What is your I am?

I am reading a biography called “Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body” by Martin Pistorius, who was suddenly hit with a debilitating disease at age 12. Slowly he had slipped into a comatose shell of a person, existing rather than living.

The book begins with him starting to wake up to his world, trapped in a body that will not move, unable to communicate with the world. He had no say in his day-to-day life, effectively viewed by the world as a “thing” to be fed, cleaned, clothes, and moved throughout the day. Not a person, but the ghost of a person who was.

He is initially rescued by a physical therapist who realizes that Martin can understand the world around him, and may have the ability to begin communicating. Through this process, the therapists and family find a way where he can cobble words and phrases together by slight movements of his eyes and hands, which they all work to restore if only a miniscule amount. One of the phrases the they put into the system was, “I am” which stayed with me.

“I am” is such a small phrase, but ever so useful for all of us. “I am” can communicate so many things, emotions, states of being, even professions. I am thirsty. I am tired. I am hungry. I am waiting. I am happy. I am a writer. I am faithful. I am a Christian.

How many other phrases can be so powerful when combined with just the right words, but so weak on their own? Think about it; you never would just say “I am” and leave it at that.

God did.

In Exodus, Moses asked Him how he should answer the Israelites when Moses tells them the God of their fathers sent him to free them from slavery, and they ask what His name is.

And God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” ~Exodus 3:14

I am who I am.

No other words. I am. Simple and to the point.

Years later, His son added to it after His disciple Thomas asked how we are to follow Him and know the way if we don’t know where Jesus was going.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. ~ John 14:6.

Jesus was certain in his words. He is the way to a better life, a brighter way of living of serenity. He is the truth; no lies can abound in his presence. He is the life, that spark of peace and faith that helps us through the worst times of our lives and lifts us up ever higher during the good times.

What would follow “I am” in your life? How would you finish that sentence. On most days, I suspect we all have a range of emotions and actions to easily finish it. But what if we were content just to be, without the noise of life complicating ourselves.

I am.

How beautiful could it be if we could all just stay in the moment, the bridge between past and future, without constantly worrying about either?

I am.

How peaceful would we be if we centered ourselves in today, in our family and friends, and in our love of God?

I am.

Two beautiful words are so simple, but can communicate an endless array of possibilities.

What is your I am?

Categories: Faith, General, Living Life, Prayer, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where did the warmth go?

It’s cold!

I have to work today, while much of the upper Midwest is closed for business and hunkering down in their houses to escape the mind-numbing coldness that crept down from the Arctic Circle. I have to go because I work at a newspaper. If we aren’t there to put it together, people will not have a newspaper to read on Tuesday. While many of my friends said they would be OK with that, hometown newspapers are kind of like the post office used to be. Through rain, and snow, and … whatever else. My point is, since I’ve been working there – ten years now – I don’t think we’ve missed a newspaper once, including the time our driver plowed through a snowstorm to get it back to our town.

I understand closing for business. I really do. I just wish it could be done on a non-press day, when I could justify staying in my nice warm house. Or, maybe the snow day could be accompanied by, you know, actual snow? Could I order up a foot or so of snow that would make me have to stay home? Of course that would come with its own set of problems, especially for my husband who would still have to make sure our cattle were fed and surviving the cold.

Usually, I make fun of those people who hate the winter and want the 100+ degree days of summer to arrive as soon as possible. But at this moment as I sit freezing in my northern facing office in the wee hours of the morning before I go to sleep, I’m really REALLY cold.

Where did the warmth go?

I could give you all sorts of meteorological models of the polar air masses making their way down through Canada. Blah blah blah. It really doesn’t matter to use, does it.

It’s cold.

I sometimes wonder if this is how people who have lost touch with God feel. Have they lost the fire inside that feels us with the warmth of God?

Most of us can quote easily 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.” ~John 3:16

But not many of us can quote Luke 3:16, by chapter and verse, though we do remember the words.

“John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” ~Luke 3:16

Yes, we are baptized into the church with water. Some churches celebrate this as infants then the children confirm that baptism later in their lives. Other churches elect to dedicate their infants and have the children decide themselves when they are to be baptized later in life. Either way, this baptism by water is the tradition handed down by John the Baptist many years ago, while preparing the way for Jesus. As His cousin, John knew Our Savior was coming and wanted to share that news with as many people as possible, so that we could celebrate His birth and life.

When we come to know and trust Jesus in our everyday lives, we are baptized in a completely different way. It’s one thing to say that you are baptized into the church and accept membership in the church. It’s a completely different thing to declare yourself a follower – a disciple – of Jesus. For when you take up his charge of loving one another as you love yourself, and to feed his people, you are accepting that fire and warmth that comes along with freely giving yourself to your fellow citizen.

Now normally, I don’t share the fun things I do in the name of sharing God’s love, but I’m going to make an exception this time because I need a concrete example of how we can all share in God’s fire and warmth.

While I was checking out at a store early this week, an elderly lady was behind me who waited patiently while the checkout lady scanned my items and bagged them a particular way for me. (I’m a bit compulsive about how I want my stuff bagged, and sometimes it take just a bit longer.) She had a bundle of bananas and a ten dollar bill in her hand. I knew that she could pay for the bananas, but she was just so patient that I felt the need to just tack her bananas onto my bill too. I just had a strong feeling I should pay for them. As the checkout lady bagged her bananas and handed them to her, she told me I didn’t have to do that because she could pay for them. I told her I completely understood, but I just felt very strongly that I should pay for them. Then I thanked her for allowing me to do so. I thanked her for allowing me to have that warm fuzzy in my heart, you know the one you get when you do something nice out of the blue for someone you’ll never meet again? Yeah, that warmth.

The gentleman behind her blessed me, and said that his mother had told him that everyone should do one kind thing for someone else who could never repay them each day. I have no idea why I was drawn to pay for her bananas, and I probably will never know. But I have faith that God had a reason why He wanted me to do so, and that’s good enough for me.

“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

It wasn’t a literal baptism, but a spiritual one I think. The kind of fire and warmth that even a forecast of -30 degree wind chill and a freezing cold office can’t take away.

Stay warm, my friends. Physically and spiritually, stay warm!

Categories: Faith, General, Living Life, Volunteering | Leave a comment

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