October 2, 2017
It used to scare me: the idea that God saw everything I did, even in secret.
When I was little, I thought of God sort of like Santa Claus. He knew when I was awake and sleeping; when I was good and bad. As an early teenager, my image of God morphed into more of a Big Brother Eye-in-the-Sky, waiting for me to do something wrong.
Either way, I was scared of God. I thought He was out to get me.
Somewhere in my early 20’s, my idea of who God is radically shifted. I began to long to spend time with Him in the Bible, learning through ancient stories the goodness of God. During that time, I realized what a blessing it is that He sees me, even in my secret places.
For three years, I lived alone as I worked full time and went to college full time. It was easy to get discouraged. No one saw my late nights and early mornings; the 13-hour workdays at the hospital and classes stacked back-to-back on my days off. No one saw my faithfulness in attempt to build a future.
No one but God—and where I once felt judgement, I suddenly found comfort. He knew my pain and frustration, my exhaustion and every tiny success. During this time, I came to realize that I did not need the world to see me; I just needed God to see me.
In Him, I am seen and known and loved—and that has made all the difference in my life.
Today, I made breakfasts and packed lunches for tiny humans who ran out the door and did not say thank you. This afternoon, I am folding laundry and washing dishes, and no one will ever notice how I spent my day. Later, I will make snacks and help with homework and play tag until dinnertime, and it is all just expected at this point. This evening, dinner will be on the table and reading logs will be signed, and no one will stop to say, “I know how hard you’ve worked today.”
And that is okay—because all day long, I am focusing on the One who does see me. In the midst of the mundane, God meets me. He whispers promises to me over endless loads of laundry and I speak praise back to Him, reciting Psalms from wrinkled pages with soapy hands.
There is a holiness in this space of being unseen, except by God, and I am finding myself resting into learning Whose eyes matter.
September 26, 2017
It came right when I needed it most: this story of God’s unending faithfulness.
Katie Davis Majors has been a woman I have looked up to for spiritual guidance and a writer I have read voraciously for inspiration in my own writing journey for years. She first wrote to us in her debut novel, Kisses from Katie, about what she was learning about the relentless and redemptive love of God as she gave up The American Dream and moved across the ocean to Uganda to care for the orphan and the widow, giving up everything to follow Jesus. Five years after releasing that New York Times bestseller, Katie is back in print again with her new book, Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful.
This story still rings with truth and drips with grace but, with less naive optimism and greater faith, allows readers to ask the hard questions Katie found herself asking after unexpected tragedy struck her family: Is God really good? Does God really see me? Does He really love me?
In this incredible book, Katie weave the ancient stories of the Bible into her own. She is Jacob, wrestling with God over the loss of her daughter. She is Abraham as she learns of God’s generous provision, naming the hard places Moriah, meaning the Lord Will Provide. She discovers how God makes even our very little enough alongside Zarephath, and she identifies with Ezekiel, watching dry bones come to life both in her home and in her own heart.
Here is what God has taught me through Katie’s words: He is faithful to the end.
As I read story after story of miraculous physical healing from God, He healed something in me too. He healed something within me that had broken which I could not name. He healed me, pressing into the hurting places in my life as He whispered of His faithfulness.
Hebrews 10:23 became a salve to my broken heart: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. I wrote it on a sticky note and taped it to my bathroom mirror as a reminder of who God is. I recite it throughout my day, a constant prayer of praise: You are faithful. You are always faithful.
This story spoke straight to my heart, and I know it will for you too. Words matter, stories matter; and if you are going to set aside time to learn from anyone, Katie should be at the top of your list. No matter who you are—a college student, a stay-at-home mom, a pastor—you will find a way to identify with Katie and her story.
I rejoice again in realizing that God provides the things that we didn’t know we needed in the first place. —Katie Davis Majors, Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful
September 15, 2017
August 30, 2017
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” —Matthew 22:36-40
August 2, 2017
For me, the Bible has always been more than words of guidance or a historical document. It has been a way which God has spoken to me; a place to run when I have been sad or worried or just plain weary from life.
The Church taught me that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. I learned from an early age that the Bible is always right, that it always has the answers to our questions – tied up with a neat little bow on top.
It was the final-say, the last-word, the end-all. What the Bible says goes, regardless of the interpretation being presented: women are to be submissive to men, homosexuality is just the devil trying to keep me from Heaven, children are to honor their parents regardless of the reason or methods being used to prove authority.
