Friday, February 25, 2011

Heaven’s Whoever Policy

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. In the fifth grade I had three whoever experiences all in the same year. Three occasions to sign up for something that anyone and everyone was invited to sign up for. Being the smallest, scrawniest, slowest, nerdiest kid in my school let alone my class, I was often subjected to being the last one selected or not selected at all very frequently. These 3 opportunities though were for whoever wanted to sign up. They were band, football, and basketball. Being that it was the fifth grade and a small school they apparently didn't have the heart to turn anyone away. But even with that being the case, I had very different experiences in all three situations. There are many reasons as to why they were so different. Some of it had to do with the educators, some of it had to do with my talents or lack of talent, but regardless of why, each whoever opportunity was vastly different.

My basketball experience was a hilarious one. While I had played some basketball, about the only thing I could do well was steal the ball and that was mostly because I was so tiny, no one could see me until it was too late. The one time I had the opportunity to score was at the foul line and even underhanded I couldn't get it to the hoop. Everyone could sign up, and at the end of the intramural games the main coach picked a travel team to play against other schools. While I didn't even get close to making that team, my experience on the intramural team was mostly positive. My coach let everyone play and didn't care if we won she just wanted to give everyone a chance.

Band was a piece of cake. Even though I picked the trombone which was too big for me and I had to use my foot to push the spit valve because I couldn't reach it with my short scrawny arms. The fact that I was an Osborn and that meant that I already knew music was a help and plus there were only two other trombone players and they were terrible. We had a great music teacher and it wasn't long before I was doing pretty well and began to love playing trombone.

And then there was football. Not only was I tiny, I was frail, and slow, and the worst football player to ever lace up a pair of cleats. I was subjected to being pounded every day in practice, my coach who didn't like me made sure that no one ever took it easy on me and if they did he made sure they pounded me twice as hard the next time. I started the year as a 3rd string cornerback and then one day in practice I made the coach mad and he demoted me to 4th string which in reality we didn't even have enough players to have 4 strings. Needless to say it was a horrible experience and yet one that I not only endured but I signed up again in my 6th grade year.

Here's the thing, just because everyone can sign up doesn't mean that everyone is good at it, or will even enjoy it. But Jesus tells us that when it comes to everlasting life it just doesn't matter how good you are, how talented you are, or whether you are tall, short, fat, skinny, male, female, and He certainly doesn't care about the color of your skin. He doesn't care if you have money or if you are homeless, His policy is truly the only whoever policy that has no restrictions or challenges. Everyone is welcome, everyone will love the experience, and everyone is promised eternal life. The only thing we have to do is believe it. Pretty amazing huh? Heaven's whoever policy according to Jesus' own words are for everyone who believes. Do you? Will you be obedient to Him? I promise it will be better than any band, or basketball, or football experience.

Monday, February 7, 2011

We’ll pay you to do it again!

About 17 years ago during my Bible College years a bunch of us went to a place called Heritage Square. It's a Victorian Village with lots of food, shopping, an amusement park, alpine slide, etc. At the time when we went they had a Bungee Jump as well. I distinctly remember that most of my friends were either unwilling to pay the fee to do the jump or were too scared. I being the brave, eccentric, loaded 20 year old with lots of money and bravery decided to take the plunge (literally). Okay so you probably want the truth right? I was scared to death but determined to prove that I wasn't scared and as for money, well I was a college student who waited tables to put me through school. $20 was a fortune for me, but I was determined to prove how tough and cool I was.

I climbed the stairs; the person at the top strapped me in and asked me a simple question. Are you ready? I wonder if God considered my answer of yes a lie, or deception or just stupidity. The second question was also simple, do you want to jump or do you want me to push you? My response was, "If you don't push me, I'll still be standing here an hour from now because there is no way I'm jumping off this ledge." The very nice attendant (or at least she appeared nice) said, "okay, I'll count to 3 and then push." I being the trusting sort, said okay go for it. She counted, one, two, and pushed on two. Apparently they do that to keep you from bracing yourself and thus injuring yourself. Well it worked. As I went plummeting to certain death I was the picture of beauty and grace and…………. Okay if anyone is reading this that was there, you are laughing your head off right now because you know that I apparently kicked and screamed the whole way down. Gone was the cool 20 year old trying to impress others, gone was my faith in the attendant, at this point I was too scared to even think about asking God to forgive me for the lie I had told just a minute before.

At the bottom I was approached by a complete stranger who offered to pay my way to do it again, so they could get it on camera (yes we had video cameras back then). I guess you had to be there (and not be me) to appreciate how hilarious the whole experience was, but I learned about faith that day. I believed in the harness, I believed in the security of the structure, I believed in the big fluffy thing I eventually landed in, and I believed in the attendant's word. If I was strong enough in my faith to do something like that why can't I believe in the Creator of the universe? He made me, He loves me, He sent His Son to die for me, and yes He sometimes pushes me off the edge when my reasoning is getting in the way of my faith, but if He says He's going to count to 3, He won't push at 2. I'm not sure if I will ever take the plunge again (speaking of bungee jumping), even if someone offers to pay the price, but every day is a plunge of faith, and yes God paid the price and it was a whole lot more than $20.

 p.s. Thank you Jan Embree for bringing this unpleasant memory back to me by commenting on a FB photo =) LOL