Friday, 15 February 2008
The Crumbling Flake
Nothing is as brittle or as tempting as flake, Cadbury's flake chocolate, that is! Open one up and put it in front of any person and before long the flake will have its way! Its so different from other slabs of chocolate, so easy on the tongue and so satisfying! It is simply irresistable!
We used to have a saying, 'that's the way the cookie crumbles' in the old days. But I think we need to upgrade it to, 'that's the way the flake crumbles!' In the old days the cookie jar was the forbidden territory for boys and it was placed on the highest shelf in the pantry and only opened at special occasions - when there were visitors.
But every boy (and girl) sooner or later discovered the treasure jar and tried to get up there, by stacking chairs on top of each other or climbing up the racks and pulling things down in the process!
Sting sang 'How Fragile We Are' with a nice bossanova rhythm to it. It was somewhat of a tear jerker and we all thought, how true, how true!
Yet with escalating violence and crime in every nation of the world, wars and rumours of wars, it seems that humankind has forgotten how brittle we really are. Not soft, but brittle.
I know Cowboys don't cry and real men are hard, but the Man of all Men also wept on occasions. the shortest verse in the bible is, 'And Jesus wept'. He was at the grave of Lazarus, his friend, who died four days ago but he had no inside information to go there. He only did what His Father in Heaven told him to do. When he arrived on the scene, Martha and Mary both scolded him for coming so late: if you had been here he would not have died!
And so He cried. He cried because of their unbelief that He is the Resurrection and the Life. He cried because He found it hard to explain to people who He really was. He found it hard that they refused to believe in Him. He also felt sorry for his friend having to go through this ordeal. But it did reveal the brittle state of life: his friend passed away and he wept.
Funny how funerals bring out different things in different people.
I spoke at a funeral of an African lady in Stellenbosch last year and saw how the family and friends loaded bunches of bouquest of flowers around the coffin and how they praised her for about three hours and gave money to her family and told the whole world what a great person she was. Afterwards they slaughtered some cattle for a mighty funeral party! It must have cost an arm and a leg to pay for all the entertainment - ala African style.
When I was given five minutes to say something, I only needed two. This is what I said: 'Why do you wait till someone is dead before you give her flowers? Why do you wait till someone's dead before you praise her and tell others what a wonderful person she was? Why do you wait till someone is dead before you give them money? Why don't you give flowers while someone is alive?' And then, I sat down. I did not cry. I just sat down.
As we walked out of the hall, young people grabbed me by the arm and whispered: 'thanks!' Outside a grey headed old man leaning on his knob kierie took me aside and said, 'what you said here today needs to be spoken all over Africa! We honour the dead more than the living!' The young people came to me and said, 'we are so sick and tired of all the funerals we have to go to every Saturday and the funerals are all day! We have no life of our own! We work six days a week and then have to go to funerals of family and friends, because if you don't go they say you dishonour the dead person. And Sundays we have to go to church and you know our services - they last for 5 hours!' I heard the cry of the youth and that made me want to cry!
Traditions are squeezing the life out of the youth of our country!
Who will liberate them? Who will tell them life is more important than death? Even though life is brittle and can end at any moment?
It is the brittle state of life that makes us seek a strong tower, a place of refuge, a rock of defense, someone like our Lord Jesus Christ, who is a help that has been tested in many ways ans never found wanting.
He took on the brittle state of human life in order to feel what it was like to be a man, and then he said, he has compassion on us, he is touched by the feelings of our infirmities, because he was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin! Absolutely astonishing that he went through all the temptations without ever giving in to anyone! That is why all the Da Vinci codes and other conspiracy theories are constantly trying to prove that he had to have some secret love affairs in the silent years and that he must have had children born out of wedlock - and such rubbish!
But here was a man that would not give in to an open flake in front of him! He understood the brittleness of it all and conquered it in order to succour us in times of testing and trials.
By the way, I have just finished the flake Nola put in front of me before I started blogging! Go and enjoy one too, because Jesus paid the price for us and overcame everything so that we can be free to live life depending on His grace and His power to help us overcome things in our own lives.
There's nothing flaky about the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Nothing at all! It is solid and it helps us in our flaky human existence to find solace and comfort at all times, knowing that He cares for us and understands us better that we can understand ourselves.