Posts Tagged ‘belief

27
Aug
18

That Safe Place

Rosie in The PoseMeet Rosie.

Rosie is our 10-month old, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier.

To say that Rosie is energetic is to say Kansas is flat or the sun is hot. In other words, it is to VASTLY understate the reality of the situation.

One of the biggest challenges Joan and I face each day is figuring out where to put things in order to keep them safe from Rosie’s eager, inquisitive reach.

There was – for example – the night we went to the baseball game with friends. The idea was to have them come back to our place after the game for some of Joan’s yummy peach cobbler. The cobbler was baked ahead of time and had been shoved all the way to the rear of the kitchen counter… presumably safely out of Rosie’s reach.

Imagine our surprise when we opened the door to the kitchen that night and found the pan of cobbler on the kitchen floor, big chunks of it missing in action. Beside it, of course, the innocent, angelic face of sweet Rosie… cobbler crumbs stuck to her beard.

This incident happened over a month ago. Since then, Rosie has grown a few more inches and has an even longer reach. It seems now that only the highest shelves in the closet are now safe from her exploring paws.

Thinking back on that moment (and similar moments with Rosie since then), I was reminded of some of my early adventures in faith. The common link between the two – I realized – is the central question: “Where is the safest place to put it?” Today the “it” is Joan’s peach cobbler. Back then the “it” was my faith.

In my earliest years, I placed my faith in my mom and dad. They were the walking, talking, living, breathing, definition of Ultimate Reality. Their word was Law, their wisdom was unfathomable, and their protection was ironclad.

Right up until, of course, it wasn’t.

Every child at some point experiences a rude awakening to the finite flawedness of mom and dad, and I was no exception. Whether it was that first argument of theirs I happened to overhear, or (in my childlike opinion) an entirely unjustified punishment, or something else, I’m not sure. But I know that at some point the pedestal cracked. I still loved them, of course, but no longer placed 100% of my faith in them.

When I started school, I discovered that my earliest teachers were unlimited fountains of knowledge… book knowledge, life knowledge, cultural knowledge and – in the case of my second-grade teacher Mrs. Forrer – baseball knowledge. And so I changed gears and said, “HERE is where I can put my faith! In my teachers!”

And I did. Right up to the point where I discovered that THEY were limited, too. Mrs. Olds chose to believe Andy when he said that started the fight and then Mr. Garrison could not adequately explain to me why there was such a thing as poverty.

As I grew, I kept trying. I am sure this list is incomplete, but a few of the other places I have put my faith over the years include:

  • My car(s)
  • The government (at every level – local, state, and national)
  • My own intelligence
  • My friends
  • Human nature
  • My race
  • My gender
  • My socio-economic group
  • My religious affiliation

In each case, I was certain my faith had been placed securely. Just as certain, in fact, as we were about where we placed the peach cobbler that night.

And every time that certainty came crashing to the ground… just like that pan of peach cobbler.

Has that happened to you? Are you still searching for that “next safe place” to put your faith after the last one disappointed you? Or have you given up the search entirely, convinced that no place… no person… no group will ever be capable of securely holding the precious gift of your faith?

If that describes you, listen to these words from Psalm 46. They are some of the truest words you will ever hear:

“God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult….

The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.”

  • Psalm 46:1-3, 6-7, NRSV

 

Abundant blessings;

28
Mar
17

DO IT

Action picture“Wow!” my wife remarked to our friend Bill recently as we sat down with he and his wife for dinner… (not his real name, by the way. But I’m not changing it to protect him from embarrassment. I’m changing it because I am about to say something very positive about him and don’t want him to get all full of himself)… She continued, “You really look good! You look like you’ve lost some weight!”

“Yes,” Bill replied. “A bit over 35 pounds.”

And then the accolades and “atta-boys” really started pouring in. I said, “That’s fantastic! Way to go! I sure wish I could muster up that kind of will power myself!”

“Well,” Bill said, “The thing that really helps with that will power thing is when your doctor tells you that you are at risk for a stroke and diabetes if you don’t get your weight under control.”

Yes, I am sure that statement is absolutely true. A frightening prognosis like that would probably get me off my flabby backside quicker than you can say, “Cholesterol.”

But even with an ample supply of sound, scary medical information, Bill still had to ACT on it. He had to be the one to actually turn down the bread and pasta and potatoes and other carbohydrate-loaded foods and choose something else to eat.

HE had to get himself to the gym and do the exercise that burned up some of his excess fat.

HE had to find a way to ignore the little voices telling him that “one little potato chip won’t hurt,” or that no one was looking or that he OWED IT to himself to celebrate his progress and cheat a little with a banana split.

So yes, Bill… even though you were quick to brush it off, you richly deserved the praise we offered.

