Tag Archives: life

The Fall

Death
Death

The days dim and shorten. The winds build and sharpen.

Death is everywhere about me as trees bid farewell to leaves that sheltered and fed them and grasses brown and say adieu to the mites who played about them.

Fields dim and then burn with radiant bursts of captured sunlight reflecting back in another fond farewell to the brilliant sky above.

There is everywhere a keening and weeping as vibrant nature shudders and gasps, falters and falls to her knees.

The hardy pine and weathered holly , the cheerful cardinal alone keep me company.

It is a good book and a deep drought of sharp air that open my mind to realms beyond the tightening round of the shrinking world.

Soon enough the hoary blanket will fall again and this great circle will complete once again.

Death to death, birth to birth, and in and out again we cycle through the ever new and ever ancient panes of our small lives here on this discord-bound globe, whirling over and overĀ  from old to new and from new to old, and on again.

The exit is not yet for me, my path is not yet worn deep enough. His plans are still before me. And yet, for a time, surrounded by the death of nature I wonder. Beyond this small but too big life is a forest yet unexplored, a nature not yet discovered. There a paths not yet trod and rivers never before drunk.

But it is not for me. Not yet.

Life into death and death into life goes the circle again, and I, still on this meager sphere have paths before me still to travel.

Nature turns, the death rattle in her throat, and whispers after me as I turn away. Her words are born away by cruel wind and a bitter sun jests with the nervous clouds above.

Death into life will come around again and the frosted earth will thaw in time.

I will wait.

Matthew William Kelly Bedford

Matthew William Kelly Bedford
Matthew William Kelly Bedford

After 14 hours in labor, my wife Grace gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy.

Matthew William Kelly Bedford is named after a dear friend of ours who was called home to be with our Lord not quite 1 year ago.

I only hope that this little man will grow into the true man that was, and is, Matthew William Kelly.

For those who like details. Matthew weighed 8lbs 6 oz, 20in long. He has a Bedford face but borrows his nose and mouth creasing from his mother. My dad says the nose is also his mothers.

He was very alert and inquisitive from the get go, earning an APGAR score of 9. He smiled for mother and will follow us with his eyes. He likes being sung to. And I was overwhelmed with emotion when he was born.

Something that struck me is how much birth must be like death: The womb seems safe and good and a nice place to spend your life, and birth is this scary thing. All of a sudden your senses are bombarded with light and noise and pain and… more. More than you’d experienced ever before.

The womb was good, but it was temporary. A place of preparation. Preparation for life.

Then life become comfortable, known, expected. Life is good enough, full enough, and not long enough. And we fear death.

Once we die, I believe we’ll experience sensations we’ve never experienced before. The sounds and sights, smells, and sensations we’ve experienced in life will seem like the dull sensations of the womb.

Life is good, but it is temporary. A place of preparation. Preparation for…

Life Well Lived

When I die, I don’t want the words “he was a good man” said at my funeral. Not that nor any derivation thereof.

In some of the deeper quandaries I’ve been dealing with lately, a seems to recur: “I don’t want to regret this decision”.

I thought this was a reasonable and good goal in the decision, and indeed it is in this particular decision. But is it even a possible option?

Can I make a decision with consequences as deep as this and even hope I won’t have regrets?

The decision will require a significant change in not just my life, but that of my family. A different future for my children.

Even if I make the right decision, won’t there be times when I look back and regret even just a little?

When I wrote Warm Weather I may not have explicitly said so, but I do miss many parts of my old home and old way of life. It can be reasonably said that I have some slight regrets over leaving my old life. But strong enough that I wish to return? No. Not at all.

So what of life? Is it wise to live life trying to have no regrets as we look back at it?

First there is the opinion: That is such an unreasonable and unattainable goal it’s worthless to even try for it.

To which a response is: Why does God put before us the goal of being Christ-like, an even more unreasonable and unattainable prize?

And the response to that: To prove to us our own inability to get anywhere near His goal and therefore our need to follow him.

