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Show us the way back to you

We are what we eat.

We resemble the company we keep.

We become what we think about.

We are not who we think we are.

Beloved, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~ Phil 4:8

We are always growing into ourselves.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. ~ Phil 4:9

Come, Lord Jesus,

Show us the way back to you.

Let’s get dirty

News happens fast. It’s happening all the time. Get it in progress. Don’t wait. Be the first to know. The kids are all over it. Facebook, twitter, newsfeeds, friend’s posts, discussion boards….emails? They are like the Pony Express. Who has time for the land route when there’s air travel?

We consume news. And we are gorging ourselves. We have to either chew it up and spit it out or swallow it whole and hope it doesn’t get stuck on the way down. Force feeding leaves little time to breathe.

Which is why we glom onto the ‘spiritual path.’ Take it easy. Take it slow. Take your time. Meander. Just breathe. It feels so good to slow down. But that’s not life. At least not the life that comes at me fast. I need resources for this life. Rest and recovery just feels like a cold towel over the head in our neutral corners. When the bell sounds I have to head back into the ring.

I believe God is in the ring. He sends us in, sits in our corner, cheers us on —  all at the same time — because he was the first competitor. But He doesn’t send us in without resources. Oh, we aren’t to bring anything with us. No, our ammunition and weaponry is in our hands, and our heads and our hearts. Hard fought and hard won. We come prepared.

I’m afraid that inviting people into the ease of a faithful life is a lie. It’s a nice image, but it doesn’t last. That, to me, cannot be God.

But a life that sprints from here to there, to yonder and back, that worries and hurries and puts down roots only to tear them up again. That doesn’t sound like God either.

So what gives?

I’m being called into a writing life. I want to right goodness on the page. Not just for acclaim or praise, but to make people feel better. About themselves. About their world. About life. I want to write the happy ending. But I don’t live in a place of endings. I live in a tangle of pathways.

I read:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~ Philippians 4:8

I see the straight path. I wanna point my finger and say, but friends this way is the right way. Think about a world like that!  Full of nobility and right, pure loveliness, nothing but praise. Just imagine!

How can I live this in a world as disjointed and spastic and dishonoring as mine?

I have to move at its pace. Perhaps even faster. Now that’s frightening. But really, can God not take that pace? My worry comes from my standing at the center and shooting out in all directions at once. Let me do this and that. Let me go here and there. Each time, back-pedaling to the center like I’m tethered by a rebounding rope. A puppet on an elastic string. That is not God.

I read today, “Reverence requires a certain pace. It requires a willingness to take detours, even side trips, which are not part of the original plan.” Yes! But we mistake that to mean we are to do this slowly and gently. To meander. What if we detour –  at the pace of the world? Could we so trust the rightness of the True Path, that we would dare dart to and fro for the sake of collecting the dirt and grime of the world? That there we would dig into what’s in error, investigate harsh practices, correct misconceptions, re-orient those who are mis-guided, in the complete confidence that this, too, is God’s way. Of sweeping all whom He loves back to Himself.

And He has sent us. Quickly. Right now. Because time is short. In fact, our destination is just around the bend. Let’s not shy away from the pace, or worse, chastise those who are keeping up. Let’s go there thinking about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, not as carriers of a banner, but as bearers of good news. Lets get dirty, for God’s sake.

Go ahead, mix the Play-Doh

Doesn’t Play-Doh feel great?!

I had forgotten until I got out some containers for my Wednesday “Pal’s.” They are 4th graders at a local elementary school that have been “assigned” to me as part of a mentoring program. I am pretty sure they were assigned to mentor me rather than the other way around, but anyway… We had bright blue, green, purple and orange play-doh so they decided to make a nature scene. Pond surrounded by trees. What to do with the orange? Fish in the pond of course.

Our play time is always short, though, so we had barely completed our creation when it was time to clean up. The tree tops were easy to separate from their trunks, but it’s darn difficult to get those orange fish out of the blue pond to put each color neatly back into its container. One must try, though, so colors are pristine for the next creation.

We fished them out best we could, but as we rolled up the pond I could still see a seam of orange where the fish had been. A narrow streak down the center of the blue. Don’t worry. I resisted the urge to pick out every orange particle. But this morning when I read Oswald Chambers I thought about that doh and that seam:

God will not give us good habits or character, and He will not force us to walk correctly before Him. We have to do all that ourselves. We must “work out” our “own salvation” which God has worked in us (Philippians 2:12).

That orange seam was like what God has worked in me. Clearly distinct from the rest of who I am.

When we pull out that blue Play-Doh again, we’ll mash and twist and shape it into something new. The orange will be worked into the blue. It won’t take long before we don’t see it at all. Oh, it may have imperceptibly changed the color of that blue doh, but no one will know but me. It will be worked in.

I don’t think Paul had play-doh in mind when he wrote his letter to the Philippians, but perhaps this is what he meant. Working out our salvation is really about working in the salvation of God. That streak of color, mashed and twisted, is just the shade we need to shapes our lives into the creation He has in mind.

Who would have thought that God would use fish in a lake and some children to show me that?

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