A Tidbit from Maranatha

Each summer my family vacations in West Michigan at a family Bible camp called Maranatha.  It sits directly on Lake Michigan and is one of my favorite places on earth.  There is little to no humidity, the sand is gorgeous, and the facility is humble but beautiful.  The evening services are in an open-air tabernacle and when I’m settled down on the burnt-orange-cushioned benches, which may be the same benches used when Billy Graham spoke there in the 1940’s and 50’s, I feel a million miles from my everyday life.  A gentle breeze, worshipful music, and great teaching make for a great evening, but when the service gets out I march myself down to the beach to watch the sunset, and of course every night is a different masterpiece.  This year I got to spend ten glorious days at Maranatha!  Over the next few days, I’m going to share some highlights from the teachers I was privileged to hear.  Here is the first installment.

Phil Tuttle from Walk Thru the Bible talked about the differences between David’s reaction to Goliath and Saul’s.  Saul was fearful.  David was full of faith.  Phil said, “fear is contagious and so is faith.”  Having lived this week through my first earthquake and through not-sure-what-number hurricane, I’ve witnessed many times over that fear is indeed contagious!  Who hasn’t lived that, right?  But how often do we think about the fact that faith is also contagious?  And it may not be outwardly evident, but aren’t you built up in your faith by the strong faith of others?  I know I am.  We simply do not know when our faith has been an important contagion caught by others.  Oswald Chambers says that God “is pouring rivers of living water through you, and it is of His mercy that He does not let you know it.” (My Utmost for His Highest, August 30th).  If we knew, we might make it about us, instead of Him.

I’m going to regularly mind myself that faith is contagious, and may we, as believers, be highly contagious for His glory and not our own!

Karma and The Year of the Tooth

Sometimes what goes around comes around.  Sometimes you reap what you sow.   Sometimes it almost looks like karma is a force in the world.

For example, last Friday, just a couple days before we were to leave for vacation, my husband mentioned that he had a tooth that was beginning to bother him.

Unfortunately, here is how I responded: “Oh, no!” I said without a hint of sympathy.  “ So are you telling me this is going to be The Year of the Tooth, following close on the heels of The Year of the Bowel and The Year of the Neck?”

I was quite satisfied with my fun little, good-hearted jab.  In fact, I was quite puffed up by my own wit, feeling that it described perfectly our experience of the last two years.

See, two years ago on our summer vacation, our middle son celebrated his sixth birthday with a go-kart ride that ended in a rather unconventional way.  You know the end of the race where you are supposed to slow down coming in, and the go-kart guys direct you to your parking lane?  Well, that didn’t happen.  Instead, the go-kart guy jumped out of Nate’s way when he approached at full speed and Nate then proceeded to all-out smash into the parked go-kart of his unsuspecting daddy. Daddy’s neck was not the same for the rest of the vacation.  Hence, The Year of the Neck.

Then, last year, Will took antibiotics to clear up, what looked to me, like razor burn on his neck.  Of course, he’s the doctor!  However, the side effect of eradicating this neck ailment was severe.  He spent a significant portion of our vacation in the bathroom.  Hence, The Year of the Bowel.

This year I callously said it would be The Year of the Tooth, and it is.  But it’s not Will’s tooth.  It’s my tooth.  Shortly after arriving at the beach, my tooth started to ache in a severe and all-consuming way.  I haven’t experienced this kind of pain in a long, long time.  Finally, yesterday afternoon, I just couldn’t stand it and went to see a local dentist.  Well, it’s abscessed, and I’m having a root canal at 10:30 a.m. today.  Yes, your prayers are appreciated, because it is indeed The Year of the Tooth!

It almost sounds like karma, doesn’t it?  But an impersonal and void-of-mercy “karma” doesn’t describe the universe I live in.  I live in a universe where people often reap what they sow, where people often get what’s coming to them, and I live in a universe where often they don’t!  I live in a universe where there is justice and mercy, and I live by the hope that justice and mercy met on the cross.  Justice would separate me eternally from my God, but He loves me so much that He sent his son to pay for and endure all the sins that I’ve reaped and sown.   I am so thankful that I am not forever bound by the consequences of what I do, that grace is at work in this life, aren’t you?

Karma is a performance-based system.  But Jesus offers us a grace-based system.  The choice is clear: works or grace?  One is impossible and the other easy.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that I don’t have to earn my way to Heaven.  Thank you that you are a Risen Savior, and that you paid the true and ghastly cost for all my sins.  Thank you that I do not have a toothache every day.  Help me to be more compassionate and to never take for granted the health and energy that I am blessed to have.  Thank you Lord that you embody justice and mercy.  Help me to love and pursue both as well.  Thank you for the way Will and I can laugh together – even over The Year of the Tooth.  Thank you, Lord Jesus, for loving me perfectly and eternally.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.