swimming

May 30, 2004

hear it in the stairwell: Over the Rhine

What would you guess is the most common command in the Bible?

It is not for us to be more loving. That may be the core of God’s desire for hum,an life, but it’s not the most frequent instruction.

A lot of Christian writers speak of pride as being the root of all evil, but the Bible’s most frequent imperative does not have to do with avoiding pride or gaining humility.

It is not a command to guard sexual purity or to walk with integrity, important as those qualities are.

The single command that occurs in God’s love letter to us more than any other-God’s most frequently repeated instruction-is two simple words:

Fear not.

Do not be afraid. Be strong and courageous. You can trust me. Fear not.

So why is it that God commands us not to fear?

Fear doesn’t seem like the most serious vice in the world. It never made the list of the Seven Deadly Sins. No one ever receives church discipline for being afraid. So why does God tell human beings to stop being afraid more often than He tells us anything else?

My theory is that it’s not because He want to spare us emotional discomfort. In fact, usually He seems to say it to get people to do something that is going to lead them into greater discomfort anyway.

I think God says “fear not” so often because fear is the number one reason human beings are tempted to avoid doing what God asks them to do.

Fear is the number one reason why peopl erefuse to get out of the boat. So we NEED this command all the time! I heard once that “fear not” is in the bible 366 times- one for every day of the year, including one for leap year!

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I don’t know

May 26, 2004

hear it in the stairwell:Eisley

Fun “Waking Life” offerings…

Soap Opera Woman: Excuse me.

Wiley: Excuse me.

Soap Opera Woman: Hey. Could we do that again? I know we haven’t met, but I don’t want to be an ant. You know? I mean, it’s like we go through life with our antennas bouncing off one another, continously on ant autopilot, with nothing really human required of us. Stop. Go. Walk here. Drive there. All action basically for survival. All communication simply to keep this ant colony buzzing along in an efficient, polite manner. “Here’s your change.” “Paper or plastic?’ “Credit or debit?” “You want ketchup with that?” I don’t want a straw. I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me. I don’t want to give that up. I don’t want to be ant, you know?

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(Main character is walking along the railroad tracks, beside a train. A guy jumps out of the train with a “Free Radio” t-shirt on)

Hey. You a dreamer?

Yeah.

I haven’t seen too many around lately. Things have been tough lately for dreamers. They say dreaming is dead, that no one does it anymore. But it’s not dead, it’s just been forgotten. Removed from our language. Nobody teaches it so no one knows it exists. The dreamer has been banished to obscurity. Well, I’m trying to change all that now, and I hope you are too. By dreaming every day. Dreaming with our hands and dreaming with our minds. Our planet is facing the greatest problems it’s ever faced, so whatever you do, don’t be bored. This is absolutely the most exciting time we could have possibly hoped to be alive. And things are just starting.

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I had a friend once who told me that the worst mistake you can make is to think you are alive, when you’re really asleep in life’s waiting room. The trick is to combine your working rational abilities with the infinite possibilities of your dreams. Because if you can do that, you can do anything. Did you ever have a job that you hated? That you worked really hard at? You have a long hard day at work, finally you get to go home, get in bed, close your eyes, and immediately you wake up and realize that the whole day at work had been a dream? It’s bad enough that you sell your waking life for minimum wage, but now they get your dreams for free.

slight

May 24, 2004

hear it in the stairwell: David Crowder

I’ve been in such an emotionally, spiritually, even physically drained state this past week. I hesitate to write in times like theses for fear of posting just a little too much in my broken state and having an Amy-like regretful blog experience.

I’ve been overwhelmed with a broken friendship. I’ve sought forgiveness for wrongs done on my part and have made attempts to regain trust and have not been met with any acceptance. It is so difficult to ask for grace and be denied. It makes me want to be more persistent with my opportunities to give grace to others. I am far from perfect and it’s by God’s grace that I am what I am.

Next week I am to switch to part time on the Alzheimers Unit. I’ve been counting down the days for weeks now. I made the executive decision that continuing with my full time nurses aide, part time massage and full time school was quickly leading to my downfall. So I prepared for a slight income decline and am cutting back to two days a week third shift. And just as I felt confident enough to do this, I am faced with an unexpected financial burden. My hopes of a less regimented schedule with time to regain my sanity, my social life AND some sleep fade away and I’m no longer sure I can afford to cut back on nighttime hours. Disappointed that I can’t control that and not sure how to keep the grueling schedule.

I’m feeling led to spend some time this fall at the England L’Abri studying, focusing and seeking God’s will. I honestly can’t think of any way that I could possibly work this out in my human powers but in the past few weeks I have been led back to this avenue again and again. I discovered that my school schedule would accommodate it, a few friends have suggested it and my current overwhelming life is screaming for it. But it is a risk that God will need to usher me into.

Esther died this week. A difficult situation to face as I pass her room continually through my work night. The family donated all her clothing to the other ladies in the unit who need it. It was painful to watch the nurse begin dividing up her things as if life does just go on. I mean does it? I cringe at the thought that the only remnants of Esther will be old hand-me-down clothes worn by her friends. I want the influence she had on my life and the ways she changed me to be a loud declaration of the inspiration she was. Life does just go on-only I’m not the same.

