Category Archives: believe

If I could just be like my dog…

Standard

Each week, I get these little gems in my inbox called Wednesday Words from Leigh McLeroy, a gifted writer. Leigh is author of numerous insightful and poignant books such as The Sacred Ordinary and The Beautiful Ache.  She graciously agreed to let me share this week’s post with you. Check her out at www.leighmcleroy.com where you can also sign up for her weekly Wednesday Word.

(By the way, Leigh’s dog is the most adorable Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Owen. I didn’t have a picture of Owen, so I substituted one of my dog Shorty, who I think is pretty handsome too.)

Along for the Ride

Owen likes road trips. He does. His crate fits perfectly in the back of my car, and he’s always ready to hop in. He never begs to see an itenerary. He never questions my route. He doesn’t ask if we’re “there yet,” or whine for a rest stop, or water, or a toy. He gets settled in his crate, I get behind the wheel, and off we go. I’m in charge of the driving – and my sweet, four-legged friend is along for the ride.

I usually put something interesting in the crate to occupy his attention – a chewie rawhide or a beat up toy – but before long Owen’s lying down, his eyes drooping closed and his breathing even and slow. He’s not afraid to sleep while I navigate; he trusts me to get us where we’re going.

If the trip is long and I stop for a bit, I’ll open the back and take Owen out for a break: a turn on the leash, sniffing and exploring, and a drink and a bit of a treat to eat. I don’t leave him unattended; I never forget he’s there. When it’s time to crate up again he doesn’t balk; he goes in easy and settles down quickly. He’s along for the ride.

You see where this is going, right?

My dog’s faith puts mine to shame. In contrast to Owen, I wonder often what the driver (let’s call him God) is up to; question the route he uses to take me where he means for me to go; feel the need for frequent updates to reassure me that we are, in fact, making good progress. And in no way do I relish being “loaded in” for travel facing backward, with no visibility and no control over the trip.

He means to get me from point A to point B, and to mature me in the process. I find it difficult to give myself to this “going” without seeing – to say “yes” to the journey and say nothing more. I struggle to relax, and fear that if I close my eyes we may veer hopelessly off track.

Even writing these words I feel ashamed. I’ve followed him long enough that I should be more confident with his way-finding skills. I should enjoy the trip, and be relieved to not be minding the map. I should feel free to sigh and sleep – to snore even – knowing he is getting us where we need to be. After all, he is the navigator. And I’m just along for the ride.

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake,so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27, NIV)

© Leigh McLeroy, 2012

http://www.leighmcleroy.com
“Speak what you feel, not what you ought to say.”

Manoah’s Wife

Standard

Sometimes God’s complete disregard for human customs is amusing.  In the story of Manoah’s wife, we’re dealing with a time when, according to custom, women were property–generally useful for sex, having babies, keeping house or working the fields. Companionship was optional.

The story of Manoah and his wife offers many delicious, God-initiated ironies. First, God sends his messenger to whom? A nameless woman! Second, where Manoah is determined to discover God’s name and take control of the situation, isn’t it ironic that God, instead, only re-emphasizes that Manoah’s wife has all the pertinent details?

As Manoah presses for a name, God only responds that his name is “wonderful,” beyond knowing. Ironically, at the same time, God is making himself known to them in a truly personal and marvelous way. But it is all on God’s terms–not Manoah’s. The story also shows how God sees us, even when we are invisible and nameless to the rest of the world, and, even better, he includes us in his story.  Manoah’s wife became an important part, indeed, of God’s story.  Centuries later, another unknown, invisible girl likewise became pivotal to God’s story.  Perhaps the wonder of our relationship with God is that even though his name is “wonderful” and beyond understanding, he still draws near, reveals himself to us, and invites us, just like these people, into his story.

Not Safe. But Good.

Standard

Not Safe. But Good. (Photo by dogrando.)

Lesson Three was one of my favorites because, to tell the truth, I find great comfort in a God I can’t control.  Oh sure, I sometimes try to treat God like my personal Santa Claus, but of course that never works. Years ago, Barry and I attended a church that emphasized asking God for all kinds of things–healing, jobs, marriage restoration, financial help. While it’s true that God is our source for life itself, I don’t like it when the focus is all about me.  Look, I have NO TROUBLE focusing on me. My trouble is focusing on God who is SO MUCH BIGGER than me. I don’t need help worshiping myself.  I need help remembering that God is a holy, awe-inducing, incomprehensible, uncontrollable God who is worthy of every ounce of devotion I can give.

