6- Commander Lightfoot

Part 6 in the series God The Love Story-Autumn

Alone together the commander looked at me with his sparkling blue eyes and a grin that took over his face.  In a warm baritone voice he opened with, “Shall we begin? Would you rather walk or sit?”

“Um, do you mind if we keep walking,” I replied, “I don’t want to be late for Christmas?”

“Neither do I.” he agreed.  With a little skip in his step to keep up with my longer legs, the commander went on to say that I had placed him in an interesting predicament since most of the commands are from Jesus who will be born on Christmas Day which waits for us at the end of the road.

“I am not worried about that,” I said, “because God always comes to us from the future. For just this once, you and I can go to the infant Jesus already knowing what He will tell us when he matures!”

 “Good thinking! I’m going to like you! Now let’s begin.” Then his tone changed dramatically. He started to speak slowly and with much conviction, “Pay close attention. Just as every tree if it is to endure must have strong roots that reach deep into the earth to withstand the winds and earth’s heaving movements, even violent earthquakes, likewise, the aspiring immortal must be rooted in obedience to the commands for the soul to endure the tumult of the first life and the transition to the new earth.”

Before I could speak, the commander grabbed the space of his own pause and added, “To become united to The Immortal God, you must first know what He is like, which you can by knowing what He likes…which He clearly tells you by His commands!”

When I was sure it was my turn to speak, I asked whether my conscience instinctively knows these commands, which would explain why I should listen for my conscience?”

“No.” he replied, “Like a new laptop, the conscience comes with certain basics but you must install the commands.” I was surprised that this archaic little man knew what a laptop was. At this point I figured that I was ready to challenge him.

“My sister said that faith, and mercy, and grace all override the need to obey the commands.”

“Absurd!” I could tell that I struck a bad chord when his face turned angry red. ” Daily, millions of people pray ‘Thy Will be done’, and within an hour they violate God’s will. They are either grossly ignorant of the commands or… the commander paused to regain his composure. Under his breath I heard him say to himself, ‘Make and maintain peace’.

I quietly gave him all the time he needed. Finally, he spoke to me again. “Or like your sister,  they believe that God’s mercy is permission. If your sister thinks that Jesus gave you license to neglect his commands, why would He say, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.’ Too many people want to walk on the highway to Christmas who won’t accept the suicide of self discipline that Christmas ultimately calls us to.”

My feet started to hurt but I tried not to let it show. The problem was that I couldn’t think about what he was saying and praise God to keep from feeling the pain all at the same time.

“Can we sit for a minute?” I asked and collapsed without waiting for his reply. The commander collapsed with me. Once we settled in comfortable positions, I asked him whether God loved me enough to let me be myself.

I was surprised how calmly the commander took this question, he merely lowered his head and said, “The person who has my commands and keeps them is the one who really loves Me, and whoever really loves Me will be loved by My Father. And I will love him and will reveal Myself to him.” I sensed that the commander was starting to get impatient with me when he got up and walked on alone leaving me sitting on the hard lumpy pebbles.

7- Wartime in Lalaland

Part 7 in the series God the Love Story Autumn

I could not believe that the Commander was leaving me! He had hardly taught me any of the commands. I didn‘t know whether or not I should get up and chase after him? I still didn’t know enough of the commands to be able to resist corruption and mortality. I felt doomed. As my mind grappled with these thoughts he was getting farther away from me and it would be harder to catch up on those awful pebbles. I had no choice so why was I wasting time?

Without another thought I stood up and tried to run after him. My feet hurt terribly but I couldn’t allow myself to think about that.

“Commander, wait for me! I need you! Please don’t go!” I shouted as loud as I could.

To make matters worse a forceful cold wind blew in from the mountainside. I wasn’t prepared. The wind was getting stronger and stronger. It was a tornado-wind and not empty either, sand from under the pebbles filled the air so I could hardly see as I tried desperately to scurry up to the commander who never even looked back for me.

“Fairies help me!” I shouted as my body pushed against the wind. This time they didn’t come.

“You will never make it! He left you because you are a pathetic creature. You dare to aspire for immortality and yet you cling to your ego and your lusts.”

“What! Who said that?” Those words were so hurtful; I didn’t know if they came from my own mind or if I was being haunted by a demon.  

“Go away, I hate you!” I shouted at the air as I tried to run on the pebbles through the sandy wind.

Again the faceless voice tried to torment me, louder it said, “Don’t you know why he left you? How you insist in having it all your way, you write your scripts and follow them, you judge everyone around you by your own standards, and condemn them when they fail to be exactly like you. You refuse to die to self. You wouldn’t be caught dead on a cross. Hopeless, you’re hopeless and the little man didn’t want to waste any more of his time on you, nor did he want to argue with you. That’s not his way.”

