Allergy Season at its Best

I have a confession. I have seasonal allergies.

Ok, if you have been around me at all during the Springtime then you know that wasn’t much of a confession.

The Spring and Fall have caused me to be a mouth breather for about as long as I can remember. (However, on the plus side, as I have gotten older the Fall side of things hasn’t been quite as bad as it was when I was a kid…so yay?)

A little less than a year ago I went to an Allergist to check what exactly I was allergic to and also to find out what I could do about it. The doctor confirmed that I actually wasn’t allergic to much, but that what I was allergic to I was really allergic to. He also confirmed that the few things that I had reacted to manifested themselves most during the Spring and Fall.

I remember saying, “Ok, I kind of knew that already. So, what can I do about it? How can we cure this?” I was looking for some sort of pill, shot, or miracle.

His answer was both annoying, profound, and completely spot on.

“The best, and only real, way to be cured is to stay away from the things that make you sick.”

That statement, while easier said than done, is still some of the best advice I have heard.

The doctor then explained to me what causes allergies. He went on to use a bunch of fancy words that I can remember, but I was still able to get the sense of it.

It wasn’t necessarily the ragweed itself that caused my symptoms, it was how my body responded to the allergen. My immune system sees certain “triggers” as threats and works extra hard to expel them from my body. The results are sniffling and sneezing. To quote Switchfoot, “The sickness is myself.”

I have been thinking a lot about that conversation with the doctor lately. And while I can’t avoid Spring, I do think that his words are still some of the wisest I’ve heard.

“The best, and only real, way to be cured is to stay away from the things that make you sick.” It doesn’t just apply to allergies.

There are many things in life that make us sick. There are many things in our lives that are harmful to us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. While I know that we cannot just simply gate ourselves off and avoid them all, that’s not typically how life works, I do think that we should make efforts to avoid our “triggers.”

1 Thessalonians 5:22 says to abstain, or flee, from every kind of evil.

2 Timothy 2:22-23 instructs us to flee from youthful passions and lusts and to “have nothing to do with” foolish debates that cause quarrels. Instead, Paul says, to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.”

And Philippians 4:8 says, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

The best way to avoid the consequences of sin is to avoid sin.

We become emotionally and spiritually congested when we try to work life out on our own strength and in our own way. The awesome thing is, that God knows that we are sick. He knows what harms us and He has given us the cure. Jesus sacrificed Himself so that we can be healed from all that ails us. We must put our trust in Him.

But even after we trust in Jesus we still have a tendency to run back to our “allergens.” We still tend to grasp at the very things that make us sick. We need to avoid them.

But we can only truly avoid them with God’s help.

He can and will give you the strength to make it through your “allergy season.” But you need to talk with Him. Agree with Him that you are in need of rescuing, admit that you cannot do it on your own, thank Him that Jesus made a way for you, trust Him to guide you, and actually listen to and follow Him.

As the writer of Hebrews puts it- “let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely…and cling to Jesus, the founder, and perfecter of our faith.”

Ok, time to blow my nose for the 10,000 time today.

Airport Coffee

Airports are weird.

I have been in a whole lot of airports in my relatively short lifetime, and they are all the same…and yet all so vastly different.

There are people, lots of people. And those people are all either waiting around and wasting time or running frantically. I so enjoy watching the spectrum of people. There are the business travelers who view flying as just another frustrating commute. There are the adventurers; these are usually the people wearing Chaco’s, use a backpack the size of a middle school child, and openly talk about the week that has passed since their last shower. There are also the family vacationers. These families usually consist of overly excited and wide-eyed kids, an angsty and embarrassed teenager, a tired mom and a stressed-out dad who is silently rethinking the trip.

But, no matter what airport I go to, I sometimes, ok usually…. Alright, always get a coffee. There are two reasons for this. The first, I like coffee. The second, I like “airport coffee.”

The funny thing about airport coffee is that it never tastes the same. Even if I go to a “chain” café that I am used to, it still tastes different. I could walk out of the airport and grab a cup of coffee across the street from the same chain and it would, a) be about $20 cheaper, and b) taste completely different. Airport coffee is always different, never boring, and always a well-needed refresher in the midst of my travels.