In The Chronicles of Narnia, when the children first learn about the great lion Aslan, they ask if he is “safe,” being a lion and all. Their friend replies, “‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

That’s the kind of God I want to worship.  Not a safe God. A God who challenges and stretches me, but who simultaneously fills the new spaces created by the stretching. A God I cannot tame but who is so good I have nothing to fear. Jesus said of his own life that he had the power to lay it down at will and the power take it back up again. That he chose to do so proves his wild and fierce devotion to us. Why would I not return love like that?

“No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”  John 10:18

Where is your brother?

Standard

As I re-read Lesson Two this week (Why are you angry?), this time I landed on God’s 2nd question to Cain:  Where is your brother?  The first part of the story focuses on Cain challenging God’s right to be God and to, therefore, make the rules. Cain essentially challenges what later becomes the first commandment to love God with our whole being, putting no idols before him–not even ourselves. Maybe especially not ourselves. God, in turn, confronts Cain on that issue.

But God’s 2nd question confronts our responsibility towards others as do most of the rest of the 10 commandments. In the story of Cain and Abel, as in the commandments, God equates true worship with, first and foremost, wholehearted, unabashed devotion to himself, followed by a commitment to one another. No lying, cheating, murder, slander, even jealousy. It all starts, though, with devotion to God. Without worship of God as our starting point, are we capable of true devotion to one another? What is the impetus? If I am the source of my own moral decisions, when someone else gets in the way of something I want, be it an object, a goal, an idea, or even a perceived right, my only responsibility is to do what “feels” right. But if God is the object of my worship versus my own ego’s demands, my decision points are derived from God’s ideas of how to treat people versus mine.  I’ll just be honest. In my case, this is so much safer for myself and for those who have to live with me!

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ideas on How to Survive Creativity

Standard

Just ran across this TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love.  Gilbert wonders aloud about whether creativity is internal and innate, or whether it comes from somewhere outside ourselves. The difference may be critical to the survival of the artist.  As a Christian, I found myself nodding. Hmmm. I think this is what we call the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God the Creator. The Spirit that was there at creation “hovering” over the emptiness like a brooding hen. (See Genesis 1:1) This 19-minute talk is well worth the time.

Daily Manna Gathering

Standard

morning coffeeHad coffee with my friend, Katy.  While we shared the woes of mounting bills and diminishing funds, we talked about the daily manna or bread from heaven that the Isrealites were given in the desert. Katy reminded me that God opted for a daily provision. When the people tried to hoard enough for the week, or even for the next day, the food rotted. They didn’t like having to trust that God would come through for them tomorrow. I don’t like it either.

In fact, like the Israelites, I am often tempted to look back at “Egypt” and think it all looks pretty good in retrospect. Like the Egyptians, I sometimes find myself saying, “Yes, I was a slave, but I was a comfortable slave!”  I keep forgetting that God loves me too much to leave me in places where I have become too comfortable. And he loves me too much to let me remain a slave versus pushing me to embrace my own freedom.

Katy also reminded me that it is just as silly to look forward into the future and allow ourselves to get all amped up with anxiety.  She said, “Just lay out the bills and see which one is due today. Pay that one. For all you know, you’ll be dead tomorrow!”  She’s right. And then I will have spent my last day on earth worrying about a bill that I will never have to pay.

See…this is why we need honest friends. Thanks, Katy.

Addicted to Extraordinary

Standard
sacred ordinary

photo by schmense

Some things in life spoil you for the ordinary. Meaningful volunteer work, crisis situations, military service, even adventure travel—these kinds of things may lead to an addiction to the extraordinary, where our identity clings like seaweed to the “importance” of what we do.  My “spoiler experience” was five-year stint as a young adult with a mission organization. I lived and worked with a pack of fired-up young people out to save the world. We worked in an inner-city mission in Amsterdam, and it seemed that everything we did had eternal significance. Nothing wrong with passion and a desire for meaningful service, but I made the fatal error of deeming that kind of work as “sacred,” while a regular job was merely “secular.”

