Posted on July 24, 2019
It started off as a grand adventure. We would paddle across the serene lake our cabin rested on, to the river, and all the way out to the great freshwater lake. Up and out early with visions of grandeur we would hold onto forever, we loaded into our kayaks and pushed off the dock. It wasn’t in the quiet stillness of morning as we’d woken up to so many other days, but in the choppy result of a steady wind. Soon after we embarked on our journey, both of our kids needed a tow line. Every paddle felt like going backwards. Our cabin neighbor came gliding up beside us. We wanted to know why … and…how.
“I have a keel,” he explained. “It drops down and stabilizes the boat so it goes forward instead of back and forth.”
U2, who I’ve been mildly obsessed with since walk-mans were cool, turned the 40th Psalm into a song that hit me on a new level as the melody drifted through the marrow of me as I flipped the final page on my fourth decade. King David, who wrote the song, reaches into the core of all that makes a human heart beat and break in awe of the unfailing love God has for all of us. The song played and I pictured myself in all stages of life blaring it as an unbeknownst anthem.
Life starts out as such a grand adventure, doesn’t it? But without a keel, we paddle back and forth and sometimes backwards. There’s something about turning the page on a decade that causes us to reflect back and look forward. For the next ten years, I want to steer steady, with the keel dropped down, each paddle as efficient as it can be, no matter the weather. To weather storms with more grace and poise, and for forgiveness to flow out of me faster and easier. It feels time to step up and into the girl God made me to be all those years before the swells crashed into my reality faster than I could bail out or paddle through.
There’s never been a day in my life I haven’t believed in Jesus. If anything is worth celebrating at 40 …it’s that. So I chose to celebrate by getting baptized. He has loved me through the most impossible circumstances and when I was impossible to love. He reminds me who I am and continues to grow me into who He’s purposed me to be. No one knows me like Him. It’s love, unconditional and eternal. No strings, stipulations or shame. It’s out of this world …and worth singing about. In and around the water I’m reminded of how His Word flows through and connects all He has created. No matter what storms flare up in the next decade, I’m all in.
This is 40. A few nights ago I sat up to roll over and pulled my neck out. For now my daughters say my smile lines are beautiful because they haven’t morphed into critical teenagers yet. I have to say I like them, too. Looking back, I’m tempted to remember the heartbreaks and mistakes. But the past is equally lined in triumphs. Laughter, love …and fearless adventure. So much laughter. So many friends. And now daughters … Jesus isn’t interested in keeping score in our lives. He commands us to go tell it …maybe …to sing it.
Sing your song.
Posted on March 27, 2019
“Friends with Everyone” is the quest to love people in our lives well. God places people in our lives purposefully. As Christians, we are called to reach outside of our comfort zones in order to serve the people bordering our everyday lives.
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.
To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.
To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.
To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.
I have become all tings to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV (emphasis mine.)
Love finds common ground. Paul isn’t advising us to change for people in these verses. He’s challenging us to find common ground with the people in our lives. There is common ground to be found. It’s not an easy quest. There are lines we will be tempted to cross and company we wish would could keep closer. We will be called to ruffle a few feathers in righteousness. We will be left out, called out, questioned, and ridiculed. Being friends with everyone requires us to flip all of the hurt into forgiveness, and trust God with transformation.
“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
We wouldn’t die for someone that hurt us. We wouldn’t die for someone who didn’t apologize for the hurt they caused …and we surely wouldn’t die for someone intent upon hurting us again. Jesus did. Compassion and kindness come from Him. All of us continue to fall short every day, yet the forgiveness Jesus died to grant us, to go before us and pave for us, isn’t effected by our inability to overcome the broken world we live in. He has already defeated what we could …and cannot. It. Is. Done. A true understanding of forgiveness breaks the cycle of hurt and allows the love of Christ to flow through our lives.
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 NIV
I believe we take this verse out of context when we use it as an excuse to shun people who are different from us. What good is all of our wisdom about Christ, if we hide from the people that don’t know what we know? Like Paul, through adversity …seek diversity. But we must keep our eyes on Jesus. He is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He was friends with everyone, without sacrificing His mission.
Jesus had a close group of twelve friends, and out them three were extremely close to Jesus. Still one, John, was Jesus’ best friend on earth. We’re clearly called to choose our close circle of friends with care, but leave the door open. May our light reflect His Love.
I shudder to think of all the rich friendships I would have missed out on, had I not decided to leave my Monday morning Bible Study group open to anyone. Whether or not they go to church or believe in God is between them and Him. Our job is to open the door and share what we know.
“Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious- don’t get infected.” Proverbs 22:24-25 MSG
The more friends we have, the greater the risk of getting hurt. Learning how to survive devastating blows to our character and create healthy boundaries is all part of the package. Can I tell you something? It’s through our reaction to those situations that our faith is put on display the most.
Loving the people in our lives well leads us to brotherly and sisterly love. As we grow in wisdom and away from the lessons of our past, God is faithful to provide friends that are racing towards Christ alongside us. Never take these friends for granted. These are the best friends. The ones who don’t get all awkward and subject-change when we start to talk about Jesus. No, these are the friends who lean in to learn alongside of us. Every broken hearted moment is worth it to find these people in life. But we can’t stay there.
We are called to be friends with everyone.