The Starving Activist is the sometimes-home for words. AR Neal (that’s me) finds them, cultivates them, and leaves them here. Enjoy.

Timed Timelessness

My devotional reading this morning was about recognizing that we all are destined for something similar, no matter what our beliefs: eventually, this physical shell will cease to function and the part of us that is ‘us’ will go on.

Every week or two weeks, depending on schedules, there’s a small group of us who meet and we spend the time encouraging one another. One of our party talked about wanting to grow old well — how some people’s minds go, but their bodies stay spry, while others have a sharp mind and a broken-down body. Our prayer for her was that she’d retain both!

It’s the time of year here where we sometimes get thunderstorms; the heat can be oppressive in the valley, while thunderheads gather around the mountains that surround us. They are magnificent puffs of white that I imagine would be like cotton candy, were I to get my hands in them. However, they are often the precursor to rain or hail, if not for us than for those who live up there. The problem is, as I age, my joints become one with the atmosphere and I feel every drop of moisture yet to fall.

The past two days have been less than wonderful in that regard. My everything hurts.

I went outside to gather the mail and for a little while just stood in the sun: I was that neighbor, the woman who is rarely seen but when she is, one never knows if she’ll be dressed like she just got out of bed, if she’s ready to do some yard work, or is heading to a meeting. Today was more like the first. I was properly attired to be outside — nothing was showing that shouldn’t — but I certainly wasn’t showroom ready. There was no shine, no pep in my step. I moved slowly and savored the sunlight, blinking like a ground-dweller. I hadn’t been outside since yesterday. It’s like that sometime.

It made me realize that while my soul is timeless, my body is not. I mean I know that but to recognize it in a tangible form is sobering.

People can go on and on about feeling low, being sad, not knowing where they’re going, but I don’t have that concern at all. Sure, I am human so have days that emotionally are not as upbeat as others, but I never worry about The End.

I am grateful for my faith. I know, plenty of people suggest that faith is madness, a leaning stick for those without their own mettle to keep them standing. No, it isn’t that at all, but at the same time it’s all of that.

I think the world is beautiful. Even in the midst of the horror that we see daily, a brief wander outside, a glance at the blue sky, even looking out a window at a terrifying storm (be safe, those of you near areas affected by Dorian), is enough to remind me just how incredible this ball of dirt is.

Do I believe in the Big Bang? As someone who loved every astronomy class she ever met, sure. But do I think there was a Cause to the Bang? Absolutely. I liken it to the Creator, clapping His hands together. I don’t expect everyone else to think that. But I remember asking in junior high, ‘What came before?’ I’d always ask that when we had lessons on the Big Bang and evolution and so forth, to the point that I usually got in trouble.

Everything has a starting point. Nothing doesn’t create something.

I love the idea of evolution because it would be fabulous to live long enough to turn into something else. If humans were to grow webbed feet and wings, yeah — maybe I’d be able to both swim and fly, two things I can’t do now. I laugh at the notion of the missing link. As the senior pastor where I attend services said, it’s missing because it doesn’t exist!

Think about it: can a frog give birth to a butterfly? can a dog give birth to a cat? can a bird give birth to a goat? No. So why would a fish or some other creature suddenly give birth to a thing that was generally humanoid? Yeah, not buying that.

I get it. There are interesting anomalies, like mules, which only on rare occasions reproduce themselves.

On the subject of anomalies, what the heck is a platypus anyway? If a beaver and a duck had a baby, there you have it: platypus.

Furry but with webbed and clawed feet, plus a bill that has teeth (sort of). Yeah, you know that’s weird.

Furry but with webbed and clawed feet, plus a bill that has teeth (sort of). Yeah, you know that’s weird.

Here’s the thing:

You can’t make this stuff up, platypuses and people and millipedes and praying mantises and great white sharks. Most of us can’t make a good stick figure out of pipe cleaners (if you don’t know what I’m writing about there, you’re likely too young to be reading this post. I’m kidding. Go to your favorite search engine, look up pipe cleaner people, and then click images. Hilarious).

Platypuses and people and millipedes and praying mantises and great white sharks didn’t come from absolute nothing. Someone made them. That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.

I once heard a thing and I’m sure I’ve messed it up over the years, but the point is the same.

I’d rather die believing in God to find out He doesn’t exist

than die not believing to find out He does.

When based on the right stuff, faith does no harm. Can it be abused? Yep. It is, every day. People take it and abuse it and use it to abuse others. That’s just wrong.

I’ve gone to some places of worship and said to myself, ‘Well now, that seemed like a big steaming pile of malarkey’ when I left. But that’s because I’ve read the Book for myself. I’ve exposed myself to more than one person in the course of my journey.

I believe that the place our souls go is the place they came from. Our high school English teacher once gave us a philosophical missive on that whole thing … I can’t find what he was talking about, all these years later, but my search continues and when I find it, you best believe I’m going to post it. It was beautiful and sad and encouraging, all at the same time. Anyway, for some that place is joy and love and forever. For others, not so much.

People get it all twisted, so let me help you out. There are jokes about hell, that it’s a place of fun for all the wild children, while heaven is a place (no pun intended) for all the stiffs. That’s not even close. Hell is eternal separation from the Creator, plain and simple. Heaven is eternal time with the Creator.

If you had to choose, which would you want:

  • being in the most fun and beautiful place you can imagine (go on and think of it; I’ll wait) — if it’s an amusement park or museum or at the beach or whatever — it’s got all your favorite stuff and a bunch of fabulous people all over who are always happy. No one is sick. No one is angry. No quarrels. No stealing. No addiction. No death and sadness;

  • or, being on the other side of town at an abandoned warehouse or at the dump or some other place — it’s burning hot all the time, it smells horrible, there’s nothing good to eat, no one is happy, and everyone is tortured forever.

I’ll take bullet #1 for the win, Jim.

Real faith walk means submission, trust, and belief in something other than ourselves.

Lots of folks don’t like that idea.

Some of those same people struggle to maintain employment or strong ties to other people for the same reason — they can’t submit to another (yeah, in intimate relationships, partners do submit to one another. You might not call it that because you don’t like the term, but it’s true. Remember that the next time your signif says you gotta get dressed on Friday night to go to the company party; you don’t want to go but you know that it’s what your signif wants, so you do it. You just submitted, Hos), don’t trust anyone (not even a so-called loved one), and say they don’t believe in a darned thing (but will kiss a horseshoe, throw salt over their shoulder, spin in a circle three times, and let out a Whoop Whoop for their favorite sports team because it’s lucky. Yeah, they ‘believe’ in luck …).

So where was I going with this?

You tell me.

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