To Change the World With My Own Two Feet: Guest Post from Jessie Buttram

I am excited to welcome my wise and snarky friend Jessie Buttram to the blog today.  Jessie not only has maybe the best twitter handle of all time –@jbuttwhatwhat – but she writes with humility and conviction about her search to love and follow Jesus. She is committed to her family, her friends, her church and to living a life of authentic and committed faith in the real world.  

And if that isn’t enough, she was also smart enough to delete Facebook off her phone during Election Season. 

I asked Jessie to write for the blog about whatever she wanted, because whenever she writes, grace and faith and challenge and hope come bursting through with trademark honesty, compassion and wit. And in the midst of a tumultuous season of life, what she has to say is an important and a good word – God is faithful and invites us to participate in that faithfulness by moving our feet and getting to work. 

You can read more of what she’s up to at https://meetthebuttrams.com

Enjoy!

 

jessie-buttram-2So God and I have had a recent COME APART that has also turned into a COME TO JESUS. But before I let you start thinking more highly about my relationship with the Almighty, I’ve got to shoot straight. I don’t know or love God very well at all.

I’ve (haphazardly) followed His teachings for most of my life, I write (I think) eloquent prayers in fancy journals, I dig (in varying levels of depth) into His holy word. But there has always been a little bit of ill fit to my faith. Mostly because I need to know ALL THE THINGS and God just isn’t quite small enough to fit neatly in my brain. So when I say God and I had a COME APART, I really mean for once I shut up long enough to hear that still, small voice stir His Holy Spirit in me and breathe a living truth in my life from the ancient texts. (No big deal.)

These past couple of weeks, I have been reading through the book of Joshua with the online community She Reads Truth, and YOU GUYS. Joshua is a NOT FUN book. Outside of the pretty memory verse take-aways (24:15, anyone?), Joshua is actually a bloody, brutal book recounting battle after battle as Israel claimed their inheritance. And without the Holy Spirit nudging (or downright shoving) REAL LIFE TRUTH my way, I probably would have one, two, skipped a few and found my way back to 1 Corinthians or so. Right? Right.

But thankfully I kept on, mostly because I like to complete things, but also because SURELY there was something good to gather up from the Promised Land.

One place I landed and just couldn’t shake the dust from my heart was in Joshua 7. After yet another direct disobedience (which I know NOTHING about, ahemcoughwink), God withdraws His favor from Israel and they lose a key battle. Joshua laments to God, begging for God to keep His promise despite his people’s unfaithfulness, and he pleads with God (verse 9), “What then will you do for your own great name?”

What then will YOU do for YOUR OWN great name?

(Once more with feeling.)

Here’s the thing: I tend to think pretty highly of myself. I mostly keep the house from falling apart. I get my kids to their various activities every day. I can write. I’m pretty smart. I’m usually punctual. So I tend to fall into the trap of asking myself, “Self, what can I do for God today?” And also its counterpart, “Self, what if I DON’T do this for God today?”

Dear Heavenly Father, what can I, a suburban mom and wife who easily forgets a third of what’s on my mental grocery list, do for You, O Creator and King of this GIANT EXPANDING UNIVERSE?

(I am convinced God has a SUPERB sense of humor, if only because He has suffered through my teenage self’s prayer journals.)

MY FRIENDS. I will be the last person to admit there is a DEEP arrogance to these questions cloaked conveniently in humility and self-sacrifice. AS IF the changing of the world is even a little bit up to me.

For most of my life, I have studied this God, some days more closely than others. And I know and have seen too much not to believe He is constantly at work in this world. I know He is far more in love with this world than I could ever be. I know He is far, far more interested in the eternal souls walking this cursed ground. I know He is infinitely more brokenhearted over the things that move me to tears.

To think, with any degree of believability, my action (or inaction) has any true bearing on God’s ultimate Good Plan to redeem the whole world is small-minded at best. God will do what it takes to restore this whole world to wholeness and holiness. TRUST, with or without me, with or without the gifts I think I need to bestow upon the waiting world, God has and is and will redeem His beloved creation.

BUT.

(Yep.)

What a kindness God has shown us, not just that He would redeem you and me (as if that weren’t enough), but that He would invite you and me to work alongside Him to redeem the rest of this hurting, broken world.

What a kindness God shows us when He calls us into His ultimate Good Plan, not because He is insufficient but because He is far more sufficient than we could ever fathom.