I was still running but the Commander was no longer in sight. The pain in my feet became too great and the voice too strong for me so I collapsed to cry. I covered my head with my arms to try to protect myself from the voice. I cried louder and louder so I wouldn’t have to hear the voice. No matter how loud I cried, I could still think. Perhaps the voice was right. I remember trying to challenge the Commander when I asked him if God could love me as I was, and not as the person the commands wanted me to change into.  Then I could see that God wanted me to practice holy-cooperative-suicide, the likes of which accompanied Jesus on the cross and as long as I insisted on being myself and lazy at that, I failed God’s purpose. I could no longer be called a true aspiring immortal, perhaps only a highway Christian.

At that point in my thoughts, I felt a hand touch my shoulder. In fear I cried louder hoping it would go away and leave me alone in my misery. I may as well even give up trying to go to Christmas I thought. Life is over for me. I will succumb to corruption and mortality like everyone else. That thought brought more tears and louder sobs. Who was I to think I could ever hold the infant Christ in my arms? The touch turned into a tap. I had forgotten that perhaps I was not alone.

Whether it was bravery or utter surrender I do not know but I lifted my head out of its cave of arms and could hardly believe what I saw. The Commander and a fairy stood over me.

“Get up!” he ordered. “We have work to do! There are others you must meet on this path before you can get to Christmas and we are almost there. You can’t afford to spend too much more time learning the commands. Get up I tell you. You mustn’t dawdle. Study this.” And he threw a small book at my feet.” 

8- The Mark

Part 8 of the Series, God the Love Story Autumn

The book that the commander tossed at my feet was square, about seven inches on each side. It looked home-made because it was put together with a golden ribbon that wound its way through punched holes at the top and on the cover it only had a big sticker of an angel child wearing a hooded coat with a Christmas tree in her arms. Hand written letters titled this odd book, The Mark.  In a fog of disbelief that the commander returned to me, and that my chase was over, I simply looked up at him and stared. Even the wind had stopped. Was I forgiven?

“Don’t just ogle me; read the book! It doesn’t get any clearer than this! You want to know the commands, read them, study them. Eat them, for Christ’s sake!” I hugged the little book and kissed it to show my gratitude, tears still trickling from my eyes.

Then I lifted the cover to find a page that said, ‘This book is for people who like very deep and complex subjects made extremely simple.’ Well then that was for me, I thought. The next page listed the fruit of the Holy Spirit which are Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Longsuffering. Mildness. Fidelity. Modesty. Continence. and Chastity. Under this oval shaped list was a quote of Jesus from John, the Evangelist that read “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit because apart from me you can do nothing.

My mind bounced back and forth from Jesus’ words to each kind of fruit wondering what the fruit had to do with the commands. I supposed that if I memorized the commands, but more than that, if I let the commands change me, it would be exactly like Jesus living inside of me instead of just me in me. The fruit would be the test, like testing a math problem: addition with subtraction and subtraction with addition. I always liked math because truth lives in math! Me + commands = fruit. Fruit - commands = me. Following those thoughts I was more anxious than ever to read the commands.

The next page demanded more patience because it was the introduction and still not the commands yet.

Since you can’t see the book, here is some of what it said:

The commands of Jesus point the way to the perfect life. The perfect way of thinking, behaving, relating, accomplishing, and living of the eternal life which begins on earth. Time and again Jesus referred to the necessity to obey His commands. These commands of Jesus are the target, the mark, which - being his words – actual describe Himself. In other words, Jesus is the mark and his commands are the mark. To obey His commands is to hit the mark and thus become like Him. To deny them, ignore them, overlook them or rationalize them away is to miss the mark (sin). To attempt, no matter how poorly, to hit the mark is the Christian way of life.”

There was more to the introduction but I was anxious to get to the commands so I flipped through the pages. Finally, on page seven the commands began. They were numbered one to ninety-five. Each command had its Gospel reference. Most commands had more than one reference.  Here are a few:

1. Be mild, patient, longsuffering.

2. Be generous.

3. Make and maintain peace.

As I read the commands a funny thing happened. I got bored! Imagine that! All of this chasing and crying and sore feet and here I was looking the commands smack in the face and I wanted to find a better book, maybe Huckleberry Finn or something.

4. Don’t swear.

5. Don’t resist the evil man (who injures you); if anyone strikes you, turn the other cheek (and let him hit that on too.)

6. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two.

