Worship Today: You Remain

I’d be lying
If I said I wasn’t tired of trying
And now I’m down to my last excuse
So here I am waiting for You

When I take the wheel and everything starts falling apart
I start to wander off the road that leads to Your heart
Still there You are

In the broken, when I’m losing my way
When I’m lost in all the doubt and the shame
You remain

 

The Cost of Perspective

12_ww_graphic_walk_with_humilityMoses sent for Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come! Is it not enough that you brought us up from a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? Do you also have to appoint yourself as ruler over us?” (Numbers 16:12-13)

We often refuse to submit because of our own perspective even if it skews reality. After all, we can’t understand it all. Our own perspective makes sense to us, because we’re right in the middle of it. But that’s the problem. We’re limited. There are many perspectives beyond ours. Even if we could consider them all, we might not be any closer to identifying the truth, so how can we know who and what to follow and trust?

The easy answer is “God,” but the easy answer certainly doesn’t seem so easy when we’re struggling to trust others, when we can’t possibly imagine how someone might be worthy of authority and trust.

Keep struggling. Keep asking questions. Keep moving. Keep growing.

Humility is worth the cost. It’s less about the results you’ll get and more about the faith you’ll grow.

Learning for a Lifetime

We learn some stuff along our journey that changes what we think and what we’re willing to do.

We might be hesitant to get married because we watched our parents go through messy divorces.

We might be hesitant to take a certain kind of job because we saw family members consumed by or betrayed in them.

We might be hesitant to authentically search faith because we’ve been taught something we didn’t understand or like at the time, or we’ve seen faith expressed in some ugly ways.

indexWe let the stuff we learn change the way we look at something, but are we willing to continually learn even newer stuff that might change us yet again? We welcomed and assimilated a contradiction before, but are willing to do so again? Are we committed to being corrected and leaning into truth, even when it puts a question mark on something we thought was firmly followed by an exclamation point? How certain are we, and how willing are we willing to slide our certainties under a microscope and watch for potential growth and change?

Just because we learned once doesn’t mean we’re willing to continue to learn. That takes commitment and humility. Are you willing?

The Bible Doesn’t Behave Well

article-2359633-1AC0F111000005DC-768_634x361If we’re honest, the Bible often doesn’t seem to be on its best Sunday behavior. It creates and contains quite a ruckus at times. It isn’t tame. It isn’t easy. It’s not neat and tidy. As much as we want it to tie everything up in a pretty bow, we find frayed edges poking in all directions that often surprise us.

But if we’re honest, it often accurately reflects our faith.

Faith is about trust, and the journey of trust doesn’t always behave. It is unsettled and untamed at times, and like the Bible, that’s a good thing (as long as it’s productive). It’s a reflection of reality. God doesn’t fit in a box, and when we can easily put a lid on our faith, we might not have considered some of those frayed edges poking in multiple directions. Maybe we need to invite God to challenge us on the things we believe but don’t live, claim but haven’t questioned, and say we understand but have never explored.

Packing Up Christmas

The day after Christmas, I cleaned.

It was going to be a quiet day, and I planned to do the regular cleaning anyway, but when I thought about my schedule in the next week, I decided it made the most sense to put away all the Christmas decorations as I cleaned.

I knew it wouldn’t take long. I hadn’t done a ton of decorating before Christmas. Even so, I was surprised at how quickly it went. I put the special ornaments back into their boxes, wound up strings of lights, gathered up all the miscellaneous decorations, and packed it all away in the closet. I cleaned the house and was done with everything before noon.

I sat down and looked around at the space-void-of Christmas and realized putting Christmas away is a lot faster than setting it all up.

It’s a lot like our faith.

Building faith takes effort and time. We question, wrestle, explore, and construct. But we put it away with much less effort and intention. Maybe it’s just because we get bored or tired and decide to pack it in without much thought. We can sort later or just toss things aside. Then we give it all very little thought until we need it again.

But we do need it. Now. We can pack up and pack in our faith because we’re worn out and just don’t want to deal with it anymore, because it gets too hard, because we don’t find it as easy now that we’re beyond the baby stage. Deconstructing seems a lot easier than constructing, and perhaps that’s why we’re ready to do it so willingly. It seems to make sense because it seems easy. But easy isn’t often faith-building. Become spiritually mature takes effort, attention, and intentionality.

Sure, packing is important, but only as it’s accompanied by sorting, cleaning, prioritizing, and discerning.

When Generalizations Are Negative (and not necessarily true)

Remember the red cups firestorm a couple months ago? I avoided saying anything about it. I didn’t want to give it any more attention. I still don’t. So, this post isn’t specifically about red cups. It’s about what the red cup incident reveals to us and what we can learn from it.

The red cup tirade was attributed to “some Christians” who were bent out of shape , crying foul that a company didn’t recognize their personal beliefs. But it started with one person’s rant. One person. I personally know no Christian who was upset about the cups. I saw no posts that supported the one person’s rant. I only heard and read perspectives that basically cried, “Who cares?!” But the red cup firestorm showed us that one person’s rant can be generalized or attributed to a whole group, even if the overwhelming majority doesn’t back up the rant. It was negative press, but we still shared it and talked about it as if it was a big issue. Instead of simply saying, “I don’t agree. End of story.,” we took offense but kept it viral.

The generalizations are far and wide and usually spread faster and farther when they have a negative tone. And Christians aren’t the only targets. Muslims. Gun-control activists. Gun-rights activists. Police officers. Black teens. Mentally ill persons. Foreigners. And the list goes on.

How badly do we detest other people’s generalizations of what we believe and how we think and respond to things? Maybe we need to start with a more reflective question: How do we personally generalize from one person to many in everyday circumstances?

When We Get Turned Around

We get turned around for a variety of reasons.

  • We’re in a lot of pain, experiencing a crisis, and it’s all too confusing to figure out which way to turn, which way is up and which way is down.
  • We thought we were on the right track, but we got confused, and now we’ve taken enough wrong turns to not even be certain which way we’re headed and how to get to where we want to go.
  • We don’t really want to be clear on our directions. We’d rather wing it, be adventurous, and fly by the seat of our pants.
  • We don’t even know we’re turned around. Things that shouldn’t make sense seem perfectly sensible. Things that make sense seem ignorant. But we’re clueless. We don’t think we are, but we are.

Unless we know where to turn, who to cry out to, where to stand on a firm foundation, we will flounder, whether we know it or not, whether we want to admit it or not.

We can only recognize we’re off track if we know the right track. We must be able to discern the right from the wrong.

Right and wrong aren’t want we want them to be. They’re not what make us most or least comfortable. Right and wrong really aren’t about us at all.

God knows. He cares. He instructs. He corrects. He defines. He equips. He challenges.

A dear friend is struggling with some ugly, devastating health issues. Her husband regularly posts updates for a small army of us who have been loved by her over the years and continue to love her the best we can through what seems to be a downward-spiralling process. Her husband is transparent through the good and bad moments. He recently posted,

We do not see this circumstance as a reason to question God’s goodness but we see God’s goodness as a reason to question our perceptions of this circumstance.

Yes.

This family, like so many of us at some point in our lives, have been turned around and around and upside down. It feels like one of those insane amusement park rides that blurs the lines of the horizons and makes it impossible to make out anything on the ground or in the sky. Yet in the middle of the chaos, right smack in the center as the rest of the world seems to spin out of control, there is certainty. Certainty in God and His perspective, His goodness, and His will.

It doesn’t make sense, but He is still in the center of it.

No matter how turned around we feel at the moment.