His grace is far more sufficient than we can ever lap up.

His mercy is far more sufficient than we can ever exhaust.

His eager, reckless, irrational love for you and me and this whole wild world is far more sufficient than we can ever, ever earn.

God FOR SURE doesn’t need us to ask Him what we can do for Him. Instead, God wants us to follow Him in the great work He is already doing in this world. He wants us to join Him, to pull up a front row seat to the redemption He is unleashing on this world. God wants us to ask Him, “What will You do for Your own great name?” and watch as He blows our minds away.

God, in His infinite kindness, beckons us nearer, “Let’s do this together.”

 

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Living With Grace: A Sermon on Labor, Salary and a Generous Owner

I thought about beginning this morning with a story about a game.  It was a game with two teams. One that came to play at the beginning, played hard, worked hard, and did everything they could, played almost as well as they could possibly play.

And then there was another team, a team that apparently forgot what time the game started, played terribly and then finally decided to begin playing near the end. And some how, some way, mostly because they had an adequate kicker, the second team won.  That’s grace -getting better than what you deserve.

Today’s Scripture passage, which we’ll get to in a minute, is really a passage about two ideas, two concepts, two understandings of life that shape us and matter to us, and that really get us riled up – fairness and grace.  We’ll get to grace later, we’re in church after all, but I want to begin with what’s fair.

As a child I remember one of the things I said over and over again when I didn’t like what was happening I would often say it, and I imagine many of you did too – that’s not fair!  And my dad, in his wisdom and sympathy, usually had a quick rejoinder – well guess what, life isn’t fair! This story probably explains a lot why I am the way I am.

And we know that’s true, don’t we?

Fairness isn’t just something kids talk about it.  It’s at the heart of how we think about work and family and politics and everything else – I work so I should get what I worked for – that’s only fair.  The system is rigged against those who aren’t rich and who aren’t wealthy – so how are we going to change so everybody gets a fair shot.  Most elections are fought over those two arguments. It’s about what’s fair, what’s just and how can we build a city, a community, a state and a nation based on our ideals.

And you know that Jesus talked an awful lot about fairness.  Many of his most well known stories center around the intersection between fairness and grace. It’s right there in the Prodigal Son, maybe the most famous one of all – it isn’t fair, the older son complains, that his dad throws a huge party for the younger one, you know the one who left them and spent his money on drinking and prostitutes and only came back because he was tired of cleaning hog slop. Our inherent compass of fairness is why some of us struggle with the Old Testament – how is it fair that God blesses the Israelites while cursing the Egyptians – the plague of the first born is celebrated when your an Israelite, when your an Egyptian who lost a generation of kids, well that’s a much different deal isn’t it?

So, it shouldn’t surprise as we gather, at least a few of us anyway, on Labor Day weekend, that we come to hear Jesus tell a story that seems to be about labor and management, hiring and pay, generosity and capitalism, but is really about this old argument – what’s fair and what is the place of grace.

The Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus begins, is like a landowner going to Lowes to hire workers on a scorching hot day. And you know how this goes – don’t you, the landowners hires some in the morning – they are confident enough that they try to negotiate a fee. He went about lunchtime and then in the mid-afternoon and he did the same – he hired folks who were waiting for a job.  He didn’t tell them what they would pay – only that he would pay them whatever is right.  In the story he comes back around 5, too – we don’t know if he needed more workers or he knew people needed work, and so he came and he picked them up and he said – go to work. They didn’t ask the wage, they didn’t bother to negotiate, they were just thrilled to have a little work and hoping they might get a little something out of it for their day of mostly sitting and waiting.

And as we hear this story, our expectations aren’t probably much different than the ones who heard it the first time. The ones who worked the longest will get the most pay, the ones who worked least the less. That’s the way it’s supposed to work, right?  That’s what’s fair.

Imagine people working outside all day in the heat we’ve had this summer, maybe on a roof, and you can get why the workers who had been there the longest were certainly counting on this kind of pay structure.

The landowner got his manager and he told him to pay the people, but start with the ones who showed up last. He gave them a day’s wage – what generosity – work a little, get paid enough. And he did the same for the ones at 3 and the ones who got there at noon.  The ones who had been there all day were counting on a bonus -and guess what they didn’t get it. They got a day’s wage, what was right by custom and general agreement, but watching that the others got the same – they weren’t happy.  There’s a couple of stronger words that probably describe how they were feeling, but we’re in church and well you know. They weren’t happy, and they let the landowner know about it.

