Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

All about trust ...

What if following Jesus is not about trying,

but rather,

all about trusting?

What might life look like if this were true?

I believe it would look like grace,

and peace,

and quiet confidence,

and deep rest.

Sometimes, though, trying is easier than trusting.

Trying gives us something to do,

which makes us feel assured that all our effort sways God in our favor.

Trusting is hard.

It feels like doing nothing ...

It feels like falling ...

It feels like failing ...

It feels like throwing yourself out over the abyss of life and uncertainty

with nothing but faith

to catch you.

What if following Jesus is actually all about trusting that there is always One who will catch you?

What if - in the end - that is all it is?

To trust is everything.

To trust is the very essence of our faith.


The real meaning of peace ...

I have been thinking a lot about how our country is going to heal after this hateful, divisive election.

When I get weary of that, I find myself praying and dreaming about how the church can become a safe place for healing conversations, a promoter of true reconciliation across divides, especially the racial divide that runs deep through the heart and soul of this country and its history.

How does the church become a place of peace and healing for everyone, rather than another divisive voice and presence among many?

I think it has to do first with humility;

believing that we don't know everything,

that we are not always right.

Then with really seeing each other ...

dropping our defensive posture,

listening without always needing to get the last word,

and repenting of our unwillingness to extend a hand to those who are very, very different from us.

Of what are we so scared, I sometimes wonder?

Jesus lived to extend a hand across divides. It is partly what got him in so much trouble.

This popped up in my inbox today ... from one of my favorite sources: Plough.

Isn't it timely?

"For peace, people must meet across differences.

I say to meet people, not just to send them money and offer better professionals.

All need to change.

Fear must be changed into openness.

Those on the rich side need to change and open their hearts to those on the other side. Those on the needy side also need to change; from anger, anguish, depression and a sense of being victims of a society, they must become agents of hope and of love.…

It is only as we meet and share together person to person, eye to eye, and heart to heart that we discover what it means to be human and to discover the joy of being together, working together towards a common mission of peace and unity.

It is only moving from winning and loneliness to collaboration, and from hostility to seeing enemies as friends, that we discover the real meaning of peace."

(Jean Vanier - Acceptance speech for the 2015 Templeton Prize)

Throw your life away ...

I was reading my favorite theologian this morning and came across several bits of his writing about Jesus' demanding and powerful statement that:

"If anyone want to follow me, that person must turn away from themself and take up their cross and live a life of following me. Because whoever wants to save one's life will ruin it, but whoever throws one's life away out of devotion to me, will actually save it." (Matthew 16)

I love Frederick Bruner's thoughts on this!

Here is a taste of Bruner's brilliance:

"Jesus words mean first of all, 'Turn away from even your best and highest religious ideas.' Jesus is giving us a way to loose ourselves from being gripped by the concerns of human beings, and that way is decisively to disown ourselves and the lordship of our own thinking and to go under new management. Self-denial is not so much giving up chocolates at Lent as it is giving up on ourselves as lords; it is the decision to let another Lord rule one's life."

"Behind and underneath the call to cross-bearing is the call to believe that Jesus is more real than death."

"One wins this life, Jesus dares us to believe, both here and beyond, in throwing one's life away. The Christian life is a 'throwaway' life, a life that in a great dare decides that Jesus is what life is all about and that following him is the greatest adventure of life."

"Jesus is not anti-our-life; he is anti-preoccupation-with-our life ... When we turn our backs on our lives - surprise! We receive our lives!"

So much thought-provoking stuff for just one day!

What a dare ... to believe Jesus is more real than death and thus to throw our lives away in a grand adventure under his rule and reign!

Sign me up.


A bundle of paradoxes ...

“When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes.

I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty.

I am trusting and suspicious.

I am honest and I still play games.

Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark.

In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means.

As Thomas Merton put it, "A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God."

The gospel of grace nullifies our adulation of televangelists, charismatic superstars, and local church heroes.

It obliterates the two-class citizenship theory operative in many American churches.

For grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift.

All that is good is ours not by right but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God.

While there is much we may have earned--our degree and our salary, our home and garden, a Miller Lite and a good night's sleep--all this is possible only because we have been given so much: life itself, eyes to see and hands to touch, a mind to shape ideas, and a heart to beat with love.

We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh.

We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt.

This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer.

Even our fidelity is a gift, "If we but turn to God," said St. Augustine, "that itself is a gift of God."

My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”

― Brennan Manning (and alice shirey)