Of course, now I see things differently. Everything is sacred. I read a book once years ago, whose title I have forgotten, where the author shared his struggle with ordinary life. He was attracted to a radical life of solitude, prayer and meditation, but this guy had a regular job, a wife and three kids. He could barely get in a quiet moment edgewise, much less hours for meditation!  In time, though, he began to realize that before there were any monastical orders, before there was even a church, before the first apostles forged unknown territory to share God’s story, even before Jesus preached or healed or died on the cross—before all of that…there was a Mary and a Joseph.

A housewife. A carpenter. They didn’t do anything any more radical than raise a child.

They got up every day and worked, cleaned the house, paid the bills, and made dinner.  It was all so very…ordinary.  But without that ordinary, or as author Leigh McLeroy calls it, that “sacred ordinary,” the rest of the story could not have unfolded.

I don’t want to miss that sacred ordinary now. Do you? Whatever you are doing, give it to God who redeems all of our work, making it sacred through his grace.

Dealing with that “love your enemies” verse

Standard

After Jesus tells his listeners (during the Sermon on the Mount) that those who struggle in life are the “blessed,” which really does seem like a strange blessing indeed, he gives them a huge word of encouragement: He tells them they are the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth.”

Mind you, he is speaking, here, to an oppressed people. Their land is occupied by a mighty and, often, cruel foreign empire.  Many of their own countrymen have ridden the coattails of Roman power right over their heads. Their own religious leaders offer little comfort, instead using oppressive legalism to exert their own power–only adding to the already overwhelming burden of Roman occupation. Jesus’ words must have been either encouraging or downright hard to believe.

I am the salt of the earth?  Really? I thought I was just dung under someone’s foot.

Just when the crowd might have been tempted to congratulation themselves (“He says we are the light of the world!) or see Jesus as siding with them against those nasty Romans, Pharisees, Scribes. and tax collectors, Jesus turns his challenge directly towards them.  He says they have to do an even better job than the Scribes and Pharisees, their own hyper-holy leaders, in being righteous.

What?! Isn’t this the guy who just said we are the light of the world. This is a such a downer message.

For at least 27 verses, Jesus goes on to talk about–what?  Political oppression? Hardships? Life’s difficulties?  No!  He talks about relationships. Relationships!  Is this guy serious?

He challenges his listeners to do a better job in loving others–and he has really weird ideas about who those “others” are. He talks about loving your enemy, doing good to those who hate you, giving up your right to retaliate, allowing people to take advantage of you, treating others the way we want to be treated.

Juliet's balcony. Loving the Enemy

Juliet's balcony. Loving the Enemy. Photo by Vavva

It’s one thing to encourage people today to go the extra mile, smile when you’re down, or overlook insults. We live in a rich society. We have generous rights and legal recourse if we are harmed. But Jesus addresses crowd here whose sons or daughters could be, and often were, enslaved, killed, or imprisoned at a moment’s notice–and they could do nothing about it. These people had nothing close to the rights we know today, and many lived in or on the edge of poverty.  Yet Jesus has the gall to sit there and say it’s not good enough to love your friends and family.  Anyone can do that, Jesus says.  How about loving your enemy? How about loving someone who really doesn’t care about you?  How about loving someone who wishes you harm?

Is that even possible?

I won’t lie. It is totally impossible to me. If someone hurts me, I want to hurt them back.  If they hurt my kids–forget it! Mercy and grace may be in God’s nature, but it’s not always in mine. There are times when I just want justice–not mercy. And there are times when justice is the greater need. But even in oppression, Jesus does not let them, or us, off the hook.  Can oppressed people be guilty of sin? According to Jesus…absolutely. Had his listeners been given the power at that moment to overturn their enemies, would they have behaved with largesse and kindness and generosity towards their former oppressors?  Not likely. They would probably have given the Romans back, in spades, what the Romans had given to them.  And how, then, would they be any different from the Romans, their enemy? How are we?

Jesus doesn’t let us get away with simply exposing the sinfulness and unrighteousness of others. He challenges us to see and deal with our own. It starts with us. It always starts with us.  When we are incapable of love because we are hanging on to our right to retaliate, we must start and end with a dependence on God for the love and forgiveness we cannot give.

Blessed are those who mourn. Really?

