Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I wrote this post in the airport on my way down to Haiti about eleven days ago. I had connectivity issues, so I haven't been able to post it till now. This was the attitude and approach I wanted to keep at the front of my mind while in Haiti. Some moments I succeeded and some I didn't, but that's just part of the process.

Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning has continued to bless me as I have pored over and considered not only trust, but some other concepts and themes he presents.

One of the points Manning focuses on is the concept of now/here. I struggle with attention. My mind is always somewhere else. Whether I'm daydreaming, philosophizing or thinking to the future, I very rarely live in the moment. I'm the type of person who struggles to listen to what people have to say because I am busy formulating my next response. As a result, I've been caught many times being inattentive and absent-minded, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

For some time now, I've been familiar with the concept of making everything that we do in life an act of worship. So the thought goes that no task is so small that God cannot be glorified in it's doing. I like the idea of making everything that I do an act of worship, but how do we do this? What does it really mean?

A great place to start is now/here. Manning shares the anecdote of a man who is visiting the home of a Buddhist monk and having dinner with him. As the meal concludes, the guest urges the monk to allow him to do the dishes. In doing so, the man desires to thank the monk for preparing the meal and also to get the dishes done as quickly as he can so that they can "get on with their evening." The monk responds that the guest may not do the dishes because he will not do them right. The guest asks how a person could possibly do the dishes wrong, and the monk responds that he will be doing the dishes to move onto the next thing. In order to correctly do the dishes, one must do the dishes merely to do the dishes.

Every person, every task, every moment deserves our full attention. Being now/here is being nowhere except where you are, physically, intellectually, emotionally spiritually.

The story of Jesus raising Lazarus is an incredibly powerful one. This is a story where we truly see Jesus as fully God and fully man. Jesus shows up late. This is a point in time when his friends believe in his power to heal but do not yet understand that he holds power over life and death. Jesus commiserates with his grieving friends as they mourn the loss of their beloved, His beloved, Lazarus. Let me say that again, Jesus feels sorrow with his friends. Here we see the shortest and one of the most powerful verses in the Bible: Jesus wept. Jesus knew full well that he was about to raise Lazarus in this moment. He knew that this death and separation were merely temporary.

I never fully realized the significance of this moment until I read Ruthless Trust. Jesus doesn't look around and say, "Hey guys, pipe down for a second. I gotta get psyched up to do something really cool. I think you're gonna dig it." He also doesn't say, "Quit your crying, weepy whiners. I'm going to raise Lazarus and reunite you guys in just a few minutes." He doesn't give some lame Christianese answer about how all things work together for His glory and He's the shepherd of his flock, so everyone should just accept their loss with a dull smile on their face and move on.

Jesus Wept!

Despite his infinite knowledge and power, despite the fact that his father lives outside of time, Jesus is now/here with his friends. He feels intense sadness, sympathy, empathy, pain. Jesus didn't smile and shrug it off, Jesus didn't sniffle. Jesus wept.

What a testament to being now/here! What a statement on being nowhere, save for where you are! I'm praying that I can strive to be like Christ in this way. I am praying that I can focus on my God, the people, the tasks, the moment that lie right in front of me at all times. It's a tall order, but I believe it is a beautiful act of worship.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

For some, 2012 was the best year ever. Some are just thankful that it's over. Either way, the end of a year and the beginning of another certainly provides a symbolic line of demarcation that many grasp and claim as time for a change.

Every single day that the sun rises offers this sort of opportunity. Even better, every moment of our lives beckons us to make better decisions, care better for others and add something of beauty and substance to creation. How much moreso a day when the whole world is beginning something new?

You may be on the mountain top right now, looking back down at 2012 with joy, peace and thankfulness, looking forward to 2013 with hope, assurance and anticipation. You may also be in the valley, looking back with sadness, disappointment, and questioning, forward with fear, confusion and anxiety. In whichever camp you fall, you're still carrying some brokenness, some kind of doubt, offense, anger, or self-questioning. Leave it. It's poison. Let 2012 have it. That's what grace is all about.

This song is beautiful. It's about new beginnings. It's about rejecting the darkness in our lives, investing all we can and looking to the future with hope. It makes me want to dance. And it's hard to dance with the devil on your back.

 I'm not sure all these lyrics are correct. But I wasn't a real big fan of the actual music video.