Value of a Thing

Value of a Thing

I read a story about a man who inherited a blanket. After his grandmother died and his family members finished “pillaging” her house, he went to sift through what remained. Among her possessions was a dingy blanket no one wanted. He recalled his grandmother had used it for a birthing bed when one of the cats had kittens.

He took it home and stowed it in the closet. The blanket was mostly forgotten until the night he was watching Antiques Roadshow. Someone presented a bonafide Navajo blanket that appraised at half a million dollars.

After a few failed attempts and negative feedback from skeptics, the man found an expert who identified his old cat blanket as one of the “finest and rarest” Navajo blankets in the world. The textile brought in 1.5 million at auction (which enabled the man to drop off his diet of ramen and vodka).

Here’s the thing, if Grandma had realized the origin and true value of that blanket, she never would have lent it to the cat. More likely it would have been in a bulletproof glass case with sensors and security guards.

The point is we handle things according to the value we assign them. This is true of possessions but even more so of people. If we have no concept of the value of another person, we are more likely to use, abuse or ignore them. But if we understand Jesus deemed ever human worth dying for, it will change how we treat each other. The level of his sacrifice demonstrates the level of our worth. We need to value each other the way God does.

High Places

High Places

My kids love to climb — trees, fences, the hood of my car, any place that isn’t the ground. The other day my wife was inspecting the roof for ice damage. It took two seconds for our four and six year old to start scaling the ladder resting against the house. I was able to talk them back down in exchange for a chance to sit on top of the shed.

Josiah was the first one up. I brushed off some leaves and pine needles and we sat looking beyond the fences that normally block his vision. He let out a noise that sounded like joy. Then he asked if we could build seven tiny houses on top of the shed roof so the whole family could stay up there. I suggested maybe we pitch the tent on the roof.

A couple of Jesus’ friends had the same experience. They followed him up a mountain and some kind of screen was removed. They saw the light of the world in a greater magnitude then before. And Peter didn’t want to leave. He offered to build shelters.

We long for the high places. Up where the smell of pine trees is stronger and light is brighter. Up where it feels easier to see God and know his nearness. We long for it because we were made for it. That is our home.

 So why do we have to leave the mountain and climb off the roof? There is a story still playing out down here that we are also made for. The valley needs light too.

From Bad to Good

From Bad to Good

Moby Dick reminds me of God (not the whale specifically but the book). I’ve never read it though it feels like I should have by now. My son actually told me the story. His favorite part was the way Ishmael survived the shipwreck by clinging to a floating coffin. He liked how Melville used something associated with death to save a life. The coffin doubled as a dinghy.

There is a Biblical through-line in which God takes what was intended for evil and turns it for good. When Abraham and Sarah schemed a plan to secure their lineage, a young slave girl was impregnated and then banished to a barren land. But God saw her. He made a well spring up from the dust and later gave an inheritance to Hagar and her son.

This pattern builds up to the cross. God took a weapon devised to prolong the pain of death and used it to rescue the world. What we built to kill, God used to bring resurrection.

A coffin becomes a lifeboat. Water springs up in a wasteland. The Savior beats Satan, sin and death.

The trend is from bad to good.

 This is how God has always been. And he doesn’t change.

We Are Small

We Are Small

Usually we act like we are big. We give the finger to people in cars. We kick over anthills. And we use keyboards like machine guns.

Also we act like we are smart. We know how to replace livers. We know how to build tiny robots. And we know how to cut apart atoms to blow stuff up.

But the truth is we are not that big and we are not that smart. We are not visible from space. And we can’t make anything out of nothing.

Despite all that, the one who is infinite and wise loves us so fully he jumped in front of a bus for us.

Which means we are important, even though we are small.

Peace is Contagious

Peace is Contagious

We know viruses can spread. The threats are real. The human body is not impenetrable. And because of this we ought to heed wisdom and let love be our law.

While that is all true, the bigger enemy is fear. Not just fear of something but fear in general. It seems to be a living thing. And much like a virus fear can be shared and caught. Dallas Willard once wrote about a study involving mice and amphetamines. At a certain level of exposure, the mice began to die. Then the researchers introduced healthy mice into the group. Within minutes the drug-free mice also died.

We’ve experience this too. Grocery stores with empty shelves are the evidence. In pointing this out I’m not claiming an exemption. I’ve felt the oppressive weight on my back as well. We all have.

Now the shift to good news… Peace is also contagious.

Listen to peaceful people you will begin to feel it penetrate your soul. Jesus slept as the swells beat against his boat. In response to venomous hypocrisy he knelt and wrote in the sand. And on the night of his arrest and execution he healed a head wound and pardoned his killers. There is a reason he is called the Prince of Peace.

Before he died Jesus he promised us peace that overthrows fear (John 14:27). After defeating death he made good on the promise and sent his Spirit. It is no mistake that the symbol of the Holy Spirit is also the universal symbol of peace. The dove that rested on Jesus is available to us. In order to catch this peace we need to get in close proximity to him and abide there.

Maintain distance from viruses. Flee from fear and any who insist on preaching it. But draw close to Jesus. The more exposure the better.

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