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Church

November 15 2012
12

Photo by Tina Lapp

I see you there, across the field, the long Florida grass brushing your knees. You are playing frisbee with the kids. They run, yelling for you to throw it farther, giggling. Can you throw it farther?

Your hair bristles in the southern air, waving at the sun. Your grin pierces the sides of your cheeks like two destinations pinning the east and west of a map—it draws everyone to you. You’re the adventure everyone wants to discover.

You see me approaching from afar and smile; now your grin pins me. It comes from some other place. It knows. It speaks. It comforts. I hear it wave to me, a non-verbal “Hello son!” You ready your throwing motion and look straight into me, head tilted, as if to say, “Here it comes. Are you ready for it.”

“Throw it Dad! Let me see if you can still wing it!” Your grin knows something I do not. And you let fly. The frisbee whirs, rising on the warm air. In a flash it passes me, so I run for it. I run far, but I know I can catch it before it hits the ground. And, I do.

“Good catch, Tim!” I am farther away then when I started—frisbee far. The kids jump up and down between us. “Here, throw it!” So, I let it fly. It wobbles, then steadies. I try to will it straight. But I threw it too hard. It banks, then dives towards the ground.

The kids collect and return it to you. “Throw it, Mr. Whitie. Throw it far!” You look across the field at me and pin your grin. I move back. You let fly but I am already running.

It rises high, higher and even higher, finally landing on top of the hill behind me. “Go on!” you shout. “It’s okay. Just climb up and get it.” When I summit and look down, I see you running with the kids, bounding with them in the warm grass. They can’t get enough of you.

His Song

Growing up, whenever I asked my father a question about life he would always ask me back: “Have you asked God? What does He think?” For an impetuous boy who always wanted straight answers I found few of them from my dad and, seemingly, less from God. I did not realize the genius in my father’s answer, nor how to discover God’s answers to my questions.

In this short dream-vignette my father appears to my subconscious with only a frisbee and a knowing smile. He knows he’ll always out-throw me. When I woke, I found that point echoing in my conscious mind.

“I will always out-throw you,” says God. “But that’s okay. Keep climbing, retrieve the frisbee, send it back and I’ll throw it farther.”

When I wake in the night to find “His Song is with me” I listen. This has become my first posture of theological inquiry: listening. For we all of us approach God and His Word with our baggage, that’s to be expected. But when our baggage rings louder than His Song, our faith diminishes into self-centeredness—weighted with unfiltered bias.

David Wells defines theology as “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” His definition reminds me of my dad’s constant response: “What does God think about that?” When I fail to listen to “His Song” I find myself bending His thoughts to fit my own desires, my own positions, my own truth even. We excel at that in this post-everything era. But we forget, we can’t out-throw God.

Climb and Retrieve

“Get wisdom,” the Teacher repeats in Proverbs. Go, get it. It’s hard work running after God’s frisbees—he throws true and far. But the higher I climb and retrieve, the more my muscles grow, the more my mind melts, the more my ears ring with His Song.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.

I can’t get enough of God. I want to chase frisbees; show Him how I catch and retrieve. And, breathless from running, I want to play in the warm grass of my satisfied soul. For when I am spent, my bias falls away, and His Song is all I hear.

 

12 comments

  1. Scott Page

    Great post Timothy, So enjoy your insights…Thanks for your ministry to me the AM. Looking forward to connecting with you soon.

    Reply
  2. Tim,

    I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again, I love the stuff you put here. It’s encouraging, thought provoking, and laden with gems like:

    “this has become my first posture of theological inquiry: listening.”

    We’ve been engaging in listening prayer lately, and it’s changed the way I look at the world.

    Thanks for penning this bit. It’s so good.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the encouraging words, Seth. It’s easy to adopt the “git-r-done” mentality with theology and living, but listening is perhaps one of the most significant disciplines I’ve adopted.

      Reply
  3. Thanks Scott! Excited to connect again and catch up. Blessings to you brother!

    Reply
  4. Jimmie Gillespie

    Thank you Tim! This is a beautiful picture. Love you bro!

    Reply
  5. But when our baggage rings louder than His Song, our faith diminishes into self-centeredness—weighted with unfiltered bias.

    This was revelation for me. Thank you.

    Oh, and your description of your dad and the frisbee? Radiant.

    Reply
    • Excited the piece struck you, Kelli! Thanks for reading and engaging.

      Reply
  6. Learning to catch and retrieve, and also to catch and release…these words are good, Tim…thank you.

    Reply
    • Ah yes … release. Thanks for the kind words, John.

      Reply
  7. Love this imagery. Thank you, Tim.

    Reply
  8. This is the most beautiful thing I’ve read in a long, long time. Thank you.

    Reply
  9. Such beauty here, and such truth. Thank you so much for these words, these stories, this wisdom. And amen to the listening posture – if we all started there (and stayed there) there would be a whole lot less squabblin’ goin’ on!

    Reply

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