18 May, 2018

Dear Skeptic

I met a man once. I came to his door with some Christian literature and we got chatting about our views, and mostly, how they differed. He told me how he saw things, and I listened and tried to understand. He thought the only kind of god there could be was an evil controlling being, greedy of power and fame. I agreed that was a nasty picture, and wondered what his solution might be. 

He went on to say the only way the world would get better was if we stopped looking out for ourselves, our power, our fame, our money, our greatness, and how we could use other people to achieve that, and worked on a system of self-sacrifice. If people did good for others, if they were kind and honourable, if they all worked together to give everyone a decent life – even if it meant denying fame and power. That was the only system that would work, he said. That’s the only system he could agree to, or want to be part of. 

We discussed other ideas like what we thought of angels, the afterlife, and where this world’s going. But it kept coming back his ideal. I entirely agreed it would be only the only way to have peace and happiness and equality. 

To him, it was a dream; an impossibility, something that would be revolutionary if only it existed. To me, it is reality. It’s not a far-fetched ideal; it’s what I see in the life of Christ and His commission to His followers. It’s what I claim as my mission. It’s what gives me hope this world isn’t all there is, that my destiny is not left up to a controlling monster in the sky. It’s what drives me to aspire to live a life of service. I wanted to give him the hope I had, but he couldn’t believe such a noble way of living would exist, or could exist. 

See, this skeptic and I were actually the same. We both saw the only way to have a sustainable life system was to be based on the principle of love and selflessness. We both recognized that happiness and peace came not through controlling and subduing others, but by giving ourselves away. We both knew the current way of control and greed for power, or past religious efforts to subdue dissenters, could never bring peace. We both wished for a better place, where there was no suffering, and everything was perfection.

The difference was: I believed, and he didn’t. I had the hope of better things; he didn’t. I had the reason live boldy and make a difference; he didn’t. I lived as though it was reality; he lived as though it could never be more than a wistful longing. 

So my heart for you, dear skeptic, is not scorn. It’s not to push reams of science and facts and knowledge to somehow convince you. It’s not one of evasion, or thinking you’re less than I for doubting. It’s simply a question: what do you have to lose by believing?

03 May, 2018

You Are A Lighthouse

Sunrise, Murray River, with this fave sunbeam

I saw a quote the other day: you may be the lighthouse in someone else’s storm. It got me, because I’ve had people be a lighthouse for me, but I never thought I would be one to someone. Then, these verses came to mind: Ye are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:14 & 16 

I’ve always thought of them in a witnessing context. We’re to be living a godly life, that will shine in the darkness of this world, and people will think ‘Wow, what have they got?!’ and want it for themselves. That’s true, but after thinking about it for a few days, I saw another message: we need to let our lights shine because they may be the beacon of hope to someone else who’s struggling. 

There’s another quote which has also been in my thoughts: your playing small does not serve the world. I want to play small; it’s much easier. I want to be that man in one of Jesus’ parables who digs a nice sturdy hole and puts his entrusted talent inside. (Matthew 25:14-30) But that servant was useless to the master; he didn’t want him in his service any longer. The other guys in the story used their talents, and the master promoted them because he could trust them with more. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes it’s easier - and even feels more Christian - to hide our talents and gifts; our light. We don’t want to big-note ourselves, we worry about whether the timing is right and what people will think. But it’s not actually about that: you have light and you need to shine it because it will make a difference in someone else’s life. God entrusted us with talents for the purpose of using them.

Sometimes I would like to find a shack in the bush and become a hermit; I want to stay low and be ‘normal.’ But does that serve the world? Does that bless anyone? Is hiding my light going to mean someone else hits rocks I could’ve helped them avoid? You mean, it’s selfish for me to curl up and protect my lil gifts out of fear of rejection or incapability?!

Maybe you need the reassurance like I do: You are the lighthouse in someone else’s storm. Your words or art or music or whatever it is – a text to say I’m thinking of you, a hug, helping with the dishes – might brighten someone else’s world. Playing small, toning down those talents and gifts and thoughts, doesn’t serve anyone. Embrace the gifts God has given you, and let that light shine! God made you on purpose, and as long as we try to bury that purpose we’re doing a disservice to ourselves and to others who are influenced by our lives.

In case you’re thinking ‘That’s great, but no one would ever be looking to me as their lighthouse’ let me reassure you: that’s not true. Every one of us has an influence, and we never know who’s watching us, relying on our encouragement, staying afloat because of our lives. The smallest thing you do out of habit could mean the world to someone else. You were all bright lights of encouragement to me on my previous post, and it meant so much (thank you!). Keep shining, my friends! You were given your beautiful light for a reason. xx

24 April, 2018

bye for now

Yesterday my brother got a call to let him know his friend and boss had passed away. We knew it was going to happen at some stage, but it's still a shock. Is death ever something you get used to?

I didn't know the man very well - just met him a couple of times, and made small talk if I answered the phone when he rang. But my brother talked about him. He was a good man, he had a good heart. He cared for my brother, for us.

Maybe it doesn't affect everyone this way, but when I hear of death, my mind goes back to the people I have lost to death, and the possibility I could lose others as well. It's something I have no control over, and that scares me.

I was scrolling through my gallery, and I saw a photo of words my sister and I put on the letterboard last week. It's a combination of Willow City's song 'Everybody Falls' which has been our unofficial theme song for the past few weeks, and Micah 7:8. "Everybody falls sometimes; but when I fall, I am going to a r i s e again."

How did God know I was going to need those words? Everybody falls. Things happen beyond our control. We don't have the answers we wish for. The question is, am I going to do what I said I would, what God promised I could? Am I going to get up again?

I know I'm not alone in this experience. You fall too. But together we can arise.

"Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me." Micah 7:7-8


Also, I never - like once in my life kind of never - write free verse poetry. In fact, I never used to read it either, until Julia converted me with her soul filled words. (Which you ought to check out hereElizabeth's are also beautiful and Emily's get me every time.) Back to the point: I wrote a poem last night, and it really is the only way I can tell the story.

'bye for now'
my sister laughed as we copied the phrase from the dear old lady
it sounded funny rolling off our tongues 
but it had an old fashioned sweetness and it stuck

we used it regularly
when we meant it
when we were having fun
'bye for now'

then something happened
it didn't make sense
does death ever make sense?
i fought it in my head
tried to understand
to justify or soften the blow
but a person is a person, and a life is a life, and there's no rationializing that
i tried to silence it by sleep

but before I rolled over i whispered a good night phrase to my sister
and somehow the swirl in my brain slowed as reality sunk in

'bye for now'

Thanks so much for listening to my unpolished thoughts, guys. I appreciate you more than I can put into words. I hope you're living in the assurance that in Him goodbyes aren't forever. If fear of death and loss is something you struggle with too, please know you're not alone, and I'd love to be there if you want to talk. Hold on to hope. xx