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In-formed by Love, not News

The gruesome experience “informed” his art.
The break-in and near death experience, “informed” his life’s course.
The death of her mother by suicide “informed” her field of study.
The assault she survived “informed” her very life.

What happens in our lives in-forms us. What we experience forms us, on the inside.

We say we live in an information age. But… TMI. Overwhelmed. Can’t take it all in. Are we convinced that the more we know, the better off we are? How much do we really know after all we have read? Binge reading that which is designed to catch our eye — the moving target or the sensational headline — is not informing. That’s gorging. Over-consumption. Gluttony.

We can choose to stop and ask:

What has in-formed us? What moment? What word? What person? What experience? These have shaped our perception, our point of view, and our understanding.

What is now in-forming us? What are we allowing in to form our perception, point of view and understanding.

Christine Blasey FordChristine Blasey Ford’s life has been in-formed by her “incident” with Brett Kavanaugh. Not only has she survived it, but she is living out of it. She has addressed the event and its circumstance and called it out. She has let it in-form her, so she can let it inform us. To speak publicly, in such an open forum, about such a traumatic and emotional experience is nothing short of miraculous. Yet, she has denied the experience its opportunity to torment her. Instead, she has turned the tables on it. She is leading our charge.

Forewarned may feel forearmed, and informed may feel like arming, but this is a different battle we’re waging, against an enemy we can’t see who employs weapons we can’t wield. We are being prepared for this battle by One who knows us intimately and is ever-transforming us. One who is constantly shaping, healing, and molding, sculpting, renewing and re-building with gracious, loving hands. With our consent.

Love doesn’t, love never, forces its way in.

Is it possible that all our experiences are redeemable, even when they’re too horrible to imagine or too painful to admit? Give them to me, God says. We can hold them together and make something magnificent. I am love. With me, all things are possible.

What in-forms you?
What is shaping you?
From the inside out?

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Seeking to See – Glimmer or Grand Illumination?

IMG_9870Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and rich. He sought to see who Jesus was, but could not on account of the crowd. ~ Luke 19:1-3

“The thing that Zacchaeus wanted to do more than anything else that day was to see Jesus. He failed, partly because he was small of stature but mainly because the people around Jesus prevented his coming near.” (JWRilling)

***

I am walking through the darkening streets of Williamsburg, VA which is swimming with thousands of people who’ve come to celebrate the season’s Grand Illumination. The periphery of the street is punctuated by torches set ablaze, and each has people gathered around to warm their hands and faces as the temperatures drop. A friend and I make our way down the middle of DOG (Duke of Gloucester) street. We are strolling down memory lane, having been roommates here at the college some years back, and have agreed to watch for horse droppings that were liberally distributed earlier in the day which are becoming increasingly hard to avoid in the dim light.

But one thing people do avoid are the “street preachers.” These, as did those in colonial days, stand elevated above the crowd by stools or steps, proclaiming scripture verses and Bible teaching. Not offensive. Not, you’re gonna rot in hell. Not, repent or die. Compared to John the Baptist at the Jordan, these guys are tame! They just speak words of the truth as they know it. And all the people give them wide berth.

Who, on this festive night, amid the splendid decorations and colonial costumes and fabulous fireworks, wants to listen to all that?!

My companion and I take note of this. In a sea of people crowding the street, there is a broad empty space left for these voices to have their say without ringing in the ears. She and I, both of short stature, did not have any difficulty seeing or hearing. We sped on by.

Full of hot cider and good cheer and with the booms of fireworks ringing in our ears, we retrace our steps along DOG street, retreating to the car parked several blocks away. Most of the other visitors are doing the same, some pushing wheelchairs, some holding the hands, some wheeling wagons, some are very, very merry. Many, it seems to me, are likely students at the college, taking a break from their studies before final exams.

As the crowd starts to thin we see a lone figure ahead, clad in long sleeve t-shirt and loose fitting, lightweight pants. “He looks cold,” says my friend. And that does make us both take notice. A very tall, lean, young man is standing, still and silent in the center of the road at the barricade to street traffic. He stares straight ahead. Is he looking for someone? waiting to meet a companion? Is he stationed there as security? None of these guesses seems quite right.

We draw closer, but his expression doesn’t change. The look on his face is neither bored nor amused. He doesn’t smile or frown. He does not pull out a cell phone. That, in itself, distinguishes him from nearly every other pedestrian. When I get close enough, I see that his t-shirt has handwritten letters across the front.

“SEEK

                    HIM”

is scrawled in all caps on the front of his plain white t-shirt. He, as a silent sentry has drawn my attention and piqued my curiosity. How, on a very cold nearly winter’s night, could he be standing there like that? Stock still. Expressionless. I can’t help glancing back in mute amazement at the figure as we pass. On the back, in the same handwriting, the shirt reads:

“AND

                  LIVE.”

What do we do, in the name of Jesus, that prevents others’ coming near?

What might we do, in His name, to draw them near so they might truly live?

Grand Illumination, indeed.

A shoe shine minister lightens a weighty week

I met Moses on Wednesday. He was shining shoes in the JW Marriott. Actually, I heard him before I saw him and it was several days before I introduced myself.

“The 10 commandments, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” he almost sang. “Love your neighbor.” This was conversation that came free of charge when you got your shoes shined. I was amused to watch the faces of the recipients. Some smiled. Some agreed and encouraged him. Some turned their heads the other way, pretending they couldn’t hear. But you couldn’t help but hear him. And I marveled. What an amazing testimony. A ministry of shoe-shining.

Moses shines shoes at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis

Moses shines shoes at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis

On Friday I finally caught Moses without a customer so I stopped and asked him how long he’d been in the ministry. Ten years, he told me. I asked if I could snap a photo and he obliged, although he insisted it was quick because guys were waiting downstairs for him. He was headed to his evening job, hard rock, gospel style. In the band he was “King Moses.”

I’m always amazed by people who integrate their faith and their work (not just their works). Who somehow translate the Good News message into the language of their vocations. Moses’ way was pretty forthright.

But this morning I walked to sessions with a physiotherapist from Canada.  The scientific conference we have been attending is coming to a close. So much research has been presented. So much debating of validity and statistical significance and repeatability and…

“It’s a shame,” she said, “when you know the good you can do but delay and wait for more confirmation.” She liked people who took what was good – and well-designed exercise is always good – and put it into practice to help people.

She laughed when she recalled some students who came to her with “wondrous” faces. They had just helped an amputee walk for the first time. They said, “I suppose this gets old after you’ve done it more times.”

“It never gets old,” she told me. Each time you help someone walk for the first time, it’s wondrous. Just as amazing as the first time.

I imagine that was the look on the faces of the onlookers when Jesus healed the paralytic and told him, “Take up your mat and walk.” And he did just that. They must have had wondrous faces. And for Jesus and the disciples, it never got old.

What a privilege it is to be a translator of science into the practice of life. To take all these studies and stats and protocols and debates and cull out what will be just the thing that might work for the athletes who come my way. There won’t be a lot of fanfare, but when it works, it is wondrous. Every time.

Leave the research to the researchers and let them get it just exactly right. The rules are important and we want to avoid jumping to our own conclusions, but serving in the field is where the rubber meets the road. I figure I’m a translator of sorts.

Like King Moses said, “the 10 commandments … then love you neighbor.” Translating one into the other is a life’s work.

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