God is able

A phrase that’s been on the front of my mind lately is one you’ll hear in sermons, in songs, or written on posters or in sympathy cards. It comes from Ephesians 3:20.

God is able.

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If you’re like me, though, every once in a while you might ask yourself, “What is He able to do, exactly?” I think the Sunday School answer is everything. But that doesn’t necessarily help me when I’m stuck in traffic and frustrated, or when I make a mistake at work, or when I say something that’s not exactly encouraging to someone. Or for you, maybe you’re losing patience with your kids, or lost out on a big work project, or didn’t do so hot on a recent test. Or maybe you just accomplished something significant, or did get that big work project. There’s still a need for God even in those situations, right? It could almost be anything at all that points us to a need for something more.

What has made the phrase relevant in my life recently is acknowledging that I sometimes get caught in this cycle:

Feeling discouraged <turns into> thinking something will or won’t happen <turns into>  doubt <turns into> unhealthy behavior <turns into> guilt.

So I’ll admit, then, sometimes I wonder about it. “Is God able?” I’ll ask. Is He actually able to help me with what I’m doing today? Using the cycle above, is He able to keep me from diving into discouragement, etc?

Then recently it dawned on me: Yes, He is. Because His ability to “do” isn’t constrained by and doesn’t rely on my belief that He can. He can. He can. That’s it. He can. It’s like wondering if a beagle howls. Or a dolphin jumps. Or if grass is green. The answer is yes, yes, and yes. Whether I believe it or not, the grass is still green. A dolphin will still jump. A beagle will still howl.

And God is able.

So I’m thankful today that even in my wavering ups and downs where for one minute I’m singing How Great Thou Art and the next I’m quoting one of my favorite lines from Rescue Dawn – “God, why don’t You help us when we need You most?” – God is still there, and He is still able.

-Out of the Wilderness

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Life: Laughing together like people in Japan probably do

Laughing.

We all do it. Babies. Old folks. Democrats. Republicans. AP English teachers. Criminals. People in the smallest town in the US to people in the largest city in Japan.

ms smilingWhen God created us, he included something that makes life so much more enjoyable. The sense of humor. And it’s pretty cool that there are different types. Something I find funny isn’t the same as what you think’s funny. Sense of humor can be seen in all areas of life; from TV ads like this one…
…to funerals where someone giving the most heartfelt eulogy can pepper in a bit of humor that works perfectly, even in the midst of heartbreaking loss.

I’ve been thinking some this week about this thing called humor. How it fits into my life. If you know me at all, it’s needless to say I value it very much. I absolutely love making someone laugh with a timely thought, an odd look, or a movie quote. And I equally love when someone can make me laugh. There’s more to it, though, and this is what I’ve been wrestling with the past few days.

When do I use humor to keep people from knowing the deeper things in my heart?

I think there are times I don’t like to admit that I’ve used humor as a way for you to like me. Sort of a social resume. It’s especially true when I first meet people. Humor is a way to say, “Hey, I’m a fun person!” I hand over a piece of paper with a few topical one-liners, a personal quip about my dogs, an impression of Jimmie Fallon doing an impression of Donal Trump.

“Let’s build a waalllllll.”

But hey, I’ve already built a wall! Yes, perfect segue. I can comfortably hide behind this wall to keep from revealing the other things I value. Deep conversations. Complete trust. Working hard and not cutting corners. No one wants to talk about those things in social scenarios, right? So a wall’s constructed, beautified, updated with the most current news or movie quotes, all in an attempt to:

  1. Get you to like me
  2. Keep me from being vulnerable which could lead to rejection

This weekend, though, I’ve longed for that vulnerability. I feel it most alive, or most exposed, when I have conversations with long-time friends, those handful of people that’ve climbed over the wall to experience the deeper parts of my personality. Beyond the humor I sometimes hide behind.

So to my long-time friends, thank you for letting me be vulnerable. To new friends, please like me! I hope one day soon we can let our guards down. To laugh together like people in Japan probably do, but also trust each other like long-time friends do.

-BW
ms smiling 2

 

 

I Don’t Know What the Future Holds

…but I know who holds the future. Have you ever heard that before? It’s a catchy, thoughtful little quote that Christians like to say when things are uncertain. I’ve certainly used it for comfort at various points in my life and when I say various points, I mean when I wonder who I’ll marry or if all my mistakes have lead me miles away from where I should be or could be. Earlier this week I thought more about the word ‘trust’ and how it connects to faith. Because that ‘holds the future’ thing is really all about trust. If we really believed, like if we really, really believed, knowing that God is in control, that He really “holds the future,” that we can really trust Him completely, believing that everything that happens, happens for a reason, and even beyond that, He knows about everything that happens and that nothing happens that He hasn’t accounted for or planned on, if we believed that even with the chaos we see every single minute in our hometowns, in our states, in our country, in the world, in our heads, that He is actually in control, that He actually has a plan, that He actually isn’t surprised by anything ever, that nothing happens beyond what He allows, that there is an end goal and a finish line for all of us, that the world, as in the actual earth, is longing for Him, too, that as society crumbles and people act more and more crazy, act more and more selfish, less and less tolerant to Him and what he brings, less tolerant to those they call intolerant, even through all that, He counts the hairs on our head, He’s still got compassion for those that love him and those that hate him, He reaches out to hug us, to protect us, He loves us and even likes us, His angels are entertained by watching His creation (us) like I’m entertained watching His creation (dolphins and horses, more specifically), to really believe he can hold all the love and all the hate and all the greatness and sadness, all the victories and defeats that every one of us face, all the disappointment and all the success, all the governments that may or may not acknowledge Him, he can hold all of that in a balance that allows us to still live even when we don’t deserve it, to love even though we don’t really know how, to laugh even when we might be suffering… well, if we really believe He’s actually in control, as if He’s actually got a plan for the big future (mankind) and the little future (mine and yours)…

I don’t see how that wouldn’t change everything about everything.