“AAahem!” the commander cleared his throat to speak. I had forgotten all about him! Upon hearing my thoughts, He said, “It is also boring reading football plays, and war strategy. All of these things mean the most when they are needed. You will understand. For now memorize, so when you are in a situation, you will know what to do. You must develop the discipline of an athlete or a soldier to become a true disciple!”

Geez, I felt like I should salute him when he said that! Instead I looked up and asked the commander if I could keep the book to study on my way to Christmas.

“The book is yours,” the commander replied. “but get up and be on your way. Christmas is around the corner and I must leave you.” He reached for my hand to help me up and then he squeezed it with unusual strength for such a small figure of a man. Without another word the commander turned and headed west.  

Obediently, I resumed my journey while trying to memorize the commands. As I walked I looked up from time to time and wondered how I could ever change so much.

7. Love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you.

8. Be perfect; grow into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character.

9. Forgive people who have sinned and don’t be resentful.

10. Do not judge, criticize, or condemn others.

11. Be on guard against men whose nature it is to act in opposition to God. 

Christmas at the Manger -16

This is the 16th and final entry in a series entitled God the Love Story Autumn about the autumnal journey to Christmas.

Here I was walking to Christmas with the three Kings and Grandpa King David, all of us following the star together! I had been alone on this path for so long that I had to get used to walking with others again, keeping up with their pace, trying to figure out when to talk and when to be silent, all those things that people with people have to do. Well, with this group it was mostly silence and I liked it that way.

I wanted to prepare every ounce of me for the moment of meeting baby Jesus Christ. I almost know how Simeon and Anna, the old people, must have felt when they beheld the infant savior. They certainly had the spiritual sight Moses taught me about. To see this baby and to know how special he is was a gift.

Of the kazillion people who ever lived, who were all made in the image and likeness of God, the Creator of the universe, only Jesus perfectly reflected the image of God to the world. Not Moses, not Abraham, not Noah, not Adam, no one else could show us how to relate to our Father from beginning to end. No one else could show us how to be human. Jesus is the model, and God knows we need a model. He is the only person who can say, “It’s my way or the highway!” and be absolutely right and not even mean. It’s just true, that’s all.

All of those miracles of healing and raising people from the dead and walking on water are kind of intimidating to some aspiring immortals. How could we ever be like that?  A good model should be attainable, they think. But really God let Jesus show off just to get attention. Jesus said anyone could do all those miracles and some people do some of them sometimes because the miracles just come down to being in perfect harmony with the creation and the Creator. It’s like knowing how to play a huge pipe organ. If you are in tune with how it all works it is not hard at all, but if you don’t know, well, it’s impossible to make the instrument work the way it is meant to. Same with creation. If you are in tune with the Creator and creation, even more than scientists think they are- who can be more ignorant than they know, then you can master nature too. That’s elementary for some aspiring immortals. But mastering nature isn’t as important as being in harmony with the Creator of it.  It’s not the miracles that matter as much as the relationship with God that makes the miracles, that matters.

These were the kinds of things I was thinking about as the four kings and I approached Bethlehem.

I even had to stop thinking though when my eyes beheld the City of David! This was a real town! People all around not even realizing that the most important event in the history of the earth was taking place, and they were just chatting away and cooking foods, and playing in the streets. I don’t think anyone in town saw the star, but sure enough it led us to the exact building. When we arrived, King David was the one to knock on the door, he being the grandfather and all.

Joseph let us in. I was last. When I entered that manger-barn I was so overwhelmed by the vibrations and the light that I collapsed and covered my head and started to cry. It had been such a long journey that I couldn’t believe I was really and truly at the belly button of history. No one even noticed me because they had their own greetings to make. Simeon and Anna were there, and the lambs and goats.

After a while Joseph noticed me and he came over to me and held out his hand to help me up. I took it and even though he didn’t know me from Adam Joseph gave me a big bear hug. Well, that made me start crying all over again. When I got control of myself he walked me over to the baby Jesus, and that started me all over again. I just cried and cried. I couldn’t help myself. Mary didn’t mind. She just looked at me as if she was my mother too, with patience and kindness. She was so young.

Eventually I stopped crying and we all sat around the baby and talked and laughed like people do in a regular hospital room. About an hour or so later Joseph got up signaling that it was time to leave and let Mary and Jesus rest. We all stood up and hugged everybody. Baby Jesus was fast asleep by then. I didn’t want to go so I let the kings go first. When I couldn’t delay anymore and I was almost out the door, Joseph called me. “Wait a minute, I almost forgot. I have a Christmas present for you.” And he handed me a wooden box.

You’re not going to believe this, but I don’t care because I know it’s true. I opened the box and inside was a pair of golden shoes!