Standard

I’ve been re-visiting the Sermon on the Mount. That’s the one that starts out with the “Beatitudes,” and I’m struck, again, with how strange and totally foreign these words are to our “Anthony Robbins” way of thinking. This is not a success-by-numbers speech. This is anything but.

Think about it. Who are our “golden” ones–our “blessed” ones? Those who pursue their passion. Those who set goals and meet them. Those who courageously and fearlessly plow through obstacles or face fears to win the prize. Our ideals are all wrapped up in performance.

Jesus takes a completely different stance. He says that the blessed ones are those who are “poor in spirit” and “meek.” He lauds those who “hunger and thirst” for righteousness. He calls the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted blessed. He even says that those who mourn are blessed. There is not a hint of stellar performance in these character traits. He describes people who are down on their luck, desperate, and denied. How is that blessed? He contrasts these with those who are rich, fed, comforted, and well respected. He says they are the ones to be pitied “for they’ve already received their reward.” If we are honest, doesn’t “rich” describe most of us who live in the U.S.? Can we even compare our poor to, say, the poor in Haiti? Calcutta? Zimbabwe? I don’t think so.

I don’t think Jesus is condemning material blessings. After all, all blessings come from God, but I do think he is warning us about being lured into a false sense of security and comfort by them. Those who are desperate, those who mourn, those who are hungry–they know all too well their need. Those who are comfortable and well fed can all too easily fall into a belief that they have need of nothing. When we believe we have (or have access to) all that we need because we are comforted and well fed, we’ve missed the real treasure–and in so doing, we’ve missed everything.

The top 5 regrets people make on their deathbeds

Standard

My sister-in-law, Lisa, shared a link on Facebook to an article with the above title. The list was compiled by a woman named Bonnie Ware who worked for many years with the dying.  The #1 deathbed regret?

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Ms. Ware writes, “Most  people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”  Ms. Ware encourages us to honour our dreams before a lack of health limits or eliminates our choices.

I question my sanity regularly, especially since I began working for myself just as the recession was beginning to bloom.  What kind of crazy person does that?  But my gut keeps telling me the same thing: Keep moving forward. I am learning that when you go after your passion, there really is no roadmap. Even with a business plan in hand, you have test your assumptions and make adjustments on a daily basis.

You also have to become very comfortable with uncertainty.  If you can trust God, this isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s a good place to be. I often find myself having conversations with God that go something like this: “Ok, God, I’m moving forward with this idea.  Are you watching?  Ok…here I go.  Stop me if this is wrong!” And then I trust that God will do just that.

testing the waters

photo by Brian Uhreen

I’m not sitting around waiting for daily epiphanies before I move. I’m just sticking my toes in the water and watching to see if they part.  If they do, guess what?  I’m moving. You’ll soon find me making my way across the riverbed. If the waters don’t move, it’s time for a route correction. And if I’m listening, I can hear those heavenly GPS directions and adjust to them while I’m in motion. It is much, much harder if I’m stuck in neutral. My friend Sonya said her father used to remind her,  “It’s very difficult to turn the wheels of parked car.”

Don’t sit around wondering if you can pursue your passion. Just go after it, but keep an eye and ear peeled to heaven for those route corrections. You can trust.

(You can read the full article about deathbed regrets at http://thenextweb.com/lifehacks/2011/05/31/the-top-5-regrets-people-make-on-their-deathbeds/)

What’s got you?

Standard

A few years ago I went rappelling. Can I just be honest and say that I was pretty much terrified?!  The first try was from the top of a climbing tower, only about 60 feet high, but the climb alone was freaking me out.  If not for the fact that I was supervising a group of middle and high schoolers, I might have chickened out, but my pride was on the line.  When it was my turn, the guide took me by the hands and said, “Okay, turn around and face me.” He turned me to face him with my back to the edge of the platform.

“Now walk backwards until you’re just standing on the edge with your toes.”

Was he SERIOUS? 

Charlie had been doing this for years. A modern-day mountain man, he was a little grizzled and rough around the edges, but he was gentle with the kids and with me. He was in his late 50s, and somehow the fact that he was NOT twenty-something was incredibly comforting at that moment.

“Charlie, I’m a mom.  I need to be alive after this for my kids, ok?”