So I sit at work last night during a lull in business and I take a few minutes to open my bible and prepare for small group this week. In those few minutes my consuming week culminates in a overwhelming need for God’s assurance. This week I’m to cover the end of Matthew 9 and I was reading through Jesus healing the blind men. I, too, feel like I am crying out “have mercy on me, God!” because I know I’m in a place where I feel overwhelmed, scared, confused and alone. I feel powerless to help myself. And I see Jesus’ response to the two blind men- he continues to have them follow him for a while before responding and when he does respond he asks them a question: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” He doesn’t ask “Do you think I can?”, or “Do you want me to?” He cuts right to their faith in Him. He’s already tested their faith by their willingness to follow him without His promise to heal but He seeks their profession of faith.

I desperately WANT God to take these situations out of my hands and show me some peace through solutions but do I absolutely BELIEVE He can?

And Jesus’ response blows me away. “According to your faith it will be done unto you.” Not “Because you have a lot of faith” or “According to your unwavering faith” simply “because you have faith.”

First of all, Jesus doesn’t respond on my timeline. Just like the blind men, I may be challenged to follow him without the answers I want with the assurance that if it is in His will, He will answer me. Secondly, His response will be according to the amount of faith I have in Him. Lastly, God doesn’t expect perfection from me before He’s willing to hear my prayers.

lightening back

May 18, 2004

hear it in the stairwell:Snow Patrol- Run

weekend…full of Friday art films and prunes with old friends. Waking Life.

Saturday conservatories, Pirate artists, Greek (OPA!)food, teenage rock concerts, and the creation of fluffer banana splits. Sparklers.

I was driving to work last night after a particularly enlightening small group and as I drifted down the highway to may blaring thoughts and Snow Patrol CD. I rock out when I’m in a good mood and in the car alone. My music ridiculously loud and I am head banging. Definite horrible singing. And the black sky lit up. It lit up in a huge, instant flash of summer lightening. My mom always called “heat lightening” when we were growing up. Rain wasn’t coming but the sky blazed every ten seconds or so in a magnificent silver orange spark. It made me think of incredibly warm and humid summer afternoons when it would rain and the streets would flood. And we would run outside immediately after the rain stopped and there was an errie orange glow to everything. Splashing through the accumulated puddles at the curbside we would end up sitting and jumping in the largest ones, soaked in warm rainwater. My mom would open the screen door and yell “you’re going to get hit by lightening, stay away from the drains!” in her characteristic hypochondriac fashion but the dark clouds were long gone and if we would lay in the driveway for a few minutes the sun would soak the water off of our sun baked skin. I never wore shoes.

hear it in the stairwell:Eisley-Laughing City

Sometimes the way God treats me feels like betrayal. I’ve found myself in a dangerous world-we’ve all been betrayed by someone. It’s a violation that strikes at the core of our being; to make ourselves vulnerable and entrust our well-being to another, only to be harmed by those on whom our hopes were set, is among the worst pain of the human experience. I’ve recently been reminded of a betrayal and the hurt that comes along with it–The broken feeling that my rope won’t take the bucket to the bottom of the well. I know God has the ability to draw water for me, but sometimes He won’t. I feel wronged. After all, the bible does say that if we have the power to do someone good, we should do it (Prov. 3:27), doesn’t it? So why doesn’t God?

I’m just faced with how reckless and unpredictable God is and I wonder “How can I trust a God who is so wild?” And not only how can I trust Him, but how can I wholeheartedly love him in return? The ONE possible answer: You could love Him if you knew His heart was good.

I was letting a friend borrow my copy of The Sacred Romance the other day and before I handed it over I was glancing through my tattered, underlined pages. Almost immediately I found the paragraph where the authors use the movie The Last of the Mohicans to illustrate this. Remember the movie…

Nathaniel has captured the heart of the beautiful Cora. With tremendous courage and cunning, he rescues her from an ambush set by the evil Magua, leader of a warring tribe. Nathaniel leads Cora, her sister and a few other survivors to a hidden cave behind a waterfall. Just when it appears they will escape and live happily ever after, Magua and his savages discover their hideout. Once captured, the women may be spared but the men will surely be executed. With no powder for their rifles, Nathaniel’s only chance is to leap from the falls; by saving himself, he will live to rescue Cora another day. One of the other men calls him a coward, accusing him of selfish motives. How is Cora feeling? What looks like abandonment may not be. Her only hope in the face of such wildness lies in the goodness of Nathaniel’s heart. At this point, it’s all she has to go on!

At this point, it’s all I have to go on.

Does God have a good heart?

Not if you think of goodness as being synonymous with safety.

As I sit here this evening I feel God’s goodness. Tonight I’ve found myself with the house alone. It’s humid summer-like evening and all of the windows are open allowing a warm breeze to push the curtains back. In the three disc CD player Damien Rice, Eisley and David Crowder perform a concert for me- not to loud as to drown out the sounds of neighborhood kids laughing and dogs barking playfully. I’m feeling my slightly sunburnt skin- just warm and pink enough to remind me that I am very much alive- and my puppy‘s warm, furry body is laying against my bare foot. Who knew that sitting alone at home could make you so appreciative of the gifts God has given you and who knew that a God so good could feel so near? Do I need to feel safe? I know that God is good. Eisley sings “I wasn’t prepared for this…” and I wonder are we ever?

A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.

C. S. Lewis