Featured post

Looking Back to Move Forward

back_to_the_future_06

Where are we, the (2)1st century or the 21st century?

“That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9 

In Christ, the passage of time doesn’t have the same relevance it has apart from Him.  Whether we’re in the 1st century or the 21st century, Christ is unchanging.

I want to live, always being ready to give a reason for the hope I  have within, and doing so with gentleness and respect.  (1 Peter 3:15)

Join me if you like.

  My Highest Aspiration: To have no life but Christ’s….for Him to be in me and I in Him… for He is in the Father.

BLH 2

 

 

But Wait! There’s Still More!

“To live is Christ; to die is gain. (Apostle Paul in his letter to the Church at Philippi – Philippians 1:21)

It doesn’t take long, when seeing some of those cheesy TV advertisements about some product allegedly not available in stores, to come to the catchphrase.  Near the end of the commercials, we are invariably offered an enticement to buy extra of whatever they are selling at no additional price when they say something along the lines of: “But Wait!  There Still More…”  

The thought that there is a good deal to be had is a cornerstone of consumer marketing.  The message that we can save money by spending money may seem illogical when framed as I just have, but it works well nonetheless.  As a consumer society, we are always ready to hear how we can get more for less…and there are always those who seek to convince us that they have a deal for us.  

I’m pretty resistant to those ploys, recognizing them for what they are.  That’s not to say I never look for a deal, but I try to be selective.  One that I have found that is real and has lasting value is my faith in Jesus Christ.  I have lived with Him for over 40 years, and I cannot imagine a life more rewarding, filled with contentment, and even miraculous (Man, the stories I could tell!).  

I’m on the backend of this part of the journey, but just having experienced another Easter, I’m reminded, “But Wait! There’s Still More.”  Easter celebrates the fulfillment of a promise that there is an eternal more for those who believe and follow (Job 19:26-27; Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 53:10-11; Daniel 12:2-3; Hosea 6:1-2; Luke 24:6; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:5).  Initially it took some convincing (about five years worth), but I have bought in lock, stock and barrel.     

Paul argues (Romans 15:13-19) that without Christ’s resurrection, then bodily death really is the end, faith is futile, and those of us who have invested in this faith are to be pitied.  Apart from the resurrection of Jesus, the whole thing falls apart.  I’m betting the ranch…actually, I don’t own a ranch so to restate, I’m betting my life that my belief in these promises and my belief in Him will hold together.  I’m waiting because I believe there’s even more.  Anyone want to wait with me?              

He Is Risen!  He Is Risen Indeed!

© Byron L. Hannon, 2021.  All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted. 

It’s the Small Things

I was on my way to visit a church in NE Philadelphia, about a 40-minute drive from my home.  It was raining with a forecast of rain for the rest of the day.   

Now, I’m going to take a sidebar here to explain that the car I normally drive on visits like this is a little old, maybe a lot old…18 years old to be exact.  In order to dispel some of your negative mental images of my vehicle, it has been well taken care of; it has held it’s look well, it runs well, and only has 162,000 miles on it (less than 10,000 miles/year).  I’ve thought about replacing it several times, but keep coming back to the same question: Why?  I’m semi-retired, the car has long been paid for, and there’s nothing wrong with it unless you consider age a wrong. 

I had spoken to the pastor of the church I was planning to visit so I was expected.  On top of that, there were some matters we needed to discuss after morning worship.  As I got in, put the key in the ignition, looked up to see my wife drive off in her much newer car headed to our home church, turned my headlights on (it was a grey, rainy day), strapped into my seat belt, and turned my wipers on, I noticed a strip of rubber windshield wiper that had peeled off from the body of the wiper blade.  Mental note: I need to get these wiper blades replaced (something I’d said to myself for several months, just hadn’t yet done it.).

I pulled off with the wipers on and by the time I’d driven maybe 75 yards, both wiper blades were just about completely shredded.  Crap!!!  There was no way I could drive to Philly like this; I wouldn’t be able to make it out of our development before I would hear metal scraping against the glass windshield.  I parked the car and texted the pastor, explaining my predicament and apologizing amidst the need the need to reschedule the visit.  