Due to the faultiness in our nature, our propensity to sin, we will face failure and accompanying regret, and we will make decisions and wish to make them over again and regret.

It is pointless, in the sense of Ecclesiasties, to attempt to live our lives without regret.

But does that make it wrong to try?

If failing is to be an assured result of trying, we should consider what it is we are trying. Is failure worth the effort?

I think the better goal is to try to live life to the glory of God.

When our focus is on bringing glory to God, we are freed from the navel-gazing, the deep and continuous “real-time” introspection and second-guessing which would rob us of the freedom to act on God’s prompting and in His moment.

When we are trying to prevent any regrets we either get tied down with the weight of ultimate decision for so many otherwise small considerations and spend each moment second-guessing our current actions.

There are two specific benefits to living, not to mitigate regret, but to maximize God’s glory.

God’s glory is a long term goal, longer than our life, or our childrens lives.

It has been said we ought to plant trees for our childrens’ children. We ought to live our lives so that there is a legacy, but not for our own glory or honor. We’ll be dead and not benefitting from any laud our legacy brings. We ought to plant those trees of legacy for God’s glory in our successive generations.

God’s glory is a goal outside ourselves.

In health class we took a test which purported to determine our “locus of control”. Where we thought control of our life originated.

I have an almost completely internal locus of control. I believe I am responsible for my life, essentially. I am to blame for troubles in my life and responsible for making those decisions which will lead to success.

For me, the goal of God’s glory is essential to keeping me focused on the really important things in life, everything besides me.

For someone with an external locus of control, someone who is more likely to believe they are a victim or at least a pawn in life, having God as the goal keeps them focused on something which gives them worth and value, and strength and determination.

For those more balanced in their control perspective, they’ve got it all figured out and so they’re cool.

Just kidding. They get to benefit from both the benefits of this perspective.

Will my decisions bring God the greater glory? Will I still be able to bring God glory after I make this decision?

God will bring glory to Himself regardless of our choices, the important thing is whether I choose to bring Him glory, or whether He must bring glory to Himself inspite of us.

What I Feel

About life? It is good. Hard, but good. What is good is usually hard. And the harder it is, the more good it can be.

About Palin? Good. Energizing and popular. And right. In more ways than one.

About Obama? I’d like to feel more confident, but there are many people who still believe him and think he’s the answer. I’d only like to know what they think the question is.

About McCain? He’s got history, and apparently he knows who his biggest base of supporters are. The rest we can work with.

About America? It’s still the greatest nation on God’s green earth.

About God? I’m just glad He chose to bring me to His side.

About my wife? I am still in awe that she said yes, three times.

Am I Saved: A Quandary, And Last Year

I tend to be dense, sometimes.

Over the last two years, at least, I’ve noticed a theme in God’s work in my life. A lesson, as it were, He spends all year drumming in to my head. And usually it takes a while for me to notice I’m still in class, as it were.

Last year, it was around this time that I started really realizing all God’s work in my life was not just Him being nice or more obvious about His niceness.

Rather it was Him trying to drum into my head some slight concept of his Glory and Sovereignty.

If you followed this blog for any period of time, you know I spent three weeks in Italy from the end of December 2006 into January 2007. Right before New Years I was separated from my friends in Pisa. I ended up in Rome and due to communication issues (they had the cell phone, I had the pay phone) we were unable to find each other and meet again.

I was faced with a large bill for housing that used all my cash reserves only 5 days into the trip and no idea where I should go. After panicking for a day, I tried tracking my friends down in Naples and then returned to Venice to spend the balance of the time.

After trying unsuccessfully to find an airplane ticket back prematurely, I was able to reach my credit card companies and inform them (again) that I was over seas and they should unlock my accounts because it was me making those charges, as I’d told them I would a week previous.

