Sunday, March 30, 2014

Looking for Answers in the Easy Places

This morning I heard my wife comment in the other room followed by a couple of emails she forwarded to me.  Both were CNN breaking news feeds that read as follows:

The new search area for Flight 370 is hundreds of miles closer to the Australian coast, which will give planes more time to spend over the area, an Australian official says. Planes may also encounter better weather there than in the previous search area.
Aircraft first arrived at the new search area Friday, an Australian official said. So far, authorities have not found anything they would classify as debris, he said.

After reading the 2 emails,  It brought to mind the story about the boy who was frantically looking for something behind the family home.  It was late at night and the boy was down on all fours, brushing his hands back and forth in the grass and near the point of tears when his father came looking for him only to find him in their back yard. 

“What are you doing, son?” the father asked.

The boy replied, “I’m looking for my watch” to which the father inquired further, “Where did you last see it?”

“In the front yard!” he quickly responded.  Puzzled by his son’s response, the father ventured again, “Then why in the world are you looking in the backyard for the watch?”

Slightly annoyed and obviously distressed the boy responded without hesitation “Because that is where the light is!

The CNN news search struck me as similar logic.  While I’m sure there is more to the story, it reads as if the search was moved to a new location because the weather was better there!  Of course the follow up news released indicated that the search team had come up empty! 

What really strikes me about this story is in the details.  How many times do we “look for answers in the easiest place to look”?  For example children...
        Why do they continue to do the things we’ve asked them not to do even after we’ve preached this     sermon over a 1000 times? 

Ø  Why do they ask for the very thing that wasnt offered?  
Ø  Why do they lie about insignificant things? 
Ø  Why do they terrorize the other kids in sunday school?

Its easy to search in the comfortable places…

Ø  They’re oppositional…
Ø  they’re defiant,
Ø  they’re ungrateful,
Ø  they’re detached…
But searching for debris in the comfortable places doesn’t pay off very well.  The search must move to the uncomfortable places…in such places the search team is pushed to discover the truth.  The secrets of the soul are not easily discovered and healing is never found in the label.  It requires something of a sacrifice from the search team and in the case of a child’s heart parents are that search team.  And if we’re talking about children who have been grafted into the family it’s difficult to know where the plane went down!  The search begins with asking a different set of questions.  If it’s not defiance, then what is it?  If it’s not detachment, then what?  What is my child feeling when he abandons all logic and consequence to do his/her own thing?

Recently, I had an interesting meeting with a young man.  During our meeting he began to tell me that his father abandoned the family when he was 6.  Literally, his dad went to the grocery store and never came back!  The young man tearfully recounted what it was like for him and that he now can relate to kids because he “knows what it feels like”.  I stopped him at that point and asked a pointed question, “So what does it feel like?”

I sat there for a moment and as tears welled up in his eyes.  He then looked me in the eyes and said “FEAR!  I was all alone and figured that I had to take care of myself…nobody was going to be there for me!” 

What had been an academic-like meeting suddenly became a sobering moment filled with emotion, as I got a glimpse of the injury in his soul.  His story represents the heart of too many teens and children who carry the burden of their own survival.  We get caught up on the opposition and disobedience because after all, the weather is safer there.  To search elsewhere requires that we fly headlong into the storm while suspending our need for comfort and/or realize that our intense desire for reciprocal love may not be realized…at least not right now.  The search requires that we keep trying to attach with no guarantees that it will ever happen. 

Granted, it is easier to search where the weather is good.  Otherwise I am forced to admit that this unconditional love thing is very hard.  I am confronted with the reality that on my own, I am inept at this “laying down my life thing” in order for my child to thrive and feel the warm embrace and security of love. 

So how do you look in the right places even though the weather there is terrible, maybe even treacherous?  I know of only one model for doing so.  Its found in these words, Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who…made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant…He humbled Himself and became obedient…” (Phillipians 2:5-8).  The model also teaches that “while we were yet sinners, He died for us”…which translated means that while we were doing all that crazy stuff to try to hide our fears, He still loved!  And there’s the model.  The denial of one’s own self in order that others may prosper.  It’s the right place to search.  Its not as comfortable as where blue skies prevail or street lights shine into a frightening darkness…but then there are no plane parts or watches to be found in those places and there are no children to be saved from their fears there either.