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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


As a kid I grew up experiencing a very typical Thanksgiving complete with the traditional turkey dinner and a family running around in socks and sweatshirts. At school, the holiday meant the best cafeteria lunch of the year and construction paper art projects that were a welcomed break from English and Math. My favorite projects included making black pilgrim hats with gold buckles and hand turkeys out of corn and dried beans. The fact the pilgrims had belts on their hats instead of their pants might have been the first clue they would need help from the Indians.

Television in the 70's portrayed the Indians as savages bent on attacking covered wagons, and who could blame them after we broke every treaty we ever signed? When it came to breech of contract I was the same way: when my cousin and sister tried to walk away from the field of play when it was my bat (verbal contract) I picked up the pitching mound (a brick) and threw it at them! Gravity saved their life.

So this portrayal of the Indians as saviors during Thanksgiving was quite interesting. Their get- together with the pilgrims probably had no pumpkin pie, no cranberry sauce, and probably no turkey because the foods simply weren't available. For me, if there is no Miracle Whip for the turkey you can just throw the whole dang meal in the trash. Yet in spite of the lack of traditional food and a football game, they celebrated survival...that's right survival. And isn't that the way this whole year has felt for a lot of us?

Back in January it looked like I was about to conquer Starbucks with my fancy slogans of "Star who, the Buck stops here," and unique drinks like the Dirty Snowman, but then the economy slithered into a deeper recession in spite of the debut of the Fricken Sandwich. By May, sales had dipped 40% and the big dream was starting to fade. My father stepped in with some assets and I bought out my partners and reset things with the bank. It wasn't until October when I saw signs of life. It has been a hard year and the old Tahoe is going to have to last a little longer.

Whenever I felt a little overwhelmed I pulled out a book entitled Night written by holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel. I don't recommend it for the faint of heart. The book details a man's experience in the concentration camps during World War II. It's a tremendously sad story with graphic detail and it is not afraid to ask hard questions. How could God let this happen? How could God watch a million children go up in smoke, literally? Yet then I thought, which is worse, to watch a million children massacred or watch your own son crucified by the ones he came to rescue? (For great discussion on these topics read Phillip Yancey)

I read about the holocaust because Joan of Arc always said, "There is always somebody who has it worse than you." At the time I always thought, "This does nothing to help me feel better about only getting one bowl of chocolate pudding." Little did I know I was probably one of the luckiest kids on earth. A candle seems small, until you know the darkness.

First I want to come to God's defense about the horrible state of the world, not that He can't defend himself. I believe God's heart is broken by what is happening in his creation. I also believe there is more at play than simply rearranging a few pieces. I'm sure the free world (meaning a world were mankind is allowed to do anything he wants) is quite tempting for someone who has unlimited power to invade, to pick up bricks and start throwing. My favorite film, Schindler's List-a movie also about the holocaust, has an interesting dialogue between Oskar and Anon when Oskar is trying to talk Anon out of killing children. Oskar says that real power is having the ability and authority to kill but choosing not to, that restraint is harder than throwing. For God to invade the world would surely mean devastation to far greater numbers of people than it would help, but instead of invading he saves, instead of running through the streets with a sword, he crawled through a barn with a child. God limits his own power, he restrains himself.

Second, in spite of the delay of my dreams turning into reality, in spite of my own insignificant suffering, I plan on celebrating my survival Thursday. All three stores shows sign of life. Monday two men were praying at Green Frog with their Bible's open when I walked in with the Sam's order. Last week at Java twelve girls huddled around three tables pushed together, talking about this Child who crawled into their lives. This past Sunday an employee from Ja Ja's sent a text that said if we look to God we will be delivered. The signs of life, something to celebrate, something to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my kind, hardworking staff; for my loyal and "faithful" customers many who have become close friends; but most of all for a loving God who practices restraint when it comes to dealing with me. I have always heard never scream for justice because "you" might get it. I think if I scream for anything it will be mercy. (crying, don't know why but writing this last sentence was very powerful, it almost felt like I was a child who has been struggling against my father but who has collapsed in tears into his arms to be comforted) Mercy. Give me mercy. I am grateful for His Mercy.

So we took gifts from the Indians and celebrated life... and then we killed them. God knows how it feels. I'm sure a lot of people who have ever been betrayed, know how it feels. But do you know how it feels to create something on behalf of love and then watch them kill each other? Do you know how if feels to have the power to stop it but enough knowledge to understand that by doing so you will destroy more than you save? Do you know how it feels to be accused of not loving when loving is all you ever do? Do you know how it feels to be powerful and merciful and be accused of being weak and heartless? We owe the Indians and God an apology...but remember God isn't really interested in hearing it (prodigal son story) He just wants to hold us in his arms and have a feast to celebrate our survival.

P.S. When we sit down at the banqueting table in Heaven, don't be surprised if I ask for Ketchup if we have steak... and Miracle Whip if we have turkey. They'll have it, because it's gonna be perfect.

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