Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Island Odyssey

Sometimes, I’m just not very clever. The last two weeks in July, my wife, Wanda, and I are celebrating our 30th Anniversary in Hawaii. A few really glorious nights on the back-side of Oahu, and then nine nights on the Valley Isle, Maui. When we arrived in Maui, we set about purchasing our own snorkeling gear. Hawaii is really the only place we snorkel… warm water, amazing marine life, and… good company, but we finally decided not to rent any more.

So we visited the Maui Dive Shop. And next thing we knew, we had snorkels, fins, diving masks (mine actually has corrective lenses), and a document safe. A document safe is a little plastic box with a hermetically sealed top (‘o’-ring and all) used to store critical documents on your person while you’re in the water… that way nothing important gets left in the car (to be stolen). Armed with my gear and my safe (safely keeping my driver’s license, credit card, and hotel room key), we swam into the waters just south of Kaanapali Beach… wonderful tropical fish, flora, and five or six sea turtles… really close to shore. It was a delightful afternoon.

Sometimes, I’m not very clever. I had stowed my safe in the back pocket of my swim trunks… the one with the zipper. I knew the safe was still there, ‘cause the pocket was heavy. Yep… reached right back there, and came up with a handful of… sand. It’s probably best if you zip the zipper… Yep… not very clever!

Well, we searched around the beach, and Wanda even swam out with her gear to search, but… nothing… nada. We went back to our condo and called the credit card company. “No problem sir! We’ll cancel the card and send you a new one by express… it’ll be there in three business days!” Well, at least that was reasonable.

Then there’s the matter of the driver’s license. It seems that getting a replacement is a simple matter, you just fill out a form and show up, in person, at the DMV office, pay the fee and voila… in two weeks you get a new photo ID. Photo ID… did I mention that we flew to Hawaii? It seems one needs photo ID to do things like board airplanes. This could be interesting… Oh… did I mention that the day after we get home, I need to fly out of state on business, and rent a car? It seems you need a driver’s license to rent a car.
Photo ID in two weeks. Yep. Sometimes I’m not very clever.

Wanda and I prayed. We asked our friends (via phone and e-mail) to pray. We prayed some more. And some more.

Fast forward two days. We’ve returned from an afternoon of snorkeling (Nope, didn’t have a document safe… didn’t have anything to put in it!). The phone rings, and it’s the lady at the front desk. She tells me that someone has found my safe, in tact, and has left her name, phone, and hotel information so that I can go claim it. I called Terry and she indeed had found my stuff. Since the hotel key was in it, she called to see if we were here. We were. We made arrangements to go over to her hotel… picked up a bottle of California sparkling wine (a nice Domaine Chandon Etoile), and headed out.

Met Terry and her husband rich in the lobby of their hotel on Kaanapali Beach. As you’d imagine, we asked where they found the little box. Apparently, Rich found it that morning at a place called Shipwreck Beach… on the island of Lana’i, across fourteen miles of open ocean channel. Seems they took the ferry 45 minutes to the neighboring island, took a tour bus to the top of same, and then rented a jeep, and drove down to this beach. Apparently, it’s not much of a swimming beach, but before they left, they wandered over to the water, Rich looked down, and there was my little box, having sailed itself across the sea.

Some might say, “What a coincidence!” Me, sometimes I’m not very clever… I’d just say God is unabashedly awesome!

Thanks Lord! (And I hope Terry and Rich enjoy the Domaine Chandon!) This picture is taken from where I lost the 'safe.' You can see where it was found in the distance.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Good Things -- Small Packages

There’s an old saying, “If you want something done, ask a busy man [person!].” I’m also familiar with a corollary axiom, “If you want something done, ask a lazy man [no PC clarifying remark].” The implication of the latter being that someone who is lazy will automatically know the easiest, fastest way to complete something so that the he might return to his indolence. Teaching fifth grade Sunday school, one often encounters the ‘lazy man’ when it comes to memorizing Scripture. 10 year-old boys often gravitate toward a strong sense of achievement, garnered while seeking short and easy verses to remember. I think beyond John 3:16, which seems requisite to any young life aspiring after Christ, then next most popular verse is John 11:35; renowned and appreciated for its brevity, if not downright terseness. In this verse, John writes, “Jesus wept.” Interestingly enough most of the contemporary translations of the Bible set forth this verse in pretty much the same way.

Well and good. The ten year-olds have a corner on “the shortest verse in the Bible.”

I encountered this verse the other day, of course in the larger context of the eleventh chapter of the Book of John. In this chapter, John’s narrative describes the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus, and the reactions of those impacted by his death… Jesus, of course, Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha, and some of the neighbors in Bethany where the “Lazarus Family” lived. The tale talks ultimately about Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead. We know that Jesus’ intent was to do this because early in the chapter, when told that Lazarus is very ill, He says, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. (v4).” Jesus knows at the outset that He will have this opportunity to bring glory to God through the miracle of resurrection… he delays his departure to Bethany for four days… in essence assuring Lazarus’ passing… and yet, when the reality of Lazarus’ death actually confronts Jesus in Mary’s tears, Jesus too “weeps.” The question that arose for me was, “Why did Jesus weep?” Certainly not just to provide ten year-olds with a short verse.

Prayer, reflection, and some discussion led me to a more revealing conclusion. Let me offer the context of verse 35:

30Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. 31When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. 32When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. 34“Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Then Jesus wept. 36The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 37But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”

38Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39“Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” 40Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”


Two facts spring (at least for me) from the page... one, as the 10 year-olds note so well, "Then Jesus wept." When confronted with the pain and anguish of Lazarus' sisters and neighbors, I believe His heart overflowed with compassion, and He wept with them. This short, tiny verse speaks volumes about the heart of our Lord, and his true empathy with, and compassion for us.

John also tells us that Jesus was angry. Verses 33 and 38 attest to his ire -- so we're left with a question for the next post... Why was Jesus angry?