Unmoored

boat-adrift

About a year and a half ago, my dad, Bob Moore, passed away. I didn’t realize that his death would leave me feeling untethered, unmoored, if you will (no pun intended).  I thought I had grown to a point to not need him; evidently, even with his deteriorating condition, his presence, his life was still “a strong pier to which I latched my little barque.”

After taking a new job and moving to a new city, I thought I’d eventually get my bearings. Then our Quarantine Shelter-in-Place descended upon us. My dad’s passing, changing jobs and moving to a place where I knew few folks contributed to a sense of disorientation; however, this quarantine has made it much worse.

I had started this blog after he died and titled it “Untethered” because that’s how I felt. But I had to go on, even though I felt like a little boat out in a sometimes tempestuous sea without anchor, harbor or mooring. Now, with this global pandemic upon us, I feel even more “unmoored”. Overnight, things we were accustomed to, perhaps took for granted: work, school, church, recreation stopped. Quite quickly. Thankfully, I have a position that is secure, but not so for many of my kids. Not so for many, many other folks. Unnerving, scary, almost un-“bear”able.

To add to this disorientation is a political landscape and suspect media that do NOT cultivate calm, competency or control. To that mess, I must trust Jesus’ words, “Be ye not troubled.” That aspect of this situation is just too overwhelming.

But here in the corner of my little world, how do I find some sense of perspective, peace and protection? My environment helps. My new town is surrounded on the south side by luscious green hills, so it’s easy to look up, and remember from where my help comes.

Oddly, as I grapple with this disorientation, I’ve yearned to go to someplace familiar, like the Russian River, grasping to feel some connection with my childhood that seemed to have some security, some foundation, some familiarity. In my new town, there is not one river, but two; two rivers where small boats skirt by freighter ships. A providential plus.

However, we’re not the only generation to suffer through global crises.  Certainly my parents and their parents remember the Great Depression. Then that was followed by a global conflict, a conflict that resulted in the death of millions. A pandemic of Evil. A World Unmoored.

Also, two thousand years ago, on the small stage of Judea, in Rome’s Palestine, a Man had been born, had lived and was killed by the various powers that be. And yet for the handful of men and women who counted Him as Lord and Savior, the Anointed One, the very Messiah of Israel, they were left bewildered, lost, and unmoored after His gruesome death. For three days, they hid, and they feared for their own lives.

Until that glorious first Easter day…He Lives! The resurrection of Jesus Christ exploded all religious models. Here was the Way, the Truth and the Life. Here was the Creator God extending His reconciling Hand to mankind. Who was, still lives. And the fact of the Resurrection drove the first generation of believers to boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, even in the face of great persecution. Their hope was strong and steadfast.

When the disciples struggled with their boat on the troubled Sea of Galilee, and our Lord slept below…they not only feared their deaths, but they also thought Jesus was unconcerned. When they finally awakened the Lord, He gently, quietly rebuked the storm, and the disciples, “‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?'”

So in the midst of unknown new surroundings and the temporary scary new normals, I look to the One who calmed the seas. I look to the One to Whom I can latch my little barque. I look to the One Who asks me – asks us – “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.”

— Psalm 42:5

  “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast…”  

       — Hebrews 6:19 

800px-Rembrandt_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Lake_of_Galilee

 

 

 

 

Second Chance

prodigal son

In 1963, Henri Nouwen became captivated with Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son. He even went to St. Petersburg to spend time with the masterpiece and subsequently wrote his own work of art, The Return of the Prodigal Son. He analyzed every detail of the painting and with the text of the biblical story, tells the tale of reconciliation not only for the obvious prodigal, but the need for it even within the Father’s household.

This past week, I had my own little captivation with El DeBarge’s song Second Chance. Of course, it is not a Rembrandt painting, but it did remind me of the heart of a prodigal. I know many prodigals, and am one too in many ways. DeBarge’s prodigality is pretty well-known, but in this song, this song he wrote after a couple years in jail, he turns his face toward home, toward the Father’s house. While his sins are obvious and well-documented like those of the returning son, some of us are in our own “distant country” like the older brother. We dwell in our own lands of prejudice, fear, shame and hate. We may appear to be in the Father’s house, but we are “distant” from the Father’s heart, which is at the center of His house. The prodigal son’s brother could not understand – in fact resented – all the excitement and joy over the return of the son because his heart was in “a distant country” – where there was no room for love or joy.  He was far from the Father’s love.  I am afraid many Christians are like that.

I am distant when I stay in my fear-filled ways. I have many fears, I’m afraid to say. Recently, I had to make a big decision, a decision I was afraid to make. But I made it and stepped out and faced that particular fear.  And, when El DeBarge sings these lyrics in his feathery angelic falsetto “so when the mirror speaks, it tells me that you’ve faced your inner fears and you’re loving the song,” I know I have moved closer to the Father’s heart – away from the fear that alienates love and joy, and closer to that “perfect love that casts out all fear.”

Easter Sunday, the day Christians all over the world remember that Jesus Christ conquered death in his resurrection, is mankind’s greatest second chance. He made redemption, reconciliation and rebirth possible for those far off and for those who are near. We have a second chance to be courageous or clean and sober or kind and compassionate, even Christ-like, but also a second chance at a new life. Happy Easter, folks!