It’s Good!

Posted: October 19, 2009 in thriving
Tags: , , , ,

puff ballThe second-longest  running  Off Broadway musical comedy is called I Love You, You’re Perfect … Now Change.

Murphy’s law tells us: “If anything can go wrong, it will.” Someone added: “And it will be your fault, and everyone will know it.”

Mark Twain famously quipped, “If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man but deteriorate the cat.” For starters, the cat would stop purring.

It’s easy to carp, and kind of fun to pick on our species. I was negative, once in my life. Or was it twice.  I enjoyed it.  Sometimes I even enjoy being negative about being negative.

To be honest, many of us incline toward the gloomy. Foreclosures, bankruptcies, corporate greed, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and declining moral values – a negative outlook is simply the downside of being informed. People shouldn’t have taken financial risks, our country shouldn’t bail people out, our leaders shouldn’t…

Yes, perhaps, but I say, beware, the naysay. Don’t … shouldn’t … too much.

 Last week I found my red and yellow peppers had molded in the refrigerator. Proof: it’s a spoiled world.  But Friday night I ate a large slice of spice cake. It was moist and sweet, a sticky cake with a rich, creamy, smooth frosting. Times may be hard, but the spice cake is still lip smacking good.

I’m a Christian, and I believe that Christianity, at its core, is a positive-narrative. Christians aren’t the financial police, the social police or the food police of the world. We aren’t the moral scolds either. We are happy, good news reporters. In the worst of times, we always have good news.

In the ancient days of Noah, there was a large retributive flood; but there was also a rescuing ark-zoo. The ancient Hebrew God-lovers were enslaved in Egypt – but they were liberated by Moses.

 For every negative, in the Bible, there is a leaning into something positive. For every failure, there is a contrasting redemption.

Calvinism is making a comeback in Christian circles. Famed reformation scholar John Calvin held that the Bible teaches a doctrine of “total depravity?” Yes, I agree, I’m depraved. I have a penchant for forbidden, harmful cake. For anyone else to recognize this requires a look no further than the edges of their own unhealthy thinking.

But the Bible also teaches a doctrine of total forgiveness. We taste Christ, and we are good again.

The cynical nursery rhyme says, “All the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men can’t put Humpty together again.”  But the Bible counters that there is a king who can put Humpty together again.

Shakespeare quipped that life is a “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  The Bible says life is a tale told by an artist, full of symbols and meaning, signifying everything.

Do you want to thrive?  Repent from being negative and celebrate what is right with the world.  

What is right with the world?

“In the beginning God created the heavens and earth …” and after each brush stroke, each God breathed event,  the Bible records that God paused and saw that “it was good.”

Light, pause, good; land and sea, pause, good; plants, pause, “good;” creatures, pause, good.

The pause was in the “saw,”   “Check out that spiral galaxy, 100 million light years across. That’s good.”

“Love that pink rose with the yellow center, good.”

“The kids are going to go crazy over those pandas and striped zebras, very good.”

Good? How good? Good as in beautiful. And it still is beautifully good.  

 I was out walking the other day, and I saw little circles on the ground. It was the sun, shining through the leaves, reproduced, by the solar pinhole effect. 386 billion megawatts of energy was projected on the ground in a tiny, me-sized image!  Good!

 Dewitt Jones is a renown National Geographic photographer tells of  how he once he traveled to the British Columbia on assignment. Out in the field, he decided to photograph a field of dandelions. But then not into it, he packed up and with a mind to return later. Several weeks passed before he got back. The field had turned to puff balls. 

About to leave again, Dewitt instead began to move in a more positive direction. With his camera he was suddenly over the puff balls, eye level with puff balls, under the buff balls, and there it was – an award winning shot!

We live in a God kissed world.

 Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

 And yet even as we claim this, less positive images come to mind.

 I have several friends who work in hospitals. The hospital presents a 360 degree view of life. One of my hospital buddies told me that this week a man with diabetes had his leg cut off.  I grieve for that man. But on the same day, in the same hospital, a baby was born with all its fingers and toes.

 The good is always framed by the tragic. This doesn’t take from good’s intrinsic goodness.

A man named Jud came to my office recently. He is a devastated person. He has vacant eyes. He has little contact with his family. His spirit is broken by an alcohol addiction. What can I do? In 30 minutes can I fix 50 years? I invited him to use the phone.

 I watched as he called his parole officer. I watched as he called a detox program. I watched a man digging himself out of his own grave. I invited him to come back the next day, sober, to call again. He came back. He made more calls. He left for the trolley, to go downtown to the detox center. I watched his back as he left, a man on a mission.  It was good.

 How good? Good in being one step back toward beauty in the form of order. This is what good means –order out of a depraved mess.

 I striped a parking lot recently, laying down new white parking space lines in measured, chalked and then sprayed rows. When I was done, I paused, the divine  pause, and enjoyed. I thought, this is how God must have felt after making the zebra. Striped is good. For me, striped is a mirror image of some kind of mysterious divine order.

 Perhaps we have been busy without pausing. Perhaps we should eat more spice cake and buy more paint.

 Life isn’t just a bunch of shouldn’ts and didn’ts. Certainly it is tragic, but certainly it is also framed in wonderments and full of astonishing possibilities.

 Look around. Life is good.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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