Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
Sitting here, contemplating what to write. Yet another blog blurb, and I can’t help but take on a more somber tone. The news continues to be a dismal glimpse into fallen mankind. More acts of evil. Terror in grocery stores. Chaos in spa parlors. Needless deaths. Innocent victims. Like so many others across the world, I was shocked and disheartened by the news of Monday afternoon. Innocent people meet their untimely passing. You may not pay too close attention to the news. After all this happened thousands of miles away; it did not impact us directly. So, we go back to our regular routines and normal lives. Yet at the end of the day, the great tragedy is that children lost parents and parents lost children. Death reared its ugly head and left horrendous loss and pain in its wake. It is true that tragedies happen every single day; they just don’t get the national coverage nor media recognition. Still there is something about shocking, unexpected, far-too-soon acts of death that cause people to stop in their tracks and get sick to their stomach. I did. Even being so far removed, the events still shake me. News coverage and stories captivate me. My heart breaks for the families impacted.
Sadly, it often takes a shattering tragedy for perspective to ground me in what is truly important. This is probably true for many of us. They provide a “reality check” for my life. Self-reflection is powerful when you candidly stop to see what you may need to change in life. And so, here are some of my own thoughts in the dark wake of Colorado’s events…
Wait a minute... is there really more to this day than corned beef & cabbage dinners, green beer, and 'Kiss Me I'm Irish' t-shirts? This day doesn’t actually have anything to do with bar crawls or Lucky Charms? Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate the unofficial sentiment that “Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.” Plus, I do absolutely plan on stopping by McDonald’s for a Shamrock Shake at some point today. But there are much deeper roots of this holiday that go relatively unknown by those in our country today.
Today (yesterday) is the Feast Day of St. Patrick, commemorating the life and legacy of the man who brought the gospel to the Irish. Born in England way back in 389, St. Patrick was kidnapped and enslaved by savage and violent Irish raiders at the young age of 16. He was sold to be a shepherding slave by these pirate warriors, living in horrible conditions—often hungry, cold, threatened by elements and abused by his captors. Patrick was enslaved in Ireland for the next 6 years before he escaped and fled back home. He later confessed that as a youth he had turned away from God; but it was during his time as a slave that Patrick was led back to faith in God. Upon his escape and return to England, he spent the next several years in a monastery strengthening his relationship with God. After becoming a priest, St. Patrick sensed God's call to return to Ireland as a missionary.
He came back to Ireland, a beautiful country that was ruled by tribalism, warlords and druids. They worshipped many gods and practiced magical arts. Patrick came and told them about the true God. Against great hostility and aggressive resistance, he preached throughout the land and was so successful that Ireland became known as the Isle of Saints. His ministry led hundreds of thousands to Christ.
The saga continues.
Garden State license plates securely on. Official NJ driver licenses delivered and in the wallets. This week it was inspection time. Our minivan passed with flying colors. Piece of cake. My wife was in and out of the inspection station (Newton this time, 😉) in 10 minutes. Our 2005 Toyota Corolla? Not so much. But on the plus side, I now have a stunning new piece of decor for my car. It is a bright red sticker on my windshield. It’s very pretty. Oh, and did I mention, it includes eight big, black letters. R-E-J-E-C-T-E-D.
Bummer. But it wasn’t a surprise. To be fair, we were pretty certain this was going to happen. After all, parts of my car are held together by gorilla tape and zip ties. Plus for the past couple of months my “Check Engine” light has been an ever-present, glowing reminder that something was wrong. Whatever that light indicated was askew, I knew it was not something I could fix myself. Add a few other known infirmities and we very much anticipated not passing the inspection. We were right. REJECTED. I guess 203K miles and a growing list of needed repairs will do that to you.
Glad I’m not a car…
Something doesn’t work right? REJECTED.
Speak a hurtful word? REJECTED.
Do a bad thing? REJECTED.
Welcome to the Garden State”
It’s becoming more and more official. Check another box off of our cross-country move list. We now have NJ license plates on our cars and our official NJ drivers licenses are in the mail. Of course, you know what this means. In order for these things to take place, my lovely wife and I had to make a fun, exhilarating trip. Who needs a date night or weekend getaway? Day trip to the beach? No way! When we’re looking for a good time, we head to Wayne and visit the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles. Fasten your seat belts. Keep your arms and legs inside at all times. It’s gonna be wild ride. Rip-roaring excitement awaits. Try not to get too jealous, but yes indeed, this past Friday, we spent about two hours of our day at the DMV. Did you just inwardly groan or wince when you read that? 😉
What a stressful two hours that was! Even though we had scheduled appointments far in advance, had (almost) all of our paperwork in hand and all our forms filled out, there was still this incredible sense of stress and tension the moment we walked into the walls of that DMV. Perhaps it was the armed security guards or the receptionist who had about the same level of charm as an angry raccoon, but we immediately felt like our very presence in that building was an inconvenience to everyone else in the room. My wife said it felt like she was being brought before a judge and about to be thrown into jail. To me it felt more like being called into the principal’s office, unsure if I was there to get a new class schedule or about to be expelled. Either way, the institutional confines of the DMV were anything but warm and fuzzy. Though for the most part, the employees were helpful and patient (at least to us), we both felt like we were walking on eggs shells and just one misstep a way from being yelled at and sent to the naughty corner. Thankfully the trip was successful, albeit a tad nerve-wracking. When we were finally done, we both plopped down in the car and almost simultaneously said, “I need a drink!” It had to be 5 o’clock somewhere! And like the cherry on top of an ice-cream sundae, now we get to go and get both cars inspected. The fun never stops. I’m sure they’ll just ignore my glowing check engine light…right?
Pastor Steve Vera