Rejection Is Protection

I saw such sorrow on a friend’s face today, Lord. Something did not work out the way she had hoped. There was once a time when I would have prayed for her to get the position she was aiming for. When I think of that now, how I used to pray, I wince in my soul. It took me years — and maybe lifetimes — to understand my folly. Thinking that I know what is best for someone, and that You require my guidance — my intervention — to direct another person’s life! I often replay the dream I had years ago, at the time I felt the doors had suddenly closed on the career I had chosen. I had been lamenting not getting my way. I was feeling sorry for myself, rejected by something I wanted, and abandoned by heaven, so to speak. I was not in good shape. But in a dream visitation I was informed that “earthly rejection is holy protection.” I woke up calm. Tranquil, as if I had slept under a blanket of grace. I have never doubted again — not once. When I released my unmet expectations to You, You led me down a path I did not see coming. One I could not have imagined because I never knew it existed.

— Caroline Myss, Intimate Conversations with the Divine, p. 118

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 27, 2021

A New Story

For much of my life, this guilt, pressure, and fear of exposure had left me fairly exhausted. But I am slowly but surely walking into a new story, gradually but most definitely jettisoning those things that don’t ring true anymore and traveling much lighter. My reverence for God has never been greater, my wonder never more full, my desire to know my Maker never stronger. The difference is, I now see God through the lens of one who is beloved, not one who is beloved with conditions. Life now is not a test to try and reach God, but an opportunity to notice God. I am seeking Jesus more deeply than ever — not to escape punishment, but to discover life as it is best lived. My faith is not about fleeing something horrible, but running toward something beautiful. I am daily responding in gratitude for the beauty of the gift of this world, not in the hope I can eventually escape it. I come to the Scriptures now not as divine dictation, but as the journal entries of those who came before me and who have walked this road of asking, seeking, and knocking.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 164

Photo: Rocky Mountains, January 7, 2020

Moralism

You know moralism has displaced your life in Christ when living faith is reduced to a system of correct behavior and moral merit badges instead of a dynamic relationship with the indwelling Holy Spirit. We don’t acquire the presence of the Holy Spirit by accumulating moral merit badges.

— Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike Way, p. 72

Photo: Burg Lahneck, Germany, August 11, 2000

Wrestling

To read the Bible’s hardest passages is like wrestling with God, much like Jacob who wrestled through the night at the river Jabbok. You grapple to make sense of the words, you hold on, you struggle for clarity, you seek to wrest answers for all your questions. What God gives you instead of a system of answers is a blessing, a new name — a living relationship. You are forever changed by the encounter. You have seen the face of God.

— Barbara R. Rossing, The Rapture Exposed, p. 186

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, May 9, 2020

Am I Acting Like I Believe?

So perhaps a better question than “Do I believe in miracles?” is “Am I acting like I do?” Am I including the people who are typically excluded? Am I feeding the hungry and caring for the sick? Am I holding the hands of the homeless and offering help to addicts? Am I working to break down religious and political barriers that marginalize ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities and people with disabilities? Am I behaving as though life is more than a meaningless, chaotic mess, that there is some order in the storm?

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 186

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 3, 2019

Outgrowing the Container

Jesus is telling his inquisitors and reminding us that responding to God will often push us to the boundaries of religion. It may cause tension. It may mean we outgrow the container we’ve been living in. If you feel like you don’t fit, that might be really good news. A greater faith and bigger table may well be ahead, though you may have to tap-dance through a minefield on the way. You may have to endure adversity that doesn’t feel at all worth it at the time.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 48

Photo: Eibsee, Germany, July 17, 2000

Not of Ourselves

I cannot pick up a New Testament and find anywhere in it the statement that it is “by faith you have been saved” or it is “by repentance you have been saved.” I find this to be a very confusing situation, as the message from many churches I have attended, and many Christians to whom I speak, is exactly that. I hear over and over again that there is something we must do to get ourselves saved. It might be faith, it might be repentance; some people even say baptism. Whatever it might be, whatever hoops you believe God demands you jump through; it is not what the Bible says. The Bible teaches us that God has gone out of the “hoop jumping” business for good.

— Peter Gray, Until They Are Found, p. 48

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, July 26, 2019

God’s Business

Are you, in the end, successful? Naturally, I find myself heartened by Mother Teresa’s take: “We are not called to be successful, but faithful.” This distinction is helpful for me as I barricade myself against the daily dread of setback. You need protection from the ebb and flow of three steps forward, five steps backward. You trip over disappointment and recalcitrance every day, and it all becomes a muddle. God intends it to be, I think. For once you choose to hang out with folks who carry more burden than they can bear, all bets seem to be off. Salivating for success keeps you from being faithful, keeps you from truly seeing whoever’s sitting in front of you. Embracing a strategy and an approach you can believe in is sometimes the best you can do on any given day. If you surrender your need for results and outcomes, success becomes God’s business. I find it hard enough to just be faithful.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 167-168

Photo: Schloss Dhaun, Germany, July 2002

We Come in Love

We come in love. I would submit that the teaching of Jesus to love God and love our neighbor is at the core and the heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. And we must be people who reclaim Christianity from its popular modality, from the way it is often perceived and presented, to a way of Christianity that looks something like Jesus. And Jesus said, Love God and love your neighbor, so we come in love.

That is the core of our faith. That is the heart of it. And we come, because we are Christian and the way of love calls for us to be humanitarian. It calls for us to care for those who have no one to care for them.

— Michael Curry, The Power of Love, p. 60-61

Photo: Above Spittal an der Drau, Austria, July 29, 1998