I could’ve gone to an auto parts store to get refills and put them on, but that’s not neat work in the rain.  By the time I would have gotten to the church in Philly, morning worship would have been over. 

My plans were derailed by two small rubber strips, not a flat tire, not a mechanical problem.  My inattention to two of the smallest things on my car kept me from doing what I wanted and intended to do.  

Not paying attention to the details on seemingly small things disrupted a much bigger thing.  

Maybe there’s a life lesson here that has nothing to do with cars. 

© Byron L. Hannon, 2021.  All rights reserved to the text content unless otherwise noted.                      

Checking for Rubble

“You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” (Nehemiah 2:17)

Several years ago, I preached a series on Nehemiah found in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).  The story takes place in the 5th century B.C. in the period following the end of the Jews 70-year exile in Babylonia.  Many Jews had returned to their homeland in Palestine, including those who settled in Jerusalem.  Some, like Nehemiah, remained in different places of the diaspora (dispersion of a people group away from their historical places).  Nehemiah lived in the Persian capital of Susa as a high-ranking servant of Artaxerxes I, king of Persia and its empire which included the Holy Land.    

One of the notable actions of Artaxerxes was his sanctioning the practice of Judaism which removed barriers to the practice of Jewish worship and adherence to the Mosaic law, things precious to the Hebrew nation.  

Nehemiah was deeply burdened by the still dilapidated condition of Jerusalem as a result of destruction by the Babylonians 70 years earlier.  GOD had placed this burden on Nehemiah’s heart and he felt an intense need to do something about it.  Nehemiah sought and received permission from the king to become the temporary governor of Jerusalem in order to restore its walls and gates, structures essential for the security of cities in that day.  Without them, Jerusalem was particularly vulnerable to attack, a condition Nehemiah was intent on changing.  As you can imagine, one of the conditions Nehemiah discovered when he arrived in Jerusalem was the presence of the rubble of the broken walls and gates that nearly encircled the entire city. 

The primary theme of the series I referenced was that you cannot successfully build new things on top of old rubble.  The rubble must be cleaned out and disposed of first.  This is true in building construction and it is true in spiritual construction.  This principle is seen in the metaphors Jesus used, “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved” (Matthew 9:16-17).   It is also seen in Paul’s declaration regarding the conversion experience, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17).

One of the challenges of pastoral ministry is helping people who outwardly want their lives to be to be in Christ but who are either unaware of their inward rubble or who are unwilling to allow it to be acknowledged and dealt with.  They try to build a new spiritual life on top of their old life’s rubble, and bump into problem after problem in the same way you would expect a building contractor to experience if he/she tried to build a new structure on top of old broken stone and brick.  Too often, people don’t do (or allow to be done) any of the necessary under-the-surface work that would allow their new foundations to have the stability to build upon.  This hinders healthy spiritual life and growth.    

There was a secondary theme in this teaching series: we have to check for rubble continually.  In the spiritual life, like in other areas of life, there is no such thing as ‘once and done.’  Our spiritual commitments, if not continually renewed and reinforced, will experience degradation.  Clean your house and then don’t do any cleaning for a few months.  You’ll be able to write your name in the dust on your table-tops and shelves.  Spiritual rubble is like household dust; it just shows up and has to be cleaned away before it completely mars the appearance of your home. 

The History Channel® brilliantly makes this point in its series called Life After People.1 The scenes of how nature (wild grasses, forests, animal life) would retake and overwhelm human-made structures, bridges, waterways, and open fields five, ten, 20 and more years following the absence of people is striking.  But even if you’ve never seen an episode of this series, just imagine (or remember) what a backyard garden looks like if the dead leaves are not cleaned out, if the weeds are not pulled out, if the ground is not cultivated and treated so that it can support the plants and vegetables planted in it.  Rubble!

