Alligators

Writing this post I had to seriously refrain from putting about 4 empty lines between each paragraph. I wanted to somehow make you read it the way I wrote it; slowly and with long thoughtful pauses.

Growing up in Omaha I was spoiled when it came to the zoo. The Henry Doorly Zoo is the place where dreams make noises, startling you with unbelievable reality. Each year we bought a family pass and even as we grew none of us lost our love for it. For a season I worked mornings downtown and many afternoons called me to the wonder of the zoo.  After wandering through the jungle, the dessert, the arctic and a myriad of caves I’d park myself on some bench with a book hoping a peacock would wander past, or spend a bagillion quarters feeding the monster goldfish in the lake.

When I heard about the Kansas City Zoo I made zero attempt to go and about two years went by before I found myself with a few friends exploring it’s long trails.  Drifting slowly through Africa I managed to lose them and wandered into the Alligator house. I use the word “house” loosely. It’s a cement shed and one wall is a large tank of water with 2 large lizards in it. The tank is hardly big enough for the two of them to be in, let alone turn around or swim or do anything for that matter, and they just floated there, sometimes blinking, not swimming, not moving at all.

I stood there for a moment, slightly uneasy at how close I was to them, how big they are and easy it would be for them to climb over that low glass window and eat me, but the longer I watched  the longer they lay there lifeless and that feeling was slowly exchanged with compassion. Those huge glorious beasts were never meant to be in that tiny glass tank. *insert strangeness* Watching them I began to realize, they know it. They know they were not made to be there, hatched and raised in a cage SOMETHING in them still KNOWS they are wild, they were MEANT to be wild and do wild and scary large lizard things. They know that something is wrong, and somewhere inside of their large scaly hearts they LONG for someone to fix it. And they know that someone will.

Right there in that tiny room I began to cry, soul aching, heart breaking, gut wrenching tears for the return of Jesus, maybe like I never had before that moment. Staring at those creatures all I could think was that all of creation was groaning in it’s knowing that everything is drastically, desperately wrong and all of creation knows that someone has to fix it. But I don’t. 99.9% of the time I am not desperate for Jesus to come with Justice in His hands and right all of the wrongs, creation itself is in a state of living understanding that my eternal soul is not and I wept in raw longing “Oh Jesus You have to come back, You have to come back”

Tonight we talked about Hebrews 11. 13-16. We live as refugees bound to the laws of a homeland we’ve never even seen. Joshua spoke of the longing in the hearts of the Patriarchs and of the 1st century church ” They knew beyond everything in this earth that they were not home, Eden was not so far removed from them that they had forgotten it.”

Have you ever felt like you just didn’t belong? It’s funny how in a room full of strangers one can feel naked, and hardly more comforted in a room full of familiar faces. There is a thing, an overwhelming sensation that rises up in our hearts in the most inconvenient moments. A literal cry, a longing that comes from somewhere, it feels like deep inside and it rises, washing over and taking over every thought that had been in your mind. You know if you’ve felt it. Many times I’ve confused it in insecurity, shortcomings or brokenness and run to a lonely place where I feed on the pain and nurse the ache, believing lies about the heart that the Lord of all Creation so dearly loves. But it’s not that, it’s something much much more deeper than not feeling comfortable in a room full of people, feeling exposed or insecure. We’ve lost our home.

But we don’t stay lost. Hallelujah, we don’t stay lost! Listen listen, Amazing Grace: how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like ME, I once was LOST. But now I’m found. I have been found. No longer hopelessly, desperately lost, I have been found. Jonathan David Helser sings a song about a friends baby who died in the womb. While playing his piano one day God allowed him to hear into heaven the song that this child was singing.

“Momma can you hear me? Daddy can you feel me? I’m made whole, I’m at home…Don’t stop holding on”

This is the longing that overwhelms, drives to tears, removes our appetites and consumes our minds; Jerusalem. The City of David where we will live forever, where we will be whole, where we will be home. Josh wrapped up tonight talking of the pain in the journey, the lonely life of a pilgrim but brought us to hope “after He rids us of the desire for all other lovers, all other lust, all other hungers He brings us into the promise.”

The room was silent for just one second before someone quietly said “We’re going home.”

This is good news. We’re going home.

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2 thoughts on “Alligators

  1. I feel like you’ve told me the Alligator story before…

    Oh, this is such good news. One of my favorite moments with the Lord from the past year happened sitting in that little white booth, taking a break from typing out words to sing with all my heart: “You made a way for me to enter the holy place…I can’t wait for our wedding day to come” and my heart began to ache, and then it was like Jesus stood right in front of me and said: “Oh, Annie. YOU can’t wait? I! I can’t wait to be with you.” The reason going home is good news is because of WHO we are going home to. Hallelujah — I can’t wait.

  2. for one brief second, when you were talking about their longing to be free – i thought you were going to let them out…but that would be a very different story.

    love it Chris – especially the “somewhere inside of their large scaly hearts” – we might make an eco-fanatical liberal out of you yet. 😉

    good post.

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