Don Goulding - Blog

De-furry

For we know that if our earthly house, the tent we live in, is dismantled, we have a building from God, a house not built by human hands, that is eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 5:1)

Our son, Aaron, invited Dani and me to his furry convention. Furries are a subculture of young adults who wear character costumes made of artificial fur. There were giant squirrels, puppy dogs, and fantasy creatures of rainbow-colored fuzz.

Aaron wore a brown and white Australian sugar glider costume. The large eyes and velvety ears made for a six foot tall huggable masquerade. Most of the participants were there to enjoy friends and laugh at one another’s creations. There were, however, a few mystics who believed they were born as a koala bear, or a dragon, and, somehow, got trapped in a human body.

I also take my temporal costume far too seriously. This world becomes my absorbed reality as I adopt the false identity of my physical aspect. I look at you and invent perceptions based on your exterior appearance or your present circumstances. 

I have a furry mentality.

In actual truth, we are not our costumes. I am not only this physical body, permanently disfigured, and destined to sin forever. By joining myself to Jesus, I received a new existence. It came with a promise for a new body, and a new heaven and earth as well. For now, I am to live inside this character suit, but be fully aware of my true identity as I look out the temporary peepholes.

One day, the suits will come off, as they did on the mount of transfiguration. When the disciples saw Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, they appeared in glorious splendor with clothes as bright as a flash of lightning. That’s what lies beneath the furry suit—glory and splendor. For those in Christ, that’s the real you and the real me. We are the immortal children of God, destined to dwell in blinding majesty within his kingdom—not here, and not in these costumes.

Prayer: Mighty Redeemer, help me know who I really am in you.

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Uncommon Joy

And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose … (Romans 8:28)

When Paul wrote about all things working for good, it was after he’d been hunted, imprisoned, lashed five times, beaten with rods three times, shipwrecked three times, and pummeled with stones. God accomplished much through Paul but, more than anything, it was his patient endurance that made him an eternal hero.

In A.D. 64, Emperor Nero burned Rome, blamed it on the Christians, and then, “punished them with refined cruelty,” as an eyewitness reported. Some he dressed in animal skins and watched as dogs ate them alive. Others he lit as human torches in his garden. He held a flame near their tar covered feet and offered a last chance to go free, if they would renounce Jesus Christ and declare Caesar as their God.

The stalwart Christians refused to recant. Before blacking out from the excruciating flames, they sang praises to God, and were promoted to the heavenly realms as grand victors.

Paul succeeded in enduring to the end. Nero’s victims made it to the end. Now it’s my turn. 

My challenges may not be as severe as the martyrs’, but I have to face the same darkness. By choosing to hold the hand of Jesus in even minor trials, rejection from the world is converted to heavenly applause, illness changes to celebrated fortitude, and temptation transforms into glorious overcoming.

My current life is not a disposable failure to be tolerated until heaven. The great purpose of these sacred days is that I should store up endurance so I can rejoice in those victories with Jesus for eternity. Now is the time spiritual giants are forged. All I need is uncommon joy in the face of common hardships.

Prayer: Sovereign King, work a holy endurance in me today.

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Shine

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. (Psalms 37:5-6) (NIV)

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. (Matthew 13:43)

Near the top of my list of ill-conceived adventures was when I, and some college friends, tried to join the flotilla of spectators at the Seafair hydroplane races on Lake Washington. We paddled a tractor inner tube toward the event, several miles away. Progress was slow, and halfway there the race ended. On their way home, a whole navy of boats—many with alcohol fortified captains—came directly at us in the open water.

Our circular tube navigated in slow motion, and our only hope was that the captains would see us and steer around. We waved a red shirt on an oar, and I think there may have been a Coast Guard helicopter involved. Eventually a good Samaritan tossed out a line and towed us to safety.

More prudent boaters carry a simple rescue device we would’ve done well to employ. It’s a small mirror with a hole in the middle. The hole serves to line up the sun’s reflection and signal for help up to twenty miles away.

Both testaments of the Bible say the light of the righteous will shine like the sun. Those verses trouble me because, if I’m honest, I know I’m not righteous. How then can I shine?

The answer is in the rescue mirror. The mirror doesn’t shine, it reflects. Its effectiveness is all about alignment with the sun. When the reflected beam is properly aimed, the result is almost supernatural. Aircraft or boat captains squint at the intense reflection from miles away.

I don’t have a righteousness of my own, but when I line up the Son of God in my life, his righteousness shines to others. Saturating my heart with Scripture, praying through each moment, implementing the Spirit’s ways—these are the habits that keep me face-to-face with Jesus and reflecting his perfect holiness.

Prayer: Righteous One, shine from me today.

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