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Cool hands holding onto God

by davesandel on January 3rd, 2017

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Cool hands holding onto God

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Ninth Day of Christmas

John 1:32-33

John testified, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’”

When you eat mostly locusts and wild honey, and sleep outside all the time, and have taken the Nazarite vow, don’t be surprised when you hear from God and see visions.  Choose these privations and be blessed with spiritual food and drink.  Elijah, John, Jesus … forty days in the desert and the dove comes down.

But neither Jesus nor John call their listeners to the desert cell.  We can stay with our families and eat our meat and rice and brussels sprouts.  Jesus will still baptize us with the Holy Spirit.

What God does expect is for me to believe the dove.  Questions, sure, but questions asked in trust.  At the end of “Cool Hand Luke,” Paul Newman escapes from the prison farm one last time.  In his own existential despair he talks to the ceiling of an old church he’s found.

“Anybody here? Hey, Old Man. You home tonight? Can You spare a minute? It’s about time we had a little talk.”

As he continues this, his prayer becomes more personal and sincere.

“You made me like I am. Now just where am I supposed to fit in? Old Man, I gotta tell You. I started out pretty strong and fast. But it’s beginning to get to me. When does it end? What do You got in mind for me? What do I do now? I’m a pretty hard case.”

Luke folds his hands and kneels and bows his head.  Another kind of prayer.  “In every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4).  But not for long.  He’d said what he needed to before he began to “pray.”  The dogs and bosses descend on the church.

Luke shakes his head and smiles.  “Is that Your answer, Old Man? I guess You’re a hard case, too.”  Does Luke believe the dove?  Yes.  He makes his peace with God.

Just a couple of hard cases sitting down together, and waiting with each other for whatever happens next.

“What we have here … is a failure to communicate.”  Or maybe, not so much.

Father God, that’s me too.  I listen to those police sirens, and stand alone in that old broken down barn of a church, and pray, like Luke did.  And I know your ears are open, and your hands are strong, and there is nothing there with me and you but peace.  No matter what.  No matter when.

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