Pops… “What if?”

by DanWolgemuth on February 15, 2019

Drew Jones Wolgemuth. All boy. Nearly four years old. A tornado of activity. A tsunami of questions.

But not just inquisitive questions, ponderous and vast and provocative questions. They leap over symmetry or continuity, but they never lack sincerity and passion.

“Pops… what if my finger falls off?”

And while I’m forming a thoughtful response with a meaningful and biblically informed answer, the second barrage…

“Pops… what if I swallow fire?”

Fire, I think. Swallowing fire. But, I’m still stuck on the finger question! Swallowing, the answer to this is tricky because an inaccurate or misleading reply and who knows what…

“Pops… what if my leg blows up?”

Hold on, Drew. I’m still doing research on fingers and fire, but alas…

“Pops, what if I never eat again?”

“Pops, what if I smash this?”

“What if…?”

Fast, random, sincere… outrageous. Drew.

His questions leap across the universe in a single bound. They escape the grip of logic. They entertain and expose.

Psalm 27: 1-5
Light, space, zest—
    that’s God!
So, with him on my side I’m fearless,
    afraid of no one and nothing.
When vandal hordes ride down
    ready to eat me alive,
Those bullies and toughs
    fall flat on their faces.
When besieged,
    I’m calm as a baby.
When all hell breaks loose,
    I’m collected and cool.
I’m asking God for one thing,
    only one thing:
To live with him in his house
    my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty;
    I’ll study at his feet.
That’s the only quiet, secure place
    in a noisy world,
The perfect getaway,
    far from the buzz of traffic. (MSG)

What if…
… vandal hordes?
… bullies?
… the enemies of all that is right and good?

Not just Drew but David. Not just David, but me.

God in the “what if.” Always present. Always loving. Always sovereign.

With ten fingers or nine. With a throat on fire, with a single leg, with an empty stomach, in destruction…

“What if” meets “with us,” and “with us” is the on-ramp to “in us.”

“What if” is answered with the overwhelming, consistent presence of God.

With machine gun like rhythm, Drew invites the answer of the ages…

“Christ in us, the hope of glory.”

Whatever catastrophe…

“What if cancer?”
“What if failure?”
“What if poverty?”
“What if plenty?”
“What if rebellion?”
“What if what seems good is viewed as evil, and evil as good?”
“What if danger?”
“What if wicked people prosper?”
“What if death?”

Always, and only, Christ in us.

God doesn’t avoid the question, He infuses it with His immovable presence.

Resilient love. Unbounded hope. Enduring grace.

In every “what if?”

A question for the ages, an answer for all eternity.

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Beyond the Blizzard

by DanWolgemuth on January 25, 2019

A recent onslaught of snow has tugged me back to a reflection I did just over three years ago. Worth noting, three years later, I still have my little Toro…

The snow fell, and it fell, and then in the howling wind it flew.

It’s not often that the weather forecasters in Denver underestimate the power of a winter storm, but they did. So Monday night it was me, my undersized Toro snow blower, and 10 inches of fresh white beauty… with drifts that crested north of my knee.

I like it. The snow. I’m not sure why. But I like it. You can take my lawnmower, but leave me my little Toro snow blower.

Back and forth I go, propelling snow heavenward. Back into the wind that deposited it in my driveway.

The Toro does what it can, and frankly what it was designed to do. That is, to remove most of the snow. But, invariably, a thin layer of snow still remains.

What I’ve come to discover and appreciate is that snow removal in Denver is a team sport; a partnership. Almost without exception, the day after a substantial blast of Winter, we wake to a pristine, clear day. The blue sky is electric, the clouds have escaped to Kansas, and the sun… oh, the amazing Denver sun is magnified in its beauty, and amplified in its intensity and warmth.

This is where the partnership kicks into full gear.

Faster than a microwave oven, the sun bombards the remaining layer of snow. Without regard to the temperature, the sun pours its power in full strength. First the sidewalk, then it sneaks up on the west end of the driveway. Then in continues to inch its way toward the front of the house… like the cavalry coming to the rescue. As the shadows retreat the job is complete. First a liquid, then the sun continues the unrelenting assault until the surface is dry. Perfection. Partnership.

I’ve come to rely and rest in this relationship. My part. The sun’s part. My job is to expose the surface, the sun’s job is transformation and restoration.

True with a Toro, true in life…

My encounters, my interactions, my conversations, my presentations, my articulation will never produce transformation or redemption or restoration. But maybe, just maybe, my goal should always be exposure. If my objective is calibrated to removing enough of the top layer so that the power of the sun can fully accomplish what it is capable of accomplishing… then maybe, just maybe, I understand the power of the Good News. The power of God’s love. The warmth of His grace.

It’s the glory of God that melts the heart of stone. No power of persuasion or strong-armed manipulation can accomplish what the unconstrained love of Jesus can produce.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  ~ John 1:14

His glory. His power. His condescending, redeeming, transforming love.

A partnership. Me and my little Toro; God in His magnificent radiance. I chip through the crusty upper layer; God radiates. God warms and melts. Ice and snow are no match.

I am simply, and only, and humbly, and gratefully doing my best so that when the sun comes up tomorrow morning, the snow that remains has no chance.

Transformation is His job. Mine is to steward well the little Toro snow blower.

The power of the Gospel. The beauty of our Savior. The matchless warmth of His grace.

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He knocked the city out of me…

January 18, 2019

“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.” (Romans 12:2, Phillips) My parents, Sam and […]

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Making Cents of Sparrows

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Having spent time, once again, watching the beautifully adorned Flicker at our feeder, I was drawn to some thoughts I shared a year ago… Ah, the beautiful Flicker. A bird of size, color, elegance and stature. A bird that frequents the feeders on the deck outside our kitchen window. Like an extra guest at the […]

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Mary knew…

January 4, 2019

When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” The scandalous and rumor-filled beginning to Mary’s journey into motherhood was a precursor to what was ahead. A bookend that would have a brutal Roman cross at the other end. For thirty-three years Mary […]

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Shame on Mary

December 21, 2018

Two years ago I ventured down a reflective pathway as I thought about the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus… Before the miracles, gossip. Before the cross, whispers. Before an empty tomb, rumors. Before the swaddling clothes, a pregnant, unmarried teenager. Before glorious praise, scandal. Before Magi worship, neighborhood humiliation. Before confidence, doubt. “Do […]

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What Child Is This?

December 14, 2018

The words and the tune floated through the air at the Christmas program that Malia, our eleven-year-old granddaughter participated in. Malia’s fingers moved confidently across the white and black piano keys, and her voice pounced securely on every word and note. Malia’s practice, preparation and courage had positioned her on the bench that faced the […]

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75216

November 30, 2018

A zip code. A community on the south side of Dallas. For our Youth For Christ mission… a calling. In the words of an employee in the local juvenile detention facility… 75216 is a “cradle to prison pipeline” for young people in the neighborhood. Predictable. Gut-wrenchingly predictable. 92.5% of the students in 75216 are eligible […]

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A Rolling Stop?

November 16, 2018

Littered throughout my neighborhood are stop signs. In fact, just about 100 feet north of my driveway is one, and a quarter of a mile south, another that I have traversed hundreds of times over the last 13 years. While I understand that the octagonal sign says STOP, seldom do I feel compelled to do […]

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In Captivity to be Set Free

November 9, 2018

As the temperature drops in Colorado so does the obvious food supply for the variety of birds that call our neighborhood their home. So, before Mary hangs her wintertime bird feeder, she wanted to reduce, if not eliminate any potential competition. That means a live animal trap on our deck. And yes, within hours, our […]

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