This wasn’t fair. This wasn’t right. This isn’t the way the world is supposed to work. You work hard, you get rewarded. You don’t work hard, you don’t. We worked all day and got nothing for it.  We should have shown up at 5 -because you know what really made them mad – listen to the line of Scripture – what’s up with that – you have made them equal with us. We didn’t work the same, didn’t put in the same amount of time, nothing about our work was equal, only thing equal was the pay.

The landowner replied: “Did you get a day’s wage, would you have taken at the beginning of the day?  You would have. You aren’t mad at the amount you got, you’re mad the others got the same as you.  Are you envious because I am generous?”

Grace, Don Ferguson reminded us a couple of weeks ago, is always controversial when its lived out.  It’s equally controversial when its given to the people we don’t think deserve it. Grace, my friends, is never nice and sweet. It always comes with an edge, always pokes us, always reminds us that it is for the people who don’t deserve it.

Most of us think of ourselves like the workers who worked all day don’t we?  We think that we get what we deserve while God’s generosity to others is too much.  That’s why we get mad sometimes. That’s why we draw lines that God doesn’t. That’s why church people can be more judgmental than anyone. That’s why instead of celebrating we become skeptical of people who come to faith late. Instead of rejoicing at hospital room conversions, like God does, we roll our eyes or make a snide remark.  There might be an envelope waiting for them, but it better not have as much as the one that’s waiting for me.

It reminds me of a quote from a book I read a long time ago, in college, when I was first coming to faith.  I wasn’t like a lot of our youth here who have come to faith in Christ at a young age – it took a little longer for me. Max Lucado, many of you have probably read some of his books, wrote a book called In the Grip of Grace. In the book, he writes about the conversion of a serial killer whose name should be familiar to those of us of a certain age – Jeffrey Dahmer – and how news of that conversion made him feel. Listen to his honesty.

“Can I tell you what troubles me most about Jeffrey Dahmer? Not his trial – no sign of remorse, no hint of regret. Not his punishment. His conversion

Months before an inmate murdered him, Jeffrey Dahmer became a Christian. Said he reprinted. Was sorry for what he did. Profoundly sorry. Said he put his trust in Christ. Was baptized. Started life over. Began reading Christian books and attending chapel. Sins washed. Souls cleansed. Past forgiven. That troubles me. It shouldn’t, but it does.”

The truth, of course, for you and me and all of us, is that grace is never bad news, it’s never something to sneer at. We’re more like the workers who showed up at 5 and received the landowner’s generosity than we are the people who showed up at 9 and earned their money.

When I take an honest look at myself, my life, my faithfulness, my relationship with Christ, it’s a lot easier for me to fathom the relief, being overwhelmed with thanksgiving, of knowing that I don’t deserve all that I’ve been given, of being able to look back at my life and see all the ways that all of it has been grace.  So many times God saved me from myself. So many times I could have easily gone another way and something, some force, some person that I didn’t even know was saying don’t go that way, go this way.  We are all, as the writer Micha Boyett puts it, being written by a generous author.

I imagine I’m not the only one who has come to know this. Thank God we don’t get what we deserve. Seriously.

Fairness isn’t what we want, in the end, is it – to be judged for what we’ve done, to be evaluated by how well we’ve loved our neighbors, to have our merit, particularly in outraged America, be based on how we loved those who are different, how we treated people who don’t see the world the same way we do.

We might work all day, but most of the day we tend to work more against the ways of God than for them, don’t we? Most of the day we work on being right a whole lot more than we do on being righteous. Most of the time our relationship with God is the last thing on our minds.  Most of the time when we come to pray at night, if we’re honest, we’ve got a whole lot more to confess than we do to offer to God.  While we see ourselves as the older brother our lives are a whole lot more like the younger one. Our work for God is more the amount of the one who showed up at 5 than the one who had been there all day.

Grace – it’s summed up in verse 12 – it makes us equal. God is so generous that God has made us equal.

God has overlooked all the ways we’ve been asleep and made us alive in Christ. God has made us equal -heirs to the promise, sons and daughters of the creator and redeemer of the universe. God has made us equal – failing to see all the marks we’ve made against ourselves, instead seeing only the beautiful one that God has redeemed.  God has made you equal, more than you deserve, more than you could ever earn. God doesn’t care what time you show up, just as long as you get there.