Things being resolved financially, I proceeded to spend the rest of my time in Italy wandering the streets of Venice, usually away from the standard tourist haunts and byways. It was a quiet time of reflection and observation. For me this was a big thing. I have at times been nearly co-dependent in my relationships, even with ‘just friends’ and to have a period where I was completely incapable of being dependent was freeing.

Prior to leaving for Italy, I’d determined that this was a good time to put in motion another long-thought plan: returning to Chicago, for good. After returning to the states I packed my belongings in my car and drove across the country in the middle of winter. Sans heater.

Arriving safely in Chicago I was at the generosity of friends in the area until I found jobs and found my feet under me again.

Grace came into my life soon thereafter, and life has continued to progress since then.

But as I mentioned, about this time last year I came to realize God’s overwhelming interest in my life.

We go about our ways assuming that at least some of the world revolves around us, and we around others. If we’re really humble we think only a little bit of the world revolves around us.

But God is the only thing important. To the extent that three possibilities are true:

  1. Some of the world revolves around us,
  2. We revolve around others, or
  3. None of the world revolves around us

…we have an incorrect perspective of the nature of God, and all of creations’ relationship to Him.

He is the end-all and be-all. He is the only one for whom the universe was created, because it was through Him and His planned, considered and definite action that we, or anything we naturally perceive, came to be.

To the extent that we see ourselves defined by or defining others, we are denying God’s ultimate definition of our lives: To Glorify Him.

“What is the chief end of man?” asks the Westminster Catechism: “To glorify God and praise Him forever.”

After realizing the lessons God had for me seemed to be along a common theme, it was exciting to look forward to how He’d next reveal Himself to me, and amazing to look back at His awesome provision, protection, and guidance.

But perhaps the biggest thing was to realize I’m not a power-player in this story of His abundant love. I’m not even a regular player. Nor do I have a bit part. Not even a walk on.

God is the one and only actor in His story. In His mysterious grace and mercy He has chosen to have a relationship with me, but not for my sake.

The bible over and over again says that it is for His names’ sake, for His glory, for His purpose and according to His will, that things happen and events occur.

My best hope is to follow His lead, accept His direction, and hang on for the ride.

It’s not about me.

Which then brings us to this year.

Pastor Rob found the Lord leading him to set the vision of the church this year to be one of purpose: purpose in our lives individually and corporately.

The sermon series in my bible study group, 631, is on James and it’s central tenet of the deadness of faith apart from works.

And in the sermons at church, the studies at 631, the lessons from books and passages I’ve meditated on have all pointed to salvation being so much more than what I found I’d assumed it to be.

Salvation is not a train ticket: punched once and ready for the trip.

Salvation does indeed begin, in our human perception, at a point in time. It is confirmed in our praying to admit our own guilt and accept Christ’s act of redemption and forgiveness and justification.

But it is also a continuing action.

A study of James’ and Paul’s teachings on works and faith and their balance in the life of a believer will show that faith is defining term in our moment of salvation, and that works are the evidence by which others will see our faith proved throughout the rest of our lives.

And then it isn’t about me or you or even us.

God didn’t had Jesus die because He needed us to be forgiven or justified or saved. Jesus died because God wanted to glorify Himself throughout this meager sweep that is human history. It has been often said that the most defining point in time for the entire world has been when Jesus died on the cross to glorify God.

God’s glory was brought about in the act of sacrifice in that it was His will that the chasm between God and His creation be bridged, and His further glory that He bridge that gap Himself. He was the only One who could, the only One who would, and the only One who succeeded.

So in Him choosing me and drawing me into His salvation, what do I give? Not to pay Him back, or settle a debt, because there is no way I can do either of those things. But to seek to bring further glory to the One God who chose me.

Everything. That is all I can give.

So when I do not give Him everything, as I have not, and continue to hold back, am I saved?

I know I am saved, because His Spirit bears witness in my spirit that I am a forgive child of God engaged in a justified life of sanctification.

So, looking forward, I expect that God will continue to reveal new, exciting, and convicting perspectives on His nature as revealed through His work of Salvation.