Category Archives: Gospel

Update

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The last week has been my hardest one in Clarkston.  It held the very thing I was so afraid of, three years ago, when Doug shared his desire for our family to adopt a refugee family.  It held failure, brokenness, and deep relational pain.

I mentioned last time I posted that we had met a new friend in a parking lot in one of the apartment complexes in March.  He is a refugee from Ethiopia who speaks six languages and who has come to Clarkston via a very long and winding road with his thirteen-year-old son.  His wife and their two younger children are still not here yet.

He waits for so much.

When we met him, he was waiting for a job.  When we serendipitously ran into him again (same parking lot) in late July, he was waiting for a job…still.

The door opened ten days later for him to work at our children’s school via a temp agency that they use for their facilities staffing.  God’s hand was evident in the coming together of the details, and our new friend had a new job.  It was a good one – daytime hours, more than minimum wage by a fair bit, and offered us the chance to get to know him better as we drove him to and from work on our way to and from school every day.

Hope is beautiful.  It came alive in his countenance.  He dreamed big, grateful dreams out loud in sixth language English…

    “I tell my son he can be President of the United States!”

    “You to come to Africa with my family?  I show you my country!”

    “How much is car? How much is house?”

    “Job is good.  Very good.  Thank you for job.”

Three weeks of gorgeous hope.

Loss in the face of that much hope is devastating. Sickening.  Disgusting.

A week ago, our friend was sick.  His cheerleaders and teammates (his boss, my husband) told him the day before he was sick to be sure to call the temp agency if he could not come to work the following day.  He did not call.  He did not respond to Doug’s texts or calls.  He called (finally) at 2:30 pm and communicated what he thought best.  His words were received by the staffing agency as a lie. The combination of the late call and the perceived lie were enough to cost him this new job.

All week I have agonized.  “What if I had…?”  “What if he had…?” “What if the school had…?” “What if Doug had…?”  “What if his boss had…?”  “What if the agency had…?” 

Only one intervention on anyone’s part would have made the difference for him.  There was no intervention.

We found out (too late) that his pre-paid phone was out of minutes, which was why Doug’s messages had not gotten through.  He told Doug had used his son’s phone to call the agency in the afternoon.

We still don’t know whether the “lie” was a language-barrier misunderstanding, an attempt to deflect blame, or even a culturally different way to approach the hierarchical system of boss and employee.  Whatever it was, he used the wrong words to explain his lack of a call.  If only he had known…

I met with the school to share his story and convey the fact that Doug and I were on his team – to try to ask for mercy.  I was met with a lot of understanding, empathy, and care, but the communication even in that meeting was muddled and confused to the point that it moved the ball forward…none at all. The chapter is closed. Our friend cannot go back.

So the week has been rough.

I’ve spent a lot of time bargaining with God and asking Him “why?”  I am sure that our friend has spent so much more time doing the same thing.  We are still not sure he really understands how and why this all happened.  We are stymied and heartbroken.

Why do I write this story today, on this three-day weekend where those of us who are work-weary sleep in, cook out, do laundry, and meander through 72 hours of government sanctioned rest?

I write to tell you that Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He knows, first hand, the brokenness of our world and He was broken for it.  I write to tell you that it’s harder to hold onto the sorrowful Jesus than the one who multiplies food and calms seas, but He’s the same Jesus – just as trustworthy and true.  He calls us to enter into the sorrow of the world and to be broken with it, too.  I don’t like that part, really, but it’s in His word all over the place.  It’s the reality of following Him.

I write to ask you to thank God for the work you have – even though it is so hard sometimes – because work is a gift that so many people (even in your zip code) cannot obtain.

I write because I cannot hold this sadness alone, and I selfishly ask you to hold a bit of it, too. I write because I ask you to pray for our friend, his wife, and his three children.  I write to ask whether you know of a job our friend could have…you just might.

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Not Looking for Wonderful

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I’m stirred up.

Maybe it’s the caffeine this morning.  Maybe it’s the extra summer-time that I have to ponder my navel.  Maybe it’s the move to a place where I see different pass by my front window at least hourly.  Maybe it’s a week at the beach with 37 people who share my DNA – that’ll create introspection, I tell you.

But maybe it’s the Holy Spirit.

