Tuesday, February 14, 2012

An Squirrely Omen?

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. - Proverbs 16:18

Clothes don't make the man - anonymous

I don't throw salt over my shoulder.    I don't like black cats (or, for what it's worth, cats at all) but I'm not afraid to cross one's path.    If I break a mirror, I suppose I'd pick up the pieces, throw them out and buy a new one.   Simply put,  I don't believe in any kind of luck, good or bad.  That said, something so peculiar happened recently that I had to step back, take a big gulp and consider my life in the light of this altogether strange occurrence.  Let me explain...

My friend works at a high-end clothing store.   He recently told me that all the distributors, from which he purchases the clothes to sell, continually send him clothes to keep and wear.  It's the kind of perk that this fashion-conscious, cheap skate would "eat up".   In any event, he told me his closet needed to be "raided".   "You're my size" just come on over and I'll give you some of these clothes.   I have to make room for more!"

After having him over for dinner with Megan,  Jim and I drove to his place where he proceeded to give me so many great pieces of clothing that I've had to in turn give a great deal of my clothing to The Salvation Army just to make room for the new.   "Get to the point" you may be saying....

Feeling like Joseph after receiving his exquisite coat of many colors I was becoming extremely excited thinking of how much Megan will like seeing me in these new clothes and quite honestly, how great they will look on me.  I know, GAG! (See Donny Osmond to the left!)

With arms so full of clothes that I can barely see above them I walk out the front door when I was struck by the sight of a really plump squirrel laying flat on his stomach with his head cracked open and blood running all over the sidewalk.  

I called to my buddy, "Hey, check this out!"

He tells me, "yeah sometimes they try to climb too high and the poor things fall to their death!"

After tip-toeing around the squirrel to drop off the clothes in my trunk, I helped my friend clean up the squirrel's remains and drove home excited. I must have dreamed about the whole scene continually reviewing Jim's remark because I popped up out of bed before the sunrise to the reality that it may have been an omen.

This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD. - Jeremiah 9:23-24

Materialism calls out to us continually.  In this instance, being conformed to the world (Rom. 12:2) would simply mean trusting that my wealth and health are signs that God loves me.   And in one sense they surely are...

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 
- James 1:17
...but only to the degree that humility (His not mine!) ignited by God's grace within leads to deeper gratitude on my behalf to God for his goodness to me.   If for one moment I believe I am somehow due the good things with which God chooses to bless my life, I have become self-deceived climbing ever higher in the "shaky tree of self-justification" (i.e. If I keep doing for God, He'll keep doing for me).

And yet isn't this where we all so often live?  Doing and doing and doing intoxicated by worldly methods of transaction.   Thinking if we scratch God's back, He'll scratch ours.   Functionally, we so often operate under "prosperity gospel" precepts.   This is akin to a hamster on wheel, going nowhere but running at a fever pitch, laboring but void of any true meaning.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 
- Col. 2:8

I deserved the death of an overweight squirrel reaching for another nut in an unstable tree.   Instead I was delivered to safety because Christ took my place on a tree of His own.  Obedient unto death on a cross (Phil 2:8), Christ knew that "the son of man must be lifted up" (John 12:34) temporally as a sacrifice for our sins that He might then be lifted up eternally and "seated at God's right hand in the heavenly realms" (Eph. 1:20).   The Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ proclaims I'm there too!

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms with Christ Jesus 
- Eph. 2:6

In Jesus' most famous parable (The Prodigal Son), the Son returns to the father after squandering his advanced inheritance.   Instead of simply becoming a worker in his father's house (which was the very best he could think to hope for),  the exuberant joy and love of the father overwhelms the boy with grace.  The father says, "bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet" (Luke 15:22).

I deserved what the squirrel got.  But last week, I got outfitted like the Prodigal Son coming home.  I'm thankful to Jim but I'm especially thankful to the giver of all good gifts.   I'm clothed for a blip in the here and now, but I'm clothed eternally in Christ's righteousness.

Thanks be to God.



PS - here's one for the squirrel....

This Week

* Wednesday AM
Book Study - Grace in Practice by Paul F. M. Zahl - get your books here!  Chapter 1, Grace in Theology (pgs. 68-90) tomorrow at 7am - 2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm)

* Thursday - The Magills w/ The In-Laws and Outlaws at Rick's on The Square - Tyler, TX - 8:30-11:30pm

* Saturday - The Magills w/ The In-Laws and Outlaws at The East Texas Auto and Cycle Show to benefit The East Texas Women's Crisis Center - Harvey Hall - Tyler, TX 12-4pm

Next Week...

* Monday Men's Lunch at Dakota's - 12pm - Chapter 6 of Tempted and Tried