Words matter, as they frame understanding, shape identity, and motivate actions. Words matter.
Love matters, as it gives reason to our humanity and grows us into divine likeness. Love matters.
Patience matters, as it offers ultimate witness of our trust in Jesus Christ. Patience matters.
Travel makes us desperate for home, a place of sanctuary and wholeness.
Being home reminds us, we have miles to go before we are forever home.
The apocalyptic vision of the New Testament dislocates us from temporal hopes and transforms us into people who wander toward a greater vision. As such, our lives are full of displacement, expulsion, and separation. Yet we are not alone as pilgrims, sojourners, aliens, and strangers, as these figure prominently in both the Old and New Testaments. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Jesus and Paul sojourned into foreign places and among strangers. The writer of the book of Hebrews describes Jesus as suffering outside the gate and suggests that we should “go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb 13:12-13). Peter names the believers “scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” as those who reside as aliens (1 Pt 1:2). As followers of Christ, we are meant to wander as he did.
Those who love us do what is best for us, saying hard words and calling us out.
And yet, these loving words travel best when escorted by grace and kindness.
Loving someone means I confront, call out, and name what I see in their life. To stand by and let things go without a word is not love but something else. So, if I am to love someone, I must speak the hard words.
And yet, these hard but loving words cannot be heard if said without grace and kindness. Many are the words unreceived or misunderstood because of the harsh and graceless manner in which they are spoken. Love misses its mark, is not received, simply because its words lack grace and kindness.
For words of instruction, correction, or truth spoken to our children, spouses, or friends in love and concern to actually land in their hearing, we must be aware that the route to their ear goes through their heart. Grace and kindness are escorts that walk alongside our words to ensure that they are actually received as true gifts of love.
At a table with a friend,
time’s memories come in haste.
In his eyes with a smile,
fear’s tight fists ease their embrace.
In his words with no guile,
life’s loose ends find their place.
For this life with its end,
love’s sure hope rises in his face.
Meaningful life does not come via a powerful person we happen to know but through a weak and powerless friend who freely gives of himself.
How often do we boast of the rich and powerful people we have brushed up against or met in a chance encounter? And yet, these are not the people who can really shape us or give definition to life. The people who define us are those who may not have money or fame to give but who freely give of themselves. And we do not have to go looking for these people or stand around hoping they will notice us. They are right in front of us. They live all around us. They are the weak and wounded, the broken and powerless. We miss them while we stand craning our necks to see the famous person pass by or when we pretend to be the rich and powerful. Meaningful life comes as we find each other at Christ’s table, offering life to each other. In such humility and friendship, we give and receive from one another the transforming life of Christ.
Saturday morning, all hope lies dead in a grave,
Tomorrow stands empty, hurt capturing us, enslaves.
Saturday noon, no faith can act, this life to save,
Tomorrow stands empty, fear mounting like waves.
Saturday evening, love alone points beyond the daze,
Tomorrow stands empty, awaiting the life he gave.
Daybreak comes, Jesus chases the sting of death away,
Sunday brims full, as faith, hope and love crown the day.
Journey with me through lives,
brimming with faith and fear.
Discover with me where God dwells,
encountering terror and tears.
Walk with me among ancient ruins,
echoing voices dreaded and dear.
Lean with me over an edge,
beckoning us to come ever so near.
“I like walking because it is slow, and I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour. If this is so, then modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought, or thoughtfulness.”
– Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
By what authority do I speak, justify actions, or claim truth? I must look to the sure witness not majority opinion or personal preference. A profound difference exists between justifying my choices and preferences and my speech and actions reflecting the true witness. The witness of God comes bearing light, giving sight. Our witness is true only as it points to the witness who is eternal and divine.
O Man of flesh and bone, dread and cares,
Where can thy mind flee in despair?
O Lord of hope and life, love and tears,
What perils Thy heart surely bears.
O Demons of terror and night, loss and fears,
With our failing faith in your lair.
O Spirit of fire and wind, mystery so near,
In Thee my anxious soul repairs.
We encounter risks everyday. Risks such as crossing the street, lighting a stove, traveling by plane, and eating food are just part of life, and thus, we rarely give a second thought to the dangers of these acts. These risks are routine and even though the possibilities of accidents, explosions, crashes and food poisoning are certainly real, we take these risks without anxiety or dread. We have to go to work, cook, travel, and eat, so we press on without much thought of the risks involved. If we did not accept these risks and move on, we would find ourselves in a continual neurotic state, unable to carry out the functions of a normal life. But there is another kind of risk that frightens us to the core. Continue reading