My gospel prayer continues.  Lord, show me what is True.  Show me what is Kingdom-Real.  Who is this man Jesus, and what did He mean when He said, “Follow Me”?  What did He mean when He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”?  What did He mean when He said to duty-driven Martha in the face of her brother’s death, “I am the resurrection”?

Break my understanding of Your gospel – Your good news – wide open so that my American, 21st century, educated, sanitized, power-gridded, GPS self bows before what is True. Only.

Over and over He says, “Believe.”

Over and over I try to understand.

Looks like those things are different.  Understanding depends on me; belief bets the house on Him.

This morning as I stare out my kitchen window and appreciate quiet rain and the gift of two teenagers still asleep, I think about the revival-prayer I just read on Beth Moore’s blog, Rain Down Revival.  I think about how it reflects my heart’s prayer and about how I want it to be my for-the-world prayer.

Then I begin to feel self-important.  Sneakily.

Surely, even if I wait until the waters of revival are stirring, and even if I take time to get a sense of the rhythm of it before I dive in…surely He will not be able to do this without Me.  I’m a big deal, right? Surely He will hold my part on the stage until I get my costume arranged just right.  Surely my resume is key to His work. Surely He needs my “wonderful” for His work.  Sneaky self-importance.

I hear Him whisper as I wipe down the coffee pot.

Not wonderful. 

Surrender.”

Surrender is the place of Holy Spirit flourishing. Wonderful is a giant distraction.

God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.

When He and Martha talked, He knew her brother was lying in a sepulcher.  He altered that reality, yes. He brought Lazarus back.  But I wonder if He was also gently prying loose her self-important dependence on her resume of deeds?  I wonder if He was teaching her in a most spectacular and poignant way that resurrection follows death. Real life occurs when soul-surrender throws its full weight on the reality of the Holy Other rather than on the mirage of the personal wonderful.  I wonder if He was gently saying to her, too, “Not wonderful.  Surrender.”

Thy will be done.

The Agonizing Promise of the Small

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This morning, I walked with a neighbor who has lived in Clarkston for many years.  For most of the years, her family lived among refugees in an apartment complex.  She is a teacher and became burdened by the lack of access to English classes for moms of preschool-aged children in the complex where she lived.  Out of that burden grew a program called “Mommy and Me” that is now a thriving adult literacy program currently held at the Clarkston International Bible Church.  Today on our walk, my friend shared details about the new burden God has put on her heart for economic development and its intersection with the adoption world in the Congo.  Wow.

(Sidebar: I’m so unfamiliar with this other-world that I am not sure whether the country is best referenced, “Congo” or “the Congo” as I type.  There ya go. Ignorance.)

She was clearly struggling to fit huge vision and burden into short bursts of available time to connect, fund, research, raise awareness, and birth this new ministry that God is crafting in her life. I, on the other hand, was feeling awed by the amazing power of God to take a human vessel and pour through it a tiny but profound piece of His redemptive work via a surrendered and willing heart.

Oh, and I was also feeling totally dwarfed by this friend who will have fostered two amazing ministries by the time I’ve figured out how to…fill out forms, master signupgenius.com, procure the longest-lasting manicure, fund camps for my kids, get the mildew out of my shower curtain, and generally avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. I realize this self-analysis is not very gracious, but – face it – shiny, white, magna cum laude suburb-lady with three kids can look herself in the mirror and think these things pretty honestly on a “lazy” summer morning, right?

This is the wrestling I have.  I think many of my friends have it, too.  We’re full-out family mamas in a world where that job description is known to eat those of us who hold the title and spit us out medication-dependent and hand sanitizer-obsessed.  It’s not for the faint of heart.

BUT, there’s that other world out there – the one that we know grips God’s heart profoundly.  The orphan crisis.  The homeless population. The millions of refugees.  The clean water initiatives.  The sex-trafficking industry.  These causes and needs LOOM (on facebook, no less!?!?). In response, I genuinely ache and then go try a new smoothie recipe since I don’t know what else to do. (This morning: cantaloupe, ice, and coconut milk.  Pretty tasty.)

So today, I am both discouraged and encouraged by my amazing friend.  Discouraged that I’m not her – that my pro-activity and my surrender have been so often stunted by my fear, selfishness, and the tyranny of the urgent.  Encouraged that she starts small, too.  She spent two hours yesterday procuring an email address with the right @ “whatever” at the end.

That’s small.  And frustrating.

Small is all we’ve got, ladies.

