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The Book Thief
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
On Gold Mountain
Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
The Distant Land of My Father
The Paris Wife
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Fall of Giants
World Without End
A Stolen Life
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
The Pillars of the Earth
Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
The Road
Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Cutting for Stone

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Entries in Certainty (2)


become small

D sat before me an incredibly beautiful 40 something year old woman with track marks littering her arms. She had come into the clinic to be followed for a hepatitis C infection she contracted while shooting up heroin. She said she knew something was wrong because she no longer felt the effects of her pain meds. See, she has chronic pain. The damage to her liver prevented her pain killers from having an effect anymore. She said to me, “Have you ever known something in your gut yet you didn’t want to know the truth?” Her eyes, dim and tired, bore straight through me. “Yes,” I answered. Yes I have.

On Sunday we (at Fellowship Bible Church) looked at a beautiful passage of Scripture, Luke 9:37-50. This tale takes us from the Transfiguration where Jesus is seen by James, John and Peter chatting it up with Moses and Elijah and spits us out at an argument among the disciples about who is the greatest. In the middle of this saga, Jesus tells the disciples that he is going to be betrayed. They don’t want to know the truth. They can’t handle the truth as Jack Nickolson so eloquently shouted in the courtroom during the movie A Few Good Men.

One of the ways the disciples avoid the truth is by comparing and arguing about who is the greatest. Wow. Toddler-like. And yet, I am like Peter. I just want to build a shelter on the mountain and stay there. But we must come down to the reality of this fallen world. This is where it gets hard. Can I stay present? 

I would judge D with her scarred and hardened veins except for the fact that I get what she has done. In fact, I have done it myself. I have not shot up heroin. But I have used the Word of God - I have used religion - as so much heroin. I have split theological hairs to avoid the darkness of my own heart. I have spouted verses like quick fixes. I have used the Bible as a self-help manual instead of a collection of stories to lead me into the Throne Room of the Present.

How does Jesus handle his disciples, his friends? How does He handle D with her broken liver? How does He handle me with my “big religion?” By bringing a child to His side and saying, “Whoever accepts this child as if the child were me, accepts me. And whoever accepts me, accepts the One who sent me. You become great by accepting, not asserting. Your spirit, not your size, makes the difference.” (Luke 9:48)

See, he knew the disciples puffed up because they were feeling rather small and afraid. And he wanted them to know that it’s ok to feel small, vulnerable. In fact, that is where life is at: remaining vulnerable and undefended in this present fallen world and letting God take up our defense. He hung out with drunks, prostitutes and gluttons because they knew they were broken. The Pharisees hid their brokenness. He called them “white-washed tombs.” 

I don’t have to assert myself and become puffed up and big because the Greatest Man in the Universe became small and died so that I might live. Jesus says, “Become more by becoming less. Accept the least of these and accept Me.”

I only have access to the Spirit in This Present Moment. Can I be aware instead of asserting myself? Can I accept the least of these? Can I understand that the least of these lives in me? When I accept her, I can give grace more freely and genuinely to others.

Recently I have had to look at an argumentative side of me. I had to accept that I still carry around quite a bit of guilt. As I lay the guilt down and acknowledge my powerlessness, God’s Spirit rests on my spirit. I can accept my smallness and know that He is Big Enough. I can be generous in spirit. 

I don’t have to assert, just accept.

I’m so grateful the Word of God includes stories of confused and hardened men who brushed shoulders with Jesus and had their shells blown off. I can hardly follow this story with all its twists and turns! But this I can get...

Treasure and ponder these words! (Luke 9:44)

I will treasure them. I will muse.


Three Things I Know

The other day at church Lloyd, my pastor, asked us to make a list of the things we know “for sure.” Enlightened, I recalled our return from Honduras when I had understood that I knew so little for sure. In those early weeks we were grieving the loss of our home, our identity, our sons, our livelihood. I sometimes repeated this refrain in the recesses of my heart: I know so little for sure, like 3 things. 

  1. Jesus is the Son of God.
  2. He died on a cross for my sins and arose from the grave.
  3. He’s coming back one day for me, His bride.

I looked at this as the glass half empty. I only know three things for sure. 

As Lloyd preached, the fruit of the last four years caught my eye. Knowing three things for sure is more like a glass half full. I KNOW THESE THREE FOR SURE. As we traversed the next few years of grief, these three things lay on the ground before me like living stone steps. Put your foot here. Avoid that mud. Walk in this place. Balance. Yes. Forward. Now, the other foot. OK. You can take another step.

The truth on the ground before me, solid and unmoving, outlined a path forward out of the ruins. 

Gratitude wells up in my soul. Lord, Thank you for giving me 3 things to wrap my decimated life around. I look back on that time now with hope and trust. At the time, though, I had very little hope and I had almost no trust. I had ONLY the three stones beckoning me forward. 

Whenever I have this word - ONLY - in combination with Jesus, I have an abundance.