Oh God!

Lent, Day 7

The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand. [Psalm 37:23-24] 

Geisen, author of Brave Faith, the devotional I’m loosely following during Lent, references three scriptures for today’s reflections about moving toward God when we walk toward those brave moments, that choosing/doing moment something outside of our comfort zone.

Baby steps, I call them. Sometimes it’s as small as speaking to someone you would normally not speak to, for whatever reason. But on this day, you do. You make eye contact. You connect.

It takes a certain amount of awareness, first of our surroundings (with new eyes and ears) and then with a felt perception of God within. Present. This is the way, God whispers, look there. Listen. Go there.

In Zambia, I confess, it’s easier than at home. Everything is different, culturally. Everyone here at the village and at the School of Hope, they all say hello and how are you? In fact, it’s impolite to start any conversation without first asking about the other. But my first baby step here was learning this greeting in Nyanga, one of the primary languages spoken in Zambia (along with Bemba). People smile a little broader and I’m sure they’re giggling at my accent, but it’s OK. I don’t mind it at all.

But the most embarrassing for me is not understanding what people are saying to me. They are speaking in English, but it’s British English with a strong local accent on top. I have to keep asking for them to repeat what they have said or even spell it. One young girl said her name was “Gris.” I couldn’t imagine it. I tried it a few times and she looked at me all silly. Then I had her spell it: GRACE. Oh God! I thought, help me to hear.

Is this how I hear God? Some sort of mangled understanding? Am I interpreting? Or do I just hear what I want to hear? It may be one of the reasons why I can stay in my comfort zone so easily.

Oh God! Please repeat. I’ll get better at this. I will.

Focus and Walk

Lent, Day 5.

Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Yesterday, Sunday, I had the blessing of giving the message at the Village of Hope Church. I used this Lenten study on Brave Faith (based on Mary Geisen’s devotional) as its root. Today’s excerpt from Geisen’s book uses one of the same illustrations I used of Peter having to step out of the boat before being able to walk on water. But even more important, that his eyes needed to remain on Jesus.

tightrope walkerI shared this story along with one of my own. Back in the day, when I was in acting school, we had two semesters of Circus classes. These were some of my favorites. Among the skills we learned was juggling and unicycle and of course, tightrope walking, which I loved. This too requires focus–that is focus on the end point. All balance comes from this focus.

Brave faith requires the same. We must look ahead and step toward that unknown. We must trust the Christ to bear with us the burdens, to guide our way, to keep us from falling.


Becoming Brave

Lent, Day 4.

becomingBecoming brave is becoming more of me. Becoming is an evolution, a journey into the wholeness God wants for all of us.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  Psalm 139:16 [NIV]

Tomorrow, Sunday, I’ll be delivering the message in church to the children/teens and “mama’s” of the Village. I am using “Brave Faith” as my topic as it seems quite appropriate here. Will my stories resonate? Will I be able to share some of my own “becoming” as a Christ follower?

When I was a young believer, I had the erroneous idea that I would somehow arrive into the fullness of faith and spiritual maturity. I would be wise and knowledgeable. I would hear the voice of God regularly. I would know peace and joy and all the other fruits of the spirit. And of course, there have been moments, breaths, and cycles of depth in spirit, but the journey could just be starting. After 39 years, I’m still becoming.



Lent, Day 3

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11 [NIV]

PresenceThe author of Brave Faith speaks from a place of introvertedness and “showing up.” As an off -the-chart extrovert, I am taking a different tack. For me, this devotion speaks more to Presence. Being There.

I have been working on prayer within the silence, connecting to my internal/eternal relationship with God . . . within. Bravery then can also be stopping the “external noise” long enough to hear, feel, and be in the moment.

So much of my time is spent thinking about what I did earlier today, yesterday, and a week ago OR pondering what I will wear tomorrow, what time I should get up, or what my plan is for the day. I have been losing the now; losing an opportunity to experience Presence. After all, God=I AM. Present tense, not I was or I will.

There is a type of courage that is required in the moment, letting go of what I did or did not do; letting go of what I plan to do or say. It’s the old phrase come to life: I am a Human BEing, not a Human Doing.

