1. “Affliction” by Edith Schaeffer

4 01 2017

img_9655Preface — “Affliction” by Edith Schaeffer, 1978

(Part 1 of 13 posts)

A Preface to the Preface

A friend of mine recommended this old book, written in 1978. I found it used, online, and it arrived with an appropriately musty smell; I am pretty sure it was sitting in someone’s basement for the past 30 years. I knew in the prologue, this was going to be an important book for me and I knew in the last chapter, I was going to have to blog on it. I have underlined many pages, written notes all over it, spilled coffee and tears on its pages and even though I have finished the book, the book isn’t finished with me.

A book can be a mentor, and this is certainly one of those. I have listened to Edith for a few months now and by spending a little more time with her I think I will be able to remember more of what she said, and maybe it will serve someone else too.

Half way through reading the book I stopped and took out my journal and wrote a letter to her. She is no longer walking the earth, but I felt like I had been sitting with her for days and days and I was so grateful for the time she took to write these words for me and all the others. I was also thankful to pick up where she left off in praying for some things that matter, and people who matter, with a new picture of what those prayers mean historically. I pictured her as one of those witnesses the Bible refers to in Hebrews 1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…” in my own quest for perseverance in the race.

Of the people I look forward to seeing one day, she is one.

If anyone happens to read this blog and the ones to follow, I hope some new strength is passed on to you for your journey. I know I won’t be able to translate all the book said, but hopefully the bit I do write on will serve a good purpose and maybe you will find the book somewhere and read it too. At the end of the book I wished I could have given it to my 20-year-old-self  so I would have better understood affliction, suffering and hardship as it came, but mentors arrive as they arrive and I can only assume that I wouldn’t have taken it to heart in the same way I do now. I probably needed a few dings and bruises to appreciate these lessons.

As it was written in 1978, the language is from another time and the Scriptures quoted are often written in King James Version. There was something about this that worked for me; it slowed me down as I turned the phrases around so I was viewing them and thinking about them differently. I relaxed about the Thee’s and Thou’s and saw a lot of beauty in the differences between that version and the NIV or ESV I normally find myself in. So, if you do pick up the book, be patient and don’t get hung up on 1978. As Edith said, there is “true Truth” that transcends the generations and the peculiarities of our eras. In our time, the phrases we used in 2016 rotted much more quickly.

So, beginning with the Preface we dive in…

In the opening paragraphs of the Preface Edith says, “When people try to live on the basis of erroneous ideas they have picked up about what happens (or is supposed to happen) concerning affliction when one becomes a Christian, it is apt to be like riding with a flat tire, trying to carry all the weight in one bag, reading by the light of a candle, or ‘seeing through dirty glasses.'” (10) The question of suffering or affliction is one of the big stumbling blocks of our generation that keeps us an arms length from God. Because we are so prone to believe we can figure everything out so that it makes sense to us (“Science” and “Reasoning” we call it), affliction and suffering does not compute when we also say that God is loving. We form beliefs around what we believe and Edith refers to these as flat tires. If we believe what we believe without gathering enough information from the Bigger, Wider, Perspective…are our truths true? When we insist on changing places with our Creator and decide for ourselves what is what, we buy into the oldest lie: “you can be like God” (Genesis 3:5).

The thing about affliction and our view of it is that as we are often in pain ourselves when we consider it. When we are in pain all our doubts and questions bubble up from the depths. When we have a plan for our lives and things unravel, where is God in that? When we hear of some atrocity, we are uncertain where to go with our indignation. When we pray, believing we can “ask anything” in the Name of Jesus, but the very thing we ask for does not come about, what then? Troubles large and small can throw us, turning our whole world upside down, anger and bitterness can take root or we can simply live in denial and settle for a weak, ineffective Faith and hold loosely onto a God we don’t entirely trust (I speak from experience).

There is an alternative and, I am learning, a victory in this if we are willing to stare at Affliction/Suffering for a while and step back to view the bigger picture of our existence to hopefully come to a place of joy — that place we cannot fathom which the Apostle Paul refers to when he says “but we rejoice in our sufferings” in Romans 5:3.

As to my role in this, don’t think for a second I have reached some “zen” place on the matter. To even pretend that I or anyone can, is to deny or displace the humanity God has given me and you. We feel. We wrestle. We live in the middle of. We cry. We question. We journey. We are not to be mystics, emptied of normal emotions in the middle of brokenness and sorrow. We are not robots who, if given the right programming, can walk stiffly through a battle. We can not look at the death of anything or anyone as if it is not our enemy.

