Consider: The Blameless

26 07 2010

Part Two of “Consider This.”

I woke up this morning, thinking about things I admire in people and that lends itself well to this morning’s musings. A short list of things I have observed in people and admire:

  • I admire graciousness
  • I admire mercy
  • I admire simple courtesy
  • I admire a person who can both serve others and still hold their own
  • I admire people who choose joy and live joyfully
  • I admire sacrifice
  • I admire people who make right but difficult choices
  • I admire loyalty
  • I admire people who conquer something (their own personal Mt. Everest)
  • I admire people who extend themselves to others (hospitality)
  • I admire people who love and serve God without the jargon
  • I admire creativity and creative approaches to things
  • I admire people who are not easily annoyed and can smile at inconvenience and people’s little mistakes

Not a complete list, but when I see these things in action, something in me perks up and takes notice. What is it about that person? Why are they the way they are and how did they get there? How did they abandon a more selfish approach to life so that this quality comes so naturally to them?

I don’t want to compare myself to these kinds of people in an envious kind of way, although sometimes I do envy. Sometimes I am frustrated with myself and when it seems the thing I desire is so hard to attain I wish I was more like them. But that is on a self-pity day. On a good day I do compare myself to them in an evaluative way and with a sense of desire that I might also grow, knowing they are steps ahead of me.

There is a healthy approach to considering the lives of others. Psalm 37:37 says,

Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace” (NIV).

Put another way, “Take note of the one who has integrity! Observe the godly. For the one who promotes peace has a future.”

This passage is saying don’t just glance at a person worth admiring; take a good hard look at their life; ask questions. What do they have that you want; try to figure out what allows them to be that way.  Why are they leading an admirable life? What has shaped their morals and values? Why are they able to have healthy relationships? Why are they content? What is going on between them and God? Why are they peaceful? Look intently at this.

Isn’t it interesting that the Bible chooses to say that we ought to pay special attention to those who promote peace? That’s worth asking yourself a few questions over.

I think the Bible would say, don’t just search others, let yourself be searched. Psalm 139 is an invitation to God to come and run an analysis. The beautiful thing about this, from my experience, is that the Holy Spirit doesn’t check you out and leave you with a 100 things you might consider changing. His ways are loving and His timing is perfect and He usually points out the one thing He knows you are ready and able to work on.

Once we know, once we have in our hand a little piece of helpful information, we would be wise to implement those things because that person has a future and so will you; that person’s life will be memorable and so will yours.

Generally, I don’t think people do a very good job of this. There is a difference between being curious about a person’s life and taking that curiosity to another level where you actually make a mental note of something you have heard and have admired; there is another level still where you take that note out and meditate on that thing, juice it, so to speak.

How many times have I written something down and not gone back to it? It is like the grocery list I keep leaving at home on the counter; what good does it do me there?

There are some things I want to leave behind and there are some things I really want to pursue. I really hope that some of these things I will figure out before I am 80, leaving room for things I have not yet thought of. I hope I do change along the way; I hope I really am “more” the person God has designed me to be and not stuck with being stuck.

Who is future me?

— Teresa Klassen

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Didn’t I Already Say That?

8 06 2010

Sometimes I end up saying the same thing over and over and over to people; the same piece of advice, the same word of encouragement, the same admonition. I know when we meet that I will probably hear the same thing from them and I will give the same response and, though part of me believes every time it will make a difference, part of me knows that (at least with some) it won’t.

What is it about their “rut”? The mythical power of their pattern has them in lock-down; I tell them that they can be free of it, but they don’t believe it. Sometimes they get all fired up about the “new day” I tell them is possible, but they go home and rehearse the old script.

There are exceptions. Sometimes I sit down with people and I can actually talk about the next step. The last time we met we talked about some things and I gave them some ideas; they took it seriously and actually applied what they heard. We meet again and I can add to that conversation. It is very much what Proverbs 9:9 says,

“Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”

Being wise is the first and best decision you can make. Think about it: deciding to be wise is wise. Deciding to live righteously is a righteous decision; already you are headed in the right direction; I can help you from there.

It isn’t that I am looking for perfection (believe me, I am not); I just want to see people try. I give “A’s” for effort. I am 100% certain you will fail at a lot of things; I am 100% certain that if you listen to me, you will win more than you lose.

