Month: July 2014

The Body

The other night, in the middle of the night, Tijge came to lay by us. He kept tossing and turning, unable to get comfortable—until, that is, he found a cushiony spot on my not-so-flat-anymore belly. Always a source of insecurity for me, I’m ever conscious that my abs aren’t as tight or flat as they once were, let alone as much so as I’d love for them to be.

Lying there with Tijge, though, I was reminded of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12:18 and following. In that passage, he compared the Body of Christ to the human body, in which every part has an indispensable purpose (except for the appendix, perhaps). Specifically, he spoke of parts that were weaker, less honorable, and unpresentable.

I know what you’re thinking—Paul’s point was about fulfilling our role and calling within the Body of Christ. But, if the purpose of an analogy is to use something well understood to shed light on something less well understood, that suggests that the Christians in Paul’s day had a better grasp on the value and the function of the human body than we do now. We may know more about disease, diet, and exercise than they did. But we don’t see our bodies for either their God-ordained purposes or their inherent worth. Sometimes the parts of our physical bodies are called upon to serve painful, mundane, or seemingly undignified purposes. And then sometimes, they are called upon to serve as a pillow to cushion the head of a beautiful and perfect 3-year-old boy. And oh, how I cherish those times—and the “squishy parts” that make those memories possible.

1 Corinthians 12:18-27 

But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them,
just as he wanted them to be.
If they were all one part, where would the body be?
As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”
And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.
And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,
while our presentable parts need no special treatment.
But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,
so that there should be no division in the body,
but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it;
if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

 

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The Parable of the Cyclist

Proverbs 15:1
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” 

James 1:19-20
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

Our pastor recently described parables as earthly stories that point to heavenly things. So here’s a good one. Not long ago, I was driving down the road on a Sunday evening. The light was hitting the windshield just so, and producing a slight glare. And, as it turns out, I also had a small blind spot at the right front corner of my car. Well, I inadvertently missed and failed to yield to a cyclist. As soon as I saw him I stopped and tried to make an apologetic gesture.

But his first response was to greet me with, well, a non-apologetic gesture. Maybe his response was conditioned by countless intentionally negative encounters with motorists; or maybe the rider was used to looking for the bad in people, assuming the worst of intentions, and failing to offer the benefit of the doubt. Either way, I felt compassion for him—maybe because I could easily relate. My own focus is so often on the negative, and other people’s failures and shortcomings (and my own), that I look past the good—and assume the worst. I get easily offended, I respond defensively. I put up walls to keep people out.

I realized, as I looked upon the cyclist with a sense of pity—over all he was missing—that he was a mirror into my own heart. I saw how my suspicions of people’s actions and intentions, and my failure to give people the benefit of the doubt, robs ME of the blessing of seeing the good in them. If you can relate, perhaps you’ll join me in deliberately looking for the good in others—in order that we may bless them while being blessed ourselves. Finally, let’s remember the words of James (1:19-20), who admonished us all to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

#YOLO

Luke 12:19-21

“And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’” But God said to him, “You fool!
This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’”
So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

The kids these days have a saying—YOLO (you only live once). So, the way it works is: if you want to do something stupid or impulsive or dangerous, you just follow it up (or precede it) with, “YOLO” or “#YOLO” (if you’re into using hashtags). I’ve heard it used to justify everything from staying out late the night before a test to flying down a water slide head first.

Just this week I had my own version of a YOLO experience. You see, for many months, I’ve been thinking about incorporating bangs into my hairstyle. Now, in my case, the decision wasn’t impulsive. As I said, I’ve spent months deliberating—even agonizing—over it. I mean, what happens if I don’t like them, how long will it take them to grow out, and will my hair ever be the way it was again? I know, I know, it’s the epitome of a first-world problem. And for that reason, I decided to go ahead with it. It was a big deal for someone as risk averse as me. And the verdict’s still out on the outcome. I’m still getting used to my new look. (Stay tuned for pictures 🙂 )

The whole process go me thinking, though, surely there are more useful applications for this YOLO idea. Maybe we could apply it to decisions with more permanent, or even eternal, consequences.

  • Not sure if you should help someone in need? YOLO.
  • Nervous about sharing the Gospel with a stranger (with the leading of the Holy Spirit, of course)? YOLO.
  • Can’t decide if it’s worth sacrificing your personal time to spend a little more of it with your family? YOLO.