What we can do is see better, think better, understand better and in gaining wisdom we can live with fewer “erroneous ideas.”

— Teresa Klassen


Acting On My Behalf

1 12 2012

ps37_5Part 1 (Psalm 37:5)

You never know where you will be when God taps you on the shoulder. Today I was out for a walk with my mom and the dog. We have always loved walking and talking; conversations always tilt towards the deeper end of things. Today she mentioned something she had read in Psalm 37 and I knew that as soon as we got home I would be sitting down with my Bible and my laptop.  God is speaking to me, in my circumstances, through this Psalm. So if you happen to come back to onebrownleaf in the next while, you will be reading what I am reading and hearing in these verses.

Context: very tough parenting season; excruciating. Not an hour goes by that I do not whisper to God about it; a cocktail prayer: 1 part lament…1 part hope…1 part faith. Anyway, now you know where my head is at.

Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your future to the Lord. Trust in Him and He will act on your behalf” (NET).

The first part of this verse, dealing with the word “commit” is interesting when you look at it in Hebrew (the original language of this Psalm): “roll away each care of your load on Him.” This verse is saying that I need to take whatever care is weighing on me and roll it towards God, entrust it to Him to deal with.

It is interesting, in this verse, it is says to “commit your future.” When I think about what is burdening me right now, it is the future. It is all the “what ifs” that are specifically about how this all will turn out that is concerning. I project: if this happens, then this will happen. If that happens, then that will happen. Psalm 37 is saying that I need to take all my scenarios and roll them across the table to God; He will take all of these and even the ones I have not thought of, and He will deal with the outcomes.

God isn’t just “with” us, a sympathetic friend; He is more then that. We can actually trust in Him to act on our behalf before, during and after. God is our advocate, our “muscle.” In the original language it carries a tone of vindication; that God is going to deal with the future, attend to it, bring it to pass His way. God is our hero.

So if we have this option to commit , and if we have this option to trust…I wonder what happens if we don’t? If I don’t commit the future to the Lord; if I don’t trust that He will act on my behalf, am I on my own with all this? If I live like there is no God (which is essentially what I am doing when I bathe in worry) am I shutting the door on His help?

I do know that God has answered prayers I never prayed. He has answered prayers others prayed for me; I reaped the benefits. I do know that God has gifted me with things that I never sought after; grace gifts, completely undeserved. God can do what God wants to do, that’s for sure. But I know that He also will wait for us to relinquish the hold we have on our own lives. He has often said in the Bible, “If only you would have turned to me,” “If only you had prayed,” “Just ask and you will receive” those sorts of things.  So my answer is, yes, I think God will often wait us out because we aren’t simply the one making the request; we are the first half of the project.

God wants us to surrender something in the whole process: Worry, anxiety, self-reliance, pride, stubbornness and rebellion. God is not our hired hand; we are part of His family and He is our Father. In order to do the work of a Father, He needs us to have the posture of the child. He waits for the sound of His children knocking at His door and our small voices asking for help. He wants to come and lay it all out before Him and in return He will give us peace that we are not alone; He has taken up our cause.

As I am thinking of my circumstances today, this Psalm reminds me that I have to take my stack of questions and concerns and give them to Jesus. I need to say,

“Jesus, here I am. Here is what is on my mind, all these cares and concerns. What can be done with these? I don’t know how to set this right; the steps, the order of things as they should happen and I trust that You do. None of this comes as a surprise to You, none of it has escaped You.

So here; please take all of this. I trust You to take the lead. You will act in a way that is perfectly right and there is nothing that can stand in your way.

You will go where I can’t go.

You see what I can’t see.

You hear every conversation,

and you can work with all the pieces on the board, all at once.

You are not bound by the hour of the day.

There are no shut doors,

no period on the page.

You pursue without getting weary.

I am giving you this whole load of things, entrusting this whole thing to You.”

Even as I write that prayer a song begins to play in my head:

“What joy, what joy for those whose hope is in the name of the Lord

What peace, what peace for those whose confidence is Him alone…”

Have a listen…

— Teresa Klassen

Why Molly Shakes

20 02 2012

It’s so strange, this thing about our dog Molly.

