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Sunday, September 28, 2014

When Bare Soles Ache on this Hard Cracked Earth and Bare Soul Must Have Blue Sky

If I could declare by faith to the stack of dinner dishes, "You are clean!" then I'd never lift another dish rag. But the skillet is soaking in hot water and dish soap bubbles are turning filmy red and dissolving in the barbecue sauce I made for the chicken. It's cooked on hard and will soak overnight and I'll scrub it in the morning with wire bristles after making Malt-O-Meal because youngest daughter has braces now and can't chew anything. Malt-O-Meal for breakfast and she couldn't have the chicken for dinner, but did eat pasta with garden fresh basil pesto.

The pan hand washes, and I'll just slosh the salad bowls and wipe barbecue sauce from plates clammoring like the kids when they needed their faces wiped after every meal. I hold dish rag and wave it over the bubbles just to watch them stir and pop and I can't help but scoop them up in hand and blow. It's my way of getting into the moment. Of living on purpose even in this hum-drum. The suds fly and disappear and that's how faith seems sometimes. One day faith seems just as real as hot water and dish soap and fragile as suds, and then something blows in and it disappears. What blows in is a gust of pragmatism.

It's where I am right now; and I have questions because I've got my hands in hot soapy water that's turning shades of barbecue sauce and I mix in the left-over coffee from this morning's brew and the vinegrette pooled in salad bowls till suds dissolve in the muddy slew. Seems to me this is what pragmatic faith looks like. A little muddy and I can't see what my hand is reaching for at sink bottom any more than I can see through facts left over from faithless days to reach what I believe now this day.

I lift the sink stopper and listen as left-over sauce and everything else is slurped down the drain and I wonder, "Is it really possible to mix pragmatism and faith and still see clear enough to make decisions based on faith?" I honestly don't know, but the sink is empty now and yeah, there's residue clinging to sink and dinner dishes, but vision is restored. And, silly but it's just where I'm at this moment and I have a feeling that I just witnessed pragmatism get sucked down the drain. 

My thesaurus gives antonym for "pragmatic." It's "blue-sky." And synonym is, "not given to grand vision," "bottom-line," and "earthy." Isn't "earthy" what we wash off at day's end with soap and water? Isn't "earthy" the greasy film and bits of noodles and basil at sink bottom, and ring around the tub, and sand on the shower floor? But "blue-sky?" I can stand beneath blue sky all day and nothing blue will film the tub or murk the sink. What comes out in the wash is telling, I'm thinking.

A fresh towel from the linen drawer to dry dishes. I live under the blue sky and my feet walk bare to the basil and my hands rinse chicken breasts and spread sauce over them; and I wash. I wash the basil that pushed with all energy of life through dirt to get under blue sky. Wash the quinoa grain I cooked for this morning and wash last night's barbecue sauce off skillet that soaked all night because it cooked hard stuck. I wash the sink, and this apron, and counter tops, and stove top, and floor and table; and once I washed out the mouth of a little brown-haired boy who smelled like earth and sun and little boy sweat who simply needed a bar of soap on his tongue. I wash things. It's what I do.

I'm reminded that Jesus washed. Washed His disciples' feet and they washed His. And He healed people in various waters, including His own spit. We called it "family fluid" when the children were young. And what about the red water flowing down His earthy flesh and seeping over pragmatic nails and staining the cross all pragmatic bottom-line, too? What about this?

I stop here because, "Don't You say the cross is foolishness to those who don't believe?" I look for it and find what He really said.

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18).

"Oh! That makes more sense!" I say it because it seems to me that the cross itself is just wood beam on beam and nails are pragmatism at it's most naked and deadly; but the message of the cross? The message. That's different.

The message isn't what it looks like. It's not a message of death, but of life. Not of despair, but of hope. Not of bloody gore, but of bloody glory that leaves not stench but that washes stench away. It is foolish talk to the perishing, for don't we perish in pools of pragmatism? And, lately, it's seemed to me that even those who are being saved are living as if the message of the cross were foolish. We just use Christian words to make it seem not so. We do. We just do mix earthy with blue sky and come out with faith the color of brown and blue blended and it looks like the dish water. Murky faith.

