I was curious about what loyalty is. This is what the dictionary says about its definition….faithful to law; upholding the lawful authority; faithful and true to the lawful government; faithful to the prince or sovereign to whom one is subject; unswerving in allegiance; true to any person or persons to whom one owes fidelity, especially as a wife to her husband, lovers to each other, and friend to friend; constant; faithful to a cause or principle….My understanding of the word loyalty seems to be on track but I wonder, “am I loyal enough?” Hourly I can face trials which test my resolve to stand my ground. Loyalty is not easy when the journey becomes uncomfortable. Temptations come for sidestepping.
I couldn’t sleep though it was late. I decided to watch a movie I hadn’t seen for quite some time. I had only been partially paying attention when a dialogue pulled me in fully.
“The dead have no titles….You were the most powerful man in England, you could have been greater still but you had not the courage to be loyal, only the convictions of your vanity.”
Am I loyal enough to withstand my own desires and vanity? I don’t beat myself up with these questions but I look at them in truth of who I am. Without Christ in me I would be hard pressed to run the race set before me.
A couple years ago I read a book about Azusa Street. For those who don’t know this historical lesson, I won’t insult anyone by trying to share it in a paragraph or more. I can only say it’s worth looking up the testimonies. Weigh for yourself the truth of the matter like you would any historical content. We live within a generation of first hand testimonies where time or historians haven’t yet been able to twist the stories of those who lived these moments.
In this book I read a profound thought, at least for me. The writer was talking about how he had got down on his knees in prayer to ask the curtains be closed upon his heels for any good deeds he might have done. I was slain in my heart by these words. I knew I was only being touched as deeply as I was because there lingered some “me” within. You know “me” don’t you? The place where we actually enjoy kudos for simply doing “the right thing” or “sharing the right word”?
It’s taken me a couple years to get a better understanding of this thought and even now, I have a lifetime to go in its lesson. A humble heart does not seek its own. (Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.)
I have come to love what the writer shared from his heart in that book I had read. If he shared a great act of love yesterday, he didn’t want to be hindered to remember it. He wanted to be freed only to look forward for what great kindness and love he could share today.
I was asked to sign a book today. Being a writer this should have flattered me and I admit I was touched, but this was not a book I felt any inclination to sign. My new friend had been given a bible and was very stoked by a verse I had shared with her. I merely marked the page where she could again find the passage for herself.
A reminder came to mind from what Bob Sorge had recently shared. We can easily become ensnared by the trap of flattery. I was grateful my reaction was one of humility. I knew my friend was just sharing her joy but I know her real joy will never come from my words in her book. Her joy will be complete by the Word itself. That’s the life giving signature.
I looked at my feet today, I mean really looked at them for what they were. I love to hike and walk, but recently I had new blisters and areas of pain I’d never experienced in such consistent manner. I hadn’t thought I was doing anything exceptionally different or strenuous for my precious feet.
Paying attention to the details of opportunity is a lesson to be learned, but we can only learn it if we are open to understand how we are being taught. Recently I had felt inspired to walk in places where I had never walked before. My feet are adjusting to the new terrain.
Deu 11:25 No man shall be able to stand against you; the LORD your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you.
In contemplation of how to be a surrendered soul, I’ve had to look more in depth at the true definition of the word surrender. Easily I’ve sung and spoke about my surrender, but I don’t know that I’ve understood enough the meaning. To relinquish possession or control is not easy when I can’t agree to forgo my power in the matter.
Surrender really means to be powerless! This very concept goes against the grain of all that life and experiences teach us. We as a culture are taught it’s always about getting power; to crave and desire it, to seek it in money, position and status. We have but to turn on the television or pick up a magazine, even look at a billboard to be reminded of these goals.
The soles of my feet are feeling out the new ground I stand upon, and the soil is like nothing I’ve ever stepped upon before. The texture is strange and unexplored. I am calling upon that inner child whose hope is untainted. Closing my eyes I will walk without my sight, in faith.
Michael stood outside a hole in the wall pizza joint on Broadway. He had the streets written on him, but didn’t look the part of homeless in a way you could tell right off the bat. He looked in our direction. I wasn’t sure why I was drawn to keep him in my sight. He said something friendly I couldn’t focus on much but still I kept looking at him. To most, he probably didn’t look like anyone to have a conversation with. His neck was decorated with pictures in cheap ink. One of these drawings reminded me of tablature. I approached him to ask if I could see what he wore. Upon close inspection, this drawing was of prison bars with a face behind them.
Michael had done time, but I saw no reason to ask why he had been imprisoned, I instead asked him about his freedom. For the next twenty minutes my friends and I were given insight into his life as it was. He gave us a narration of how he’d sneak into a nearby business to shower quickly and how he’d earn money doing small chores. Michael even pulled out a baggie to show us the change he collected. He would often count it over and over since he had plenty of time to do that.