When you come to the end of that day, because God came and picked you up, there’s going to be an envelope – and when you tear that sucker open, whether you’ve been faithful a long time or a little, where you’ve known without a doubt or barely held on while being assailed by your doubts, whether you’ve given everything for Jesus or whether following Jesus was something you struggled to do but did the best you can, you’re going to receive something way more than what is right.  For you are going to be made equal – you are going to be given not what you’ve earned, not what you deserve, but you are going to be given an inheritance that you could never make for yourself.

So, yeah grace isn’t fair. Grace says that no matter who you are, what you’ve done, how short you’ve fallen, God never closes the door. My friends, if you know what that feels like this morning, if you’ve never grasped the Gospel before today, if you aren’t sure what church and faith and Jesus and the Gospel is about – this is it – God isn’t fair. God is generous.

And in God’s accounting, there is always room, plenty of good room, for you, for me, for us all.  You can have fair. Give me grace. Every single day. I’m taking it to the bank.

Amen.

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Beyond Rage: Learning to Pray When The World Makes You Furious 

If you aren’t angry, you aren’t paying attention. 

It’s a cliché of course, one of those tired phrases that appear again and again when the times merit it.  But clichés keep showing up becuase they feel true. And as we approach the end of a summer that has been hot in too many ways, it feels especially true right now. 

It doesn’t require much searching to discover we’ve had plenty to be angry about. It’s been a summer of loss – some of it fueled by prejudice, some of it enabled by our unwillingness to risk our comfort by living our convictions, but all of it heartbreaking. 

It’s been a summer of anger – seen in the way we yell past each other, in the way we demand that everyone has it easier than we do, but most clearly epitomized in the depressing political moment we are living through that falls so short of our ideals.  

It’s been a summer of rage – in cities and in the country, from the young and the old, revealing the disaster that visits you when we continue to treat one another as though none of us have been created, loved and redeemed by a generous God. 

And for many of us, regardless of what side of the debate of the moment we find ourselves stuck in, it’s been a summer of throwing up our hands and wanting to give up. The fear is too much, the hate too entrenched, the anxiety-fueled sin surpassing our capacity to slow it down. 

All of it makes us feel powerless, and even worse, hopeless – like anything we might do would be as effective as harmlessly chucking a pebble into a full-throated hurricane only growing more powerful. 

Returning to Prayer School

The first place I normally turn in my devotional life is to the letters of Paul – he’s practical, he’s blunt and he is always willing to pick a fight.  In some ways he is perfect for this moment. But when I know I need help – and especially when I need help figuring out how or what to pray – I turn to the Psalms.  

In the midst of a hot and hateful summer, that’s where I’ve settled in – allowing the writers and teachers in the Psalms to have their way again. All this anger, violence, yelling and destruction has made it hard to pray. Racial and class divides that are terrorizing people I care about have made it hard to know what to ask God to do. The spirit and divisions in my own denomination have left me feeling frustrated and depressed. Overwhelmed by our inability to listen to one another, frustrated by my own complicity in it all, angry at the way things are and unsure about how to live into my own call to be an ambassador of light in a country gripped by the darkness, I’ve needed the wisdom found in these old prayers. 

And so the Psalms have been teaching me that faithful prayer doesn’t hide these emotions but instead trusts God with all of them. The prayers of the faithful are shockingly transparent – their pain from feeling abandoned, their frustrations with their leaders (both political and religious) and the anger that is festering within them as they keep waiting for God to show up. Nothing is hidden from the Almighty. 

They can pray these honest prayers because they believe no emotion has the power to separate them from God’s love and compassion. Their prayers flow from their trust in God to handle it all – God can deal with their rage, can take on their anger, and is strong enough to handle any accusation that comes from their need for things to be made right. 

Their honesty with God isn’t an obstacle to faithfulness but instead a pathway to it.  Indeed, the Psalmists know that when kept to ourselves the emotions have the power to destroy us, but liberation comes when we release them to God. 

The Psalmists don’t share their lives simply to complain to God,  but because they believe God can and will act. The Psalms live in a world in which God is acting as the decisive force in the world that God created and for the people God loves. 

The Psalms are prayed with the conviction that God cares about the world, participates in it and is not neutral about what happens. They put their hope in the truth that God is working and will continue to work for the faithful, that God is on the side of the poor and those who are struggling, and that when God gets involves everything can change.