"Were You pragmatic? Ever?" I wonder this in whisper. I really do, because how do we live on earth and make the millions of decisions in life by faith based on nothing but the faith of Christ and on no one but the Author and Finisher of our faith? Is it enough? Really enough?

That was yesterday. But now? Today? This morning is sit out back and look up at "blue-sky" antonym of pragmatic and it's so just so much sky. Sky. Not earth. High up and unfathomably deep and, scientists say, ever expanding.

Ever expanding!

Not like dry cracked bottom-line beneath the bare soles of my bare-naked feet. And I realize that my bare-naked soul isn't meant for bottom line living. Not meant for hard facts that crack in droughts and shift when earth-shattering news changes the bottom line. History is full of that. Before Columbus set sail, the fact was the earth was flat and he was going to fall off the face of the earth. No, my soul is not made fit for the pragmatic. It's fit for blue-sky.

"Yet," I explore tentative and bowed and the answer whispers before I ask the question; but I ask anyway to hear the answer loud; "Faith is evidence and substance. It's what You invited Thomas to touch so that he would believe You and You ressurrected. Isn't that pragmatic? How can faith be so earthy when my soul was made for blue-sky?" I don't know if I ask it right, but really, no words clear enough for soul questions.

"Did Thomas do it? Did he put his fingers into the prints of the nails and put his hand into My side?"

I turn pages. "No. No!" I astound it out. "It doesn't say that he did. Just, "My Lord and my God!" Thomas astounded it out, too.

"Faith is 'blue-sky' kind of evidence. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear Me."

"You lost me there, Lord." I didn't think we were talking about wisdom, but faith. I just wanted a 'yes' or 'no;' not a whole other realm of theology out here.

I stamp my feet firm on the hard beneath them. I walk on the bottom-line, but live blue-sky. I stamp it out and it doesn't sound like the old cliche, "I'm in the world, but not of the world," so known that one might think it's in the Bible. It's not. No. I stamp it out different, "I'm not of the world, but sent into it." It's true and wisdom is must-need. Without wisdom there are simply too many things and people and bottom lines to fear.

My soul isn't fit for life without wisdom. Not fit for hard facts that crack when things shift, but I'm here and standing on it and, yes, even sent into it to live the astounding, "My Lord and my God" exclamation because it's the message of the cross. Because my soul is given to grand vision. It looks down right delusional at times, and even feels that way when once I leave earth shores and set sail, or wing soar, because only bare soul can believe enough to venture the ever expanding blue-sky faith and deem it enough evidence to risk falling off the edge of earth for. Thing is, Columbus didn't fall off at horizon. It kept going. Kept expanding right before his very eyes.

Blue Sky in Red Pot

"Fear Me. Just Me."

It's a little murky still, like last night's dish water. Until I remember to remove the drain stop. I remove it, fill noodle pan with fresh water, and there it is. "I see it, Lord!" I'm so excited I grab my iphone and take a picture. It's blue-sky right there in the noodle pan. And it comes to me like this, "Wise living has everything to do with who is feared and what isn't."

We live in a pragmatic world and have tried to mix pragmatism with faith. And when it turns murky, we moan, "Dag-nabbit, I'm in this world," and forget that we can remove the stopper. Remove the bottom line and watch the murk swill down. Just remove the stopper and, "Awesome! I'm in this world!" It's faith based on the facts, exclamation of Jesus' life and Self.

This is the message of the cross. And it is foolishness to the perishing. Doesn't make much earthly sense. For that matter, sometimes it seems foolish to the believer who is being saved. I've felt it like that before, and probably will again before the day is through. I hope so, because it's odd proof that I'm responding to something faith.  It's like picking up towel deciding to dry the dishes because the ring around the kitchen sink is proof that they are clean for the drying. Anything other is everything less and I don't want to live rarely sure of which decision to make because I'm fearing all kinds of things and people.

"Fear Me."

"Just You?"

"Just Me."

This is "blue-sky" for today. For today when my German and I discuss things like finances and a mission trip to India that mission-hearted daughter believes she heard Jesus say, "Yes. You will go," before there was even hint of possibility. A new friend divinely introduced and an invitation, "Why don't you come with us to India? We're going there soon to minister Christ and Him ressurrected.  Come!" And we have frequent flyer miles.

"Fear Me only."

"Amen, Jesus. Amen!"

written by: Carolyn~Elizabeth Roehrig

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