Greetings from hot and stuffy Baltimore where the poor fish are still dying and the harbor is still smelly and strangely colored. Lest you think that all is bleak, I want to share a few pictures with you from our walk last evening. The first site that greeted us was my duck friends that have apparently adopted our little pier area as home. They were just kinda chillin' in the approaching dusk on the posts in the water whose visibility changes as the tide comes in and out.
There's a promenade that runs alongside the harbor all around where we live and it's a great place to walk.
Not a bad site for an evening stroll, is it?
Now for a much different view of life here. On Sunday late afternoon, as I was getting ready to leave for a small group gathering where Hamp was already grilling some chicken, I heard a very ominous noise above me. I could tell it was water and that it was going somewhere. I knew that gravity was not going to be my friend and sure enough, soon little trickles of water started running down the back wall in our kitchen. Thinking back on it, I'm sure for a few seconds I looked pretty ridiculous running in circles trying to figure out what to do first. I didn't know it at the time, but the pump in the washer of an apartment on the 4th floor (we live on the 2nd) had gone out and the draining water was running everywhere. What I did know was that if the worst happened and the ceiling fell in, I would have a giant mess on my hands, so I began frantically emptying all the kitchen cabinets and drawers. Notice I said ALL of the cabinets and drawers - food, baking dishes, cleaning supplies, pots and pans, paper goods, etc. I had stuff strewn all over the apartment just trying to get it out of the kitchen as fast as I could.
I did have the presence of mind to try and capture as much of the water as I could to keep it off the top of the cabinets. Adding to the effect were places where the enamel paint stretched as it was holding the water.
The water finally stopped running down the wall, Hamp got home, and we punctured the paint bubbles so things could dry out. This was how things looked when it was all over.
After letting the ceiling and walls dry out for a couple of days, the apartment complex has already begun the paint repairs and things will be good as new by the end of tomorrow.
So, I'm sure you're wondering just where God and His grace fit into all of this, right? More and more, I realize how my whole life is affected by that very grace and also by those who choose not to receive it. I don't know how well I can try to explain what I'm thinking, but I'll give it a try...
I once heard a definition of God's grace and mercy like this: Grace is God giving us what we don't deserve and mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve. What I fear, however, is that in our post-modern, tolerant, seeker friendly, 21st century American Christianity, we've ignored a part of God that could actually affect many for eternity - His holiness.
We like the idea of a loving Father God who accepts us in Christ, but we don't like the idea of a just God who required His sacrifice for our sin. We want the benefits without the cost. We want to live as we choose and as a result, we have an entire population "doing what is right in their own eyes" who cry "intolerant" if we question their life choices. Where are the warnings from the Church of God's anger and wrath toward sin? Where is the healthy, holy fear of God? What about verses like Hebrews 10:31 that reads, "...'The Lord will judge His people.' It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God"?
I've told you before that I care way too much what people think about me and I've let that affect me more than I want to admit. I've kept quiet many times for fear of offending to the detriment of my family and my own heart and conscience. While I don't plan to become someone you hate to see coming, I am realizing anew that to be a follower of Christ, I must be willing to speak the whole truth and not just what keeps me safe. So, I'm asking in advance for the very grace I'm talking about if I swing too far the other way for a while. I'm trusting God to continue the work He's begun in me even as I pray the same for you.
Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone), by Chris Tomlin