Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Opposite of What I Deserve

Dear Uncle George,

This weekend, I went to Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  The short of it is that The Boy was supposed to do a check-out dive for scuba diving certification, but he had an ear problem.  Not usually a big deal, I mean he has two.  But in scuba diving, it is essentially the ONLY part that you really need in perfect, working order.

So he was out.

The room was paid for (hello, non-refundable), and well, you know me, I am always up for field trip.

Some highlights from the road include I almost got hit three times, the "Come and Take It" gun flag in someone's yard, having a hot dog at the Carthage, Missouri gas station--home of the Precious Moments Chapel and some girl dressed in volleyball shorts and a yellow, glittery "I am going clubbing at the Palladium in San Francisco" top, Kodiak street in Neosha, I think I saw a dead wild African dog on the side of the road, billboard that said "Are you a Producer or a Parasite?",  learning the reason why you should not keep yogurt in a hot car for five hours--that was not in a cooler, and how it totally stinks to drive a sports car on winding, mountainy roads behind 13 cars following a mini van.  Actually, I am pretty sure I drove behind 2,067 mini vans....which I think were all the registered mini vans in the state.

First stop:  Crystal Bridges, Bentonville, Arkansas
Translation:  Fancy-smancy art museum the "People of Wal-Mart" helped pay for with their beer and discount t-shirt "I am with stoopid" purchases.  It was free, so I don't feel so bad contributing to their bottom dollar now...I mean after all, they have used my Mr. Fun's money to purchase these fine works:

No, this isn't me.
I don't have any white cats or orange blankets.
And as The Girl pointed out, I don't wear lipstick.

This piece is called 
"Val's yuppie scone with a lake front view"

Yes, this is a book I must read.
Could take a while...processing all that heady art

In seriousness, though, there was a piece that spoke to me.  Profoundly.

Poor Arkansas.  It sure gets a bad rap. I didn't know anything about except is is two states after Alaska in the Miss America pageant...(and don't EVEN get me started on that subject this week).  
It is a lovely part of the country.   They were pleasant, friendly and had cool accents 
(which really, since I was a guest in their state, am I the one with the accent?).

It is green and sort of mountainy...not mountains by Alaska standards (bless their hearts) mind you, but for the South.  And yes, regardless of what the locals say, Arkansas is southern to me.

Second Stop:  Eureka Springs, Arkansas 

If you had been to Branson, Missouri and Europe you would agree that they got married and sired a child. I liked it but I would not want to live there in summer, which I am sure is the only time you would want to live there.  But I have already paid my dues with summer, tourist traffic and I am not into doing that again.

How cool is this thing?!
If I had an endless supply of Mr. Fun money, I would have dragged this $3,500 piece home.
I would look at it for a few months and then it would go into the basement art collection 
I have been amassing down there...including Olympic Art, 
an authentic Chinese painted scroll I dragged around China for three weeks 
and a painting that is only known as "The Terrible Awful."

 For those who may not know art, "The Kiss" is considered 
one of the Top 10 art pieces in the world.  The one without Pete the Cat.

As fun as Eureka Springs was, it was what I saw outside of town that touched me most.
It is called Thornecrown Chapel.

It is considered "one of the finest religious spaces of modern times."  It has 6,000 sq of glass of 425 windows.  

And 6,000,000 folks have come to visit it.  As in 6 million.  Six.  Million.

It was built by Jim Reed, a fella who sounds pretty darn nice and giving to his fellow Arkansans.

And as Dave says, Jim loves Jesus. 

As the flier says, "The purpose of Thorncrown is not to point to what a great man did for God; its story is about what a great God did for a man He loved."

I have been to a lot of places that have an explanatory brochure but by far and away, this is the best one I have ever read.  Not only does Jim love Jesus, but so does whoever wrote it. 

It is like they "get" Jesus in a way that I had not completely.  Until now.

And I quote:  
" When Christ walked the earth, He constantly challenged people's ideas about God.  Most everybody believed that when the Messiah came, He would destroy those who were not worthy of God and raise up those who were.  Yet, to those deserving shame and rejection, Jesus gave acceptance and blessing.  Where there was outrageous selfishness and evil, He brought stunning, relentless love.  Everywhere Christ went He seemed to give people the opposite of what they deserved.  Christ fully identifies with us, taking the human condition upon Himself.  He willingly took a place far from God, so we could be near.  When He died, our aloneness died with Him.  He gave himself without measure so that we could have God without measure. Thorncrown Chapel is merely a reminder of these timeless truths.  Because of Christ, there is no place God will not go and no one He will not bless."

I am most certainly one of those folks who has been given the opposite of what I deserve.  I wasn't religiously raised so I have made bad choices, consciously.  A lot of bad choices.  I didn't grow up praising Christ or even knew who He was.  I have gossiped, lied, stole (sorry Sherrie B. I took two Holly Hobby stickers in the third grade from your house), mocked, doubted, waivered, judged etc...you get what I am saying.

A lot of people that I know will say that everyone is like me and we all have gotten the opposite of what we deserve.  Which I am sure is true.  But when you come to the (religious) party late, I can only speak for myself that I am very aware of my "heathen" past because I lived in it a long time.  And sometimes, sometimes often, it comes back to haunt me.

There is one more thing I read in the brochure that struck me:
"It's story is about what a great God did for a man He loved.  This is the plot and potential of everybody's story."

I don't know exactly how I fell into this amazing life....this "story"... that I have been given by the great God that loves me.  I don't know why He blesses me with the opposite of what I deserve.  But what I do know is that He does.



  1. Wonderful. And just what I needed to read today.


  2. One of the greatest blessings God has given me is that I know you.