Friday, May 22, 2015

I Dare to Trust

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths. (NKJV)  

I’m not great at memorizing Bible verses, but this one is hard wired into my brain. It speaks to me on so many levels.  

Eons ago, in our senior year book, the editors published one descriptive sentence under each of our photos. It could have been an expression we always used, a habit, or a current passion. “It’s MY life!” was my sentence. I must have said it often, and it later led to some foolish decisions. But it was the dawn of women’s liberation, and I remember the nights I looked out the 6th floor dorm window at the twinkling city below, believing anything was possible in this new era of equality. My adult life was beginning, the horizons seemed endless, and the last thing I considered was God and what his will for me may have been. 

But God has a way of breaking through the most stubborn hearts, and in time I learned (the    hard way) to seek his guidance first. That’s a foreign concept in this culture that tells us wisdom comes from within each of us, rather than from the Lord. Yet, when I

  • learn not to imagine the worst outcomes, but trust that God is in control, I am far less stressed.
  • stop and do not act, but wait a day or two so I can hear God’s soft whisper, I choose wisely.
  • speak with grace and love, I see anger melt.

Trusting God with my whole heart can be a challenge. My thoughts are not his thoughts, and what the Bible tells me may not be what I want to accept. It may not seem fair, or I may not understand why God’s way would work better than my plan. Yet, God is all powerful, all knowing, all good, all trustworthy; but “fair?”  I think the idea of fairness is a human construct. At age three, a toddler cries”It’s not fair!”
In the parable of the laborers, Jesus points out that he, as boss,  has the right to decide how much each person will be paid, regardless of the hours worked. That doesn’t seem fair to me. Yet God’s ways are sovereign and sure, and I need to trust him no matter what.
And there’s the promise that he will direct my path, or “make my path straight” (in the NIV version.) He will topple obstacles and hedge me within the boundaries of his protection. Sometimes, as a Christian writer, I write words that fire volleys into the cathedral of public opinion. Trusting in God, leaning into Scripture, I pray that my writing acknowledges him in all ways, that it goes where he wants it to go, and that it does what he wants it to do.
Website: Ecclesia! and Road to Emmaus blog at

Monday, May 18, 2015

Angels Unawares

          Mandy Kniskern is our guest contributor today. Her days are filled to the brim with her two sons, six and four years old, and they are an adventurous duo. My heart is filled to the brim because she is also my daughter and Barrick and Brendon, my grandsons. The three of them, along with Ken, are enjoying life to the full each day with experiences that, without her observant mom’s heart, could blend in unnoticed in their surroundings. Her article below is adapted from a living journal of the boys’ lives on Facebook. 
          Thank you for stepping into my Jewel’s slippers with two such moments, Mandy. And “Thank You” for just being you…

I share this with a smile, and as I describe this for you, there's no judgment... just description so you can picture it and appreciate the scene. I love people in general and love the diversity among my friends, from all walks of life.
          As the boys and I parked at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter recently to deliver a duckling abandoned near our backyard, Brendon asked me why the other cars were there in the parking lot. I told him some people were bringing animals like we were, and some were coming to get animals for pets.
          As we were walking up the stairs to the entrance, there were several leather-clad friends coming down the stairs together, with colorful tattoos visible on their arms. As we got closer to them, Brendon spoke to the first one, a lady close to my age. She was wearing a black leather tank-style corset with cleavage barely contained. Brendon asked, "What pet did you get?" We all smiled, and she told him she'd brought a baby bird they'd found. A couple more stairs up, and he asked another leather-clad friend, "What pet did you get?" We stopped for a few seconds and all chuckled, then went on.
           I love the innocence and engagement in my boys. I'll smile and wave at anybody, but am often too shy to just start talking to people I don't know. Shyness is a luxury I rarely have anymore, and I love that my boys keep me engaging with others because they've already engaged. They help break down barriers without even knowing they're doing it. 
          Another thing happened the day I took Brendon on our impromptu trip to Bricktown (a section of Oklahoma City being revitalized from years of neglect into a thriving district in the Heartland). When we were walking along the canal, he had gotten slightly ahead of me. 

          There is an area under Chileno's where the wall is painted bright colors, and a place with several steps going up to nowhere ... they just stop under the overhang of the restaurant with a small platform to sit on. I saw him walk up a few steps, then sit down with a smile. 
          What I didn't see there in the shadows, until I got closer, was a homeless man sitting at the top of those steps, probably late-40s to early-50s. There was a walker with a basket parked beside him. I smiled and softly said, "Hi." He smiled back, then I walked up and sat beside Brendon on his stair, just a couple of steps below the man.
          As much as I wanted to take a picture of Brendon sitting on the steps close to that complete stranger, to preserve the sweetness and innocence of that moment in a picture, it didn't feel right to capture the man's misfortune in that way. Brendon and I sat just a minute or two while he chattered to me in the way he does, then we moved on.
          I struggle with how cautious to be around strangers ... wanting to be open, but still careful, especially if Ken is not with us. (There were a few other people around us that day.) Brendon is completely open to everyone, oblivious to any differences, and I love that. I just stay close by and pray for his protection as he grows older, and Barrick's - as they are wired the same - not wanting to squash that warmth, openness, and friendliness in them.
          All of this to say, I'm thankful for the way these boys minister and open doors for us to meet and engage with others we might not see the opportunity to do so with... even if it's just sitting quietly near someone who might not have that many people sit close by very often.

“Let brotherly love continue.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
(Hebrews 13:1-2, KJV)


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