One could go on and on forever talking about anything, but I'll just touch on it here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saving Judas

The name Judas doesn’t appear on the top ten list of boy’s names for the year. Or girl’s names for that matter. I don’t know anyone named Judas and I’ll bet you don’t either. The name has a hex on it. It’s like black cats, full moons, and Friday the 13th. Michael, however, that’s the most popular name of all time. Another name for Jesus, the son of God, the right hand of God, God Himself. We think of Judas, we think betrayal. The one who condemned Michael to death.

Read in the Bible and you’ll find that Judas didn’t live long past the wicked deed and in fact hanged himself. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. How he died is not for me to say. But what happened next? Why don’t we know that? Why do we say that that was it for Judas? Pastors and churches preach forgiveness and that there is no sin too great for God to forgive. But did Judas believe that he couldn’t be forgiven—shouldn't be forgiven—and so he wasn’t?

I know the story of Dr. Faustus. He seemed to believe that his sins were too great for God to forgive. It was his pride, in essence, that condemned him. He couldn’t accept the forgiveness offered. Maybe that happened with Judas. But the last time I checked, the world hasn’t ended yet. If death is really just sleeping, as many Christians believe, then Judas is sleeping. He could be in for a big surprise. Why would God not be waiting around, holding his breath in beautiful anticipation, to wake Judas up and say, “Look! I’m alive. You didn’t ruin the plan. Come back to the family.” Maybe Judas will swallow his pride and stop putting God in a box, believing that He can’t forgive what happened.

Heck, maybe, for all I know, God and Judas have already had that get together. Maybe Judas thought it was over, Hell for him, and woke up on a cloud, wondering if he had really died or not. Maybe Jesus went straight to his tree, the place where Judas broke his own neck, and told him there was still hope. Maybe Jesus did talk to Judas before appearing to Mary on that resurrection morning. How can I say what really happened? Maybe Judas is an angel now, watching over others who make poor decisions just like he did. Maybe it isn’t too late for Judas even after death.

I suppose this theory wouldn’t bring a smile to most pastors’ eyes. They’d rather not let their congregations get the idea that they can run around and be as bad as they want to be, even to the death, and still have a hope for eternal life after this one. But people always have a choice to make. And even after we die, doesn’t God still get to raise whomever he pleases? Don’t you think He wants to do all that He can to convince us that nothing is too horrible that His blood can't cover it?

I guess there will have to be some point at which even God will have to give up and say, “That’s all I can do.” That will have to be the most painful future event that will ever occur. Because we can keep refusing, if we really want to. We can cling to our badness, like Faustus and perhaps like Judas. But what if murderers stood face to face with those they killed, were forgiven to their faces by the victims; how could the killers not accept the freedom from guilt?

We’ll see, I guess. One day. What the ultimate choices will be.

For Blaine

Blaine certainly loved to laugh. Here's one of my first memories of him when my family moved to Oregon.

My little dog didn't like many people. You could say that her bark was worse than her bite, but really you need to ask the mailman first. A tiny mutt with a big voice, my dog did chase down the postman and snarl into his pant legs. But mostly, she did okay as long as no one teased her. Whenever Blaine came in contact with my dog, whether in the mountains on a church hike or when I would go over to his house to ride horses, Blaine would make growling noises and send my dog into a frenzy. Blaine would chuckle and then do it again. Before long, he didn't have to growl at all. She would see him coming and know it meant trouble.

I really miss my little dog, and I wish that she was still here and Blaine was around to growl and laugh at her.

Getting Lost

I don't know how often I've been lost in my life. Once, when I was four or five, I was at a school program with my family and, when the play or whatever was over, I became entranced with the pumpkins on the stage. After staring at them for awhile, I looked around and couldn't find my family in the crowd. They must have gone out to the truck, I assumed. So I left the auditorium and went to find them in the parking lot. Nope. I remember crying and then mashing my face into Mom's shoulder when I tracked her down back inside. (Hmm, come to think of it I guess I knew where I was the whole time.)

On road trips, maps haven't always been friendly. I've stopped with friends and family to ask for directions, but we never stayed truly lost. Then there was that night I was following my best friend through Portland to her mom's house and I made a wrong turn, thinking I was still behind her car. Downtown Portland at night with no clue isn't so fun. Fortunately with a little God-help-me and the fact that I had been to my destination many times before (with someone else driving the car), I was able to get back on the right path.

A few Sundays ago, Luke and I participated in fall's favorite way to get lost: we wandered through a corn maze. Since I couldn't convince Luke to go through the maze at night, we compromised and went the next afternoon. Rather than risk any sort of adverse outcome, we allowed two expert guides to lead us through the maze. Call them blonde Sacajaweas, the grade-school sisters sometimes disagreed about which way we should turn but ultimately got us to the other side and out into the open field. In fact, it was too easy. I didn't really want to get lost, but I had expected more of a challenge. So we went back in.

This particular maze, the genius of my husband's aunt and uncle, had ten multiple-choice questions about corn staked on signs throughout the maze. With our knowledgable guides leading us, we somehow only passed three of the signs. We wanted to find the others. The older sister got tired of the maze, picked out a pumpkin, and went back to the booth at the start, finished with guiding but ready to welcome newcomers. That left one sister determined to help us find the signs. We took left turns, split up at times, felt like we were going in circles, faced many dead ends, found more corn questions, and finally went out through the in passage. But three signs remained hidden to us.

Now of course if we had really gotten lost, or panicked from claustrophobia, we could have crashed straight through the stalk walls and found our way out. There might be a large enough corn maze out there to get lost in for hours while waiting for rescue, but it seems one could just follow the rows to an end. Oh well, at this point I can't wait to get lost all over again next year.