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.
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.
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
Wholeness comes as we have everything, or so we are told.
When having less or next to nothing, grows a half-person to whole.
What makes a person whole or complete? For my life to be whole must I fill it with everything possible? Or is it just the opposite – If my life is full of everything, I am less likely to be whole and may even be deficient? I am beginning to think the later is the case. Having everything impoverishes wholeness.
Demons! They lurk in every corner of life, waiting to capture and possess mind, heart and soul. Demons are legion, but I know a few of them by name – fear, conformity, anxiety, and deceit. These enemies do not have power to make me say bad things or act in awful ways, but they are able to entice me to speak and act in ways that are deceitful and selfish. They watch and wait for the opportunity to influence or turn me. Continue reading
The key is to live fully with the people around you and the stuff that finds you
and not to worry about who or what could or should be.
With every turn, at each stage, new people and different stuff come our way. Some of these are of our choosing, and others choose us. One key to living fully is to love those in front of us and to lean into stuff dealt us. Some people and stuff come to us by chance or via the natural course of life (transitions, aging, etc.) In some cases, however, I believe God gives us colleagues at work, registers students in our classes, arranges conversations, and places us in conflict – for a larger, divine purpose. I am unable to say to what extent and exactly how God is involved in the people and stuff of life, but I choose to believe he is. This causes me to see my students, colleagues, the clerk at the store, my travel agent, and the dental assistance in a redemptive light and allows me to lean into sickness, disappointments, conflict, and difficult assignments with purpose and reason.
The sum of the matter is that ‘could be’ and ‘should be’ detract from people and stuff right in front of me. Could and should become excuses for not being present with people and neglecting difficult situations. While some may label such a view as passive resignation, I see it as active resistance against cynicism and resolute determination to find hope and love within every turn of life – whatever the stuff, whoever the person.