Today I’m thinking about small and how agonizingly profound it is.  Not one of us is exempt from embracing the small as we follow the God of huge redemptive grace.

I think our culture tells us that we must (and can) be “profound” (read in a booming, deep voice).  So, we buy that lie and look for opportunities to leap tall buildings in a single bound rather than fighting for grace by the inch.

Today, may we embrace the agonizing promise of the small.

Human Venn Diagram

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We are moving on Friday, and I am feeling a lot like a human Venn Diagram.

I know, that’s weird, but I teach English so cut me some slack.

Every time I drive out of my neighborhood in Peachtree Corners, I begin to mentally do the compare and contrast in my head.  It’s mostly contrast.Venn Diagram

Here’s what my head sounds like…

I love my brick house, but I’ve always wanted to live in a little frame house, too.

That silly crack in our garage isn’t going to be there to bug me anymore, but I wonder if living wrapped in asbestos shingles will be any less bothersome to my OCD self.

My closet now holds nearly four times the stuff that the new closet will hold. (Doug did the linear square feet…I love my accountant husband.)  Can I confidently say that only one in four pairs of my shoes are favorite-enough to make the cut? 

Our dog will love having a fenced yard. Now she hates going outside in the wide expanse of the front yard, where small dogs feel perpetually unsafe.

The QT will be so far away! Ahh, but the Farmers Market will be around the corner!

Suburban aesthetics are so soothing sometimes, so symmetrical and clean.  But in Clarkston, I get to exercise my quirkiest decorating whims because it’s “all good.”

I won’t keep going. That would be painful for you (and for me), but you get the picture.  There is much in the way of contrast going on.  I could be a photo lab for all of the contrasting images I’m sorting through.

So, my Venn has big, wide outside circles and a pretty skinny overlapping part. Let’s see, what’s inside that little wedge?

My kids will be there. (Good, because I thoroughly enjoy them, 85% of the time.)

I get to take my favorite books, my Burt’s Bees chap stick, my pillow, and my coffee pot.  Oh, and my desk.  I think I’ve figured out where my desk will go.  That’s real progress, folks.

The accountant husband will be there, and I’m totally fond of him.

And, not to spiritualize this silly English teacher exercise, but I am so thankful that Jesus promises that He is Immanuel in all situations.  All yards.  All closets.  All gas stations.  All garages or asbestos.  Always.

So, I think I’ll have to say that the compare part wins.  Thank you, Lord, that stuff really isn’t central.

Amen.

Emotional Motion Sickness

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I find myself emotionally car-sick these days.  When I was little, being motion sick in the car was a sure fire way to earn a seat in the middle of the back (on the “hump.”)  Not the most coveted seat in the car, but the one that allowed a steady view of the road in front of us as we drove.  The anti-venom for motion sickness is having something steady to focus on.  The problem was that my little brother got more car-sick than I did – like, he actually threw up, while I just turned green – so he was the one who scored middle seat status, while I craned my neck around my mom or dad’s head rest to see out the front of the car.  Families of seven require all sorts of compromise.

As a driver and mom, I’m the one at the wheel 85% of the time now.  When I’m not there, I’m riding shotgun next to my honey. (My favorite place, since that means we can visit, he’s got the responsibility, and I control the radio. J)  So, last weekend when we went to rural Florida for a family birthday and I rode in the back seat, I was surprised at the return of motion sickness.  The highway was fine, but as soon as we got off and started driving toward the country, I was having 9-year-old car trip flashbacks.  It’s embarrassing to have to ask your in-laws to stop the car, but wow did it feel good to walk around in the fresh air for a bit.

Life in our home has ramped up in the last month or so.  There is plenty to focus on and even more to FEEL:

The house is under contract. (Imagine sentimental impact and gratitude.)

The long awaited kitchen cabinets in the new house linger…and so does our move date, making it an ever-moving target and tough to plan for. (Imagine a control freak freaking out.)

There is a spring break Clarkston vision trip for some fun Wesleyan families in the works, mid March. (Imagine wanting it to go so well and planning for 17.)

Both teenagers have spring sports.  Did you know a Lacrosse team can cram 22 games into two months? Thank the Lord for only four track meets! (Imagine the food, calendar, laundry, and trips to school – your own life, probably.)

Our house has to be packed, sold, donated, stored, moved, and disposed of.  At least 4,000 extra square feet of stuff has to go somewhere. (Imagine the decisions.) (By the way, do you want some?)