Our church is currently going through a terrible time as our beloved pastor has stepped down due to discovered infidelity and possibly more. It’s heart churning for everyone. But even worse are the attacks and the “I told you so’s” and who knows what else on social media. Personally, I know very few facts, but many are quick to surmise what was and when and who. Taking the Presence to this situation, I choose instead, to place him and his family and our church, into the moment. I cannot change what was and I don’t really know what tomorrow will bring, but there is this time now and invite my God into them, into us. I choose to feel unconditionally. And God will sort it out.

What is Brave?

Day Two – Lent

2 Timothy 1:7   For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. [NLT]

Mary Geisen quotes author, Annie Downs, “There is no formula and there are no rules. There is the Bible, our guidebook for all things, but other than that, being brave is organic and spiritual and a unique journey for each person.”

Geisen adds, that we can usually identify moments of brave faith when we are most uncomfortable. In other words, we have stepped out of our “box,” our comfort zone and we are navigating new terrain. One’s comfort zone can be large or small, but whenever we step out, it’s a step of faith.

I have always been tuned in to people’s feelings. Unfortunately, my response is usually to make them feel better, to make peace, to avoid conflict. I will be the chameleon. And although that can be a useful tactic, there are also times when I need to stand strong. Instead, I want to be liked, to be appreciated. I don’t want people to be angry with me and so I will adapt to the moment, edit my words, and so forth. It’s the way of the cowardly lion.

Some of this discomfort happened this year after the U.S. election of Donald Trump. I have never been a political person before, but this was a turn of events that frightened and angered me. I decided to get out of the comfort zone of being apolitical, of being an “independent,” and of not alienating people who were more conservative and happy with their new president. It has been a painful process to lose connections, to be mocked for my opinion, to be called a liar, to be called out for not matching the views of many evangelicals. My faith in Jesus Christ has been questioned publicly because of my political stand.

I continue to pray for wisdom and for truth and for protection for our country. I don’t feel particularly brave in this arena, but it is definitely uncomfortable.


Still More To Do

Ash Wednesday, 2018

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. 

Day One of Brave Faith hits home right away, “As a middle-aged woman, my days of being daring seem to be slowly waning.” She’s got that right. What could be next? Retired from full time work, the last thing I expected six months ago, would be me sitting here in Zambia, Africa at the Villages of Hope. It doesn’t feel particularly brave or courageous to travel here and spend six weeks. Not now, but it did at first.

I am seeing a change from within. It’s not me being more spiritual or praying more or hearing the voice of God speaking of great things to happen. It’s a kind of walking, step by step. It’s being present with the Presence of God. Here or at home. Here. Now.

Being afraid is a mental box in which we can choose to live . . . or not.

A pastor friend of mine once told an allegory of a man (or woman, of course) who was confined in a cage for some long time. At one point, the cage door swung wide open and the prisoner was free to go, but did not. The cage was safe and familiar, though confining. Outside, anything could happen. Wild animals might eat you. The wind might blow and the storms could come. Lightning might strike. And yet, what was really there? A meadow, as far as the eye could see.

Fear keeps us in the cage.

I am no longer young, but I am saying this today : I do not want to live in a self-imposed cage or box of fear or disappointment or “if only’s.” I am a child of God.


You Make Me Brave

When my husband died in December of 2014, one of the songs that resonated deeply within me during those initial months of grief, was “You Make me Brave.” I didn’t feel so very brave, but I believed God’s Presence was the core of whatever courage I could muster.

So it’s no mistake that I was drawn to the devotional book, Brave Faith : A 31 Day Devotional Journey, by Mary Geisen which I discovered at LifeLetterCafe.com.  It’s a year old or so, but I think I’m finding it now for a reason. You are welcome to join me in this journey, the first 31 days with the author, and the final days of Lent on my own.

What does it mean to be brave? Or How do we become brave? Can anyone be brave? Is brave faith Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? Or normal?

One thing Mary G. prepares us to understand in this study, brave faith is not a one time deal, it’s ongoing. It is us. It is you and it is me. Let’s look and see.

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