Tag Archives: trust

A Story You May have Heard… but not quite this way…

An Atheistic Professor of Philosophy was speaking to his students about the Problem Science has with God. He asked if anyone believed in God and a couple of students, hesitantly, raised their hands. Pointing to one, the professor asked, “Are you a Christian? The kid said, “Yes,” and so the professor asked, ”Is God good? All powerful?”

“Sure,” the student replied

The Professor went on, “My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to God to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But God didn’t. How is this God good then? Hmm?” The student didn’t respond.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” said the professor, “But you do believe God created everything, right?”

“Ahh… right.”

“So, tell me where does evil come from? If God created everything, and evil, let’s even say ‘Satan’ was created by God. Again, the student was left silent, but the professor continued. “Sickness…immorality… hatred… despair… all this terrible stuff exists and since it is here and God created everything… then God is responsible… OR there may be another possibility.” The room was hushed. “Has anyone here ever seen God? Heard God? Felt, tasted, smelled… God? According to empirical, testable, truly demonstrable protocols God doesn’t exist. Do you have anything you can lift up as proof?” The student shifted, but then said, “I only have my faith and my personal experience, sir.”

The professor said, “And that’s not enough to make it a reliable part of life. So, let’s look at how we think about the world and how we may think in a manner that makes sense.” There was a general uncomfortable movement throughout the room and the professor went into his lecture.

At the end of the class the student who had been the focus of the professor’s earlier questioning came up and asked if he might buy the professor a cup of coffee. As he didn’t have another class that afternoon the professor agreed. As they walked across the campus they both remarked on what a beautiful early fall day it was and then the professor said, “I hope I wasn’t too hard on you.”

“Well, it was embarrassing,” said the student, “But you’re making me think. I thought maybe if I got to know you a little better, I could understand how you are experiencing life. Would you mind telling me a bit about your brother? That sounds like it was an awful experience for you and your family.”

Something about the open faced, relaxed question caught the professor off guard and almost without thinking he began to explain how he looked up and loved his older brother. He explained how he had always had questions about faith and how the experience of this personal tragedy had hollowed him out.

“I’m really very sorry for that,” the student replied. They found a seat in the coffee shop and continued to talk about family, heartbreak, lack of answers to big questions. This experience left the professor with such an enjoyment of the young man that he agreed to do it again and again after that.

Finally one day the student asked if he could share his own questions and the professor agreed. There, in the privacy of the coffee shop table where they usually met, the student said, “I’ve been thinking over what you asked me that first day and it lead me to some other questions… and maybe answers. Do you think there is such a thing as cold?”

“Sure,” said the professor.

“Really?” said the student, “Because I won’t think so anymore.”

“You don’t think there is such a thing as ‘cold’?

“No… we can have lots of heat or no heat but we can’t have cold. We don’t measure cold. We measure heat. It’s like light.”

“Light?” the professor asked.

“Well, we don’t measure dark. There is no such a thing as dark. There’s only less light or even no light. Which lead me to rethink the issue of God in how you presented your questions to me in class that day.” The professor blushed as he remembered and felt badly of how he put this bright and friendly man on the spot as he had. “You spoke of God as measurable, as if life and death were both real tangible things. Death is the lack of life, but it isn’t a thing on its own. It appears to me, and please help me here to understand, that you had a demeaning experience that caused you to turn away from God the way I might turn away from someone who humiliated me in front of others. You didn’t have any answer in the experience you had in your brother’s death, so you turned away from the one your brother went to for help.”

The professor was silent. But the student continued, “I really appreciate how you think, sir, but I think maybe your loss and pain has moved you into trying to quantify something that is so much more, so much larger and even real than measurable. What I find in faith is not a bunch of answers or logical reasoning. What I find is someone that I trust to be with me, even when I am too small to understand why something’s happening as it is. Do you know how Galileo died, professor?”

The shift of thought caught the professor by his curiosity. “Ahh… Galileo? No.”

“It appears he may have damaged his lungs when he and some friends were on a sort of camping trip as youngsters. They stayed in a cave and it seems there were gases there that hurt him. I don’t know why your brother got cancer, but I do know there are things that happen for a reason. I’ve found that the Bible tells me God doesn’t like the things that hurt us anymore than we do. I don’t think God hated Galileo, do you? I guess I also kind of think God was there with your brother in his trauma.”

The professor sat silently for a bit and then just said, “Thanks. I’ll need to think about this.”

The next day, in class, the professor began by apologizing to the student in front of everyone for embarrassing him that first day, and then he said, “My friends, I think… I think that what I want you to do in this class… and in your lives… is to follow the Truth wherever it might lead you. I think we might be safe, if we give that a shot. So… let’s get to doing that together, eh.” And he went on with his lecture. The student quietly prayed in his heart that the Truth would find His way into the professor’s heart as well.


Dearest Friend

          One of things that captures my attention is the nature of lonely people, like how they talk.  Have you ever been with someone who can’t stop talking and do you experience that as a sign of loneliness?  People who have no one with whom to talk, to grab a cup of coffee, to walk with to the bus, to make dinner for or with, can also be the ones who fill up meetings with reading reports that were sent earlier or asking questions which should be answered by one person separately and not be part of the full meeting.  They give reports and think of something that goes with that and should also add because it pertains to this and just remember this other thing that they meant to bring up or get on the agenda and they might as well just bring it up here…  Lonely.

