"There has never been the slightest doubt
in my mind
that the God
who started this great work in you
would keep at it and bring it
to a flourishing finish
on the very day Christ Jesus appears."
exuding confidence I am, I am. (yeah right...all over that)
but anyone who knows me -- I mean really knows me -- knows just how funny that sounds; my life is not quite right right now; as a matter of fact, it has turned into one hot mess. Yet, this weekend was ripe with little messages to my soul to keep on keepin' on; and to that end, a very happy monday goes out to you all.
Of course, as we went along our merry little way this past week, a prediction which didn't come to fruition came to pass. We had thy preacher, Camper (that's Camping and preacher put together) prophesying about the end of the world, DOOMSDAY; that in fact, DOOMSDAY would hit the eastern shoreline by 6 pm Saturday evening -- and judgment day would be served -- prepare! The media picked right up on it -- everyone had some fun with the idea in one way or another.
And so this morning, the extra sugar thrown in the coffee, that little saunter out to the car to begin the morning commute breathing in the fresh air, the simple kiss on the cheek to your loved ones going off to school (or to the dog!), runs a wee bit softer, sweeter, gentler, appreciating the reality of living to see another day.
Or, like most of us who paid no mind to the man behind the bible curtain, laughed it off as just another fifteen minutes of fame in a world thoroughly wrapped around the seen and be seen and be seen again, only this time with a wardrobe malfunction, with hell and damnation, or something to that effect.
The preacher made an outlandish prediction, rushing us to our "flourishing finish" without so much as a smidgen of understanding that it is not even his place to say so.
Geesh, humans. We are so full of ourselves, aren't we?.
The Apostle Paul was in prison, circa 61 A.D. in Rome, when he wrote a letter to the Philippians, which would ultimately become part of the greatest book for all time; Paul called out to all believers, begging them to fear not, to trust in the Lord with all your soul, with all your might, and simply reminding God's people to keep on keepin' on with a joyful heart -- remember, all behind bars, mind you. It was this very verse (above), right from the get-go, that was quoted by a preacher, Joel Osteen, just yesterday...
Osteen spent nearly thirty minutes, recanting stories and experiences, filling up our hearts and minds with promise, perseverance, making way for hope to endure all things, and summed it all up with this: "If all is not well, than it's not the end." In other words, if you are experiencing doomsday in your own little world, take heart, for God is not finished.
And I just have to retell the story he told of a woman holding tight to her last dying wish -- to be buried with a fork in hand. just trust me. stick with me for a quick corny story, it's a good one --
so this woman walks into a bar,
oopsie daisy, wrong one...
so this woman dies -- and like I said before, her last will and testimony made a strange request of a fork.
Well, to understand this, you need some background. For starters, this woman had lived a life revolving around her faith, her church; between quilting circles and community outreach, she spent the better part of her life centered around the joy of communing with friends, fellow congregants, and neighbors, attending god knows how many potlucks and picnics and church buffets. She always remembered that when it came time to picking up the dinner plates, people were told to "keep your fork." Why? for the best part was coming right up, of course -- the dessert. The flourishing finish to the meal, as Osteen points out.
SO the odd culinary accessory -- to go along with the floral dress with a flared skirt, the one that didn't make her feel fat... the shoes, the one's only brought out for Sundays and special occasions... and the aqua marine earrings, her birthstone -- yes, and the same one's her husband gave to her upon their first Christmas -- there was a fork. For the best part, you know, was coming right up. She had it all planned out. She knew exactly where to put her trust, her faith, her hope, her life. And truth be told, by all appearances anyway, there was never any doubt.
Oh to be that good at this thing called life.
Now, the misguided preacher may have been wrong, really wrong, but I believe he had his heart in the right place -- but really, how good on the prediction could he really be -- after all, he is only human. He was entirely wrong about his prediction, and now, he's got to live with that and move on, while probably facing a buffet line of snide comments and jokes for some time to come.
All I got to say is he picked it.
He asked for it.
AND DON'T WE ALL when it comes to even the unappetizing side of life -- for the most part, we pick it. we invite it in.
Sure, sometimes, we jump in without thinking two seconds about it. While other times, we almost search the buffet of choices over and over, dwelling on it for quite some time before sticking our spoon into something for a big, fat helping of it. Sometimes the decision is so laborious, it seems like days go by -- should I have some of this or that? I don't know. What to do, What to do. Oh the heck with it, that looks good, load me up on some of that...my mouth is watering just thinking about it...
oh my gosh, but what if it turns out to be too good to be true?
and it was. ew.
But if you really think about it, this preacher is really no different than the 'global warming/cooling/depending upon as the wind blows' enthusiasts -- their predictions (and some even by learned men/women/scientists), have all come to pass without fruition, leaving their ideas of flourishing finishes totally unanswered, and waiting in a sea of false promises like the rest of them.
Leaving us with the one and only reality worth any measure -- that a promise, or a prediction, is only as good as the one who makes it. we are only human. But God is God. Only God knows when the end of the world will be. Only God knows the intricacies of the universe and our planet. God can do and will do exactly what God wants when it is time. Who are we to think we know any better.
Our only duty is to recognize how truly little we are and, at the same time -- ladled up with a heaping serving of irony on the side -- just how magnificent we can be. It is a twisted game of eat this, not that. Do this, not that. Believe in this, not that. And if everything goes to pot, to have faith -- to keep on keepin' on..
Another tidbit of good advice came from a surprising place, during an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, which was looking a whole lot more like a home on the range. He caught up with the avant garde living locally in Livingston, Montana -- an eclectic crowd of painters, writers, foodies and ranchers. And one of the guys spit this wisdom out along with his favorite tabacco, saying: "RIGHT IS RIGHT even when nobody is doing it; WRONG IS WRONG even when everybody's doing it."
The thing is, when life really feels like doomsday is upon us (and for me, and how! nothing tasty on this buffet these days) the right thing to do, the only thing to do, is focus on the things that are right, and good, and sound, and secure -- and of course, the more reliable source the better. For, by doing so, we lift ourselves up to the Lord. This is about all we can do to know, really know, without any doubt, that we are still -- in spite of all appearances to the contrary -- on the right path.
For certain IS this moment -- now embracing the wisdom and real life experiences of those who have come before us marking the path, showing us the way, being the light.......
Which could come from someone so great and wonderful as to have lived a life as an Apostle, like Paul, who had the courage to tell all the world, to write about it (and ultimately be jailed because of his faith in the end)....
.... or, perhaps, it comes from the church lady without a name and known only by the rare brand of Osteen folklore, or do I dare say, Forklore (badadump ba) which continues to live on inside each and every one of us when we are open to receive it...
.....or just maybe, it comes from a best friend through and through, who comes along to pick you up just in the nick of time reminding you, you had it in you the whole entire time... as if, all of a sudden, you are wearing Dorothy's shiny red slippers, or something...telling you to take courage, follow your faith, be the light, and just keep on keepin' on baby...a flourishing finish is in the making and at hand.
Which reminds me of something that just might be a suitable final thought for my flourishing finish :
"what we do for ourselves dies with us;
what we do for others remains immortal."
Make it a Good Day, G
and how about that prediction from a football guy, Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens, saying basically, if there is no football, plan on a whole lot of fire and brimstone, crime sprees, total chaos in all directions. That what he thinks will happen. hmmm...and he might be onto something....