It’s been a while since I’ve spoken or written about this particular topic, but I think reminding myself and possibly others is worthwhile.  Checking for and dealing with our rubble is always worthwhile.           

  1. Life After People.  The History Channel, April 2009 – March 2010.

© Byron L. Hannon, 2021.  All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.            

A Simple Explanation of Faith

“Then Jesus came to them [His disciples] and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” (Matthew 28:18)

I think the essence of teaching is helping people understand concepts by presenting and explaining them in understandable ways.  Faith, I believe, is one of those concepts that is often thrown about without sufficient understanding.  My frame of reference is Christian faith as opposed to faith in oneself or faith in humanity or faith in general with no specific object. I’m talking about faith in Jesus Christ.

Here it is: Christian faith is demonstrated by acknowledging and accepting the unequivocal authority of Jesus Christ.  It is more than believing that He is; it is believing that He is exactly who He said He is and allowing every aspect of life to be conformed to that belief in what we do and what we say.

Two examples from Matthew 8 illustrate this.  In the first example, the servant of a Roman military officer was gravely ill.  This officer encountered Jesus and having heard what Jesus had done for others, asked Jesus to heal his servant.  Jesus said (my paraphrase), “Sure, let’s go to your house.”  What the officer did next was unexpected.

Holding Jesus in extremely high regard, the officer said, Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (vv. 8-9). Look at the reaction of Jesus: “Jesus was astonished when he heard this and said to those who were following him, ‘He has greater faith than anyone I’ve encountered in Israel!’” (v. 10).  

This man was not only not Jewish, he was a military officer in the Roman occupation of Israel and would normally be considered an enemy of the people.  He did, however, have an innate understanding of authority and he believed Jesus was someone special enough to be called and treated as “Lord.”  His submission to Jesus and his trust in Jesus’ authority to heal his servant earned him praise as one whose faith was great.   

In the second example, found later in the same chapter of Matthew, Jesus and His disciples were in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee.  While they were crossing, they got caught in big storm (something common for that body of water).  Jesus was asleep and His disciples got so worried about the boat capsizing leading to their deaths that they woke Him.  In this instance, Jesus had a very different reaction than in the first example: Reprimanding them, He said, “Why are you gripped with fear? Where is your faith?” (v. 26).  Then He reprimanded the storm and the sea became calm.  His demonstration of authority over natural forces was a mind-blower for His disciples. He was annoyed that their faith in Him was as small as it was, as if to say “You know Me and yet you still have so little understanding!”

It’s ironic that great faith was shown by one from whom it would not have been expected and little faith was shown by those from whom much greater faith would have been expected.  If nothing else, there is a lesson in humility here.    

In both of these examples (and others not discussed here), there is a direct correlation between recognizing that the authority of Jesus is unlimited (and responding to Him as such) and His view of the quality of faith people have in Him.  For those of us who consider ourselves Christians, the quality of our faith is of utmost importance for it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6).  This same faith must cede authority to Jesus in order for it to be faith that God honors.

I want to ask, “What’s in your wallet?” but that wouldn’t quite work. Hopefully, you get the point.

© Byron L. Hannon, 2021.  All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.                    

A Christian Oxymoron

“Seek first the kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33, NIV)

Thou shalt have no elohim acherim [other gods] in My presence.” 

(Exodus 20:3, Orthodox Jewish Bible)

I’ve been mulling on this for some time now, the idea of Christian Nationalism.  Certainly, the concept of nationalism has entered more and more into our nation’s dialog over the last few years and seems to be favored by more than a few.  This is one of the issues for which I feel the need to put a stake in the ground and to say so: Jesus was not a nationalist.  Christianity and nationalism are irreconcilable ways of believing and behaving.  They are unequal yoke partners.  They are in direct opposition to one another.  Christian Nationalism is an oxymoron if such a thing as an oxymoron ever existed.

