Category Archives: Reflections

The Future God Dreams of on Memorial Day

2 In the last days
the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
as chief among the mountains;
it will be raised above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.

3 Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

4 He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

Isaiah 2:2-4

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The Restoration of All Things

resurgam1“Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.16By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

 17“Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. 19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets….

The Apostle Peter, in Acts 3:12-21

For a long time now I’ve been dissatisfied with the traditional evangelical treatment of heaven and the afterlife.   I couldn’t figure out what was so exciting about being a disembodied spirit roving through the clouds, and I didn’t know how to get people excited about it, when everything that I really like about my life right now is dependent on my corporeal existence.  And I think a lot of Christians feel that way if they are honest.  Heaven gets good press not because it’s so wonderful in and of itself, but because it beats the alternatives: hell or non-existence (and in my understanding of the scriptures, those are eventually the same thing.)

I thought that there had to be something more that we just weren’t seeing.  Some of the pieces of the puzzle were starting to fall into place, but it was N.T. Wright, in his Resurrection of the Son of God and Surpised By Hope who really helped me see the big picture–something that I could genuinely be excited about.  The ultimate hope isn’t heaven, it never was.  It is bodily resurrection and everlasting life on a renewed and restored earth.  Once I glommed on to that, passages like Romans 8:18-25, 2 Peter 3:13, and Revelation 21 start to make a whole lot more sense, and I kicked myself for not having seen it before.  And then, once I had our future hope of resurrection, restoration and renewal clearly in mind, I started noticing that it was present in all kinds of scriptures.  Like Acts 3.  The apostolic message is clear.  Jesus isn’t coming back to wisk us away or to end his misguided experiment with time and matter.  He is coming back to restore all things.  Everything broken will be fixed.  Everything thing tarnished will be cleansed.  Everything dead will be brought back to life.  That, and nothing less than that, is what we are anticipating.  The complete prophetic vision will be made reality, and the glory of the Lord will cover the earth.

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What I Learned After Four Days of Visiting the Intensive Care Nursery

This was written a month ago when our newborn son was in NICU.  He’s home and doing well now.

20090312 Aidan-2

1) Don’t believe the signs that say the hospital parking garage is full. Loser move. Those signs are intended to thin the herd, sending the less-determined to the even-more-inconvenient clinic parking two and a half blocks away. Just sail into the garage with faith that a spot will appear. It will, and probably near the elevators.
2) To get your baby’s information over the phone, you must give them your pre-assigned four digit code. But if you want to walk in and actually see the babies, all you need to know is one of their last names—which are posted with little sticky notes by the reception desk. They don’t check i.d.’s or anything. Just say “I’m baby McNamara’s dad” and you can step right in–unless they happen to remember what Mr. McNamara looks like. But if you come in at the very start of the shift you can minimize the chance that they’ve seen him recently. This seems like pretty poor security to me. Although it is probably difficult to abduct babies with all those tubes and wires going everywhere.
3) Every nurse has a different idea about whether you can hold the baby. If the day shift nurse says that you can’t hold him because he’s sleeping and needs to rest, try not to act surprised when the night shift nurse says, “Go ahead and pick him up while he’s sleeping; that’s the best time.” Subjectivity is built into the system.
4) No matter how good the news is, when you walk out of NICU you should try to keep a neutral to somber expression. Someone else is getting bad news. If you can pull off a constant expression of polite but unprying concern, even better, but that one has a high technical difficulty level. Probably safer to just go with the slightly furrowed brow.
5) This is not easy. A lot of Aidan’s roommates are really struggling. The simple truth is that some of these babies aren’t going to make it.

Sometimes it’s hard not to feel a little embarrassed that Aidan is big and basically healthy, when he is surrounded by tiny, struggling babies. A couple of days ago I was holding Aidan, and the parents of the baby right beside him were visiting their preemie. The dad’s eyes opened wide when he saw us. “That’s a big baby.”

“Nine pounds, 12 ounces,” I said.

“Ours is finally up to two-seven.”

My kid was born four times bigger than the weight his baby has reached after three weeks.

Yesterday, I was visiting again and I saw that their baby’s heart rate was going up and up. The nurse came over to check and found the source of the problem—a large (for a preemie) blob of mucus blocking one of his nasal passages. She pulled it out and called the respiratory therapist over to take a look. It’s just surreal to see alarms going off because of a booger.

And then there’s last night. I noticed when we came in that part of the room was closed off by a kind of movable curtain. A sign said “Quiet please! Minimal stimulation.” We’ve done the “minimal stimulation” routine with Aidan before, so I didn’t really think anything of it. We got the update on Aidan (still feverish, but stable; blood pressure and respiration fine without assistance), and looked in on the two and half pound kid, who seemed to be well and booger-free. Then we started taking turns holding our son.

It was Sandy’s turn to hold him when the parents of the little girl behind the curtain burst out of the room, in tears. I watched them leave. It was a couple I had met before, briefly. On my first day to visit they showed me how to scrub in—I had never used a pedal-operated sink before. At the time they seemed nice enough, but perpetually distracted–like every parent around here. When they rounded the corner I glanced over at their daughter’s monitor. Flatlined.

Sandy’s eyes started welling up. “Did that baby….?”

At first I just shrugged, like I didn’t know. But I did. And after a minute, I slowly nodded.

A man came in and asked what the exact time was.

“I think I should go home now,” Sandy said. So we handed Aidan back to Nurse Emily and slipped away, brows furrowed, past the families in the waiting room.

After that, stepping back in NICU feels like tip-toeing over the gates of Sheol. We are so close sometimes.

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