Miracles, What Are They Anyway?

After barely making the playoffs, your favorite hockey team wins the Stanley Cup. Not a miracle.

Speeding down the highway in the pouring rain, just missing the jack-knifed semi-truck trailer. Not a miracle.

A man turning water into wine. Miracle.

The word miracle is far too often associated with something that is simply not miraculous. It’s a word that is overused, like a standing ovation during American Idol performances. When the audience stands and cheers after every performance, the honor of a standing ovation is lost. If a miracle is God acting in a situation, then anything that happens naturally is not a miracle. Take the stories from the Bible: Jesus turning water into wine, Moses parting the Red Sea, Lazarus coming out of the grave… these are miracles. Water never turns into wine. The Red Sea never splits in two. Death has never released it’s grip on anyone (up to that point). I’m sorry, the last I checked, a baby being born is not a miracle. Why? Because reproduction is the way humans were designed. It’s what is supposed to happen. It’s natural. It seems miracles occur in specific instances for specific reasons, mostly to make people aware of God’s presence. While there are plenty of other ways to see God- in nature, in people, in the birth of a baby- miracles are extremely rare, and extremely unnatural. The exciting part is when you do witness a true miracle, I have a feeling you won’t be able to keep from giving God a standing ovation. Or at least tweeting about it.

How ‘Bout Now

I want to ride down the highway
barely aware of what’s around us.
So caught up in each other
we may run out of gas,
but isn’t it a blast
to hold hands because we trust
that what we have will last?

I want to wake up in the morning
still smiling from the night before.
When we were shopping at Old Navy.
An unexpected twist,
thank God we didn’t miss
the Thursday in that store.

Tell me have you gave up drinkin’?
because I’ve stopped overthinkin’.
We can work it out.
What’s between the dream and reality
is a ‘yes’.
Well, baby, how ’bout now?

I want to wake up in the morning,
barely aware of what’s around us.
Well, baby, how ’bout now?

In or Out of God’s Will

Being in the center of God’s will.

This idea is surely the subject of many sermons, songs, church discussions and personal thoughts all over the world. However, I’ve always wondered why it’s so important to be in the middle of God’s will and even more controversial to suggest that being there doesn’t mean you’re doing anything good. The best example I can think of is one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas. If there was anyone who could have a legitimate claim that they were smack dab in the middle of God’s will, it would be him. You can’t tell the story of Jesus, his life and death, without including Judas. His role was very important. Sure God could have used different events to accomplish the goal of redeeming mankind, but he chose Judas to play a critical role in the death of Jesus. Wouldn’t that make Judas pretty happy? “Hey everybody, look at me! I’m in the middle of God’s will.” Boom, a few days later he hung himself. Doesn’t seem like a happy situation to me.

Wouldn’t it be far more special, far more personal and far more fulfilling to dismiss the idea of making sure we’re in the right spot at the right time, and just pursue God? What a relief! Pray, seek, pursue the Lord. That’s about all there is to it. We all have gone astray like sheep do, but thankfully He hasn’t run away from being our shepherd. Take a deep breath, trust the Lord. Soon enough you’ll probably discover God is in the center of your will.

Anyway, that’s just sort of what I’m thinking about during halftime of Monday Night Football.

A Love Story: Part Four

As I slid the folded paper back into my pocket, the pastor asked for her vows. Her sister, standing nearby reached out with the handwritten vows, passed them to her, and she read.

I can’t remember the first time I saw you. Some people have a clear memory of the first time they met the one they love, but not me. I’d like to think it’s because in some way, somehow, you were with me all along. In second grade when my mom dressed me up like a bride. Junior high, when boys were scared to ask me to dance, did they know I was destined for a better guy than they were going to be, so they didn’t even try? The moments I had in high school with my dad consistently proving to me what a man is, and who a man is. Teaching me to be patient. Teaching me to respect and to fight for love. All of it was for you and without my dad’s wisdom, I may not have recognized you. But I know you. You are a good man. I can see where God is shaping you not to be just any husband, but my husband. And that’s why I am so confident in our relationship. God will be our foundation, our rock, our shelter, and our source of strength no matter what good things, bad things, sad things, great things, memorable or forgettable things we encounter from here on. And second to the Lord, I will count on you to be my strength. To be my shield. You’ve proven to me your love, and don’t need to prove it anymore because I’ll see your love every day in the way you live. When you love my family, you love me. When you love children, you love me. When you choose me over yourself, that’s when I’ll know love. The proof of our love is this day. These rings. The ceremony and the vows we’re taking in front of God. In front of my family, yours, and our friends, I give you my undying faith, my love, and my life. You have the best of me and it needs to be proclaimed, I am yours. From the moment I walked in here, no, from the moment I was born, I was made for you. I just wish you would’ve found me sooner, because then I could have loved you longer. But for the rest of our life together, I look forward to loving you well.

Check back later for Part Five.

A Love Story: Part Three

A Love Story: Part Two

A Love Story: Part One