Sunday, November 13, 2005

Seeing Rage

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" - Matthew 25:40

I raged at God today...the Creator of all the Universe.

Yes, we had words, for many reasons but primarily because the past week has been a tough one in our home.

Tonight there will be a "prayer walk" on our church land, the second of such exercises and I understand the first was very good. I won't take part because of my odd sleep schedule and because I walk our church grounds in prayer more than most - although I am often pushing a lawn mower or some other piece of lawn equipment, I am always in prayer or conversation with God.

There is nary a nook on the land where I have not prayed to God, sang to God, or raged at God.

I suspect of the members of our congregation, only Gordon knows the land more deeply.

When I heard tonight another prayer walk was scheduled my foremost thought was, "I need to get up here with the mower after church so people can walk more easily. To discover the land's treasures. They will walk and pray tonight... made easier because this afternoon I will rage."

Gordon was out today so Tim was preaching and it so happens he was preaching on that very chapter of Matthew. A passage I have heard and said more often in the past month than any scripture I can ever remember.

Tim was excellent discussing the obvious connotations of finding God in ourselves as well as in the least among us while also exploring the verse in context which poses a dichotomy - God with and within us and those around us, but also a God who is removed from us - on a throne ready to leave those who passed by the needy in this life to "eternal punishment" with the swipe of His hand.

As I marched behind the lawnmower being pelted with debris I wanted to swipe back.

So I raged.

I raged at God because we are waiting for more medical test results and doctor's explanations of them which is terrifying Amy and me. In truth they will likely amount to nothing, but we don't need the stress...not now when we are being so "noble" and all by opening our home to a "Katrina" family.

I raged at God today because even though we cherish the Gomez family, they are high maintenance and at times that too can get to me and I am ashamed.

I raged at God today because this morning I wrenched my back - spare me the lecture about the foolishness of doing yard-work afterwards...I was careful and I needed to rage.

I raged at God today because yesterday, my middle brother, Derek, turned 50 years old. In a phone call to him I found out our eldest brother, Stan, who "disowned" me prior to the last Presidential election had in fact New York...because he wanted "to be in a blue state."
Take note, he had been living Austin, Texas which is not exactly a bastion of conservatism. He never even sent us a change of address card.

So I raged at God while chopping down brittle knee-deep grass in the summer heat of the South Texas "fall."

Our two small church buildings are housed on a fraction of the over 5 acres of land the church owns. The land is populated with majestic oaks, wild persimmon, gorgeous mountain laurels...and dreams. Sometimes, right in time for Lent, the mountain laurel bloom with such abundance to bring a tear to even the most hard hearted.

But sometimes our dreams are forgotten too.

There is also plenty of ugly brush country scrub and prickly pear cactus so pernicious is seems like it was planted by Satan himself. You can cut it down, try to burn it, tear it from the ground...but it will return.

Additionally the grasses grow wild and in 6 years or so we've succeeded in truly taming only a small area of the property.

Often times I will cut down a tall patch of grass and find an animal carcass. Yes, there is death on our church land too.

And of course rocks. Every inch of the ground is covered in limestone, which if you pick up and discard will only allow another rock to pop to the surface.

I thought about these things and raged at God.

"Why is life so tough so often? What did we do to deserve such stress? Are we not 'lambs' instead 'goats' in the mind of God?"

I was in the middle of my rage and my mowing...cutting down the straw-like grasses that grow along the Farm to Market road upon which our church sits, when I saw it - a 20 dollar bill.

It was faded and appeared to have been trapped in the weedy gnarl that can quickly ensnare anything flicked from a passing car or blown out a car window or pickup bed. I have found many items in that patch of grass...but never before cold hard cash.

I bent down and snatched the 20 as my mind screamed, "AHA! There that shows you Lord! You can beat me down with stress and aggravation, but sometimes I still get the prize!"

It was as if God had become sick in listening to me rage and tossed a twenty to the ground to silence me.

Still, for the record, I was up 20 bucks and when I called Amy to tell her I was coming home I mentioned that fact.

Her response?

"You found it! I lost 20 dollars in the church parking lot last weekend!"

I had absolutely no reason to doubt her.

That's when I realized it.

My relationship with God is not too different than my relationship with our church land.
At times all I will see is the beauty and grace of the other times all I will see are the harsh things, the hard things...even the dead things. At times I will dream of the potential, and at other times I will fear the dreams will whither.

Within all of such are still God's blessings given to me without question or merit.

I merely have the duty to see them.