She is a beautiful yellow Lab; small for her breed and very smart.  She will lie at our feet for hours on end and make no demands of us; but mention the word “walk” and she will jump like a jack-rabbit as high as your head. And it is surprising how brave this little docile dog can be. She will chase a bear up the hill if it gets too close. She will endure the agony of a rattlesnake bite just to get out in the woods again.  She will square off against a snarling Doberman if it gets close to her people.

And given the go-ahead, her energy knows no end! She will chase a ball until she is exhausted yet never know when to stop. She will retrieve whatever you throw into the water time and time again, farther and farther into the waves. If you even think about going outdoors with her along, she will read your mind and begin wagging her tail ferociously.

If anyone comes to our door and knocks or rings the bell she will bark like a maniac one minute and be their best friend the next.

She looks so well adjusted, but it only takes one little, almost imperceptible thing and Molly will shake from nose to tail, uncontrollably; every time it happens I think she is just going to drop dead from a heart-attack.

What scares the fur off her? A little noise.

Whenever I see her shaking, I have to think, “Was there a noise?” because it is usually so subtle.  I try to figure out the source and I realize, “Oh, it was on TV” or “Oh, somewhere downstairs” or “Oh, across the street.” It is a certain noise pitch that could last for a millisecond yet she practically has a seizure over it.

Today she had an episode and I just put my hand on her head, consoled her, and realized, looking into her fear-filled brown eyes, that she and I have more in common than I like to admit.

There is a “noise” that works on me too and it might be almost imperceptible to others, but it just drains all the courage out of me, all the passion, all the creativity, all the joy for a little while. It ‘s never something I see coming because it happens in random situations, but just like Molly it makes me all shaky and wimpy and ridiculous. Where moments before I felt like I could race up a mountain, in those shaky moments I just want to take a nap; a long nap.

I was reading Mark 8 today and the Pharisees are at it again, making noise. In this case, they come at Jesus with their noisy misguided, cynicism.

Jesus’ first reaction? Verse 12: “He sighed deeply in his spirit.” Isn’t that a picture? What meaning in those six words! To actually affect Jesus so, enough for Mark to write it down! It was a drain on Jesus to hear those words that day, in that way. Jesus was on mission, with the short time He had, to be Good News to the world and then He has a run-in with these self-serving, arrogant, posturing leaders trying to trip Him up at every corner. What did they want? Were they there for the honest-before-God good of the people? Were they just looking for clarity before signing up to carry the cross He later mentions? No. They were first class connivers wearing the cloak of religion. There was nothing righteous about it; it was a front. It made Jesus sigh.

(As an aside, I really don’t want to be one who makes Jesus sigh like that).

Here is where the noise would have gotten to me. I know this, because time and time again it does. I can be eye-ball to eye-ball with something noisy and a good response catches in my throat.  Noise can be so disorienting, it makes me wordy and apologetic and unnerved. Noise makes me “wish I had” instead of bitten my nails over why I didn’t.

But Jesus? He responds; right then and there. It isn’t a “Captain America” response (chest out, deep voice, “ta-da” kind of statement); at least that isn’t how it sounds to me. When I read it I think it is said in a pretty normal tone of voice, with everything left-over being said in His eyes.

You don’t have to be loud when you’re right.

Jesus says it, simply; straight-forward; and then He moves on. He leaves those Pharisees where they were and crosses over the lake to where His friends are and warns them about the noise; warns them about the ones who are just in it for themselves. Be wary: if it sounds like a Pharisee, and acts like a Pharisee, and looks like a Pharisee…it’s a Pharisee.

Ah, teach me your ways Jesus.

I am looking at Molly as I write this. She is napping. I am wondering why that certain noise trips her up every time. She must think she is no match for the noise:

  • even though she has legs to run, and has run for miles and miles without anything catching her (including me);
  • even though she has fantastically sharp canine’s and can strip the bark off trees (or vinyl off hot-tub covers);
  • even though she is an excellent judge of character and can whiff out trouble (and chipmunks).

Even though; she thinks a little noise can get her.

Is that what I think? That I am no match for it?

Sometimes I do.

Thanks for listening, Molly. Thanks for the nuzzle, and the lick on the hand. What do you think…walk?

