|I bought a couple of new scarves the other day because I really want to be a scarf person. I think they look so cute on other people, all slouchy and cozy and accessorizy. So I buy them, I put them on, and spend the rest of the day soooo aware of the fact that I'm wearing a scarf. I fiddle with it, wonder if I'm wearing it correctly, and try and ignore the fact that a semi-circle of space under my neck is overheating. Then I take it off and am left with the plain top that I started out with. Seriously, I am a connoisseur of plain, neutral clothing. I never invested in one of those chucky, oversize infinity scarves that I saw everywhere but think I they are so darn cute. Probably shouldn't buy one though, as I am incredibly hard on my things. Case in point, my iphone. It is currently only being protected by the rubbery skin portion of the otterbox. I destroyed the rest of it. Me. Single-handedly. Not my kids. Not my dog. I don't have a dog. Me.I think I'd probably get the scarf hung on something and cause it to unravel. I'd be oblivious to the fact that I'd gotten it hooked on a clothes rack at Target and would proceed to chase Baker into the bra and panty section as he's pointing at the Maidenform ad yelling "Momma! Nude!" All the while, said scarf is coming undone, creating a spider web of wooly yarn in and around the stack of Merona v-neck cardigans. I don't know, do woven things actually unravel like that or does that only happen in old Disney movies, back when Mickey traveled in a silver, Airstream camper? Those were the days, am I right?|
One of the funnest parts of doing ministry in a small town is you get to talk about real stuff with a huge variety of people. I might get to talk real life with a freshmen girl, a college sophomore, a stay at home mom, and an empty nester all in the course of a week. We also get to study the Word with these folks. It's such a privilege. For real. Trying to do this with two kids in tow has been challenging for sure. When I tell folks that being a Young Life leader when you have small kids isn't impossible, I simultaneously say to myself, "but it almost is." It is almost impossible. But it's what God has called us to and so, you just do it. It's not pretty. In fact, our weeks are most often a circus act as we try to be intentional with our kids, with each other, and with our community. But God uses it. And wildly enough, He blesses it. And that's beautiful.
But a trick of the trade, one of necessity, we picked up a while ago is to study the same passage of Scripture again and again with the various groups of people you get to meet with. For example, I can discuss John 1 with my high school girls, with the leaders I'm training, and with my bible study of peers. You just adjust the discussion to fit the audience but you save yourself having to reinvent the wheel. And John 1 just happened to be where we set up camp a couple weeks ago.
"The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one. Everything was created through him. Nothing - not one thing! - came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness could not put it out." John 1:1-5 (MSG).
Where do you even begin to unpack these verses? I think it might be better to just stare at them for a while. Stare at them until you can own the fact these words are staggering. And you can't make sense of them. Not fully, at least. I'm sorry, what? Jesus was the point from the very beginning? He was prepared to go when God said go? No wait, scratch that. He was poised, like an Olympic sprinter on their mark, just wating for the chance to go after the joy set before him? And when the pop of that proverbial gun finally sounded he BLAZED out of the darkness? Blazed?!? Totally baffling.
But right before he blazes out, we see Him as the centerpiece of creation. Everything was created through him. This has always tripped me up. What's it talking about here? Jesus is like some filter that God literally created THROUGH? This was a fun thing to talk through with folks and we ended up here: God created all things with Jesus IN MIND. He didn't create the world with a giraffe in mind. He didn't create a giraffe-centric world. He created a Jesus-centric world - one in which He is the epicenter and all things stem out from Him. Therefore ALL THINGS, whether conscious of it or not, depend on Him. Remove Jesus and it all comes undone. It unravels. I'm imagining the world as some giant pop-up book that, without Jesus would just collapse. Mountains would fold over. City skylines implode. Until there was nothing.
And then we went a step further, which is always when it gets good. What would happen if we removed Jesus from our lives? If somehow he was plucked out of us, what then? There's only one answer: we would unravel. On every level. We would come undone. When we surrender to Jesus we don't just let some nice fellow into our hearts. He is LIFE BLAZING out of darkness, remember? Unextinguishable LIFE-LIGHT. So to yes to Him is to be reoriented entirely. He becomes the thread that holds us together, that weaves its way into all facets of our being, our relationships, our dreams.
But here's where it gets great. When we say yes to Jesus we are saying yes to someone who said yes to us a long, long time ago. How long? Not sure. Can't measure it. Sometime "in the beginning," I suppose. Back when Jesus was already the plan. Back when he was ready and willing to obey His Father when he said, "Now. The is time is NOW!" Can't you just feel the mercy in that? The mercy in a God who is willing to put Himself at the center of a creation that would reject Him? The mercy of a God who is willing to put Himself at the center of us, who are much more adulterous wife than we are faitfhful friend? The mercy of a God who is our HOPE and STAY. He will stay. Stay the course. Stay the thread, tightly woven. We feel, at times, like we are pressed in so tightly or stretched so thin, that just one snag can unravel us. Just one more demand. Just one more hard day. Just one more frustration. Just one more needy person. Just one more bit of bad news and we are through. And maybe that would be the case if God had created the world through us, if we were the rock against which all other things crashed. But we are not. Thank goodness, we are not. So let me not be so self-important as to think that I could cause my own undoing.
In the paralympics runners who are blind are allowed to have a guide runner. The guide runner does just that - they guide them across the finish line. This image is of Brazilian paralympic athlete, Terezinha Guilhermina, and her guide runner as they crossed the finish line to win gold.
Jesus, is it even possible? Is it even possible that THIS is your joy as you champion us, blind and weak as we are, to the finish line? is it possible that you don't just stay the course but that you do so with immeasurable delight in us? "The Life-Light blazed out of darkness; the darkness COULD NOT put it out." John 1:5.
Amen and Amen.