Oh, and we both have jobs. (No imagination here…jobs are way too normal and necessary.)

That Gospel Prayer is continuing to roll over and over in my head.  I keep coming back to trust as so basic.  Do I trust Him?  Do I believe Him?  Do I believe HIM and not the system, my works, the earning, the effort, or the image?  Romans 1:17 says, “He who through faith is righteous shall LIVE.” Life.  Through faith.  That’s all. One steady gaze.

This month (well, most months) make me think that I can get said LIFE through a to do list, or a well planned series of meals, or a perfectly orchestrated day of events with a little Jesus thrown in.  Often this philosophy leaves me emotionally motion sick as my gaze shifts all over the place and my emotions sluggishly pull behind my gaze in a disorienting, stomach-rumbling sort of a way.

Life through faith.  Because His righteousness is accomplished and certain and mine is filthy and disorienting.  I’ve got to fix my eyes on Him, because He is enough, especially in the chaos.

Hebrews 12:2 says that we fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

He walked in faith.  He pioneered fixing His gaze.  He perfected faith because I cannot.

So, my prayer this month is that the distractions of this move would not cause me to be emotionally motion sick.  I pray that I would fix my gaze on Jesus and LIVE because of His pioneering faith.  Experience rest in the hard work rather than distraction in the chaos.  Through faith.

Sort of like riding shotgun with my honey.

A Five Year Walk

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She walked for five years.

A few weeks ago, we attended a meeting for volunteers of World Relief at church.  Our trainer was excellent, and had much wisdom to share about interacting with newly arrived refugee families.  She told many stories to illustrate her points, one of which yielded a refrain that has been rolling around in my head for days and days.

She walked for five years.

This refugee woman, of whom my new friend spoke, walked for five years before she reached a camp.

Can you imagine running from danger, leaving everything, fleeing pain, and then walking FOR FIVE YEARS?

I am an arriver.  This week is packed with necessary arrivals.  I need to arrive at the school (about 15 times, to be exact), at work (at least five times this week), at the bank, at the dry cleaners, at the dog groomers, at the grocery store, etc.  And, each time, I will arrive back at home, open the garage door, step in the kitchen, throw my things down on the desk, and take up the task of all of the mini arrivals within my home.  Arriving at the washer/dryer, arriving at the computer to catch up on emails, arriving at the sink, stove, and refrigerator to make a meal, arriving at the mailbox, arriving at the recycle bin, arriving (thank God!) in my bed, etc.

Really, I’m addicted to loops that close, I think.  To going and to coming.  To leaving and to arriving.  To asking and to answering.  To wondering and to knowing.  To seeing and to understanding.  To planning and to executing.  To wanting and to having.

The last month has felt a lot more like a dusty walk than a neat arrival.  My dad had unexpected quadruple bypass surgery.  I got an out of the blue job offer that was a gift and a crisis, all in one.  Our Clarkston building process has been all question and no answer.  We have an official driver in our home (if that doesn’t create open-ended fear, I don’t know what does!)

I keep thinking…

She walked for five years.

If four weeks of lack of closure has torn me down and eaten me up, what would five years do to a soul?

This morning, I read a sort of caustic assessment of American Christians, but it hit home.  “The problem with Christians is that they have the answer…but haven’t lived the question.” (Ron Austin, quoted by Winn Collier in Holy Curiosity)

Jesus made a habit of asking questions.  When he answered others’ questions, He often did so with confusing parables.  I’m not thinking He was sold on the incessant departure / arrival feedback loop to which I am apparently addicted.  I think He was probably more into the value of a five year walk.

Scripture, especially the Old Testament, is replete with beautiful promises of God planting His people in cities where they will flourish.  He says things like, “He turns a wilderness into pools of water, and dry land into water springs.  There He makes the hungry dwell, that they may establish a city for a dwelling place.” (Psalm 107:35-36)

I ache for those who walk and walk and never find a settled place.  I also ache for those of us who drive and park and pull in and out and never get much from the journey because we’re too focused on the next arrival.

Somehow, the grace of Christ is that He causes us all to dwell, to be established, to be planted, to come home

Thy Kingdom come.

 

His Kindness

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The Gospel…

Again…

Please, Lord, teach it to my heart and make me passionate for the real thing.