      Image    Lonely in that they are in need of creatively listening ears and so can’t stop their mouths.  None of the stuff really means a whole lot to everyone, but being attended to means a whole lot to this one speaking.  It’s the closest they get to conversation that really makes a difference.  This isn’t just conversation.  It is that conversation that is part of friendship.  It’s conversation that is a give and take between people who are paying attention to learn more and to participate more.

          Makes me think about the way we talk with God.  Some people are shy in talking with God and others are just talking forever.  Both of these suggest loneliness to me now.  They make me think that this person is not in a relationship where they expect this one they’re talking with actually knows and cares.  In other words, they want someone who talks back because of their interest. They are poor in their sense of worth.  This is the essence of poverty, right?  Having no relationships becomes poverty because there are no resources, no participation, no good word on “where you can get one of those… cheap.”  Poverty at its basis is loneliness.

          So, here’s Advent, the approach of God… where people, particularly poor people who were living in the midst of the community that was supposed to understand that God was close and interested, and suddenly they were told God wanted a conversation.  He announced he was going to live right in town, just down the street, that he’ll be able to answer questions, tell stories and listen.  He was going to play by all the rules… with us.  He was going to be God… with us… so we can discover that we have someone who is a friend, and, in fact, our dearest friend.Image

          Try starting your prayers with those words… “Dearest Friend…” and see where it leads you.  See if you can trust someone like that more, whether you can share what is actually going on more, share what’s true more… learn how much we’re enjoyed and paid attention to…


It’s Just a candle flame until…

On my desk is a candle. I use it as a prayer tool. As I light it each day I repeat a prayer. It reminds my soul of who I am and what I am about in this place. They are the same words every time but they hit me as if they are a new thought… every time. That’s probably because part of the prayer is my personal commitment. It’s just a candle flame, but it’s more.

I found a great source of Candles – Quickcandles.com. Not only do they live up to their name for being “fast” but they also deliver some of the best candles I’ve ever found. They burn almost down to nothing and I’ve had a couple do that. And they burn without any incense. It’s just a candle flame… but there’s something better.

There have been times when I’ve reached over to the candle on its stand during counseling sessions. I’ve held it before the person or couple I’m counseling and I’ve talked about blowing out the flame. I think of the flame as trust. It’s just a flame until it is blown out.candle 2

Trust is like a candle flame that gives light to all that are in the room. It provides guidance, assurance, strength of easy movement, comfort and even a gentle warmth. When we are in relationship we find that trust builds a security within us that says we can just move and not think through everything. We have an assurance that what we expect will be there will be there when we return or simply turn around.

I’ve lifted the candle up to teenagers who have been joyriding and can’t see what the big deal is. I’ve lifted the candle up to partners in businesses, to bosses and employees. I’ve lifted the candle up to husbands or wives. I’ve lifted the candle up to parents and to other pastors and to young adults and to elderly and to church leaders. I’ve lifted up the candle and blown it out in front of each of them.

It’s only a candle flame until it is gone and then it is this very large thing that will never be again. That’s trust isn’t it? It’s as fragile as a candle flame. For its size it can do amazingly good things, but when it is gone we don’t ever get it back and suddenly its true import, size and strength are felt. The flame that was there, once gone, is completely gone. To get flame again, one must start from the beginning and it isn’t like just pulling out our butane and relighting it. The flame that is added to the candle in our souls and called “trust” must be rekindled from scratch.

I’ve lifted the candle up to all sorts of people and every morning in my office I lift it up to myself and light it and say my simple prayer and something takes hold of my insides. Candle 1And then it says, “All right now. Do it.”



5:00 p.m. Wed
Mom only sleeping today – barely eating. No talking. Going back to sit with her shortly.
Meeting with Hospice at 10:00 tomorrow for them to evaluate her needs.
Home Instead to assist with anything needed that Hospice isn’t there for.
Friends on standby.
Plan to bring her home Friday morning.
Redoing the dining room since it seems the best and easiest room to set up.
Hospital bed to come tomorrow.
Lots of details to work through and lots of support here.

We are frail creatures aren’t we? If you met my mom today, you see how frail we truly are and can be.

Met with Hospice this morning.
Everything in place.
Will move her tomorrow morning late.
House set up. Bed coming this afternoon.
Spoke to Mom’s minister – she will probably be over tomorrow afternoon
Spoke to the funeral home we use – in case anything happens.
Comfort drugs on order – I will pick up this afternoon.
It will be good to get her settled at home.
She was highly agitated today at lunch time because the people at the place were fidgeting with her too much – trying to get her to sit up, etc. Both the Hospice nurse and I told them to stop. We are in the care and comfort now – no making her do things.
We go on.

She is a tiny thing and I’ve joked with her (that old joke) for years that she is shrinking and that one day she would just shrink away.

The last hours have been spent with many people in the house getting her here and settled and training us on what to do.
Everyone has been wonderful.
The nurse anticipates we are looking at 3-4 days…
It is good to have her home.

Well, Hospice has told my sisters and me that our mom will probably die within a few days. We are frail creatures.

I can tell that I’m brimming with emotions that make days seem like they are not large enough. I had that happen when my father died. I had it happen the day my father-in-law died. I had it happen the day my mother-in-law died. And I should admit… I had it happen the day my pal, Jack the dog, died as well.

Loss, the loss of two moms in one year (a friend said the other day, “That’s just not fair.”), is a bit overwhelming. I had a friend tell me one day that he was “whelmed… not over whelmed, but definitely whelmed,” and I recognize the difference. These days we’re walking into seem whelming, up to the lip, the brim and we’ll wait for a few days before they spill over… and call it what it is at that point.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
From “Abide with Me” by Henry Francis Lyte