What is nationalism?  Well, the term has a broad definition, but a representative one is “devotion, especially excessive or undiscriminating devotion, to the interests or culture of a particular nation-state.”1 With it comes a belief in acting independently rather than collectively, emphasizing national rather than international goals.  In its mildest forms it is patriotism.  The problem as I see it is that, too often, the milder forms of nationalism morph into things not so mild.  The more extreme forms of nationalism have often started as patriotic fervor and then gradually transitioned into something more extreme and xenophobic. It’s like the proverbial frog placed in a pot of cold water and the heat is gradually increased until the pot is boiling and frog never saw it coming.  Too late!  The same thing has happened in nations where national values shifted gradually to become not only important values but the supreme values.    

The history of highly nationalistic nations reflects some combination of these characteristics: 1) an inflated sense of superiority and exceptionalism; 2) the assumption of privilege as a result of being members of a nation’s dominant culture; 3) dismissal, distrust, fear, or hatred of those outside of that dominant culture such as minorities and/or foreigners; 4) the assumption of the right to exclude those outside of the dominant culture from full or even partial participation in the nation; and 5) demonstration of oppressive behavior under the guise of protecting national interest. 

Let’s take a look at some historical examples of nationalism:

  • The Persian Empire – Grew to conquer most of the Near and Middle East; tried to conquer Greece
  • The Roman Empire – Saw itself as the rightful ruler of the world
  • The British Empire of the 19th century – Held a prevailing attitude that anything not British was intrinsically inferior
  • Nazi Germany – We know what they did
  • Fascist Italy – We know what they tried to do
  • South Africa during apartheid – The minority in power saw themselves as a modern-day “chosen people” in a modern-day land of Canaan with the right to subdue, subjugate, and brutalize the majority who had inhabited the land for centuries
  • Japan during WWII – Nearly 80 years later both North and South Korea still has beef with them over things the Japanese did and failed to fully acknowledge    
  • The Soviet Union – We know a lot of what they did, what they have tried to do, and a lot is still unknown
  • The People’s Republic of China – See above
  • Cambodia under Pol Pot (1975-79) – A complete horror show, literally
  • Russia – Vladimir Putin.  Enough said?        

The characteristics mentioned earlier in the full paragraph above are not anything I want reflected in my life, nor should anyone who wants to be associated with Christ.  Biblical Christianity is inclusive (see John 3:16).  The basis of biblical Christianity is unselfish love for GOD and for our neighbors.  The parable of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37) makes it emphatic that Jesus recognized no national or ethnic boundaries on who constituted a neighbor. 

If the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:16-18) is missionally directed toward all others who might be considered “outsiders,” then the tenets of nationalism don’t fit and can’t fit.  John Wesley, the great 18th century Anglican priest and credited with founding methodism said, “The world is my parish.”  This was not from a man who felt superior, who felt entitled, who dismissed, distrusted, feared or hated, who excluded or oppressed others.  He was very much the opposite. 

I think the concept of Christian Nationalism depends on closely linking personal religious beliefs to one’s national identity so that they become inseparable, what some call civil religion.  The problem with this is such notions are far from orthodox Christian faith.  Instead, faith is expressed in some hybrid view of GOD and nation.  This is strikingly close to polytheism and idol worship if it places nation on or near the same plane as GOD, in direct disobedience to the first commandment.  Nation becomes a contemporary version of the ancient Israelites’ golden calf.  It  undermines one’s ability to commit one’s life to the “Great Commandment” to love GOD with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).  No, I don’t believe it is possible to be a Christian and a nationalist whenever that nationalism manifests more than common patriotism.  

Perhaps those who claim to be Christian Nationalists don’t sufficiently grasp Christianity or perhaps there is an inner transformative work that has not yet been accomplished in their lives.  Another alternative is that they really are nationalists and are wearing the outer clothing of Christianity.         

  1. American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2016.

© Byron L. Hannon, 2021.  All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted. 