It’s my strengthening prayer as we move closer to a life-change where someone might actually ask me to give a reason “for the hope that is in me.”

I’m chicken-Christian, no doubt about it.

That whole older-brother (sister) thing is really frustrating.  There’s a verse in the Bible that says that she who is forgiven much, loves much.  Dang it.  I have lived my life in the whitewashed area of the planet / country / city / family, and deep forgiveness is startlingly hard to grasp.  How prideful is that?  Just being honest here…please withhold judgment unless you are a deeply forgiven whitewashed something or other.

Yesterday morning, we went running (jogging / walking / whatever).  Doug and I weren’t talking about deep heart things, but he made a terribly insightful comment that went to my core.  “When someone lies, they are creating an alternate reality for the other person to live in.  So, the other person is living by the rules of a reality that is not true.”

Whoa.  Satan is the father of lies.  I’ve always tended to think of those lies as one-off, temptation-laden, whispery, “eat the apple” kind of lies.  As I considered Doug’s comment, I realized that Satan’s big scheme is creating whole, complete, big-time false realities for us to inhabit.  We’re not usually living in them thinking, “Oh, I know this is a lie, but it feels good, so I’ll continue.”  We’re in there thinking, “This is it.  This is the real deal.  I’ve got to go all out here because it’s the honest framework of life, and I’m here to live it.”  We’re stuck in a whole reality that is not true.  You know, The Matrix. He’s a liar.

Romans 2:14 says the kindness of God leads me to repentance. Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” (At hand.  Right here.  Look up. Within the veil.)  It is precious to me to think that God’s kindness in Christ draws me into the light.  He brings me into Truth so that the framework of lies I’ve lived under is exposed as worthless and pointless.  He turns my heart toward His grace so that I can live on the other side of deception.  Live freely in the real Truth.  When His kindness leads me there, when I repent of believing a framework of lies, when He opens the door to a new way, through grace, then I find I am forgiven much.  Then I begin to love much. Then the gospel is His fountain in my heart.

Thank you, Lord, for your kindness that gives us hinds feet for the high places.  For showing us what’s real.  For altering our reality toward Truth.  For Your Jesus.

 

Orbiting the Fragile

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My first teaching job involved teaching 7th grade science.  Those poor kids!  I was 100% humanities trying to teach elementary physics.  When it came time to explain centripetal (centrifugal?…I don’t remember, honestly) force, I resorted to the salad spinner object lesson.  They had great fun swirling small objects inside my favorite kitchen tool. If you take the lid off in time, the detritus inside will fly all over the room. Yipee!

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Often, as I think about what it takes to be a mom, a wife, an employee, an American, a suburbanite, or a responsible member of the local pool, I feel like my sin looks like the salad spinner.  I am dizzily spinning around something that seems a lot like nothing, trusting that the constraints of life on the outside will hold me in my orbit.

Problem.  As Yeats lamented, “Things fall apart / The centre cannot hold.”

When I orbit in this way, there is eventual disintegration because the center is weak and the constraints are false.

Keller says that orbiting anything but God causes us to lose direction, to misunderstand our identity, and to experience isolation.  He says, “Spiritual darkness – turning away from God, the true light, and making anything more important than Him – leads invariably from disorientation to disintegration…We are all orbiting around something else.  And we’re all incapable of changing our orbit, because we inevitably, ultimately, seek to glorify ourselves instead of God.  So we are all on a trajectory toward a life of disintegration.” (King’s Cross, p. 205)

Sad.  Unless…

Unless Jesus.

When the gravitational pull of my idols becomes too weak or too strong; when things fall apart because the center has failed to hold; when the constraints fall away and I fly outward; then Jesus.

Those whiplash moments are His reminder to me that I am only safe, only held together, only home, and only in line with the Love and Laws of Heaven when I yield to Him.  When I acknowledge the brokenness of my gravitational toys and have faith in the power of His strong, centering grace, I am once again held together.  That center will always hold. Amen!

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in Him all tings were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17 (NIV)

“In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.” – Edward Mote

Today, where is my center?