Charlie laughed.  “Just keep your eyes on me, ok?  Trust me.  Now step back.”  He held my arms while I closed my eyes and then quickly opened them again because he said, “Keep looking at me!”  I inched backwards until I could feel my heels dangling off the ledge.  “Keep your eyes on me,” Charlie coaxed.

Fat chance I’m looking anywhere else!

“Now, just sit down.”

“Sit down? You mean…as in sitting?”

“That’s it, just squat down like you’re gonna sit in a chair. You’ll see.  The ropes and harness’ve gotcha!”  He had that wide-eyed smile of a father watching his kid learn to ride a bike.

“Ok, Charlie, if this thing doesn’t hold, I’m gonna haunt you in the after-life.”

Charlie grinned. “Just do it.”  I leaned back and squatted down, as though easing into a La-z-boy…and…amazing!  It really did feel like I was sitting in a chair.  The harness and ropes were dead secure.

Instantly, I lost all fear.  I looked up at Charlie in surprise, and he caught my expression.

“See? I told you. It’s got you. Now just push away from the wall and have fun flying down.”  And that’s exactly what I did.  It was exhilerating!  It was over in just a few seconds, but I could’ve done that all day.  When we graduated to scaling off a mountainside a couple days later, I felt like an old pro, “Pfffff, I got this!”  All because I knew that the ropes and the harness and the guys on belay had me secure.

That’s what trusting God is like.  It’s so scary to go out on a ledge, until you step off the edge and sit into your fear. Only then can you know the safe and strong arms that have “got you.”  I love that scene in Indiana Jones where Jones, in order to solve a riddle, realizes he must take a “leap of faith” off a monumentally scary cliff side.  He sees no alternative but to stick his foot off the edge and walk. When he takes that step, he is amazed to discover solid ground beneath him.  The bridge was there all the time, but it was disguised in such a way that he couldn’t see it until he was actually on top of it.  What a great image of trust.

Trust is a mysterious and powerful thing when we stake our lives on something–or Someone–worthy of our faith. My rappelling experience was only as secure as the equipment and the experience of those on belay, both of which proved to be reliable. There are trustworthy arms ready to catch and hold us.  But we will never know them until we step off the ledge.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

The Dragon and the Hero

Standard

Chinese DragonOnce upon a time, a distant village lived in terror of a fearsome Dragon whose name was, appropriately, Death. No one had ever been able to defeat it. Many brave souls had tried, charging full force, armor ablaze, swords aloft, but none had succeeded against the merciless, cruel monster.

Enter the hero.  The stranger had challenged and beaten other dragons handily, so hope rose that he would free their village from the Death Dragon.  He marched up the hill to the dragon’s lair. He raised his sword, and the villagers held their collective breath. No one stirred.

Suddenly, the Dragon opened its mighty jaws, spewing a stream of fire, blasting the hero full force. In a split second, the Dragon snatched up the hero with its writhing tongue of flames and swallowed him whole. The Hero was gone. The villagers were horrified.

The dragon lay on the hill, his belly full and ravishing appetite temporarily appeased. He curled up for a nap, a smug, satisfied smile on his scaly lips.  The villagers were crestfallen. All hope was dead.

A few days later, the Dragon, still snoring, suddenly started with a jolt, head reared and eyes wide in astonishment. His mouth opened but no fire appeared. The Dragon’s jaws seemed pried open against its will–but no fire appeared. Only a tiny light.  To the disbelieving eyes of all, the Hero emerged from the Dragon’s mouth!  The villagers were dumbfounded.  No one had ever returned from the Dragon’s mouth, now opened painfully wide.  As the hero exited the Dragon’s mouth, the Dragon began to fade–first the tail, then the long, scaly back, until only a faint image remained.

As the hero emerged the light grew brighter. It was the Dragon’s fire, but the Hero held it in his hands, rolled into a small, fiery ball. He raised the ball of fire aloft and flung it into the sky where, even today, you might catch glimpses of it in the night sky on a moonless evening. The Dragon remains, but his fire is extinguished forever, and in his belly the Hero planted the seeds of never ending life.

Risen.

Indeed.

For the pure joy of it

Standard

Joy-Hebrews 12:1-3

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Hebrews 12:1-3, The Message

Stupendous Friday

Standard
Good Friday Worshipers

© Lawrence Wee | Dreamstime.com

It always seemed strange, maybe even a little morbid, that this day is called “Good” Friday.   This is the day when Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Christ.

