Category Archives: every day battles

Getting out of the boat

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boat-1869215_1920The smallest things often have the biggest impact on how I view myself.

I’m pretty small stuff in the blogosphere, and believe it or not, no one has made a negative comment about anything I’ve published. Not one.

Until just recently. And it wasn’t even a negative comment. It just questioned the wisdom of telling a story that wasn’t mine. No, I didn’t plagiarize or take credit when credit was not due to me. And I got it all straightened out – at least I think I did – to everyone’s satisfaction. And that’s all I’m going to say for fear of hurting someone’s feelings or sounding judgmental.

But what I realized during that short and rather insignificant series of emails and revisions is that I’m pretty thin-skinned. Not so different from most everyone who shares my personality traits of peacemaker and wimp.

It kinda bothered me that the criticism – and not even the words, just the fact that they were said – stirred up an odd combination of stuff: defenses, rebuttals, explanations, pride, shame, insecurity.

So, as I was pondering and praying about this, God, as is His way with me, sent a song: Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns:

Oh what I would do to have the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in – onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone,  into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand.

Oh, those crashing waves. And, evidently in my case, even the tiniest of ripples. The unsettling feelings I have that, as soon as I click Publish, I will step out into the waves of people, their ideas, their bias, their perspective…

And I will become subject to how they choose to crash in on me, telling me I’m wrong, reminding me that I’ve always been wrong and sinful and less than. Telling me I’ll never amount to anything, I’ve got it all mixed up, I’m not who I say I am. I’m losing the spiritual war.

I can’t really be a Believer.

I find myself in conversations during which critical or smug comments about the twisted beliefs of “them” sound curiously like something I believe to be true. I remained as small as possible when the Bible-study discussion turns a corner straight into controversy. Can we please just go back to our “purpose-driven lives” and stop talking about it? Please don’t make me step out into the waves.

You all know what I’m talking about. Those issues for which placards emerge and parades are formed. Ideas and positions that, for some reason, have become political issues. The tough ones.

Sides are chosen. Lines are drawn. Camps are pitched with big tents and strong, deep stakes.

Good golly, Miss Molly. Please not that. Not camps.

Oh what I would do to have the kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors, shaking in their armor,
Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand.

That’s me. Wishing with all my heart I had the strength to face those giant issues with just a stone’s worth of courage, ready and willing and unafraid to use the voice God gave me to bring the simple, good news of Jesus to all who can hear.

At times, the good news of Jesus comes wrapped in tolerance, a trait that many of my fellow Believers call “giving in to Satan” or “watering down the Gospel”.

But isn’t it possible that those in the “other” camps wish we’d look past the camp label and just talk about Jesus?  About how much He wants all campers, no matter where they pitch their tent, to meet Him in Heaven.

I’m not a Bible scholar. I don’t know or understand a fraction of what many giants of the Faith have already forgotten. I’ve been lazy and disengaged so much of my life.

And, my lovelies, maybe I’m completely, utterly, and unforgivably wrong. Maybe I’ve been lulled into the narrow, false notions of peace and privilege for so long I can’t see beyond us four and no more.

Maybe. But as I listen and learn, I’m more and more convinced that Jesus made the foundations of Truth pretty clear. He said…

…”I am the Way, the Truth, the Life.” (John 14:6)
…”Love Me with all your heart, mind and strength.” (Mark 12:33)
…”Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:33)

I know there are a lot of other beliefs and issues and sacraments we, as Jesus People, hold near and dear. I hold them close. But honest and truly I believe that one truth and two commandments sum up what’s the most important in all of Scripture.

Every other single solitary thing
runs a pretty distant second.

And, with that, I believe I just stepped out of the boat.

 

The foundations of truth: Jesus is the Way, love Him, love others. Click to Tweet

Trust

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I’ve been writing a little book about gratitude. It’s sort of a cross between a collection of essays and an acrostic poem.

But good golly, Miss Molly – the thought of publishing anything that even comes close to being a book is a bit yikes, so I thought I’d just stick my toe in the water a little and give you a preview. Here is just a part of one entitled simply Trust.

As we navigate through the foreign waters of in everything give thanks, we experience a strange tension. When the sky falls in, the world urges us to shake our fists at the heavens. Sometimes, we just convince ourselves to power through when the going gets rough.

But during those hours when life seems the most bleak, Heaven asks that we trust God, the Father…

…We are not told that earthly things will always work out.

God never said He would fix everything.

Answers and easy solutions are often elusive or missing completely.

However, the hope of the future is freely and generously given to all of us. The Father tells us time and time and time again that He loves us and holds us close. He speaks through every prophet and disciple – even Jesus himself – and sends the same message: Have faith, my children. Trust in My wisdom, a wisdom so vast that it cannot be contained by the minds of men. We can be sure the God of the Universe sees every tear, watches every stumble, feels every heartache, every heart break.

I am compiling a list of questions to ask at the St. Peter’s Information Booth. Like What happens to our pets? and Is there really a guardian angel for everybody, or do some of us have to share? And a real biggie: Why DO the good die young? I don’t think those things will be important when we get there, but it’s my way of handling some of the issues I wrestle with.

For now, I choose to offer thanks for the blessings I enjoy. It is not always my first response to trouble. But it is always my goal.

Jesus did not tell us to be thankful for our circumstances. He doesn’t expect cartwheels when the flight is cancelled or the Check Engine light comes on. He doesn’t dismiss our feelings of despair when the phone call comes in the middle of the night. He is not cruel or heartless. He does not expect us to be thankful for things that inevitably cause us pain or harm.

But, in His holy goodness, He stands with us during those storms. He is faithful and true. I am thankful because I know I can trust the Father. I can trust Him completely.

I have a plan for this project – hoping that it will not only bless those of you who read my words but also those we’d like to invite to our party.

It’s gonna be a minute before it’s ready, with a cover and preface and ISBN and all of that writerly shenanigans. Things I’m not used to choosing or figuring out or arranging.

But until that time, my lovelies, I thought we could talk a little about thankfulness, and maybe start with how trusting God the Father is so important to our spiritual health and sense of gratitude.

Any comments? or questions? Perhaps something you’d like to add that would make Trust even better.

I’m looking forward to what y’all have to say.

 

Why is trusting God the Father is so important to our spiritual health and sense of gratitude? Click to tweet.