Hello, friends whom I love.
You all know I’ve been running on a bit of a creative empty lately, but I have been writing, and I wanted to share the call I wrote for yesterday’s service at Imago with those of you who might find it encouraging to read, as I found it to write. When I’m tired, my heart reverts to wanting to write small words about the bigness of God – when I start there, the other stuff tends to follow. And speaking of other stuff, our first book chat on “Beautiful Ruins” is coming up later this week, and this month there will be lots of talk of spring, first steps, risk taking, and some chickens. Yup. Chickens! Such Portland.
For you, with all the hugs:
I used to fall all of the time.
There’s a scar on my left knee, still pink and raised and a little bit violent a few decades later, from the time I leapt off a playground onto a bed of jagged rocks without even stopping to consider my fate. There’s another on my wrist from an innertube that my youth pastor chased as I, and it, went off a small cliff and into a river. When I was twelve, I walked across a tightrope from an abandoned ropes course 200 ft above a ravine, without a harness, just because I felt like it and my mom wasn’t around. I didn’t fall. But I could have.
I used to fall into people, too, reckless childhood me, smiling fearlessly at strangers and yelling “God Bless You” with passionate fervor to playground bullies like it was the most powerful weapon in my arsenal. I used to give bold pieces of my heart to people who didn’t deserve them. I used to believe with the innocence of a child that my God was with me, and that was everything, and that was enough.
At some point, some unspecific period between the freedom of my childhood and the crippling self-awareness of my late twenties, I stopped falling. I pulled my breakable body safely in away from the windows, sealed my wounded heart in a padded box away from nasty words like “risk” and “wild abandon” and “courage.” I began to play my game a little closer to the chest, just a little bit safer, just a little more control. Because the more we learn of the darkness of rejection and humiliation and the pain of broken bones, the larger the distance we want to cultivate between ourselves and their jagged edges. The harder we’ve lived, the more we yearn for things to be comfortable, to be easy, to be safe.
I used to fall all the time, and I was never afraid. But the more desperately I try to control my story to keep from being hurt or denied or embarrassed or abused, the more I can feel the fear closing in around my ankles and pinning me tightly to a place where I am immovable, untouchable, where I cannot feel.
The more I scramble to protect my safety, the further I feel from the God who can save me.
Because my God? My God is a pillar of fire, an echo off of mountains, a great sea divided and a destroyer of the enemy. My God is a challenger of souls and a giver of mission and he is wild and wonderful but he is anything but safe. And this life that he offers me has little to do with my comfort zone and my breakable bones and everything to do with clinging onto his strength like a lifeline as he asks me to jump, to fall willingly into the unknown blessings and perils of His story, His courage, His incredible, incomparable life.
You are not promised infallible bodies, unbreakable flesh, or unwoundable hearts. But your God, the God who parts seas and rains fire and sends his angels into battle with heavenly swords that cannot be conquered – your God is with you. Your God is with you, and your God is mighty to save. Lean into his strength this morning. Let His promise be your courage and his presence your permission to let go of all you’ve been fearing and fall, wildly and wonderfully, into his rescue. Let your worship be surrender. Let your mighty God be your strength.