When I was a freshman in college home on spring break, my father, a physician, took me, my brother, and two friends out to rent videos and buy ice cream. The stars were stark bright that night, pulling into my parent’s long driveway in Rolling Hills, California. Walking towards the front door, my dad stopped and studied the sky. He raised his hand, pointed at a celestial body, and asked,
“Say, what planet is that?”
His question struck me funny. Random. Disconnected to the moment.
I mimicked him, repeating his question over and over, doing a sorry Steve Martin imitation.
“Saaay, what planet is that? Saaay, what planet is that?”
My brother and friends laughed with my mockery. But when I glimpsed my dad’s face, I realized I’d wounded him. I’d humiliated him. He smiled, looked down, and carried the brown grocery bag with cartons of Bryer’s mint chip and vanilla and chocolate ice cream in the house.
It wasn’t until decades later, when I was his age then, did I realize the magnitude of the moment I’d ruined. My father was a Great Depression kid. Like many of his generation, he’d learned from his immigrant parents to bury his feelings, which he did well. It wasn’t until his last three years, after we’d both put our trust in Jesus Christ and he was dying from multiple myeloma, that we dropped our guard and grew close. It is an irreplaceable and priceless honor to earn your father’s respect and blessing, no doubt.
During World War II, Irwin Glasner, M.D., served as a navigator in the Army Air Corps. He was a Brooklyn boy, speed ice skater, Phi Beta Kappa, and an accomplished violist. He also knew his way around the skies. At 22, from a small seat inside a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Second Lieutenant Glasner guided his bomber pilot precisely to distant targets. At night. By the stars.
No GPS, no WAZE, no Google Maps.
My dad never saw combat. The Army Air Corps sent him to the Arizona desert to teach navigation to Chiang Kai-shek’s cadre of young Chinese aristocratic air force officers. They were preparing to fight the Chinese Communist Party in the air. Many spoke little English. They loathed to admit when they did not understand the technical training. My dad spoke zero Mandarin. You do the math. Lot of crashes.
What did my dad see in that night sky? What memories and feelings from the 1940s did starlight trigger?
I wish I hadn’t been so full of myself. I wish he hadn’t been so guarded. We’d both could have been whole enough for him to spend hours teaching me to fly at night guided by starlight.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught,
“How enriched you become when you are poor. For you will experience the reality of God’s kingdom realm. How filled you become when you are consumed with hunger and desire, for you will be completely satisfied.”Luke 6:20-26 TPT
I’ve found I become poor when I lose things. My hidden pride and conceit; need for approval and affirmation; anxiety about money and security; and the will to do what I want when I want to.
God’s realm is an upside-down kingdom. It is a counterintuitive place that can exasperate, infuriate, and offend the ego and rational mind. But the Kingdom is the richest reality superior to this painful gray grind. Die to live. Give to receive. Serve to lead. Rest to increase productivity. The least will be the greatest.
Jesus teaches that enrichment occurs when we crucify pride and arrogance, and anxiety over the want of money, stature, power, and control.
So, in the words of the late Campbell MacAlpine, “Take your reputation to the Cross and dump it there.”
God delivers big time when you hunger for the right things. Peace of mind, satisfaction, and other tangible and intangible rewards.
Hunger and poverty are the keys to prosperity.
I’ve learned when I become poor, my Father teaches me how to fly at night, guided by the light of his Word. When I hunger for the right things, for justice, mercy, and love, he feeds me with the preternatural food that satisfies forever.
Now, to get this down twenty-four/seven!