Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Month: July, 2006

A Clear and Present Danger

Books are great things. I have found that I really love reading. I like many different types of books. KLBC gave me a love for those theological tomes that are hard to find. High school gave me an interest for general knowledge books. And I think my mother gave me a love for novels. All kinds of novels. Old classics, new stories, action, drama, science-fiction, fantasy, whatever. I love reading a good story. When I read an old Puritan book it takes me weeks to get through, and that’s a good thing with the good ol’ Puritans (gotta take your time). But when I read a novel I can get through the whole thing in a matter of days. I actually finished The Da Vinci Code in one day. I found a really neat bazaar in Karachi called Itvar Bazaar. Literally means Sunday Market. There is a massive table in the deep depths of this bazaar filled with the most wonderful books imaginable. From Dickens to Clancy and Grisham and everyone else you could imagine. I bought almost ten books there; most of them are Clancy. I had never read Clancy much growing up, just Rainbow Six. And that I read just because I liked the video game. After reading a whole lot more of his books I gotta say, I’m impressed. He writes very realistic stories and the plethora of characters he puts in every book have their own stories, ambitions and dreams, even if they die five minutes after meeting them.

In half the Clancy books I’ve read part of the plot involves some sort of secret, covert mission. I was very interested in how the characters in his books are recruited for these missions. It usually goes something like this:

A secret recruiter guy comes to an army base and meets up with a specially selected soldier.
Recruiter: Hey there son. We’ve got a mission for you. We’d like you to come and get ready for it.
Army dude: What’s the mission?
Recruiter: I can’t say (and I don’t really know myself), but if you’re in we leave for special training in an hour. Are you in?
Army dude: You can’t tell me anything about the mission?
Recruiter: Only that it might be dangerous, and it might not be. It’s for a good cause, and you’ll get special training for it. Might take about half a year. Maybe more. Maybe less.
Army dude: Okay, let’s go.
Off they go to a secret training camp where they meet all the other new recruits. None of the other soldiers know what the mission is all about. Even the people in charge of training the soldiers are left in the dark. As time goes on some of the bright ones are able to figure a few things out based on what the training is, but only a handful of people in the upper rings of command actually know what’s going on. In fact, the soldiers don’t learn what the real mission is until the night before they leave for it.

I like drawing spiritual parallels where none seem to exist. I think there’s one here. We have been recruited. We have a general idea about what our mission is. We have ‘standing orders’. Orders that apply all the time and for all soldiers. Orders like Be holy, or Delight yourself in the Lord, or Preach the Gospel or all creation and other such things that are standing orders for everyone in God’s host. But each of us has our own special orders too. Trick is, we don’t know them all yet. God’s got a special plan for everyone in his crew, but he won’t tell us it right now. You may think that you know what he’s preparing you to do, and you may be right. But you may be wrong. We don’t know what we’re training for, but we certainly are in training. Maybe you’re training for some covert op across the sea. Maybe you’re training to bring the message of light to those at work. Maybe you’re training to lead your own troop of forces. Maybe you’re training to follow your general orders in a beautiful way. Whatever is going on in your life, you are in training. Even when you’re on a mission, that mission is training. So train hard and love your Drill Sergeant. He’ll give you a tough ride, but it’ll be better in the end because of it.

Don’t worry…be happy!

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…
Matthew 6:25

So here’s the deal. Ruth’s visa application is somewhere between Karachi and Islamabad, there is no way I can know if it arrived safely until the middle of next week. Also, in order to get a good deal on plane tickets I paid for our flight last week, though I cannot take possession of the tickets until Ruth’s passport with its visa returns. Imagine what would happen if our ‘reliable’ Pakistani courier service lost the application with her passport. She’d need a new passport, and that takes a while to get, we’d miss our flight. On top of it all when I try to talk to our dear friends at the High Commission they, more often than not, decide to not pick up the phone. The possibility of stress is pretty high these days.

Then I read the Sermon on the Mount. Don’t worry. Don’t worry about your life or your food or your clothes. There’s more to life than all that! The others worry about that stuff, not you! You’re different, you’re set apart, and you’re part of a holy nation whose ruler is God. So don’t worry.
But what if Ruth doesn’t get her visa?
Don’t worry about it.
But what if we’re stuck in Pakistan?
I’m in charge of the limitless cosmos. If you’re stuck here, I put you here.
But what do we do if we have to stay?
Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.
But what if…
The situation doesn’t matter. I am in control. Nothing escapes my power or my grasp or my sight. Whatever happens to you is part of the wonderful story I’m writing with your life. Seek me first; I’ll take care of the rest.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Five Iron Frenzy these days. I miss the old days when I was a ska kid. One of my favorite songs is called The Greatest Story Ever Told. It reminds me why I don’t need to worry. I’m part of a wonderful story. The greatest story. Jesus is making a wonderful story and I’m in it. Everything will work out for my good. So everything may screw up and blow up in my face, no matter, the end will be better because of it. My only job right now is to seek and pray and wait on God. He’ll take care of the rest. The author of my hope is writing the greatest story ever told.

World Without an End

For all the deepest thoughts complied,
Philosophy to laws of physics,
No-one’s ever heard or seen
A more beautiful thing than this love that saved us.

In the soundless awe and wonder
Words fall short to hope again.
How beautiful, how vast your love is!
New forever, world without an end.

The very spark that burns the stars
Drew near to me today.
The God of everything that is
Whispered in my ear that this love is boundless.

In the soundless awe and wonder
Words fall short to hope again.
How beautiful how vast your love is!
New forever, world without an end.

Cook out

PS – Since this blog was first posted the visa application has been returned to us because I needed an extra form that the Consulate in Karachi didn’t give me. I sent the whole deal back to Islamabad two days ago. Looks like we’re cutting it a little close here, eh?