During my last trip, I was thinking about what is so different and special about airport coffee. (I know, it’s a very odd thing to think about for any length of time, but try to remember I was in an airport and very bored.) One delayed flight later I think I solved the coffee puzzle. While I’m sure there are real reasons (different water, mass productions, faster turnaround, etc.) I prefer to stick with my own reasoning.

My perspective is different.

I am looking forward to the place that I will be traveling to, whether it is a vacation or a mission trip, I am focused on where I am going. My mood tends to be one extreme or another, either stressed and anxious or relaxed and lost in thought.

Because of that, the coffee that I drink is always a nice reminder of where I am. Since it’s not a good idea to drink hot coffee fast, trust me I’ve learned that lesson, the pause causes me to slow down and refocus on my current physical location.

A few days ago, we, along with millions of other people around the globe, celebrated Easter Sunday. We celebrated Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Think about that for a second, He was really truly 100% dead…then He told His heart to start beating again.

If that doesn’t send shivers down your spine then I’m not sure anything will.

As I think about Jesus’ resurrection I can’t help but think about airport coffee. (Stick with me on this for a minute.) As we reflect on this incredible triumph that Jesus had over death it should cause us to pause, reflect, and refocus. As we think about Jesus’ resurrection we should remember that what He did was completely different from anything ever done before in history. And a life with Jesus is never boring.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.”

I thank God that His mercies are new every morning. I thank God that He never gets boring. And, oh boy, do I thank God that His steadfast love for me never ceases.

I pray that God gives us a continually fresh perspective when it comes to thinking about Jesus and His resurrection. The truth of the Gospel should be as new, fresh, exciting, and wonderful as when we first heard and received it.

Airport coffee is awesome, but Jesus is awesomeerer! 

 

Spring Snow

I don’t care what the weather says…it is spring.

The calendar doesn’t lie, Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 was the official first day of Spring.

For many people across the country that is very welcomed news. However, those same people might be having a hard time believing that Spring has indeed sprung. I recently heard someone say in passing, “the weather didn’t get the memo.”

It’s hard to think about the things that define Spring; baseball, tulips, and grass that is actually green when there is still snow falling from the sky. Now, let’s be fair…this kinda happens every year, at least in the Midwest. So, with that in mind, we really shouldn’t be surprised. In fact, shame on us for expecting anything different.

Personally, I am in no hurry to usher in allergy season. However, I can still understand and sympathize with those who look longingly towards the warmer weather.

It can be an extremely frustrating thing when, even though you can see the start of the next season, you just can’t quite grasp it yet. And yes, I’m still talking about the weather, but I’m also kind of not.

You see, looking forward to the future and the sunny days that it brings can be a very healthy and helpful thing to do. The problem, however, is when that is the only thing we do.

When we only look forward to what is to come, we actually might miss some of the extraordinary things happening right in front of us. Like the strangely beautiful juxtaposition of fresh snowfall on newly budded flowers. Or a well-used snow shovel propped up against a lawn chair. Or even the fearless bit of green that pokes up from the frost covered dirt.

We cannot forget to be faithful to the present as we look forward to the future.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, this is something that I must continually remind myself of. Jesus said in the Bible that He would, one day, return to gather His church, home to Heaven with Him. Jesus told His disciples, “don’t be troubled… I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself.” (John 14:1-3)

In the book of Acts when Jesus ascended into heaven angels spoke to the disciples and said, “why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

And Jesus, Himself, told His disciples, and subsequently, all who follow Him after, that they are to be His witnesses. And in Matthew 28 He commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Jesus promises eternity in Heaven for all who believe in Him. The wonder and magnitude of that alone is incomprehensible. And yet, we are still here…on earth. Why? Because there is still work to be done. There are still people who need to know about the love and life that Jesus gives.

And so, we need to be faithful while we wait.

I would encourage you to have this same approach to the seasons in your life, those that are weather-related and those that are not. Faithfulness in the present, alongside expectations of the future, are two things that can actually coexist. But we must be diligent not to only focus on one over the other. If we only focus on the snow on the ground, then we can easily miss the greenery underneath. But if we only focus on the coming greenery then we forget our responsibilities in the present-like shoveling snow and putting the grill cover on.

So, once again, let us be faithful while we wait and trust in God’s timing. …Besides, it’ll probably snow again in May anyway.