Of all the questions God might ask me, one in particular fills me with dread. It’s important. It’s crucial. In fact, it might be the most penetrating, vital question of all. But because my potential answer reveals so much about me, because it makes me feel naked emotionally and psychologically and spiritually, I’m afraid to respond. And, I suspect, you are too.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of my children sat down next to Matthew McConaughey on a flight from San Antonio to L.A. There they were, a regular gal and the Hollywood heartthrob, inches away.
In 1907, when young Adolf was sipping a cup of coffee outside a corner shop in Vienna, he wasn’t plotting how he could murder six million Jews. He was pondering his next watercolor painting, dreaming about becoming an artist.
Did you hear about the man who went to the doctor with a terrible headache? Before he got down to examining him, he first asked him a few questions.
Almost five years to the day, the prodigal son emptied his bank account, packed a few changes of clothes. and snuck off to the faraway country. Again.
Hallelujahs and Amens were ordinary parts of the Sunday morning service in the tiny country church. So was the swish of a flushing toilet.
The “black box.” There's a phrase that never harbors good news.
Another plane down.
Another mystery to unravel.
A thousand questions from survivors, the FAA, the media.
All demanding answers.
No matter how engrossed I might be in an episode of Bugs Bunny or Gilligan’s Island, my ears never missed the approaching rumble. It crawled its way down the alley, one man driving, two other men walking alongside. They hefted garbage cans and spilled their contents into the gaping mouth of the truck.
She was the kind of woman whose biography needed few exclamation points. Invisibility was her most striking feature. Few recalled her, and none remembered any story in which she was either villain or heroine. She was the very incarnation of average.
Snowmen hung like overweight acrobats from the light poles lining Main Street as the hearse crunched over the snowy pavement. Jingle bells, sirens yell, tears cascade like rain. All they wanted for Christmas was him back. Before he left his friend’s house. Before the curve of the bridge. Before he fell asleep at the wheel.
Five hundred miles north of us, near the San Francisco bay, sits a man named Curtis Roberts. I doubt he’s ever read a word of Luther or visited the Castle Church in Wittenberg. He doesn’t know anything about “Here We Still Stand.”
When I need to pray the most is usually when my tongue tucks its tail and runs away. I’m left wordless. Rather than a prayer warrior, I feel like a prayer deserter.
I never could put my finger on why Mrs. Snodgrass didn’t like me. Her name certainly wasn’t playground safe, but I never sang mean little ditties about her like some other 4th graders. I wasn’t little boot-licking Johnny Do-Gooder, but I also wasn’t shooting spitwads across the room or letting Buster, the class hamster, run free. But Mrs. Snodgrass had it out for me.
Grace is uncivilized and rebellious. We make rules for it and it breaks them. Grace is a constant embarrassment to the prim and proper religiosity of the squeaky clean. It is what Brennan Manning called "the furious longing of God."
This is the night when the earth is without form, and void, and darkness is over the face of the deep.* And the Spirit of God moves upon the face of the waters. Then God says, “Let there be light,” and there is light. The seal of the darkness is broken and the morning of the first creation breaks forth out of night.
In this article we follow the wise counsel of Lewis by giving ear to the past. We encircle the cross with a few of the church fathers. Stand between Justin Martyr and Cyril of Jerusalem. Listen for a few moments to Augustine and Irenaeus and Gregory.
Want to do something that people really cherish?
Commit an act of infamy.
Do something really stupid.
Make a mistake worthy of a headline.
You’re ugly. You’re fat. You’re stupid. You’re dirty. You’re a disgrace. You’re a failure. Inside our heads the accusations pour forth. It’s like a courtroom packed with lawyers barking against us.