Simple Grace

Yesterday, I drove 60 miles in heavy rain.  Most of that was on an interstate where the normal speed limit is 65.  Of course, it’s fairly common on clear days to be passed by cars doing considerably above that even when I’m driving a little above the limit.  Experiencing that kind of high-speed driving and the occasional intemperate switching from lane-to-lane from fellow travelers on very wet roads in a driving rain to me seems to be…inconsiderate.  Maybe my age is showing, but I don’t think that’s it.  I’ve felt this way since I began driving. 

Now I do need to confess that a number of years ago I had an accident in a rainstorm.  All of my family was in the car.  Our three children were young, including our youngest who wasn’t quite two months old.  On a curving on-ramp to I-295 in a heavy thunderstorm, I never thought much of the pool of water in the road.  I wasn’t going fast, maybe 25mph. I lost control of the car as the tires lost contact with the road and the car hydroplaned and slammed into the concrete curb.  Fortunately, no one was hurt, and there were no other cars in front of or behind us.  The front tie-rods were broken making the car not drivable.  

That night is strongly etched in my mind all these years later.  You might say I’m a little sensitive which is why I think it’s so important to remember that we share the road and life with others.  The simple graces hardly cost anything at all.  Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ is not just for children.  Letting people finish what they are saying without interrupting them to say what you want to say is about valuing their voice as much as you value your own.  Demonstrating courtesy like holding a door or using a blinker when turning or changing lanes only involves a little wrist action.  Exercising the patience so as to not tailgate others or weave in and out of traffic may require a little more restraint, but we all will be more likely to get where we’re headed with a lot less stress.

You might say this is not going to change anything and that people will continue to do these things.   I disagree.  If just one person adjusts some aspect of their life to offer simple grace to others, then that’s a change.  And maybe, that one person may influence someone else to do the same. 

© Byron L. Hannon, 2021.  All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.  

He’s GOD

GOD is greater than what I think is good.

GOD is greater than my troubles.

GOD is greater than my worries and fears.

GOD is greater than my preferences.

GOD is greater than my hopes, dreams, and deepest desires.

GOD is greater than my opinions and speculations.

GOD is greater than the things that frustrate me, annoy me, and anger me.

GOD is greater than my needs.

GOD is greater than my past.

GOD is greater than my present.

GOD is greater than my future.

GOD is greater than my friends.

GOD is greater than what I love.

GOD is greater than my family.

GOD is greater than life.

GOD is greater than me.

GOD is greater than all that opposes Him.

GOD is greater…

Today, I yield to GOD’s greatness.

Blessed be His Holy Name!

Memories of Sand Hill

Driving on a rolling 9 mile stretch on Rt. 23 in Lancaster County on Sunday morning, it was hard for me to not notice the snow-covered hills and valleys that covered the landscape.  I also noticed there were no sledders anywhere on that stretch.  Perhaps it was the earliness of the morning and/or the fact that it was a worship day in a county in which church attendance is common.

I’ve made it no secret how much I’ve come to dislike snow.  The aggravations of shoveling walkways and driveways, cleaning off cars, driving behind partially clean cars that throw off hardened chunks snow on those driving behind them, walkways with snow melt that freezes overnight and the risks of slip falls, rock salt and sand that stains cars and windshields all accumulate to make snowfall something I can do without.

It wasn’t always that way.  When I was a boy, one of my favorite wintertime activities when it snowed was to spend as much time as possible on Sand Hill.  At age 10 and 11, Sand Hill looked more like a small mountain and when it snowed, the hill called to me to all of my friends.  We prayed for deep snow, and it seemed every season our prayers were answered two or three times.  

With our sleds, we would make our way to the top of the hill.  Whoever had the toboggans would go first to compact the snow.  When it was my turn, I would take a running start and leap onto my American Flyer and fly down the hill, maybe an eighth of a mile long, landing in a ditch that kept us all from sledding into the street.  And then I would climb back up the hill and do it again…and again…and again…  We all did until our fingers turned blue and we had no more feeling in hands or feet.  When we could stay no longer, we would slowly make our way home.  If it was a weekend or if school was still closed because of the weather, the next day would bring a reprise.  I loved it!

