My dad and semi-gloss paint

I’m sitting here at the keyboard with semi-gloss paint on my fingers from giving the

hand

bathroom a makeover today. It’s summer time, and my summer bucket list is full of painting projects. They will all end with coating the trim work with a lovely layer of white semi-gloss.

According to paint authority Sherwin-Williams:

“Higher-gloss paint finishes can also help brighten dark spaces. Under most common lighting conditions, a combination of semigloss sheen and light-colored paint is an optimal wall covering method to brighten a dark space.”

Even home expert Bob Vila says:

“Semi-gloss is more durable and easier to clean. The higher the gloss, the easier the cleanup of messes like fingerprints and smudges. For objects and areas that get a lot of use and therefore require frequent wipe-downs—bathrooms, kitchens, playrooms, kids’ bedrooms, and any other area children may feel tempted to draw on walls with Crayola—semi-gloss is often the wiser option. Because the surface is slicker, it’s more resistant to moisture and easier to go over with a damp cloth or special sprays designed for minor household disasters.”

Yay! That’s what I’ve been doing. But I learned it from my dad years ago.

You see, Dad taught me that ‘semi-gloss is forgiving’. It covers a multitude of stains, scuffs, and various oopsies. It rolls into itself on a surface, making a smooth surface over time.

So, semi-gloss is like forgiveness, which is another topic with which dad had experience. Dad was a truck-driving farm-boy who just really wanted to be a church pastor. During a time period when being a divorcee was taboo, he was not allowed to even teach a Sunday school class. That left a big ol’ scuff on dad’s interior. A scuff that could only be covered with a thick application of forgiveness.

When pastoring didn’t work out, Dad sought to be a college professor. He loved adding to the palette of knowledge older adolescents were acquiring, and he happily shared his knowledge of God and people for years. But as the hues of administration began to fade into different shades, Dad’s Biblical views became too ‘vintage’ and he retired. Stains of betrayal and disappointment colored his life until he wiped over them with forgiveness.

Family splits, chronic pain, loss of parents and friends…all of life’s dents, dings, smears, blemishes, and scrapes have battered Dad. As they have the rest of us. But forgiveness covers it all. Forgiveness doesn’t make it go away. It doesn’t erase the stain, but it does make the surface clean and ready for future use.

Once I asked Dad for help with a  secret project for my kids. I bought a can of black chalkboard paint for him to use. His dubious look was greater than when a younger me had broken curfew to go to a concert. I know my dad’s affinity for white semi-gloss, and yet I was asking him to use black. He knew that this project for my kids was going to get crayon marks, paint streaks, and various sticky messes on it. He wanted me to use the most ‘forgiving’ paint possible. One that was going to make  perfect, usable surface. One that would clean up easily from oopsies.

Dad knows that life is a colorful, messy array of positive and negative experiences. Ones that broaden our perspectives to see beautiful panoramas. Others that will scrape away our delicate finishes and leave discolored blotches. More importantly, he understands that life doesn’t end with those experiences.

Renewal and forgiveness make all things news. What’s the alternative? Allowing the scuff to remain visible? Walking around with the smeared faults of others on display?

Forgiveness is restoration, the beginning of something new. 

 

Colossians 3:12-14 (emphasis mine)

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. {Wear these around instead of the drab scars of  disappointment and hurt.}

13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  {God forgives us each time we scuff his love toward us. He sticks with us through our sins, so we should forgive others and stick with them.}

14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  {Love is what allows us to forgive. We must have love if we are going to forgive. Love for the other person and love for ourselves if we want to grow from the hurt.}

Dad would go through phases when he would paint a lot. And then the house would seem new to us. Fresh and untainted. Forgiving those who have wronged us can give that same renovated feeling to our lives, preparing us for whatever is coming next.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I will think of you with each coating of semi-gloss paint I use, for the rest of my life. And hopefully, I will work to forgive and restore the way that you have as well.

towel

 

Prodigals

 

prodigal son 2Through all the flannel graph retellings and VBS skits and heart-wrenching life stories of the selfish prodigal son, I envisioned God having mercy on me. Isn’t that what the story is about? Self-centered, self-serving, immature whippersnapper goes off to prove he (she) knows best. Enjoys independent, riotous living until the funds run out. Learns hard moral of own life story. Returns home with remorse and wisdom. Greeted with unconditional paternal love. Goody two-shoes brother is jealous. Happily ever after. The end.

Well, yes, that is what the story is about…but there’s more to it than that. This past Sunday, Pastor John presented insight I had never known before regarding this story: ‘prodigal’ has two meanings.

1.  recklessly extravagant

2. lavishly abundant

Both of the sons were  prodigally selfish: the younger with his desire to have what he wanted, when he wanted, and the elder child was thinking only of his loyalty to his father, not the joy of his brother’s safe return.  Both sons were prodigally immature, neither thinking of the eventual effects of their behaviors. The young whippersnapper took his money and ran to pleasure without a plan for his future, and the self-absorbed elder missed the point of his brother’s return.

