Do It Again!

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

-G.K. Chesterton

A friend of mine recently shared this quote with me and I found it very moving and encouraging. Upon writing this article I thought, “Why does it resonate with me”? After all one could dismiss Chesterton as being too simplistic and perhaps speaking of God on too elementary of terms. Yet, I think not. In fact, I think perhaps we (me) are too full of ourselves and that perhaps his quote is not simple enough. The problem, I think, is our lack of amazement at the God who created all that we know.

This quote creates an image in my mind of a very endearing God. Not that we should try to sanitize or contain God, for that would be useless and futile. Young Lucy asked of Mrs. Beaver in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” if Aslan was safe, and the rebuke came back,

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

No, that’s not what I am speaking of and I’m not talking about an old and gentle grandfather character. I carry great and profound respect for our marvelous God. This is the God who spoke 400 billion stars into existence, just in the Milky Way! But I also note that He calls me friend and it’s that portion of His character that makes Him so endearing. Paul Tripp made a good point when he wrote, “Awe of God will produce willing submission to his will, and a lack of awe of God will lead me to step over his boundaries.” I found it settling to know that because of His grandness I am drawn into His loving arms. I want to move toward Him, to trust Him, and to love Him….regardless of my life’s circumstances.

Indeed, the marvelous God, the only living God, is not some despotic and deistic entity who is fragile and temperamental. He is certainly just and can be angered, but He is safe for His children. He can be trusted by those who believe Him and have surrendered themselves to Him. He is merciful and has done what no other god has done. You see, in all of religion, including, atheism, it becomes all about hoping one has done enough to reach whatever goal that life may promise the individual. With this true and living God, however, He has chosen to reach down to us. He has condescended and made Himself approachable through Jesus. Yes, I am endeared to Him on a grand scale, but I am also endeared to Him by His tenderness, His complexity, and His eternal appetite of infancy.

Today, I will choose to believe like a child and stand in awe as I watch this God say to the sun, the moon, and the daisy, “Do it again!”

The Insanity of Surrender

“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the Maker of Heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them” Psalm 146:5-6

I was nineteen as we drove toward North Georgia. Our small rag tag group included myself, a rock climbing instructor friend, and two other students. We were making our way to Mount Yonah which is outside of Helen, Georgia. I remember feeling nervously excited about the idea of rock climbing. I love the outdoors: the openness, the smells, the sounds, and the dangers of being in the wild. Mike, the instructor, lived in my dorm and was a proficient rock climber and instructor. He invited me to drive to Helen for my first rock climbing adventure. I eagerly accepted.

repelling-downAs we had driven up we could see this monstrosity from the road. It looked glorious and promised to provide incredible views from the top. It took a little bit of time to hike to the base of this broad but exposed mountain. When we got to the base, Mike set up all the ropes by first climbing himself to anchor the rope 90 feet up so that we students could climb safely to the top and then repel down. When he finished, he gave us basic instructions on the safety of the ropes and the all important terms used in this buddy system. It was pretty impressive, too. Rock climbers are religious about announcing their climb, requesting permission to climb, and then waiting for permission by the “belayer” to climb (the person who held your rope while sitting and wrapping it around her waist). After his instruction he looked at me and said,“Ready?” Driven by pride and adrenalin, I said, “Let’s do it!”

With coaching along the way I made it to the anchor Mike had secured earlier and it felt good. I was able to look to my left and to my right to enjoy the view, but then Mike said, “Okay, come on down! Now I want you to lean back!” I yelled back incredulously, “What?!” He calmly repeated himself, as if he’d heard that question before in his instructional days. “Lean back!” he said. I thought about it for a millisecond and yelled down, “You lean back!” I thought I was supposed to climb back down backing myself toward the ground! All I heard at that point was, “Trust me. You’ll be okay.” I swallowed so loudly that I was sure the group below could hear me, but then I very counterintuitively leaned back. I had never been more afraid than at that moment. I was ninety feet up a sheer cliff and every fiber of my being said to cling to the rope and cry for momma. I resisted the urge to call for her and reluctantly leaned back. It was awesome! The anchor, the rock, and the person belaying me below held securely and I was able to enjoy a freedom I had never felt before. The perspective was amazing and the feeling was one of exhilaration. When I got to the bottom everyone congratulated me and we celebrated my climb together.

Surrender can be like that. Most always it feels counter intuitive and can even feel foolish. The key, however, to your surrender is to whom or to what are you surrendering? In many instances surrender is foolish. Surrendering to an untrustworthy person, or a secret passion that leads you to shame is a foolish thing to do. But without question it is a very good thing to surrender yourself and all of your circumstances to God. The reason is because He is reliable and is incapable of failing us. As I look back on my life I cannot think of a single instance where God dropped the ball. True enough, I admit there were times when I thought He had failed. But, I was wrong. Time and perspective proved that. God is known as the Rock. He is immovable, and Jesus described himself by saying he was the same yesterday, today, and forever. That’s reassuring to say the least. Rocks are consistently secure and never really change.

Surrender remembers that God is Father. It frees one from the pressure of being perfect. It points to a great God who is capable of caring for you and growing you. It is easier to experience the freedom that God has given us.

There are two characteristics of God that I often rely upon and ponder deeply. First of all, He is provident over my life. Nothing surprises Him and nothing happens without His knowledge. As Psalm 139 points out, He knows us intimately and entirely.

Secondly, He is good. Yes, He is good, and because of that I can rest and experience peace in the midst of my chaotic and challenging life. I may not understand Him or even agree with what He has ordained or allowed in my life, but if He is good then I can rest in that knowledge. And He is good. 

It’s easier (not gonna say easy!) to surrender and “lean back” because God IS our rock. He’s greater than Mount Yonah. I can lean back and trust that He will remain my God and my Friend. So, what are you experiencing that causes you to hesitate to lean back? Trust Him. Lean on!

Forgetting the Past

I read a good blog this morning by Ed Welch. Sometimes we can get bogged down by what has happened to us or by us in our past. Sometimes it immobilizes us and sometimes it slows us down enough to turn us inward into a downward spiral of overthinking. As Welch discusses these past events can be failures or bad decisions but, like Paul, can also be our past successes. I love how Scripture points us forward instead of into the past. From the very beginning we are led forward to keep our eyes on the prize. Jesus said he was going ahead to prepare a place for us. Paul encourages us to forget what lies behind but consider what remarkable grace has been bestowed upon us.

Take a look at this blog and consider how you might more forward instead of held in the past.