— Teresa Klassen

Alone In a Foreign Place

5 05 2011

Imagine that you have been invited to travel to some place that is totally foreign to you. I don’t mean some place pretty in France where you can buy a croissant in a cafe with a view of the Eiffel Tower. I mean some place that would scare you if you were alone. Some place with an illogical maze of narrow, noisy streets; where not a word of English is spoken or written and people make gestures that you can’t interpret (friendly or unfriendly?). A Tim Burton kind of city that had no city-planner so that buildings stand at demented heights — one squat, one impossibly narrow — and the sunlight only filters in by ribbons, or shadows depending on how it catches you. It is a collection of alleys and down one you are met by a dozen set of accusing eyes, and down another, a mad collection of colors and canopies and carts. Nothing makes sense.

Nothing makes sense, but it is no big deal. Normally it would be a big deal, but in this case you have the one thing that makes you a casual observer: you have a guide. The way it happened was this person (I will use “he” for ease of writing) suggested the trip and it seemed like such an opportunity because he was completely familiar with the place. He understood the culture and customs and was completely fluent in their language. He would plan it, you would just tag along. Win, win.

So there you are, in the middle of the word “foreign” and you are OK with it and he is a superb guide. He knows everything. Having said that, “everything” can be a bit much. At times you find yourself saturated with information so you tune out here and there. When he suggests that you learn a few words in “their language” you repeat-after-him but quickly forget the difference between “good morning” and “good night”; the words all sound the same. He tells you about their local customs, the ins and outs of their daily life, their politics and their religion; the issues they contend with. You listen and then you don’t listen; you know how it is?

Its so easy, this touring thing. No matter where you are, or what snag you hit, he always gets you back to the hotel. And one evening, back at the hotel after a long and exhausting day of  seeing the sights he suggests the two of you get some air. There is a lovely garden in the courtyard; you could close your eyes and hear things down there; something you should experience, he says.

While practicing this, this listening, a commotion breaks out. You have no idea what it is about, but there is a lot of yelling and people converge on the courtyard like a tsunami. You become separated from your guide, with force. There are uniforms and civilians, fists and fury. Strange words have a familiar ring: anger. You want to find your friend, but you can’t see…wait…you do see him and he is being roughed up. You should break in but you debate it. If you do, then this is the outcome. If you don’t, perhaps this will be the outcome. If they know you are with him, will they do that to you? You look around for help, but You don’t know what help looks like here, alone in this foreign place.

Shots pepper the air.

It is the worst thing; the worst thing imaginable. You run from the blood on the ground, the blood of your friend, the one who walked with you.

You are stunned; in shock. Everyone looks wild to you. So you run to the one place that you know: your room and you lock the door. And you check that the door is locked. Three times, you make sure the door is locked. And you sit on the edge of the bed and wait like someone is going to step into the role of your guide and do what he did: explain.

No one comes. You think you hear people at the door and you sweat. But no one comes.

What was it he said? You never expected to be alone, so you didn’t really listen when he said, “If we ever become separated…” You never thought he was serious. Were you to phone someone? The phone is in the lobby and you don’t know how to call out, or even who to call.

You eat the granola bars from your carry-on and drink the tap-water even though that part you remember (“Don’t drink the tap water”) but wouldn’t he say that in this case, drink, because he would want you to survive? This should get you through one day, two days, three days at the most.

* * *

This is where my mind went this morning when I read John 20:19, about the disciples sitting behind locked doors. Weren’t they like this? Just tripping after Jesus, their guide? Didn’t they listen and then not listen? Didn’t they miss some important parts altogether, like “if we get separated, don’t worry because in three days…” They hadn’t listened well enough and when Jesus was crucified they might have even said, “What did we get ourselves mixed up in?”

It would have been that scary. To have walked an alternate, narrow road with Jesus; one that so angered so many people. To have given up so much. To be identified with his counter-cultural ideas.

Behind locked doors they could not even imagine Jesus “always being with” them, because how could he be? Wrapped in grave-cloths in a tomb. And the whole, “in three days I will rise” might have felt like another parable they didn’t understand. Something with “deep meaning” that escaped them. Death is death. There was no one with the know-how to raise him up.

In my foreign lands, don’t I often feel the same? It is one thing when I have someone giving me the step 1, step 2, step three but go and leave me on my own to live it out, to see how it works and I just want to sit in my room a while.

Yet, my guide, Jesus, who always was with me, continues to be with me and when I unlock the door and look both ways and haven’t the faintest clue how to get wherever I need to get…he promises to still light the way, still direct my paths, still comfort me, still interpret for me, still keep me safe from the evil one (currently my favorite prayer: John 17:15). Nothing and everything has changed. Nothing, because Jesus is the same. Everything because there is no longer anything that can separate us.