Just sayin’

God

Afterword: This is just how my reflection turned out today. Started with me thinking about how sometimes I say the same thing over and over to my kids; wondering if anything is sinking in. I figured that is how God must also, often, feel about his conversations with me — Teresa Klassen.





Colours.

23 04 2010

Reading 1 Corinthians 2:9 this morning:

“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”

This got me thinking about a conversation I had with Alecia a while back about colour.  Her theory is that, in this life, God has only shown us a few of the colours He can create. When we get to heaven, we will be awestruck by colours we have never seen.  I can’t imagine it: how could there be other colours?

Is this verse all about heaven? Is it meant to give me hope for my future, leaving me saying, “I can hardly wait”? The thing about the Kingdom of God is it is then and it is now.  His Kingdom is coming and it is here. It will advance and it is advancing.  I ought to wait for it, and I ought to be making it happen.

So, is it possible that God has inconceivable things prepared for me now? It hardly seems so, on some days. But maybe I am just not letting Him take me there. Maybe I am glued to all I expect.

I wonder if God can’t give me all He has prepared for me because I can’t handle it just yet; or maybe I have said “no” without thinking. What I envision inconceivable to be may look a lot safer than it actually is. Maybe I have a low threshold for the inconceivable.

Maybe I am not ready to see colours I haven’t seen before.

But I bet they’re pretty cool.

— Teresa Klassen





The Second Journey

20 04 2010

(Quotes in this blog-post are all from Brennan Manning’s book “The Ragamuffin Gospel”)

Sometimes you walk through a series of events and at the end of them all, or sometimes in the middle of them,  you know you have changed, or that you are changing. I realize it could be argued that everything changes us, everything steers us in a direction, but I think there comes a time of significant change, when we are “dragged away from chosen and cherished patterns” to face a new reality.

Brennan Manning, in his EXCELLENT book “The Ragamuffin Gospel” says that this often occurs between the age of 30 and 60 but I think for some it happens younger — especially if that person has walked through some kind of fire. At whatever age this happens, suddenly life comes into focus and it is your life, only different. Manning calls this our Second Journey.

“Second journeys usually end quietly with a new wisdom and a coming to a true sense of self that releases great power. The wisdom is that of an adult who has regained equilibrium, stabilized, and found fresh purpose and new dreams. It is a wisdom that gives some things up, lets some things die, and accepts human limitations. It is a wisdom that realizes: I cannot expect anyone to understand me fully. It is wisdom that admits the inevitability of old age and death.” (158)

I really identify with and love how Manning has described this.  It is a different kind of enlightenment then you hear about on Oprah – which is all about self-awareness – because, for the Christ-follower, this understanding is “often accompanied by a second call from the Lord Jesus. The second call invites us to a serious reflection on the nature and quality of our faith in the gospel of grace, our hope in the new and not yet, and our love for God and people.” (159)

When the Bible says that God takes everything and works everything out for good (Romans 8:28), I think that we see this when we begin our Second Journey; we hear Jesus saying, “I am with you, I am for you, I am in you. I expect more failure from you than you expect from yourself,” (168) and we finally begin to understand that. We finally begin to see that God really does use all the “random” events of our lives for His good and our good and they do become tools in His hands to reach out to others and draw them in to His love.

It is during the Second Journey that I think we finally begin to move away from our illusions (see my last post on the “Adidas Bag”) and see our family, friends, coworkers, neighbours and “enemies” more realistically and are able to truly forgive them “acknowledging with unexpected compassion that these people are neither angels nor devils but only human.” (159)

I think we can stand in the way of a Second Journey, or we can open ourselves up to it. I am watching myself in this regard.  I feel like I feel when I swim laps. I am not that great of a swimmer so I really have to think about what I am doing. Am I fighting the water or am I using it to carry me? Am I thinking about what my arms are  doing? Am I thinking about whether I am at the surface of the water or am I drooping down into the depths where there is unnecessary resistance? It is all about form.

I think the same could be said for my own Second Journey which I am awkwardly “swimming” through and what I am letting Jesus teach me. Am I fighting Him or am I letting Him carry me? Am I thinking about what I am doing? Am I thinking about whether I am where He wants me or if I am sinking to places where I am facing unnecessary resistance? It is also all about form.

— Teresa Klassen