I have no sense of direction whatsoever. If we are ever on a road trip together and I feel like we are supposed to go right, you should almost certainly go left. If I could ask anything of the Lord, anything at all….it probably would not be for a sense of direction, but it might make the top ten. Just in case my maps app quits working.
My bible is falling to bits. I purchased it my first semester of graduate school in 2009, my very first NRSV. It journeyed with through my years at Nazarene Theological Seminary. It went with me to my first parish in rural Missouri. It made the arduous trip to Idaho during a particularly frigied and snowy December in 2014. I’ve already reattached the cover (upside down interestingly enough) but even that fix is failing. But the thought of buying a new one brings me to tears. Why? Because in the margins are date after date, moments in time where God spoke to me through a specific text. There are notes here and there, prayers scrawled up the page, underlines in every pen color. To flip through the pages of my raggedy bible is to bear witness to God’s faithfulness to me this past decade.
A few weeks ago, I accidently tore a tiny piece of cuticle on my fingertip. It wasn’t a big deal, just a little sore and red. A couple days later, I noticed that the tear didn’t seem to be healing. In fact, the pain had increased the red had deepened. Almost a week after the minor injury, when it should have been long since healed, I noticed the color had changed from red to greenish white. Somehow, the tiny wound had become infected. A minor surgery (aka a poke with a very clean needle), the infection came out. Within days, my finger was back to normal.
When I read Luke 13:18-21, the hidden power of small things has always captured my imagination. A tiny little seed grows into a tree that provides protection for the birds. The itsy bitsy amount of yeast infiltrates the large amount of dough that makes way for delicious bread. God can use the smallest of things in our world to bring about something grand and good. Jesus declares this is what the Kingdom of God is like, so let’s not underestimate what God can do.
Do you find it uneasy or reassuring that someone knows EVERYTHING about you?
We live in a society where almost everything is put out there on social media about us – pictures of our favorite food, vacationing with family and friends, our best and worst days, rants and raves alike. But, do those things represent the best of who God desires us to be?
The town I grew up in had a rough reputation. While there were legitimate reasons for the reputation, like most reputations it wasn’t entirely fair. Our high school rivals had quite a different reputation. Manhattan was wealthy, a university town, and much less diverse. The tension between our schools went beyond the typical “our team is better than yours.” They often threw racial and socioeconomic slurs our way. Once at a choir competition, a student from Manhattan approached me. His flirtatious intentions were clear. However, once he learned where I was from his face shifted from a slick, flirty grin to a sneering, condescending smirk. I was not remotely interested in his advances, and yet his “us vs. them” attitude and air of superiority made me feel both angry and inexplicably ashamed.
On any given day, you can read the news and learn of horrific atrocities around the world. Natural disasters wipe out entire towns or cities. A despotic leader oppresses a group of people, sometimes to the point of death. The “why” isn’t always clear. When I was a sophomore in college, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. At that time, no one knew how extensive the damage was or how long recovery would take. I heard multiple leaders claiming to speak for God who declared the disaster to be a curse from God for the sins of that city. One went to far as to show a map of the devastation and assert that the because the damaged area was shaped like a newborn baby (in his mind’s eye anyway), the disaster was a judgment on abortion.
Ghosting. I don’t know if the trend is new or if we just have a trendy new way of talking about a long-standing relationship issue. A person is described as “getting ghosted” when a person she or he believed to be their friend stops reciprocating the relationship with no indication of why or for how long. Texts go unanswered. Calls ignored. Mutual social gatherings avoided. More often than not, “ghosting” is an emotionally immature response to an anxiety-inducing conversation about something gone awry in the relationship.
The college I attended had beautifully manicured lawns. The grass was thick and soft. Perfect sidewalks bordered the grass. And yet…at almost every turn in the sidewalk, there was a small arc of dead grass where students (including me!) literally cut corners on the way to class. What probably began as someone running late to class and running through the corners of grass instead of staying on the path became a habit, one that everyone else followed. The result? Strips of dead grass scattered around campus, standing testaments to the human tendency to take the easy way.
When our kids were four and one, we decided to take them on a short hike. And by short, I mean less than half a mile. But somehow, we ended up on the wrong trail. We ended up hiking well over two miles under the blazing sun of an Idaho summer. Even as we sang songs and looked for lizards to distract our increasingly red-faced kiddos, my heart beat fast with worry. Water! We need water! I rarely give a second thought to hydration (much to my husband’s annoyance), but in that moment, with the heat rising and the dust billowing, water and our need for it consumed every thought!