The parable does not tell how long the young son was gone. He may have quickly spent his inheritance on wine, women, and song, or he may have rollicked in revelry for years. We know that it was several seasons because he had to endure a famine and survive on his own for a while after.

The son who stayed at home must have been aware of his father’s worry for the lost child. But rather rejoice upon the child’s return, the elder brother begged for his father’s attention. Luke 15, verses 28 and following recount, “Then he  became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ ”  I imagine this son blocking the father’s view of the homecoming party, waving his hands in front of his dad’s face, begging for attention. How lost this son was, too, lacking so much compassion. Lacking in joy for the revelation his brother had experienced. So prodigal in his ignorance.

Oh, but the prodigal father. The lavishly abundant father. So patient with both sons in their impatience. So wise in the midst of their ignorance. So gentle in the midst of their tumult. Oh, precious prodigal father.

I know that I screw up. Daily, I want to smack myself in the forehead or on the wrists or otherwise punish myself for my own stupidity. I react in ignorance instead of waiting for discernment. I respond to momentary circumstances instead of considering enduring outcomes. I am selfish and ungrateful for what I have, and I seek more of what I don’t really need.

But for as rotten as I am, God is prodigally good. He regulates my imbalanced selfish scale. He erases my stupidity with his hugs of grace. He welcomes me into his perfect presence with open arms rather than shunning me for my foolish humanity.

Lamentations 3, verses 22 and 23 remind me

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Prodigal Father, I beg protection from my own prodigal self. Daily. Amen.

prodigal son

 

Easter quotes

cropped-img_2090.jpg

A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.

~Mahatma Ghandi

We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining – they just shine.
~Dwight Moody

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ came to do three things. He came to have my past forgiven, you get a purpose for living and a home in Heaven.

~Rick Warren

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.

~St. Augustine

The great gift of Easter is hope – Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake.
~Basil Hume

Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.

~Pope John Paul II

Outside of the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no hope in this world. That cross and resurrection at the core of the Gospel is the only hope for humanity. Wherever you go, ask God for wisdom on how to get that Gospel in, even in the toughest situations of life.
~Ravi Zacharias

IMG_1492

The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing, ’tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

~Samuel Trevor Francis (1834-1925)

IMG_1364

Nectarines and grace

I was eating a nectarine when you betrayed me. I was walking from the kitchen into the bedroom of my apartment, munching a firm but sweet nectarine when you dropped a bomb into my life. I remember sitting down on my bed, floral sheets, reversible comforter, and just sitting there. Stunned. You continued to talk, to explain yourself, maybe even to dig yourself out of the crater you had just created…but I didn’t hear anything else. It was all just ringing in my ears after the explosion.

You had lead me to believe something for six years, encouraged me, been my champion in the darkest times. You stayed by my side and whispered those words to keep me holding on…for years. And now, you were denying that it was ever your idea. You shot me down, and then wrapped my hand around the gun. And you left me there with my dead ideals.

The silence was deafening after I hung up. I was the alonest I had ever been. No one had ever done that to me before. I wasn’t sure how to feel, what was real or what was wrong. I had thought I had known just ten minutes prior. My apartment was real, my nectarine was real, the curly cord to my phone was real…but they had all heard the lie. Would they betray me too? Would they deny their own existences? I just sat there in the destruction…and you went on with your blissfully ignorant life.

I knew why you did it. I knew why you did it as soon as you did it. But that didn’t make recovery any easier. You had realized, as I had, that we had been believing the wrong thing. We had hoped and cajoled and dreamed about the wrong thing. We had wasted a lot of time on that wrong thing, and you wanted to deny any association. You wanted to sweep it under the rug and move on because it wasn’t going to work out. The only problem with sweeping it under the rug was that you swept me along too. You tossed me out with that trashy idea that never was any good anyway. That wasteful idea that you didn’t know anything about.

I knew you well enough to know why you did it because I’d seen you do it with other things along the way. But I didn’t think you’d do it to me. I didn’t think you could ignore me that easily. But apparently you could.

I finished my nectarine that night, and I didn’t talk to you for a while. I wasn’t sure what to say to you. Even ‘oh I’m fine’ was a lie. I wasn’t fine. I had been amputated. The part of me that trusted you had been blown away. It would never be there again. And though I missed that part very much, I had to build the muscles of grace and discernment to take its place. I didn’t know how long it would take to build those muscles. We had wasted six years doing the wrong thing together. How long would it take to do the right thing alone?

It didn’t take six years to do the right thing. I realized that I couldn’t show you grace if I wasn’t around you. I couldn’t discern how to live with you if I wasn’t living with you. So, after a while, I accepted that you betrayed me and that I would love you anyway, but not trust you. You didn’t deserve to be close to me again, but that’s what grace is all about. Loving the humanity out of someone.

I want to have a relationship with you. I want to have you in my live, though it will never be the same. Maybe this spring, you and I could share some nectarines.