I couldn’t question the Bible because it was the truest display of who God is – and who can question God?
So, here I am, a lifetime of being force-fed what the Bible is and who God is, finally cautiously stepping out of the shadows to put my questions into words.
Despite being taught that the role of the Bible is to teach the rules of God, it has not been the place where God and I have done our most serious work. During the times in my life where I have been the most stubborn, the most unwilling to learn and to change was in a very real, very intimate and personal way. During the times the only way God was going to get me where I needed to be was by gently pushing me down the path, all the while me kicking and screaming, He did not ask me to read confusing passages. He did not ask me to sit in silence and know He is God while awaiting an answer. He did not make it ambiguous.
He showed up as a Friend in holy conversation.
You know that dream you’ve been cultivating since you were 8? It’s time to talk about that: Write a book.
“I don’t want to. I’m unqualified. I don’t have the time. People won’t read it anyway.”
Okay, then get ready for all of the pieces to start falling into place so much so that you cannot ignore Me.
“I’m so exhausted, God. Why am I so tired all of the time?”
Because I never called you to all of this. You kept saying yes to so much more.
“But I have to do all of this right now. I can rest later.”
No, you need this now and I’m plucking you up out of this situation. Here, rest.
“I feel so isolated and alone. God, why do I feel this way, even with all of these people in my life?”
You have been unanchored for so long. You have forgotten how to invest in people, how to cultivate relationships. You are always searching for the next thing – to move forward, to grow – and you never stay put long enough to put down roots. It’s time to learn the hard and holy work of staying put.
“Well, that’s because I don’t know where I want to settle down and stay for a long period of time.”
Well, you need to learn this, so here’s a family who loves you, a church who needs you, and a job who values you. Stay put.
I have heard God in these very real conversations reveal things to me not necessarily recorded in the Bible. He has shown me a better way forward than the ways the flawed human beings in the stories and who transcribed the stories that are preached to us. He has affirmed things in my heart and mind still up for debate (or off the table for debate altogether) in communities of people who always read the Bible literally.
I’m not ready to completely abandon literalism, and maybe I’ll never be.
But maybe it isn’t necessary either. Maybe the Bible isn’t the Word of God; maybe Jesus really is the Word that was there in the beginning with God. Maybe the last-say, the end-all is Jesus instead of a collection of Spirit-inspired (but not quite inerrant) ancient stories. Maybe the Bible is a lens through which we see God, but not the only way to find Him. Maybe we put God in a box when we limit Him to a Book.
And maybe tomorrow I’ll have a different answer – and that’s okay.
Sorting Time: This summer, I will be sorting through my own faith – keeping what I love, discarding what no longer serves me – as I journey from Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism into progressive Christianity.
July 26, 2017
God has been stretching me lately – pulling on loose threads of faulty theology and coaxing me into the ancient world of the sacraments. That one loose thread unraveled my entire theological viewpoint and I grabbed for the trees during the free-fall – anything to steady me. I have been learning how to light candles and pray the hours; returning to hymns of old to which I cannot remember the words. I have tried to be faithful in the new-to-me, ancient-to-the-world and it has been good.
But this morning I got up early after a restless, anxious night and I had no capacity for challenges. Some days, we just need to sit in the glory and grace of the Good News of Jesus.
I made my coffee a little stronger than usual and opened my Bible to the Gospels. I needed Jesus, God-in-flesh, down in the dirt with me this morning.
Something magical happens when we tell stories. Since the beginning of time, humanity has been doing this: telling the stories of our people to remember who we are. We learn about our history and our culture, about massive losses and huge victories. When we talk about how we have seen God move, we give hope to the others still waiting, hoping, praying for Jesus to show up.
That’s what happened for me this morning.
I read about Jesus calming the storm on the lake in Capernaum and the storm in my own mind subsided a little. I read about how the woman with the issue of blood was healed and my faith that my own heart-illness can be healed as well. I can hear the powerful words written in red being spoken over me: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
These words invite me to sink into Jesus.
It’s true: some days require challenging and stretching because we are called to be ever-growing, ever-evolving in response to an ever-steady Christ. But other days are created for rest and Jesus—The End.
Take the world, but give me Jesus. — Fanny Crosby, 1879