It is now mid-afternoon, and I am writing this from home many miles away from those snowed hills and valleys.  When the snow is gone, I won’t miss it, but I have to wonder if there are any kids climbing those hills with their sleds to do what only seems natural when it snows.

© Byron L. Hannon, 2021.  All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.                   

More Than Enough

“So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from Him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly.”  (Matthew 6:33, Passion Bible)

One of my favorite worship songs is More Than Enough1 as sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.  In summary, it speaks of GOD’s complete sufficiency as a provider, a healer, and the blessing of His constant presence.  The song’s aim is to reaffirm in our hearts and minds that the person of GOD and the provision of GOD exceeds our every need.  I can’t hear it or sing it without experiencing emotion that can’t be contained.  

I firmly believe that the GOD I know has a storehouse of riches that is infinite in its abundance.  I believe that abundance is a prime character trait of the economy of the kingdom of GOD.  This is the economy which Jesus introduced to the world and for which His followers, His Church, has the responsibility to demonstrate and promote.  GOD’s economy of abundance is in direct opposition to the economy of scarcity which characterizes the world and its nations. 

The economy of abundance says there is enough of everything for everyone to have their needs met.  There is enough food for everyone in the world to eat, there is enough work for everyone so that everyone can contribute to the whole, there is enough money so that no one needs to be destitute, there is enough space for everyone to live peacefully and safely, there is enough love for everyone to receive, there is enough compassion to share broadly…there is enough.  In fact, there is more than enough. Cases in point are the occasions in which Jesus fed thousands out of what appeared to be very little.  In both cases, there were leftovers after the multitudes were fed.      

Conversely, the economy of scarcity says “no” to all of the above; there is not enough of everything for everyone.  The size of the pie is finite, and the more some have the less others will have.   Because the economy of scarcity says “no,” unused food is plowed under or stored and then often rots in one part of the world while people starve in another part.  The economy of scarcity is why the richest 1% of the world’s population owns in excess 50% of the globe’s total wealth, a number that continues to grow for the richest and shrink for the poorest2.  The economy of scarcity is why we will always have people living in homelessness and deep poverty, unable to find an escape.  The economy of scarcity is why we create reasons to fear and demonize “the other” and need ways to keep “them” out (closed neighborhoods, privatized schools, gated communities and border walls which cost billions of dollars).  The economy of scarcity effectively states that there is only so much opportunity, so much love, and so much compassion to go around and those who live outside the boundaries of privilege are not eligible to receive.  

Sidebar: Imagine being able to use hoarded and misappropriated money to fund equitable public education, broad access to post high school education for those who want it, development of vaccines, cures, and other advanced medical protocols, expansion of non-fossil based energy sources to support the re-greening of the earth, universal quality support and care for the other abled, the disabled and the elderly…

I’m not fostering some utopian ideal or human-based political economy.  Instead, at least in the realms in which the Church can exert influence, it is GOD’s economy of abundance where the rhetoric of grace is actually the reality of grace that abounds and where the will of GOD is done on earth as it is in heaven.  Perhaps difficulty buying-in to this is because of a lack of belief that GOD’s way actually works (and a belief that the world’s way does).      

The primary value in GOD’s economy of abundance is GOD’s righteousness.  It is the natural extension of loving GOD and loving our neighbors as ourselves which Jesus declared as the two greatest commandments.  The primary values of economies of scarcity are acquisition, self-promotion and self-protection.  It is a natural extension of loving self and those closest to us above all else.  

In GOD’s economy of abundance, there is recognition of human psycho-social and material needs (read or reread Matthew 6:33), but they are always secondary and come as a promised provision based on faith and obedience.  In the world’s economy of scarcity, human needs, desires and preferences are always primary and are always subject to competition and conflict (between individuals, groups, regions, and nations).        

So here’s my question for those who claim to be citizens of the kingdom of GOD.  Which of these two economies is most evident in your life, not enough or more than enough?  I ask the question of you (and of myself) because it goes to the heart of practicing what we preach.     

