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

The driver's seat ...

"I heard an old man speak once,

someone who had been sober for fifty years,

a very prominent doctor.

He said that he’d finally figured out a few years ago that his profound sense of control,

in the world and over his life,

is another addiction and a total illusion.

He said that when he sees little kids sitting in the back seat of cars,

in those car seats that have steering wheels,

with grim expressions of concentration on their faces,

clearly convinced that their efforts are causing the car to do whatever it is doing,

he thinks of himself and his relationship with God:

God who drives along silently, gently amused, in the real driver's seat. "

(Anne Lamott,  Operating Instructions)

Mystery ...

 

The more I grow in my faith, the less I know for sure.

I know that seems wrong; it seems like the more we grow, the more we should know. That could even be a Christian slogan!

But I am finding the opposite to be true … it’s not that I doubt more. It’s just that I am more and more willing to say I don’t know about more and more things related to God.

And there is something grace-filled and freeing about that.

It is not my job to know everything.

It is not my job to know a bunch of facts about God or faith or the Bible.

It is my job to grow increasingly aware that God is God, and I am not … and to be very ok with that reality.

This poem by Mary Oliver helps me put some words to this:

Mysteries, Yes

"Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the mouths of lambs.

How rivers and stones are forever in allegiance with gravity while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds will never be broken.

How people come, from delight or the scars of damage, to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say “Look!” and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads."

 

I will choose the beauty and power of mystery over thinking I have the answers every time …

We do not save ourselves ...

I think one of the reasons God wants his people to take a Sabbath is so he can regularly drive home the point that we do not save ourselves.

We need practical ways to keep this truth in the forefront of our minds, lest we forget.

Stopping, ceasing, resting, recovering, worshipping … and did I say resting? These are all things God wants us to do once a week so that He can whisper to us on a regular basis:

It is not all up to you …

Trust me …

Watch me work …

Rest in me …

I got this …

I have been loving some good ol’ Martin Luther quotes lately, and he – the leader of the great Reformation – pounded on this idea hard.

I believe he pounded it because we need it pounded into our thick skulls over and over:

“The sin underneath all our sins is to trust the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and must take matters into our own hands.”

What matters are you trying to take into your own hands these days?

Would you consider taking some time off from work and worry to simply practice re-trusting the love and grace of Christ for yourself?

A walk, a nap, a rest, just a nice long sit … all these will do.

Let your absolute inactivity drive the point home.

The discipline of being sick ...

I am a terrible sick person.

I rail against being sick. I hate it. I fight it. I try to doctor myself. I can’t rest well. I try to stay productive even though my head is pounding like a freight train.

And this tells me something about myself:

I have a hard time being human, being vulnerable, being weak.

And this tells me even more about myself:

I have a hard time surrendering to the truth of the moment; I want to create my own reality.

I have a hard time letting God be God; I want to run the show.

I have a hard time giving up control, dropping the reins, saying to God, “Thy will be done …”

And so today, on my second full sick day, I am going to practice “the discipline of being sick.”

It is a new spiritual discipline I just made up.

And it looks like me being kind to my very human and frail body. It looks like surrendering to the sick day rather than fighting it. It looks like resting, rather than railing against my need for rest. It looks like finding joy in the space and time away from productivity rather than struggling to be productive in the pain.

It looks like trusting that God can take care of the universe very well on His own, thank you very much, without my teeny-tiny bit of assistance.

It looks like giving in to the fact that I am human after all.

In the end, it looks very much like actually trusting God.