After saying good night and going our separate ways, I began to think about my own situation and areas of my life where a change of attitude or behavior is needed. And I will confess that while my imprudent approach to eating is certainly one of those areas, it is far from the only one.

I also realized that in every single one of those “areas for improvement”, it is not a lack of information that stalls me.

It is a lack of ACTION.

Paolo Friere, the Brazilian educator, said it this way: “We make the road by walking.”

Morganna Bailey, in her recent TED Talk put it this way: “Clarity comes from ACTING, not from thinking.”

Author Randa Abdel-Fattah said, “Belief means nothing without actions.”

Mark Twain was a little wittier when he said the same thing: “Actions speak louder than words, but not as often.”

And finally Jesus of Nazareth said it like this: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21, NRSV). (Emphasis mine. But I’m sure Jesus would agree.)

Yes, yes. But don’t these people understand that acting can be a little SCARY? Because once you act… once you DO a certain, tangible thing, or take a concrete STEP, you can’t un-act.

We don’t have the same magic editing functions on our actions that come with this lovely word-processing software I’m using here. That software lets me go back, erase, rewrite, revise, and perfect these words until they are JUST RIGHT.

My actions are forever what they originally were.

Maybe that explains the popularity of the many forms of social media these days. Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and Twitter allow us to believe and speak things with gusto and passion without actually requiring that we take any sort of ACTION.

In the end though, it may all be exactly what Shakespeare called it: “Much ado about nothing.”

So where are you willing to act today? What purposeful deed can flow from your well-developed system of beliefs?

Think about it.

 

Then ACT.

07
Feb
17

Be Tom Brady

tom-brady-super-bowl-2017-hWait a minute… that didn’t come out right.

Be you. Of course, be you. Only and exactly you.

But be you in a Tom Brady-like way, if you know what I mean.

OK… by the glazed expression on your face I can see you have no idea what I mean. So a little explanation seems to be in order…

Followers of the game of American football (both serious and casual) know that Tom Brady is the current quarterback of the New England Patriots.

And since winning a record fifth Super Bowl and a record fourth Most Valuable Player award, many are calling Tom Brady the Greatest Quarterback to Ever Play the Game.

Yes, he has his detractors, but I would have to say I agree completely with that assessment.

But here is the point and the reason for the somewhat provocative title of today’s post: at one time in his life, very few people believed Tom Brady was any good at all.

In college, Tom Brady played quarterback for the University of Michigan Wolverines. He was pretty good, but not dazzlingly great.

After graduation in the year 2000, Tom decided to throw his hat into the ring for the professional football draft and then waited patiently to be selected by one of the 30 NFL teams.

He waited… and waited… and waited… and waited some more. He waited through the entire first round, the second round, the third round, and then the fourth round. Over 100 college players had been chosen by one of those 30 teams. And still… no one had yet called the name “Tom Brady.”

With the 21st pick that year, the Kansas City Chiefs picked a wide receiver named Sylvester Morris. With the 17th pick, the Raiders chose a KICKER! When we got to the 85th pick of the draft, the Chiefs chose a free safety named Greg Wesley.

And still quarterback Tom Brady sat there at home… waiting for his phone to ring.

Finally… with the 199th pick, deep in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, the New England Patriots said, “We think we’d like to take a chance on that Tom Brady kid.”

The rest – as they say – is history.

Looking back I can’t help but wonder what that experience must have been like.

No doubt Tom Brady continued to believe in himself and in his abilities. He loved the game and wanted to keep playing it as long as possible! But now large rooms full of EXPERTS – people who are paid handsome salaries to evaluate the talents of young football players – had collectively said, “There are AT LEAST 198 players who are better than you, Mr. Brady, including the offensive tackle Stockar McDougle from Oklahoma.”

So when I began the post by saying, “Be Tom Brady,” what I was trying to say is: don’t ever give up on yourself. And more importantly, don’t let the so-called “expert opinions” of other people tell you what your value is.

Because God is the only one who knows your value. And God says your value is INFINITE.

Even if 198 people stand in a line and say, “I would prefer someone besides you,” never, ever let go of the knowledge that you are a unique, beloved child of God, gifted in miraculous and splendid ways.

In those moments when you find yourself being minimized or repeatedly dismissed, just open your Bible to Psalm 139 and hear the psalmist speaking to God and saying, “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, that I know full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14, NRSV).

God called Jesus “the Beloved.” But remember: God calls YOU by the same name.

Henri Nouwen said, “We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children, and friends loved or wounded us. That’s the truth of our lives. That’s the truth I want you to claim for yourself.” (Henri Nouwen, from Life of the Beloved).

And so today be the fullest, most joyous, most complete, wackiest version of YOU you can be.

But in honor of the MVP of Super Bowl LI, be Tom Brady, too.




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