But still, being human, I understand the locked door.

— Teresa Klassen

Fear. And the God Who Pulls Us Back.

4 07 2010

Just digesting Matt’s message today on Proverbs 1:7

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

I found myself asking the question, “Do I fear God?” Matt was saying that there is fear, in terms of respect, but there is also the “terrifying” aspect to God that we have either avoided or misunderstood.

Sometimes I dream of things, events, that run very contrary to my life.  For example, I will dream that I have done something that I am horrified about.  I love my husband Mike as much as I can love another human being, in my dreams this is true as well; but I have dreamed that I have betrayed the sacred bond of our friendship and the moment I have I am filled with terror over what I have done and I can see the road ahead; it is broken and sad beyond words. I see in Mike’s face everything I never want to see; I see the thing I have done to him. Why, I ask myself, why did I do that?

In real life I am pretty good-natured, but I have dreamed that I have committed a horrible crime; the second I realize that I have stepped over “that line” I am filled with terror over what I have done and all the ramifications of that choice.

When I wake up, all I feel is relief. The terror in the dream was so real, I might as well have done it; but I didn’t and I am so thankful for my real world.

When I think about fear and God, I think about what I have and I think about all I “have to lose.”  I think about life without God and I see a vast emptiness that terrifies me. I think of that aloneness. I think of that separation and I can’t get my mind around it. I think of carrying all that I am, the darkness that is my only alternative to living forgiven, and I cannot fathom that. With God, I can imagine being without Him. I see what it is like around me and I think of myself living that way.

I look at God and know I don’t deserve Him. I know that He does not need me, as if I can do some sort of service to convince Him that I am worth keeping in His circle. I see my “good deeds” and think they are works of art, but realize, in the presence of God’s majesty, they are scribbles of crayon; as if He is impressed.

God is not my neighbor. He is not next door to me, like some equal I can visit or ignore. In God’s presence, I am self-aware. I see what the Bible describes as “filthy rags” my sin and my attempts to not appear to be sinful. The fear of God’s perfection is exactly that. I can’t stand before Him and grin about my mistakes, kid around and say, “look what I did.” God has every right to say, “look at the mess you have made!”  and turn His face from me.

But I liked what Matt said this morning, the God that we “fear” has the power to save. We have all fallen off a cliff, but mid-air, without doing anything to merit such a rescue, God (out of love) pulls us back.  The God who has every right to judge us, which ought to terrify us, holds us and keeps us from destruction because of a love we don’t even have a word for.

I liked the question Matt posed, “are we uncomfortable in his grip?”  We hold our children’s hands tightly when something feels precarious, and so does God. We are in a precarious position, so God gives us the desire for God (interesting to think about). In this desire we see how perilously close we came to a lost eternity and this fear drives us towards Him, not away; and He holds us tight within boundaries for our own good.

Ecclesiastes concludes that our whole life’s purpose is to fear God and keep His commands. Yes, I get that.  If I keep a healthy fear, if I long to follow God’s ways, I will see His salvation at work in me.

As a parent, I also live in “fear”  — don’t get me wrong about the word, I don’t mean worry or anxiety — I mean “absolute seriousness”…I feel dead serious about all of this for my children.  I realize they are testing their faith and feeling the constraints of God’s grip and deciding whether they will remain in Him. I get this; and it terrifies me at the same time. Not one thing matters more to me except that they will respond to God, fear Him, follow Him with passion. I want them to understand their precarious position as well and feel the grip of His hand on them, keeping them from falling.

God, may it be so.

— Teresa Klassen

I Choked

15 04 2010

This may or may not have happened but I am imagining someone coming up to Jesus and asking, “Jesus, in two words or less, could you describe what trips most people up?” Without a moment’s hesitation Jesus summarizes: “Life’s worries.” Later he expands on this, describing His loving message as seed to be planted in human hearts: “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries…”(Luke 8:14)

I am 42 years old and have known Jesus as long as I have known anything, but at times I still choke. And He’s right: it is all due to life’s worries. Certain circumstances still flatten me. Certain words leave me completely deflated.  The right thing at the wrong time will wipe me out. I don’t want to choke. Jesus goes on to say that hearts in the right place retain what they know and persevere. I like the word persevere, you know, not losing sight of something in spite of difficulties, opposition and discouragement. The problem is, some days I forget everything I know.