As Walter Brueggemann writes in Praying the Psalms, “The God of the Bible is never neutral, objective, indifferent or simply balancing things. The world is not on its own.”

In some instances these prayers are simply demands for God to start acting like it.

These prayers are teaching me to refuse the temptation to pray safe, resigned prayers that ignore the trouble we’ve seen.  No, instead I am learning again to pray honest prayers that flow from the knowledge that we pray to a God who hasn’t abandoned us. 

Prayers shape by the wisdom of these teachers are prayers of bold trust in a God who is with us, a God who takes sides, and a God who is working to close the gap between the way things are and the way they should be. 

So, how should we pray in a world that doesn’t appear to be cooling off any time soon? How do we speak to a God whose world sometimes appears to be being pulled apart at the edges? What do we share with God when the grief has rendered us speechless?

Say what we mean, mean what we say, and trust that God cares and is going to do something about it. 

“Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray. But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread you protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.”  Psalm 5:2, 11

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The Church Beyond Anxiety

We live in anxious times.  

It doesn’t take a keen observer of the news to feel it.  It is always there during an election, but it feels more acute this time. The stakes are so high, it seems, that Canada is already offering a new home for the losing side.  If you have to go somewhere, there are worst places. 

As someone who spends most of my waking hours either at a church, reading about church, thinking or writing about what it means to be the church, all this feeling of anxiety isn’t unfamiliar. 

It flows from our fear – the fear of what we can’t control or predict, the fear that the ground beneath us is shifting, the fear that the ground might not be what we thought it was or what it always has been. 

It is, in fact, more than a feeling. It is reality. The ground on which we stand is shifting. What were once our strengths we now experience as liabilities. We don’t have the same influence we used to, even here in the Bible Belt. The institutions and structures we created to enable ministry have become burdens and obstacles to continuing it. Our experience isn’t the answer because the culture and church where we gained it no longer exist apart from our memories. 

The shifting landscape means we aren’t sure where we are headed and what exactly we should do.  The only thing we are certain of is that we don’t like uncertainty. 

I was struck last week at how friends from another denomination were reporting on the exact same arguments and frustrations and battles at their annual meeting as we did at ours a couple of months ago. Different names on the signs and different meeting places, but the same divisions, the same heartbreak, the same falling short of the city of God. 

When it comes the church, anxiety is a universal experience. 

The Antidote

The uncertainty tempts us to seek our salvation in new strategies and well researched plans – a third way, a new approach, a call to action, a way forward, you’ve heard them all. But a surplus of plans and consultants hasn’t released us from the prison of anxiety and uncertainty. 

That’s because the antidote to the problems isn’t a new strategy – it is faithfulness. The firm foundation we are looking for in the midst of uncertainty won’t come from marketing slogans or complicated plans.  Instead, it is found where it always has been – in answering Jesus’ call to follow.  The call to fidelity is the call that created the church and it is the call that will see the church through.

The way beyond fear is no more and no less than the Way and the pattern of life that Jesus handed down to us.  It is found in worship that reorients our life by centering it in God, in spiritual formation that reminds us that everything we have is a gift and in working to make the world more just and more like God envisions it.  It is acting from our core conviction that everyone was created in the Image of God and it is living by grace that in the best times and in the worst times God is with us.  

It is the Way that prevents us from chasing lesser things and it is the Way that enables us to stay true to our purpose and calling.  It is the Way that reminds us of why we actually exist in the first place – to bear witness to God’s love, to make the world a better place for all of God’s children, to enjoy a community where everyone can find and use the gifts God has given them and to help one another live lives that look more like the life Jesus lived and the one he envisions for us. 

We find our way in this complicated time for the Church by living into the rhythms of these convictions – the Way and the pattern of life shaped by gift and responsibility, by confession and forgiveness, by absolution and reconciliation, by salvation through faith  and membership in God’s beloved community. 

Make no mistake, this Way isn’t easy.  It requires a trust and a radical commitment in the victory of God.  But why not – don’t we say that the church is of God and give our lives in the promise that the church, the bride of Christ, will be persevered until the end of time? 

It’s probably unrealistic to think that the anxiety we live with in the church is going away any time soon.  As dramatic as this might seem, the culture will shift again – there will be new challenges and more obstacles, new uncertainties and more chances to live in fear.  

