Tag Archives: friendship

Joy Manifest – the dawn approaches

Posted by David

Part 5 – Love, relationships, and marriage

“Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Despite how peaceful the world may seem at times, there’s a constant battle cry, a somber, weak whimper hardly discernable behind the grind, the shrill whine, and the roar of human endeavor. The war began long ago and for each of us the battle lines are drawn straight across the entryways into our hearts.

Each of us is given only one weapon. It is used to raze life or raise the dead. Our double-edged sword can cut through lies or mince the truth. Our tongue is that weapon and must be kept clean or it will rust and decay. Our friends’ battles are waged in our hearts. For our true friends we die a little each day. What dies in us is powerlust in which we all are tangled—a bramble of thorns that binds our will.

“Love, please swipe my right arm free with your sword, then I can wield mine own. Thank you, Dear.”

“Love, now my left leg, I must be free to lift the sword. Thank you, Dear.”

“Love, now I can free your right leg. You are most certainly welcome.”

With prayer-sharpened sword in hand, we are cut free. We emerge from the briars and start to run upward toward a lovely meadow calling us with the sounds of chickadees, kinglets and the babble of a shining, cobbled stream. The garden is beauty unimagined. We stop and look back at the thorn patch. The bramble is full of others—in destitute horror.

We turn back for the others, sharpening our swords as we go. Darkness settles across the sky and into the pain we go finding love in every life we find. Our arms are scratched and ripped and bloody from the thorns. The brambles goes further than we thought imaginable. Up a hill we go, freeing others until at the top I stop abruptly.

Alone now, I find Him still wearing his crown. He speaks kindly and tells me to turn around. As I turn, I see all I have ever loved written indelibly across the landscape. Our friends are free. Even the sky looks friendly with the cool glow of the approaching dawn.

In the eastern horizon sunlight pops above the horizon. Light streams through the woods and shines on the sparkling dew. The blaze of a bright new morning unfolds unlike no other and shouts of Joy manifest. The battle is over. The brambles have sprouted roses. I kneel and bow and thank my King. He kneels down to me and calls me friend.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:12-13

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Filed under Christianity, Love, war

Quid Pro Quo – Oh, No!

Posted by David

“Life is quid pro quo.” Is that really the way life is? I hope not. Most people take life to be that way. They expect outwardly and inwardly that if they do their part, they will get the other side of reciprocation. Is life just a series of subtle and not-so-subtle contractual engagements? I hope that’s not the case.

Here are some types of quid pro quo thinking:

“I’ll smile and be polite, then…”

“If I give her the job…

“If I take care of her kid this afternoon…”

“If I marry him…”

“God, if I believe in you…”

Expectations such as these are a setup for disaster, because life is not quid pro quo. Life isn’t so mechanistic, at least not the life I know. If it was, there would be no hope, no grace, no joy, no love. We’d be bound in slavery as Quid-Pro-Quobots.

We have a self-determination that allows us to choose and ask and grant and love. With that comes responsibility. My three-year old boy and I were talking about responsibility recently. And he was wondering if Magpie our cat was able to be irresponsible. He had noticed that she would get on the table and clearly she knew that she wasn’t allowed to. As with many of his deeper questions, I had to think about how to respond. I explained that cats aren’t able to be responsible, but that Magpie still isn’t allowed to get on the table. I probably hedged a bit in my explanation. Then he went on to ask about other animals and whether or not those animals were capable of being responsible or irresponsible. Neither of us were completely satisfied with the conversation. Even so, I still hold that animals don’t have the ability to be responsible, yet we do. We make willful choices and that characteristic places us under an umbrella of Justice: God’s justice, that is.

God’s justice is perfect, but that doesn’t mean life is an eye for an eye, or if I rub your back you will rub mine. Relationships aren’t so simple. God’s relationship with us isn’t that simple. If relationships were, where would the friendship be? Friendships aren’t so rote. But isn’t that the contract we see established with most relationships. Those relationships are doomed to fail or become drudgery. True friendships don’t work that way. They don’t care what the other has done for them recently. They act in love. True friendships are much more like water flowing in a river than life living under the bondage of quid pro quo.

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