  1. More Than Enough” by Robert Lane Gay.
  2. “Richest 1% own half the world’s wealth, study finds,” The Guardian, US edition, 2017.

© Byron L. Hannon, 2021.  All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.

Life

Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone— as though we had never been here.
But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him.
His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant,
 of those who obey his commandments! (Psalm 103-15-18)

Saturday was an odd day; it was mixed with bittersweetness, the sadness that comes with feeling powerless, the joyous anticipation of celebration, reminders of days past, and the fragility of life.  It was all experienced over the course of 10 hours.  I think the phrase “life soup” might apply. 

Late morning:  I received a text response from our college freshman granddaughter who moved into her dorm room on Friday after commuting for the first semester.  A moment after texting me, she FaceTimed® my wife.  Of course, I invaded that call and hung-out for a few moments while she gave us the virtual tour of her room.  I tend to remember details about the lives of my children and grandchildren and was feeling a little emotional as I recalled holding her just a few days after she was born, playing in the pool with her at age three, and her falling asleep on my chest while at a large family gathering when she was five or six.  I don’t think I missed very many of her dance recitals and plays from early childhood all through high school.  In the scheme of things, it may not be the biggest of issues, but I really love my family and watching the little ones grow-up to be not so little pulls on my heart strings.         

Early afternoon: I placed a call to a nonagenarian (age 90 to 99) I know who lives on the grounds of a nearby retirement/nursing home community.  A long-retired attorney, he is a widower who sold his home and purchased a unit in this community in the Fall of 2019.  He still lives independently, only requiring minor assistance from time to time.  In a different environment, this might be ideal for him, but because of the Covid restrictions imposed by his community, he’s been in virtual isolation for most of the last 10 months because there are strict limitations on visits to his unit, including visits by his adult children, none of whom live nearby.  He’s able to get out to tend to personal business needs, but because of his age, he’s very limited in how much he can do and how far he can go.  He complained to me of being very lonely and frustrated.  He thinks he made the wrong decision to purchase there and is considering selling his unit and leaving altogether.          

Mid-afternoon: This was the celebration time as it involved cake testing as a part of my baby girl’s wedding preparations and my wife and I spending time with her, her fiancé and his parents (all with appropriate distancing and mask wearing).  That was a little odd, but we all do what we have to do to make things work.  It turned out to be a nice time, and I really wasn’t ready to leave but had to because of what was coming up next.     

Early evening: Participated on a Zoom® call with a group of elementary and high school classmates.  I saw some of these folks a year and a half ago at our high school class’s 50th reunion, but there were some on the call who didn’t attend the reunion.  We’re all in that 70ish age area.  Grey heads and grey beards were in abundance (for those who still have hair).  I was late signing on so it was a small blessing to hear several call my name out when they saw my screen and asking me questions, all at once.  I’ve known some of them since kindergarten, and have some fond memories of those days, the schools we attended, the teachers we had, and the stories of the days of our younger selves.

Around 8:00pm: I received word that a college classmate had a stroke within the last few days and was in a rehabilitation center/nursing home.  It’s been many years since I last saw him, but we had a connection in that he introduced me to my wife.  This former college and semi-professional basketball player/athlete experienced some hard knocks in his later life and was living hard.  I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear the news of his illness given some of the choices he had made, but I was sad, nonetheless.  Based on what I heard, he has to relearn how to use his legs to walk.  I’d love to go visit him but can’t because of Covid restrictions.  I’m sure he could use some encouragement.

In combination, all of this reminded me that human life really is like a vapor.  It can be so full of wonder, gladness, and joy one moment and a short time later, it’s something vastly different.  We can and should enjoy life while we’re able, and there is often plenty to enjoy.  Still, there is no surety in it.  Sooner or later, we all have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  It’s for that reason, I place my hope and my trust in GOD; the Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.

© Byron L. Hannon, 2021.  All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.