He showed us the picture on his arm of Jesus and I was impressed this had so much color to it. He pointed out to us specifically the color of the blood from the crown of thorns on Jesus’ forehead. I stayed quiet but took note that he wore this on the inner side of his right arm. I wondered if Michael knew why he had put this face on the arm that shows strength? I wondered too if Michael knew why he liked that blood so much?
The heart of a mother is indescribable. I have seen women bloom in this motherly love but I’ve also seen women who’ve been destroyed by it. The umbilical cord may be severed at birth, but the attachments of the heart are life long. I’ve witnessed a motherly heart in those who have birthed children and those who haven’t, so I know it to be ingrained into our very DNA.
The story of Hannah is intriguing to me. She is obviously loved much by her husband but her soul cry is to have children. It’s so powerful that she makes a promise to God in her prayer. If He will give her a child, she promises to give the child to God. What blows my mind is what Hannah does when her prayer is answered. She is given a son and this woman keeps her promise! Once he has been weaned, she takes him to be schooled and raised in God’s house of priests.
Any one of us can imagine the pain of her heart to leave her young boy in the care of others for even a few days, let alone to walk away knowing he will never be in your care again. To comprehend this mother knew she’d never have his small body curl up next to her for cuddles and love? I ache just trying to imagine the sacrifice. What a faith!
The story goes on to share how God honors her faith by giving her many more children where before she had been barren. I am sure her house was filled with love by all these children. I also know her heart always had room to love and think about her first born son; her answered prayer. As I said, the heart of a mother is indescribable.
My tall, slim buddy with a cane I met today had quite the tale. Seems like I keep meeting up with dudes who want to “shuck their shirts” in order to share some artwork of one kind or another. I am touched every time. I have come to realize their bodies are the living canvas of a story to be heard; their story.
His thin back had an amazing illustration of an imposing dragon whose wings literally spanned his entire ribcage. Upon the dragon’s back was a man I easily recognized; it was an image of this man’s face riding the impressive creature.
Lowering his shirt, he turned back to me, eager to share the details of his ink. He’d spent two and a half years inside a prison in Arizona, having been caught for possession. Previously he’d spent twenty years on “the high” with a needle in arm for any kind of drug to deliver his pleasure. He extended his thin arm to show scars for where he’d blown veins. The ink, he said, represented how “he’d ridden the dragon and overcome”. In conversation he was honest to admit that now and again he missed it, but still he hadn’t gone for another ride.
He had been a war veteran but he didn’t seem to be asking anyone for any honors. Today I understood just how many wars this man had been fighting, and it was an honor to serve him.
I love art in ways I can’t explain. All kinds of arts. Sound, texture, visual, structural, written and just about anything made. I can find enjoyment in creativity itself which many find strange, but I feel is normal. A greater gift I can’t imagine than to enjoy the creation about us.
Santa Fe New Mexico is resplendent in the arts and world renown because the community seems to embrace it as a lifestyle. San Francisco has that same iconic nature but it feels more fragmented for some reason. It doesn’t seem to be the lifestyle for all, but yet it’s insinuated into all places accessed publicly.
Recently a sculpture has been erected in front of San Francisco’s city hall that is an homage to Asian art. When I asked the persons responsible for it’s placement, I was told the huge three headed icon was part of a Buddha sculpture series by artist Zyang Huan. This particular piece is known as “Three Heads Six Arms” and is to be a placement here for one year as a celebration of Shanghai being a sister city to San Francisco.
I wondered about its message. Clearly city officials had to okay this huge metal deity to be on display for all the world to see on a daily basis. My heart began to hurt. A couple blocks away was a painted message of “TRUTH” but it seemed so hidden from this place.
The guy was taking a leak against the wall when we walked past him on a city sidewalk. To his credit the man was discreet to keep himself covered and he had his back to us, but there was no surprise for what he was doing. He was homeless and had no immediate facilities to use.
She stood outside a public restroom in the park smoking a cigarette and drinking a bottle of water. As I went inside, her purse was laid out openly, along with a folder holding a newspaper ad for “jobs wanted”. Her cell phone was plugged into a socket over the sink charging. She asked us if we knew where there might be work. I didn’t.
A line of people began to form as we moved past them to go to a park fronting city hall. I didn’t see any kind of bus sign and their nature made me wonder what they gathered for. Later as we passed them again we had to walk through their line. My friend inquired about what they were waiting for. We were informed “free curry” was to be served shortly. These people in line were homeless, hungry and broke.
Mental snapshots taken of the world around us as we traveled through it this week…