Why? Why do I forget? Looking back, I can see that there were times when something worrisome caught me in an unguarded moment (didn’t see that coming!). Sometimes it was the 4th thing and I was already raw (aren’t worries supposed to come in three’s?). Sometimes I was feeling really disconnected from community (where are you, my friend?). Sometimes I was feeling really disconnected from God (“Teresa is temporarily away from her desk…”). Sometimes I was just Peter, through and through, so full of doubt that I could not handle even the thought of that particular worry (sinking, sinking).

Sometimes I do choke on a worry and I forget what I know momentarily. The best way I can describe it is like Jet-lag.

Jet-lag does something to me. When I come back from a trip, some breaker has to reset.  When we came back from Japan one year, I could not remember how to fill my car with gas. I knew the mechanics, I just couldn’t remember the order. This year, recovering from jet-lag, I could not remember the PIN to my Visa card.  Could not!  I know how to fill my car with gas, I know my PIN…what is with that? It is like I have hit my head on the roof of the plane and my little brain is injured.

You can sustain an injury through Life’s Worries but, like I said yesterday, it’s OK. You will return to what you know. And that is how it has been for me thus far.  I have always returned to what I know.

Do you remember that scene in “Something’s Gotta Give” where Diane Keaton, having put her heart on the line only to have it stepped on, goes into this wild period of grieving?  It is actually really funny, but I can relate. Sometimes a worry just get’s me between the ribs and I really grieve. Then, just like Keaton’s character, I suddenly start remembering who I am and what I love and the things that matter. For me, I remember God and I remember His promises and I start feeling His guidance again.  Something dislodges and I realize I haven’t choked to death.

There is a side to me that fears the Big Whopper Worry; how will I handle that?  I am trying to be a good observer, these days. I am watching people who are walking through The Big One and seeing how they are handling it.  You learn something by what they do right, and by where they are faltering; I try to do this without judgement because what would I do? And would I really?

Everything is a teacher.

— Teresa Klassen

Afterword: Someone wise said to us one time, “When you are walking through a problem, ask yourself, ‘Is this going to take 24 hours to resolve? 48 hours? 72 hours? Putting a time frame on it gives you realistic expectations; it also gives you a goal; it also keeps you from stewing in the problem too long.'” That’s a keeper. Thanks Vern Heidebrecht.

After-Afterword: Sent to me via Twitter  — “Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods-C.S.Lewis”

What’s Behind This

8 04 2010

Mark 15:10. All the harm inflicted on Jesus was done, Mark says, out of envy (the painful or resentful awareness of an advantage or possession enjoyed by another and the desire to possess the same thing – Merriam Webster)

This got me to thinking about the things that lurk in me that not only keep me from seeing things truthfully but spill out to steer my actions. I blow this all the time, of course.  I do things/say things/think things that I am so sure of; but some of the time I catch myself and realize that there is something festering in the background that is skewing my thinking. It could easily be envy, but at other times it is

  • self-protection
  • guilt
  • anger
  • loneliness
  • hunger
  • fear
  • disappointment
  • tiredness
  • jealousy

Not a complete list, but some of the things I have tripped over when I haven’t been looking. And that’s the thing: when I haven’t been looking I trip over things. When I ask Jesus, “What am I not seeing in myself,” I tend to trip less.

I do believe I can be blind to myself resulting in an inability to see issues and life-circumstances clearly. I also recognize that I can ask Jesus to shine His light into my dark corners, but ask it too quickly and walk away from the process too prematurely so that I think I have looked but I haven’t. Further, I can say I have prayed, I can say I have spent time with Jesus, I can, as Brennan Manning said, “Look good without being good.

Soul-searching: That is such a good description of spending time with Jesus, now that I really look at the phrase. What is in there, Lord? What is pushing me along? What is influencing how I think? What is clouding how I see people? What is impure in there?

Only I can choose to do this. People can point out my faults/redeeming-qualities all day long, but until I get quiet before Jesus, soaking my soul in His Word and His Presence, my soul will not be searched, I will not be convicted or comforted, and I will not change and I will not stay.

I am just closing on that word “stay” because this is on my mind. What will keep my heart soft; what will keep me from caving into disillusionment if not for the light of Jesus revealing me, healing me, moving me? I need to know what’s behind this — what’s behind this person I am.

– Teresa Klassen

Afterword: Some years ago I read a FANTASTIC book called “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things” and it spoke to this issue so clearly. Highly recommend it. I took at least 10 pages of notes on it.