Back in my high school days, I wasn’t known for having the keenest sense of direction. (Fine. I’m still not known for having the keenest sense of direction.) Without a navigational system constantly chirping instructions at me, I’d be more lost than a goose in a snowstorm. But when my GPS is whirring away, I can sit back and enjoy the ride.
Until the signal cuts out or I make a wrong turn at a tricky intersection. Then my pulse starts to race, my thoughts spiral, and I just know the world is about to end. (This might sound the slightest bit melodramatic to you. It does to me, too.) At that point, my best option is to pull over and reorient myself. Punch a few buttons, and bam! That beautiful word—”recalculating.” I can hop back on the road and reach my destination with the thrill of adventure rather than lingering dread.
These days, all it takes to make my internal temperature rise is spending about five minutes on Twitter. (That’s the closest I get to news.)
Good grief, people. We need Jesus.
Drifting into the riptide of anxiety is easy when my eyes are fixed on this world—its chaos, its concerns, its leaders, its followers, its system. What’s that old saying? If you can’t beat them, join them. I can get sucked so quickly into joining in on the finger-pointing, problem-solving, emotional intoxication of it all. Allowing the culture’s fear (which is frankly inevitable apart from a fleshed-out friendship with God) to determine my attitudes and actions is as natural as submitting to the ocean’s undertow. And quite as deadly.
(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on July 13, 2019. You can find it here.)
It’s startling how quickly anointing can become annoyance in ministry life.
The king groaned and closed his window to shut out the jubilant roars. Responsibility weighed heavy on his shoulders, and now heaps of ingratitude from those people—God’s people!—nearly drove him to his knees. Nearly. Here he had been faithfully serving (for the most part) a nation of unruly souls with no one to lean on but the God who seemed bent on taking away his crown.
There you are, in the middle of a quite ordinary day, going about your business. Cue the bad news.
Palms start sweating, heartbeats thunder, thoughts race like they’re competing in a derby.
Whether it’s a regular occurrence or a rare one, we all have meltdowns; the perfect storm of circumstances and emotions is simply part of the human condition, though the darkness dances when we lose our footing. Panic, rage, despair, and confusion crash over us, knocking the air from our lungs. Some people lash out, others retreat. Amid the tempest, though, we aren’t without resources. The cross speaks a better word, even when the winds howl and the churning waters rise. Haven’t you heard? Jesus has a habit of calming storms.
Imagine a lioness convinced she’s a worm. Then imagine a lioness convinced she’s a king. One a spineless slave, the other a self-appointed tyrant. Which mindset could do her family more harm? Which is a greater assault on the created order of things?
The enemy has pulled quite a number on women. “Hush, you silly chits,” he whispers with shame lacing his words so that they land like daggers. “You don’t actually matter. Everyone knows you’re just pretending to be worthwhile. They can all see right through your pathetic attempts to do anything really meaningful. Pipe down before you reveal how ridiculous you truly are.”
July sizzles in like a firecracker, smelling of coconut sunscreen and leaving the creamy taste of homemade ice cream on your tongue. Flags pop up everywhere; smoke from cookouts, bonfires, and sparklers softens the landscape to a dreamy mist. This is the season of the hot dog in its full glory, of icy beverages, of late nights and lightning bugs and sandcastles. If you blink, you could miss a million beautiful surprises from the hand of a good Father. Awaken to the dazzling days of summertime.
Name calling has been a thing for a long, long time. We accept what others say about us, and even our own self-given identities evolve.
We’re about a week into our study in John’s gospel, and already massive truths have come crashing over my head. This topic of names, for instance. John earned the nickname ‘son of thunder’ because of the story (which I find hilarious) in Luke 9:51-56. In case you’re wondering, ‘son of thunder’ means kind of the opposite of ‘all-around nice guy.’ But this isn’t the only title you’ll find attached to his lapel. What did John call himself as he penned his gospel? ‘The disciple whom Jesus loved.’
Any well-traveled girl will tell you the importance of smart packing. As we jump into John’s gospel, we’ll need to make room for treasures we find along the way, little surprises to make a good journey even better.