Monday, August 25, 2008

The Night Man (or "It's All About Story, Dummy")

This past weekend I went to DuPage County's All-Night Flea Market, just a few blocks from my house, mere weeks after the carnival left. In a strange coincidence, I had gone for a walk after dinner and ran into a Japanese couple who were lost and needing directions to the very same place. Instead of trying to direct him using the bad map he'd printed, I rode in their SUV to the Fairgrounds. He was so grateful and polite as the Japanese so often are. He asked "How you get back?" I smiled broadly to put him at ease. "Oh, don't worry. I'll walk. I don't live far from here."

On the way back, I noticed an elderly couple talking with a friend on their front porch and since I knew a lady who was selling her condo for CHEAP, I let them know. They were grateful, but had no idea who'd want it but they were very kind. Blissfully I trotted home, told my landlady I'd ALREADY been to the Fairgrounds! (I had not been too keen on going to this in the first place, I should mention. Heh.)

But because I'd scoped it out, I knew the best place to park - the elementary school next door. When we arrived at the Flea Market, they apologized "for the error in the Chicago Tribune, but the cost was $6, not $5" for admission. Ah, well. We paid and began roaming; I with my cool cap flashlight, and my landlady with her itty bitty penlight.

We had a blast and I got some cool things and tools I needed. Then I ran into a Christian brother who's been having the devil of a time with his health. I think I mean that literally. You know those gastric bypass operations? The ones that can go wrong? His did. Nine operations later, he now has to wear a tube in his throat to breathe and speak properly. He wears a gridle to hold his belly since he has no stomach muscles there. But he is joyful - even though he was in a 70 mph caroom on black ice a few months ago which totalled his van. Three lanes this way, three lanes that way. Then ended up in a ditch.

I prayed for him - got interrupted by a customer - prayed again for his health and well-being, and on the way out, bought a few old comics, some by artists I knew. I got home with my treasure and read them.

Frankly, the better art was with the worst stories. The better stories had the less accomplished art. It was downright embrassing, some of this work. They got PAID for this? I thought.

And that brings us to the title of this blog, and to Jesus.

My comic-selling friend who went through so much said brightly, "I'm living the great Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times!" And I thought about that and about the comics I read and what makes a good story is a lot of excitement and drama, and I thought about what had happened that day and the type of people I had met.

We don't want interesting lives. We don't want to be far from home and lost; we don't want to leave our neighborhoods and go to another place - no matter how good it is.

We certainly don't want to be dependant on others or in need of constant support. We want control and comfort and just a little more income, please God.

Jesus wasn't like that. Neither should we be - we who call ourselves by His Name.

Oh, to be sure, Jesus scoped out where He was going to go before He showed up, but He didn't take over the situation. He let His Father direct the circumstances.

Mark 11:1-11 (NIV)
The Triumphal Entry

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you doing this?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.' "

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, "What are you doing, untying that colt?" They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.

When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!"
"Hosanna in the highest!"

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

The craziest thing is that - with all the excitement - Jesus just takes a long look around and goes to Bethany to stay overnight. In other words, after a huge ego boost and everyone screaming his name/identity, He goes back to the Motel 6 to rest.

He knows what will happen to Him. He told his disciples several times already. He just wanted to look at the stage before the show begins. In other words, as scary as His story was, Jesus stayed on it and did not try to "fix" it - or get very comfortable in fact.

Story is a wonderful thing. But it only makes sense in past tense. You do not know - or anyway I do not know - how the story is supposed to be until the very end. Until it is over.

We do not like that. We try to stop the drama in our lives as quickly as possible. But the happiest person I saw last weekend - the truly most peaceful and at rest person was the one who had reconciled to himself he was not in control. He simply did not have that power.

And furthermore, at his hand, by buying comics from him, I saw that what looks good on the surface is usually sucky in story. It does not have to be that way, but it so often is.
If the Lord of Creation will surrender His power and not worry about it, should we do anything less?

I don't know all that I do or what impact it has, but I know one thing: Jesus knows how to handle the crowds.

You ignore them and stay on point. God is writing a story with your life. You just need to calm down and accept it.

Later you'll see. You will.

Now go watch It's a Wonderful Life and laugh.



rolandmann said...

Dude, you've a gift for taking very interesting topics and turning them back to Jesus!

Couple'a'comments from me (NOT-ANON!):
*)God IS in control. As soon as we can realize that, most of the "other" stuff will fall in line. Not easy to do, but when we do--WOW!
*)I had the opportunity to work with Mike Ploog (who you mentioned a few blogs back).
*)you should check out a couple of books if you haven't already--especially based on your blog content, I think you'd like them:
The Gospel According To The World’s Greatest Superhero by Stephen Skelton; and Who Needs a Superhero by H. Michael Brewer.

Justice said...

Cool - thanks Roland!

I think Jesus sums up all that we love in heroes and superheroes - if something really makes your heart beat faster, I think you will find the source in Jesus if it is really true that "all things were made through Him".

I'll check those out.


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