But the way forward is the same as it always been, and it begins with answering a charge – Follow Me.  

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Ways Off the Path: When The Box Isn’t Big Enough

(Note: This is the third in my Lent series, Ways Off the Path, on some of the ways we can fall of the path and get separated with God.  You can find a link to earlier posts in this series at the bottom of the page.)

One of the easiest ways we veer off the path of faithfulness and experience a much more shallow life with God than the one we have been created for is by creating God in our own image.

We’ve seen it on full display in this election cycle, with candidates of all stripes justifying their behavior through divine sanction. Unfortunately, making the God of the Bible into a safe and predictable God who endorses the things we endorse and hates the people we hate isn’t reserved for those running for office.

I find it really easy to convince myself that God dreams for the same kind of world that I do and don’t have a lot of trouble believing that God enjoys the kind of worship that I most prefer. It is not hard for me to overlook and justify the sins that I am most prone to committing while getting uncomfortably self-righteous at those that don’t tempt me or the ones that oppose my preferences, political convictions and the world views with which I am most comfortable.

The hard truth is that finding people who haven’t suffered from shoehorning God to fit their preferred beliefs and ways of life  – well, a camel and an eye and a needle come to mind.

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It doesn’t matter whether the gods we fashion are conservative or liberal, black or white, traditional and old-fashioned or contemporary and cutting edge. When we fall into this trap not only do we commit idolatry, the most significant of the Thou Shall Nots that Moses brings down from the Mountain, we also fool ourselves.

When we decide we have the power to become the great creators of everything we need, we strip the Gospel of its very power by trading the power of God to make a new creation in us for another shallow justification for what we already think, believe and live for.

Regardless of how or why we do make them, the gods of our imagination can’t bear the weight of the God we worship and have been given in Jesus.  These wannabe gods just aren’t big enough, don’t have the power to change us and simply cannot bring the redemption we need.

The confronting and convicting texts of Lent forcefully remind us of this – and they don’t politely ask us whether we like it or not. On Sunday, we heard that truth from Isaiah, who reminded us that our ways of thinking and patterns of living don’t necessarily come from God.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

What we need more than anything else isn’t another place to listen to the news we want to hear but instead a way to encounter a power greater than we can imagine who can show us a new way of life with more meaning and hope than we have ever experienced.

The growth and change we all desperately need, even if we can’t bring ourselves to say it out loud, comes from admitting that God’s wisdom is greater than our own and finding our place in the enormous mission and kingdom of God.

That’s the conviction we draw from the stories of Scripture that shape our faith. How many times do we encounter stories of people who were convinced that they know exactly who God is and precisely how God goes about accomplishing God’s will for the world only to be shocked and surprised when their world is tossed upside down?

No one experienced that more than Paul, who had his whole religious upbringing and education turned on its head when he encountered Jesus on the Damascus Road – but he’s not the only one.  Abraham believed and trusted in a future he couldn’t see, Ruth learned the blessing of radical commitment and Job discovered that the wisdom of convention isn’t always the wisdom of God. The Bible is full of stories like these – people who God shocked with wisdom and purpose they could never have come up with on their own.

When we read and pray and allow ourselves to be changed by these stories, we realize that God is much less predictable than we prefer and that the God of the Bible seems to love upending our assumptions and is always in the process of doing a new thing.

This isn’t an easy thing to experience. This holy season reminds us that those who are most sure they know who God is and what God is for are often the ones who most profoundly and spectacularly miss God’s revelation and misunderstand God’s mission.

What the Bible tells us is that the key to experiencing Resurrection and New Creation is to learn how to humble yourself, how to become open to God, and how to watch for the signs of God’s activity in the world – even and especially when they hurl your heart and mind into the whirlwind.

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God spoke to Job out of the whirlwind and tends to do the same with us.

And so, these are the stories we need to keep close – the thief who receives the promise of paradise, the disciples who experience real presence in the breaking of the bread and the many who become one through a Spirit who blows where it will and authors stories of redemption again and again.

It’s easy to find your way off the path.  But we can always find our way back, by doing what doesn’t usually come naturally – admitting we might be wrong, listening for God’s presence, and allowing ourselves to be changed by the grace of a God who is greater and more creative than we can imagine.

Ways Off the Path

Week 1: Paying Attention to the Wrong Things

Week 2: Paralysis by Overanalysis

 

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