I’ll bet you have some ideas of your own to add to this list. Feel free to share them in a comment. And let’s get to living like we only live once! #YOLO

Beautiful Feet

Isaiah 52:7

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”

 It’s not often that I wear slip-on shoes to church (they don’t provide enough support—but that’s a story for another post), but whenever I do, I find myself tempted to slip them off during worship—and sometimes I give in to the temptation. This practice hearkens back to a message I once heard in the company of a group of high school kids on a church retreat. The worship leader had everyone take their socks and shoes off upon entering the room. Why? He said it was because we were, just as Moses was so long ago, standing on holy ground.

That made sense, although it was a fresh revelation for everyone in the room. And besides that, I think a number of us were a bit uncomfortable with the idea. It occurs to me now that the reason for this sense of awkwardness may have been the built-in sense of humility. Unless you’re a foot model, you can probably identify some source of dissatisfaction associated with your feet: too small; too fat; high arches; flat feet; bunions, blisters, warts; and the list goes on. Feet are by and large dirty, deformed, afflicted, misshapen—in a word, ugly.

I, personally, think that this sense of humility goes all the way back to the Bible days, and not just to Moses’ encounter with God’s holy presence (Exodus 3:5). Think about Jesus’ act of servant leadership in the washing of the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). They were mortified at the thought. And they were humbled by Christ’s act of humility.

In spite of all of this, I also think of Isaiah 52:7, which says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” Implied in this promise, I believe, is the humble spirit in which we are to bring the Good News—not of ourselves or for our own glory; but on behalf of the one whose Spirit we possess. And when we do, God does something amazing. He makes the ugly beautiful. So here’s to you—may you go forward on beautiful feet! 

Little Minutes

Psalm 39:4-5

“LORD, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days;
Let me know how transient I am. Behold, you have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.”

As I was lying in the hotel bed with Tijge, he took my hand and held it as he drifted off to sleep. I was reminded of a habit that we had briefly gotten into a few weeks before. He would lay down and go to sleep, only to wake up at around midnight—at which point, he would sweetly ask, “You want to lay by me a little minutes?” Of course I do. Well, invariably, I would fall asleep and end up spending the rest of the night with him.

At one point, Chris expressed concern that this might get to be too much of a habit. Probably, I reasoned inwardly, but then I thought about the day that would no doubt come—sooner rather than later—when I would no longer be able to comfort him; when I wouldn’t be “cool” enough to be seen with, let alone to lay or snuggle with. And then I will miss these nights, and I won’t remember the midnight wake-up call, or his tossing and turning, or my stiff back and neck. I will only, and very fondly, remember those few extra minutes with him each night.

Little minutes, indeed.

Soar!

I had a couple of other posts in mind for today, but in light of the glider ride I took yesterday (a Groundhog Day present from my wonderful husband), I felt like this post (written on May 20th of this year) would be apropos. The others will just have to wait for another week. I hope you enjoy this one, and that each of you have a wonderful holiday weekend.

DSC03331

As I sit writing on a sunny, 80-degree day, with birds chirping and calling to one another overhead, I’m reminded of a recent exchange with Tijge. I was pointing to a bird soaring in the sky, excitedly telling him to watch. I surprised myself with my own fascination.

To understand why, you have to understand how I generally feel about birds. I laughed and adopted a friend’s sentiment once, when she said that “birds are nothing more than flying rats.” I’ve been saying it ever since, and trying to teach Tijge to recite the same description (much to his dad’s dismay). So far, “birds are dirty” is as far as he will go with that. But honestly, for me, it isn’t just birds. It’s any living, flying thing. So bats, butterflies, other flying insects—they all creep me out.

But, in a departure from this general policy, I love birds of prey. Why? I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because they don’t fly. And now you’re saying to yourself, “What?!” But they don’t. Tell me, when was the last time you saw a hawk or an eagle flapping its wings frantically and helplessly in a strong wind? Have you ever? Probably not. And it’s because they love the wind and have learned how to harness its power. According to Google, the word soar means to “maintain height in the air without flapping wings or using engine power.”

And just like the birds of prey that I find so fascinating, I want to soar. And Isaiah 40:31 says that I can. It says that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” So hope in the Lord, renew your strength, and SOAR!