Fitting under the Umbrella

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Last night, we had a friend over for dinner.  She lived with us for a year while she interned with the youth at our church, and she’s awesome.  One of those, “I hope my son marries someone like her someday” kind of young women.  Before dinner, we were chatting about life and love and the like, and she was sharing her feelings that sometimes she “doesn’t fit.”  She was referring to being single among the married, and I remember the feeling.  But, I also remembered the feeling from just a few hours earlier, too. Yesterday, as I drove home after work, I passed the line up of cars at the neighborhood swim meet.  My thought was “I don’t fit.”  I’m a non-swim team mom in a swim team neighborhood – I am not a mom whose kids are home all the time to even go to swim practice.  Custody gets in the way of so much – it hurts my kids, but it also feels like a rock in my own shoe.  Something doesn’t fit.

Isn’t that the lie that women all feel?  Perhaps my friends are all nuts, but I have had more conversations than I can count with friends who don’t feel like they fit – in one way or another.

Maybe that’s part of why I loved teaching high school so much and why I love refugee ministry so much.  Teenagers don’t fit.  Refugees don’t fit.  What we all feel on the inside is displayed on the outside in these two sub-groups.

I was so excited to find out from my friend that she is going to bring teenagers to Clarkston!  We’re going to hang out there next Friday with some youth who will help us do some work on the bungalow and visit with our new refugee friends from Somalia. Then, in July, we’re hopefully going to be able to do “block parties” at one of the complexes with some youth from our church, too.

As much as I am psyched about the individual opportunities to bring kids to Clarkston, I was encouraged by my friend’s heart…by what she sees in teenagers who serve.  She lit up when she shared about how much changes in kids when they serve.  She says that they change because they experience the gospel as good news, and she says they change because they realize that the people they are serving are just like them. Those who don’t fit become those who do fit.

So…I am encouraged by the gospel that helps us to see that we all don’t fit…and that we all do fit under the umbrella of the grace of Christ.  

Sign’s in the Yard

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Earlier this week, the sign went up in the yard.  Up until now, there have been a lot of scary things about our move to Clarkston, but this one has topped it all. It’s not so much scary due to the physical part of the move, or even the adjustment part of the move. It’s scary in a way that I’ll call the “backpack” way.

I’ve gotten to the bottom of my backpack of coping mechanisms (the contents are few: control, persistence, performance, humor, and People Magazine).  Having thrown out control a few weeks back and having let my subscription to People expire, I’m left with only a few ways to cope.  None of them is very promising.  Humor helps, but I’m finding that humor is too close to cynicism, which can border on bitterness, and that’s no good.  Persistence is important, but I’m not sure that going to Clarkston running on pure resolution is going to be very helpful in my relationships – old or new.  So, that leaves my very favorite old standby: performance.

I hate it.  It’s the auto pilot setting of my life.  It’s nasty in its ability to generate pride and fear simultaneously.  When it fails, it generates shame and depression.

The reason I’m so bummed that performance is still in my backpack has to do with my heart’s desire for our move to Clarkston.

You see, I don’t want it to be about me.  (I don’t even mean that in a humble sense right here.)  I mean I don’t want the me part to get in the way of the God part.  I don’t want my performance-self to kick in stronger and harder in a place that will only, only, only be redemptive and sweet if the grace of Jesus is the illuminating, energy generating force behind what we are doing.  In my wildest spiritual dreams, freedom would be losing the backpack altogether and finding that the gospel grace of Christ makes carrying a backpack totally unnecessary.  “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:25

When performance reigns, I go to bed at night measuring myself against the standard of the day, and then congratulating (cross averted) or crucifying myself.  This process yields pride or shame.  This belief that I’ll write the rules, measure myself against them, and then judge myself and pronounce a verdict is all a sinner’s attempt to circumvent God’s love, to get around the two most important words of faith: surrender and trust.  I think, too, that performance is my way of validating myself so that I won’t have to believe that God really loves me THAT much.  It’s a little like the old Rich Mullins song that says,

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy

I cannot find in my own

And it keeps His fire burning

To melt this heart of stone

Keeps me aching with a yearning

Keeps me glad to have been caught

In the reckless raging fury that they call the love of God.”

This morning, I took performance-girl to the real cross.  The one that matters.  She has been around my whole life, but I don’t think that I ever recognized that she needed to die in order for Jesus to live.  Call me dense, but I’m really not sure I’ve ever seen how prideful she is until just today.  I think I thought she was just a good mix of Sunday School and stewardship. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for being the author of furious love that melts stone hearts. When echoes of performance ring in my ears, please remind me that she’s been swept away by the reckless, raging love of Jesus.