What’s so good about that?

A dear friend once asked me, “What’s the point of Jesus?  I get God.  I just don’t get Jesus. Jesus just sort of gets in the way for me.”  After some discussion, though, we both concluded that if you don’t see yourself as someone in need of a Savior, Jesus would get in the way.

I am not one of those people.

Good Friday Cross

© Paul Mckinnon | Dreamstime.com

I know my own heart all too well. I know when I act in jealousy, pride—even hatred.

If our one purpose is to love, I fail more often than I care to admit. I love myself too much to love my enemies, and I don’t always even love my friends as I should.

So I cannot fulfill those two commands that Jesus said were the culmination of all the laws: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and spirit. Love your neighbor as yourself.  Just two little commands.  That’s all.

But love for self prevents me from fulfilling them. And THAT is what sin is all about. It is a failure to love.  It is, sometimes, a refusal to love. A just and loving God cannot turn a blind eye to a refusal to love. He would no longer be just and loving. Sin must be addressed.

Therein lies the rub.  How could we ever “pay” for the sin of failure to love God or love others?  What is the price of that ticket?  Even if we could pay, that wouldn’t solve our problem.  We’d fail again, and again, and again, until we’d owe an eternal debt that could never be paid.

And THAT is what Good Friday is all about.  God stepped in and said, “Child, I cannot turn a blind eye when you refuse to love.  But I can show you what Love looks like by paying your debt.  I will bear this burden on your behalf because I love you.” God didn’t even wait until we appreciated or acknowledged this self-sacrificial act.  No, we are still quite enjoying our self-consumed journey—not even seeing the need for God to intervene.  Yet, God steps in anyway.

That’s not just good news.  It’s stupendous.  We should calls this “Stupendous Friday.” God’s self-emptying, ego-less, utterly humble love should leave us speechless.

Good Friday Service

© Lawrence Wee | Dreamstime.com

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5, NIV)

The Dancing God

Standard
Dancing African Woman

© Torsius | Dreamstime.com

I have a few friends who are adopting children from Africa. Yes, not just one—a FEW friends who are adopting children in Africa! It’s been a wild and miraculous thing to watch no less than three families go through this process only to have all the pieces come together almost simultaneously.  One couple is in Uganda now with their new baby girl. Within days, the other two families head to Zambia together to unite with their adopted children.  It’s breathtaking.

As we’ve all joined in their excitement and prayed for them, I have been struck by one thing: Too often we pray as if we’re telling God something he didn’t consider.  Now, God, did you remember to pack the money they need?  Don’t forget the passports! What are we thinking?  Do we think God is going to smack himself on the forehead and say, “Doh!  I don’t know why I didn’t think of that!  Thank you for reminding me.”

I don’t think so.

God is way ahead of us. In an amazing book I recently edited (and can’t wait to see published so I can tell you about it), the authors highlighted the first verse of Genesis where God’s Spirit “hovers” over the formless void. When God creates, there is a dance taking place. God is moving, stirring, changing things…making something out of nothing..and delighting in the dance of creation.

My prayers have changed. Now I pray, “God, give me eyes to see the dance, and let me join in.”  I pray, knowing that the prayer is already answered.  I’ve given up those prayers that were an attempt to kick God into action. My prayers have turned from drudgery (after all—it’s quite a tall order to kick the God of the universe into doing my bidding) into joyful expectation.

Indian Dancers

© Jackq | Dreamstime.com

I don’t have to twist God’s arm. God’s arm is already moving, and He reaches his other arm to me, daring me to give it a whirl as He deftly guides me around the floor.

He creates the dance.  We just follow along, keeping up the best we can, laughing at our clumsiness, and giddy with excitement about where the next steps will lead.

Dancing children

© Jozef Sedmak | Dreamstime.com

As we enter into the high point of the Easter season, it seems appropriate to focus on the God whose choreography included the exquisitely graceful move of kneeling to wash the feet of his friends and his enemy. Who could have imagined a dance like that?

There is a beautiful dance going on in Africa right now, and my friends are spinning around the floor in pure joy.  I wish I could be there to see it!

Go! And know that God has already gone before you. God is creating new things—new dances. Get out on the floor and enjoy!

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)