Thursday, November 11, 2010
Pastor's Perspective - Spam, Pop Tarts & Life
It was a carnival alright, but there wasn’t much splendor in it.
This past weekend the cruise ship Carnival Splendor left Long Beach filled with passengers ready for adventure and excitement. They got both! An engine room fire caused all power in the floating luxury hotel to be lost. In other words, no propulsion, no hot water, no air conditioning, no lights, no usable elevators (on a 9-deck boat), no hot food, no casino, and worst of all, no hot coffee! Imagine backed-up toilets, pitch black interior cabins, and nothing but cold food. According to news reports, Navy helicopters flew in nutritional substitutes for the much-anticipated and well-advertised steak and lobster – Spam and Pop Tarts!
Today six tug boats pulled the ship into harbor in San Diego. According to honeymooner Sabrina Klinge, “It was supposed to be this beautiful cruise and it turned into a nightmare.”
Ever feel like Sabrina?
You had life well-planned and vividly envisioned. Your future was to be an excursion-filled and exotic succession of scheduled arrivals and glamorous photo opportunities. You fantasized about who you would share life’s cruise with, the financial freedom and abundance you would have on board, and the seamless ease you would experience. Life was meant to be a tropical boat ride, marked by pampering, indulgence, recreation, beauty, relaxation, convenience, momentum and motion. But instead, something happened below decks – somewhere, somehow. A phone call, a diagnosis, a notice, a pink slip, a ‘Dear John’, a knock on the door, a tragic suddenly, a weather anomaly, a drunken swerve, a scandal exposed, a note on the counter and an empty closet. Life was to be sirloin, not Spam!
What I have found in my 47 years is, life is filled with personal engine room fires, resulting in powerlessness, disillusionment, and a whole lot of drifting.
Many sweet and sincere Christians out there try to make things better, but in actuality only make things worse. In the midst of smoldering emotional and physical disability, we come running with our self-righteous confectionized clichés like, “You’re too blessed to be depressed!” How inhumane. How utterly goofy! Jesus never gave bumper sticker advice. Instead, I read that He stopped, He sat, He touched, and He even cried. So often, because of our own uneasiness, though well-intentioned, we simply say the wrong stuff. I’m reminded that before the cross-examination by Job’s friends, the Bible tells us that for a week they simply sat with him on the ground during his extreme suffering. I think we represent Christ best when we simply sit and say little – cry with instead of explain.
Friends, I hate to break it to you, but in the middle of suffering, we as believers don’t have all of the answers. So, stop trying to be clever and pragmatic; like that will somehow dissolve all of the pain we see all around us in the world. Our job is to simply be real, to show love, and just be there. Suffering people don’t need our, “I know exactly what you’re going through”s. What they need is to know that they are not drifting alone.
Simply put - There are no quick packaged answers for a hurting world. We are frankly incapable of providing the thorough forensic report of why certain tragedies happen, though we love to espouse our theories. Likewise, we are blinded to how long another’s suffering will last. The only true answer and hope we can offer those powerless, those being violently tossed on life’s cruel and towering waves, is the cross of Jesus Christ.
The cross is God’s epic remedy and clarion call to our fallen and chaotic planet – “I see you. I haven’t forgotten you. I know what you’re going through. I care more deeply than you’ll ever know. I have made a way for you to overcome and have hope and courage in this life, no matter what you’re going through. I’m with you. I’ll never leave you. There’s more. There’s better. Trust me. I won’t let you down. I won’t let you go. I love you. My Son’s death is the evidence of my love for you.”
For many here in Solano County, life has turned from a beautiful cruise into a nightmare. As the church – the living, breathing, reaching, touching manifested Body of Christ – let’s offer the drifting masses more than clichés and three steps on how to overcome cruises gone bad! Let’s offer them us - our presence. Let’s offer them what we have received by faith – the grace and hope that comes only from an old rugged cross.