Yesterday I took someone on a hike through a wood. We strode down paths that twisted and crossed. She asked, “Do you ever walk here alone?” I shook my head, “No, these woods are safe, but I would feel unsafe if I went by myself. Two of us together is fine.”
She agreed – the woods were fine- but then she asked that question again, “Do you ever walk here alone?” It surprised me and I answered the exact same way. But then I understood. She wanted to know if I knew where I was going, if I knew the way. She wanted to know if she was safe with ME.
This is a scary question, full stop. Do people feel safe when they interact with me? Thankfully, my friend finally did.
A year ago exactly, On Unclipped Wings slipped onto the market almost unnoticed. But God noticed. Often, he reminds me how important it was to write it. It comes through Bible verses, or an unexpected comment from someone.
He also reminds me that our stories are entwined. For, whatever happens in my life, or in any of our lives, he is right there with us, holding us up and cheering us on. And through his participation, our stories become his story as well. So when he says, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven,” (Matthew 4:16) it is so very true.
To God, my flickering flame or that gigantic spotlight are both lights worth sharing. Both are important. Both are good.
Fifty years ago today, I prayed, “Dear God, please be my boss.” I was starry-eyed and fourteen. Life would be grand. But God redefined my definition of ‘grand’.
I used to walk past a house with rusty paint pots lined up out front. It took me years to notice the red geraniums that grew in each one. Those horrid pots distracted my gaze and I totally missed the grand.
There is so much that is grand. A person who can still laugh even though wracked with pain. A person who can forgive even though an injustice still causes havoc in their life. A person who can finally push aside fear and speak up for the silenced.
These are the things that still leave me starry-eyed, and I never want to lose their grandeur.
If we can do something well and with a flair, people call us talented. Yet I knew someone who could sing and a voice teacher suggested that he study professionally. But this person never did and only talked about his talent.
Some of us, however, might think, ‘I wish I had a talent. I’m not good at anything and I would love to boast about at least one thing in my life.’ But each one of us does have a talent – our natural aptitude to love.
Jesus said, “Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) He said it because all of us have the ability and flair to love well. And he doesn’t want us to just talk about it. He wants us to develop this most extraordinary talent with daring and unyielding courage.
I didn’t want to be seen. Someone might get jealous. Someone might criticize my creativity. But Jesus didn’t agree with my fears.
He said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). He didn’t say, “Wait until everyone agrees with you”, or “Hide your talents until everyone feels happy.” He said, “Get out there with stubborn courage and SHINE!”
Why? Because we are the only ones who can express our talents. And when we let our own personalities mix with our own talents, we will step out of the invisible. We will be who God wants us to be. We will shine.
It is a choice, a scary choice, but worth every sweat drop and tear.
We all desire home, a place where we can go back and feel we belong. We desire a place where someone has put our photo up and can’t wait to see us. Yet sometimes it isn’t the old family homestead, for there is no embrace.
God has put this aching desire for home in all our hearts. It is like that homing beacon for an airplane, or that instinctive place where a bird migrates. And we too can find belonging.
God says, “See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:16) He embraces us. He adores our quirks. He has our photo up, for “your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20) He loves us.
God is our home and we will always have a place where we belong.
It is a fact. When I get angry, it doesn’t mean that I am necessarily right. If I blow up at someone, it doesn’t make them wrong.
God, however, cuts across my human anger. He asks, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” (Romans 14:4) It is a fact. My human anger will never accomplish God’s heart. It entraps, instead.
God wants us to remember that there can be a tyranny about anger. He wants us to understand how arbitrary our standards can be. And he gives us his point of view – everyone is responsible to God, not to us. HE is good at his job.
Years ago we stayed in a log cabin up in the Yorkshire hills. During the night I freaked out with anxiety. I paced the floor and then a verse came to mind: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) So I unloaded my truckload of worries onto God. It took a couple of hours.
Today, the turmoils around us are invading my heart as well. I didn’t know where to put them. But today another Bible verse caught my eye: “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:19) I unloaded my troubles and God reminded me, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.”*