February 25, 2006
What Do You See?
I remember many years ago when I was a teenager that a traveling evangelist came to our church to preach a revival. I don't remember his name. I don't remember any titles to the sermons he preached or the text of any of them. But, I shall never forget an illustration he did one night. He asked my pastor to hold one end of a white bed sheet and then asked this question to our congregation, "What do you see?"
The answer I heard and the answer that everyone gave was, "I see a black spot in the middle of the bed sheet!"
The evangelist asked if we were sure. Whereupon, the people responded, "Yes!"
He then asked, "Do you want to know what I see?"
We all said, "Yes!"
He said, "I see a white bed sheet" and then he paused for what appeared to be a long time. We all had puzzled looks on our faces and seemed to really enjoy our stares as we wondered why he would see just the sheet. And then he quoted to us the only scripture I can remember him using. "To the pure in heart all things are pure."
He went on to say, "It is amazing with this entire bed sheet up here, pretty, white, and clean that all you noticed was one dark spot. But, isn't that how we mostly operate. We concentrate so much on the negative that we miss the beauty of the positive and the good in life." He didn't want us to overlook the spot but he also didn't want us to overlook the clean, white bed sheet.
What do you see?
February 21, 2006
Well, I apologize for my extended absence from my blog. But life has not been as usual for me in about a month. I was away on a Holy Land Pilgrimage that lasted about 11 days when you include travel. We stayed in hotels with very limited internet access. There is no wireless internet in the Holy Land at least none was available to us while we were there. I returned from the Holy Land Pilgrimage to discover the death of my father and this sort of sapped my writing energy and creativity for awhile.
There are a few things that are sort of floating in my mind as I write this blog. One is how quickly life can change and your routines can be interrupted. Many of us often go about planning our lives as if we have control over them but we are so subject to other forces that can impact us without warning.
I can hear in the background as I write, a report on the people in New Orleans who have no clue when their lives will ever return to normal, after Hurricane Katrina. Those of us who live in the United States are so blessed that we have lived relatively free of the ravages of war, disease, unclean water and the many natural catastrophes that others live with every day. These people have to expect and plan for interruptions that are the daily occurrences of their lives.
I witnessed the security checks in the Holy Land, the walled cities like Bethlehem, the gates that shut people out and shut people in, the need for clean water, the constant search for peace, the humiliation of being an openly oppressed people and I grieved for our fellow Christians that are treated as second-class citizens in their own homeland. I wanted to come back and simply get the pictures out of my mind and the voices that spoke out for peace but try as I may I can’t. And so I pray everyday that the God who loves us will help us to escape this cycle of hatred that separates people because of ethnicity. I ask that those of you who will read this blog will begin to pray for a just peace in the Holy Land, the place where Jesus walked and continues to cry out for Jerusalem.