn't really matter who you are, where you come from, what you own or don't own, he wants it all. And somehow, once you let him in and learn who he is, that seems like the only logical option. This reminds me of a book I'm reading written by Larry Huntsperger called The Fisherman. It's a first person account from Simon Peter as he moves along his journey toward Jesus. I want to share one of my favorite parts as Peter struggles internally with the very thing I just spoke of, and thanks to Larry Huntsperger for the reminder that every one of us has the same opportunity a fisherman had to become the Rock.

"Less than an hour later I saw him. He was alone, walking toward me along the beach. And that, of course, was the point-he had been walking toward me since the day we met. A part of me wanted to drop my net and run to meet him. Another part of me wanted to grab my net and run away from him down the beach. In the end I just stood there waiting. As soon as Andrew saw him, he came and stood beside me. When Jesus reached us no one spoke for a few seconds. Andrew just stood there with a big grin on his face, obviously thrilled to see him. I stood silent in a sort of terrified relief. I knew this was no chance meeting. For more than a month I had been running, hiding from this man, secretly hoping he would not give up his pursuit. I was tired of this horrible game, and no matter what he said to me now, at least I would not have to run anymore. I stood silently, staring at his feet, waiting for his words of condemnation, anticipating his demand for an explanation of why I had stayed away from him for so long. But the condemnation never came. He spoke just one word- "Peter!"When I looked up, I saw his smile, a smile of understanding and acceptance that instantly disarmed the terror within me. He looked first at me, then at Andrew, then at our nets with our little pile of fish. Then he said "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" the Fisherman -Larry Huntsperger

So...Wow!! It's hard to imagine leaving my life, my job, my everything behind until I realize just how crappy and ridiculous it is without him. Thanks Jesus for your faithful pursuit of my heart, and the gentleness in your calling.