Summertime Part II: When I Learned about Sex….

With the ending of summer, I decided to do a series of posts reflecting on what the summer months taught me, that my years in school never could. If you missed the first post in this series, you can read it by clicking here.

I can’t remember which summer it was that my Dad decided he needed to talk to me about sex. But I do remember a point in my life, just before I jumped into the rapids of puberty, when almost overnight the girls I played with went from being long-haired boys, to females, and eventually to women. Their eyes took on color, their faces took on structure; where once was a simple human form, now had curves and dimensions. It is a strange thing to go to bed one night with girl friends, and wake up the next day, surrounded by potential girlfriends.

Recognizing the times and the seasons, my parents decided to orchestrate “the talk” with me under the guise of a father-son fishing day. We woke up early on a Saturday, and made our way to the state park. After an hour or so of fishing, we put the poles back in the car, and decided to go for a hike. Ten minutes in, we found an outcropping of rocks overlooking a bend in the creek, and agreed to sit for a while. A few minutes passed with small observations about the creek and comments about the poor fishing. Finally my Dad began the conversation with the words, “so….you are getting older now….and….I wanted to talk with you for a few minutes about sex….”

RockCreek

For the next several minutes I sat and listened to Him talk, explain, warn, and define. It was an open and frank conversation filled with fascinating answers to questions I did not know to ask yet but certainly appreciated the heads up. It wasn’t that I needed him to tell me what sex was, as much as I needed him to fill in the gaping holes left from culture, television, church, and the discussions that went on in the back seat of the school bus. What I needed was someone to explain the framework, the context, the plan and purpose of sex. I needed to hear that it was a gift, and that every good gift has been given by God and meant to be enjoyed. That the physical and spiritual are inexplicably intertwined so that one will always affect the other.

As we talked it suddenly dawned on me the number of adult figures in my life I was convinced had already had sex – teachers at school, Sunday school teachers at church, my school bus driver with the missing front teeth, that man with the cane living two doors down who yelled at us for walking on his grass…..THE PASTOR AND HIS WIFE?!?!?

This is what summer is all about….discovery, rites of passage, insider information that suddenly changes your view of the world and reconciles in your mind what your body has already started telling you. I may have been educated during the school year, but I learned so much during the summer.

And just like that, the talk was over. We walked back down the trail, found our way to the car, and headed home. I felt older, as though I was on the inside of a secret society, possessing information that could be dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands. I walked past couples holding hands and I nodded to them, a smirk on my face, as if to say, “I know….I know….” At the time there was absolutely nothing more I could do with the information I had been given, but it was good to know and I was sure it would come in handy some day….like Monday in the conversation happening in the last seat of the school bus.

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Open Letter to 18-25 year olds (cont’d)

The fallacy of the straight line (the audacity of the scribble).

Page 2 (If you missed page 1 please click here to catch up)       

So throughout the stories of the bible you find the audacity of the scribble. Abraham’s life was headed in a straight line until God calls him to leave his home and bring his family to a new land. Moses had a nice career….you know….building stuff….and then he is on the run for murder and finds himself talking to some shrubs on fire.  David was just a shepherd boy, and then an old guy (Samuel) pours oil on his head, and his life begins to spin — forward and then seemingly backward, and then upside down, and then the bottom drops out, only to be raised up again. There is Noah, and Jonah, and Solomon, and Hosea.  There are the Israelites wandering in the wilderness (which is actually a giant scribble in the sand) and Ezekiel, and Peter, and Paul, and John the Baptist. Even the life of Jesus seems to be following safe, familiar patterns for the most part, until around 30 when he is baptized and starts to preach the Kingdom of God. Everything spins out of control until he ends up in the scribble of betrayal, hate, flying fists and spit….ending with a cross, and nails, and execution.  Jesus shared in all that we are, including the scribble of life. 

And then 3 days later….

You and I no longer have to fear the unknown, the unclear, or the scribble of life. Jesus, the risen Son of God walks with us in and through the scribble, using that scribble to show us a new way to live, to think, to work and love and play. Now we embrace Jesus in the middle of what looks like scribble, throwing away all hopes of a straight line.

So our plans do not work out the way we thought, but Jesus is leading us, and we would rather follow Him in the scribble than walk a straight line of disobedience. You still plan, you work hard, you hope and dream, but you offer all of that to your real master, one who may lead you away from all of those things, into a life you could not have imagined.

Finally, a few observations as I finish this letter:

1. You don’t get to see the end from the beginning, but you will see the beginning from the end. One of the downfalls of living life forward, is that you don’t get all of the details, you can’t see all that God is doing, before you take your first step. But, it is a beautiful thing to be able to stop at a point in your life, look back at the direction God has led you, and be in awe of his care and purpose.

2. You are not called to wait until all lines become straight. You must follow Jesus now, even though your life is unclear and God seems distant. God is not far away, and it is often in the feeling of distance that God is doing His best work in our lives. Martin Luther would look at the scribble of Jesus on the cross and say that where God seems most hidden, there God is revealed….the same is true in our lives.

3. Call your parents. I know, you didn’t see that one coming! Call them. I get it, your busy and you don’t always think of it and they should understand….but they don’t. I can’t imagine having one the main goals in your life as a parent (to see your kids off) is also the most painful.   So put the letter down, call one of them right now, tell them you can’t talk long, you’re in a bad coverage area, but you just wanted to say hey! No reason, no money, just hey, and once they come to and pick up the phone, they will be happy.

Talk to you soon….if you ever call (just practicing)

Peace,

Bryan