Tag Archives: Jesus cross

A Volkswagen Beetle and the Bible

In the midst of all the chaos, violence, partisanship, selfishness and crude cruelty in our society God has repeatedly put a verse in my mind. But I struggled with how to apply it – until now. This week God placed an innocuous experience from my life alongside the verse.

It occurred 49 years ago. Barb and I were on our honeymoon, headed from Michigan to Washington D.C. Our car was a Volkswagen Beetle. We had, of course, waxed the car so it would be a clean, bright shiny blue for the special occasion. What a great idea!

Then we placed a car top carrier on the roof to hold our luggage. Another great idea! But two great ideas don’t necessarily equate to a good idea. On the road to D.C. we discovered the carrier was slowly sliding backwards down the sloped roof and was about to slide down over the back window and slide completely off! Our solution?

We stopped and bought some clothesline and anchored the carrier by tying it to the front and back bumpers. While we drew a lot of funny glances along the way, it worked. The carrier held its place because it was firmly fixed, tied to a firm foundation.

This incident pointed to a valuable truth. To be firm, to be secure, to stay grounded in place one must be tied to a sure foundation. I now see why God keeps putting this verse before me. “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11) God has been waiting for me to catch His mind and Spirit.

On one level, I truly believe that much of the chaos, violence, partisanship, selfishness and crude cruelty in our society would dissipate if more people would build their lives on a firm foundation. Then their actions would at least arise out of something solid and be consistent with their beliefs. We would still have disagreements but the selfish, knee-jerk, follow the crowd, listen to the media mentality would greatly lessen.

But for now I focus on another level. Those of us who believe in and serve Jesus Christ must be sure He – and He alone – is our foundation.

All of our decisions, actions, words and attitudes must flow from Him. Think, act, and speak like Jesus. As I observe life in the Body of Christ it too often saddens me – we react like those with no foundation. Our own thoughts, feelings, emotions, prejudices, likes and dislikes control what we say and how we say it. We, too, fall into the selfish, knee-jerk, follow the crowd, listen to the media mentality. Churches and denominations are torn apart. If we can’t do any better than this, how can we judge ‘all those other people’ out there?

Personally, I know Jesus is the foundation of my life. But I’ve had to admit that there have been times in the midst of our chaotic times that I have untied the ropes and slid backwards. My own thoughts, feelings, emotions, prejudices, likes and dislikes controlled what I said and how I said it. I’m grateful God was persistent and wouldn’t let me get away from this verse. I’ve asked Him to tie the ropes again and hold me to Him. It won’t solve all the issues or overcome all the problems – or even heal all the divisions. But if Christians get back to their foundation it will ratchet down the rhetoric, lessen the emotion, and place Jesus front and center. Then He becomes the focus for all around us. And He can do the solving and healing. Yes – there will be many who don’t want Jesus brought into it. But once He’s front and center, shining brightly through us, they can’t ignore Him. It may not always be easy, but we have a precious promise. The Apostle Paul said it well: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9 — Underlining mine)

What a difference that will make – for me, for you and for all around us.

More Than a Pop Phrase

It’s amazing how certain phrases or expressions catch on and take a culture by storm. Consider, “At the end of the day…” If you haven’t heard it yet today, you will. And if you don’t, more than likely you’ll hear it several times tomorrow to make up for today’s lack! I hear “At the end of the day…” in discussions and debates between sportscasters and show hosts, during interviews with dignitaries, actors/actresses and politicians, and in casual conversations. I’ve heard it so much that, at the end of the day, I became convinced it must be the newest pop phrase. I feel like if, at the end of the day, I haven’t heard it I must not be listening and if I haven’t used it I must not be a Pop person! Which could be true – I mean, at the end of the day I’m not even totally clear as to what the phrase means!

I’ve deduced that “At the end of the day…” means something like “When it’s all said and done…”, “When we’ve examined this from all the various angles…”, “When we add it all up…” – all of which mean “What’ really matters is…” And that got me to thinking. Perhaps at the end of the day is more than a pop phrase. There is someone who knew all about the end of the day, and from Him we can learn what really matters. His name is Jesus. When He came to the end of His earthly days He was hanging on a cross, condemned to die as a criminal but chosen to die for the sin of the world. His final words, at the end of the day, were “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.” What’s significant is that these words are from Psalm 31 – they were not new; they formed a familiar prayer for the Israelites. Beginning at an early age these words were uttered by the children at bedtime as they placed themselves in unshakeable trust in the hands of the Father. They are really very similar to the spirit of our “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If Jesus comes before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take” (or some variance thereof).

So Jesus was uttering His familiar day-end prayer. At the end of the day Jesus died as He lived – with total trust in the Father. In other words, the moment of death saw no change in Jesus. These words are significant precisely because they are not new – they are but the expression of His whole life. The truth is if, at the end of the day we can lie down to sleep with peace, we can lie down at the final day’s end to die in peace. As Paul put it, “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s!” (Romans14:8 Revised Standard Version)

So, at the end of the day the message is that how we live is the key to how we will die. I invite you to live in trust so you can, at the end of the day, die in trust. Believe that no matter what, your Father will bring you safely home. It is this belief which leads me, as I climb into bed at the end of each day, to pray what I think is a more adult version of my early life’s prayer. “Good, good Father — now I lay me down to sleep, Thankful that my soul you keep. Now guide and guard me through the night, and wake me when and where it’s right.” At the end of the day that’s all that really matters.