I'm About to Burst Your Bubble

As I was settling into my seat on the airplane (yes, another flight...and another opportunity to trust Jesus more and more!), I noticed right away that the older gentleman next to me was a talker.  Friendly and inquisitive, my fellow passenger--we'll call him "Doctor" because he was one (I know, crazy creative)--began asking his non-stop questions on this non-stop trip to Seattle.  The more we talked, the clearer it became that he was the exact opposite of me.  Politics?  Religion?  You name it, we were black and white.  But, we both liked talking and people so the conversation flowed freely. While I nibbled on my Biscoff, Doctor said, "What religion did you say you were?"  He brought it back up.  He wanted to talk.  He opened the door and invited me to step right in.

So I did.

I learned a lot about what makes this particular atheist tick, and he learned a lot about why I love God.  It's been six days since our conversation, but I'm still thinking about it and praying that Doctor saw Jesus in me.

While in Seattle, it wasn't too difficult to notice the differences between many of the natives and me.  For one, I felt old.  Most of the people appeared to be in their twenties, maybe thirties.  A great percentage sported tattoos and piercings.  And, the city as a whole was so casual that sometimes it was awkward discerning who was just "grunge" and who was a panhandler.

The point I'm trying to make here, though, is that when people look unfamiliar or unconventional, what is your response?

Judgment?  Fear?  Discomfort?

Do you run for a familiar face when you're among those you don't know?  When the conversation becomes uncomfortable as your partner discloses beliefs 100% divergent from your own, do you excuse yourself?

Or...

do you reach out and get to know the unknown?  Do you press into the conversation to try to understand the other's perspective?  Do you share of yourself so they can see your vulnerability?

I remember reading a book a long time ago that challenged the "Christian bubble".  You know the 'space bubble' that every person supposedly has...if you get too close to another person, you might be intruding upon her space bubble and it makes her feel uneasy?  Well, the Christian bubble is what Christians apparently create when we stick with others who are just like us.  There can be times when this is wonderful, and even biblical.  For instance:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrews 10: 24-25

But, of course, there are other times when a Christian bubble is not beneficial.  Times like conversing with a stranger who doesn't know the hope of Christ.  Times like extending kindness to someone who looks strange to you.  Times like talking with people, even other Christians, whom you don't know very well.

When the "Bubble" prevents us from loving on the unlovely, on the unfamiliar or on the ungodly, then we are probably operating in Fear Mode, not Love Mode.  God's perfect love casts out fear, so let's consider how to know and live out God's perfect love.  For one, that means setting my comfort zone aside.  Maybe I am afraid that the tattooed young lady will not want my friendship, or perhaps I have other people--familiar friends--whom I would prefer to talk with at church events rather than the newbies...but this kind of living shows that my motive is all about me:  my comfort zone, my desires, my plans.

Our Bubble bursts when it becomes all about God.  Our eyes open to needs out there in the world, to needs in the church--those who are lonely, those who are hurting and those who need a friend and to know Jesus.  Once our eyes are opened, then we can DO something about all of this, such as praying, talking with others and really finding out how they are doing, and stepping out in boldness with the name of Jesus on our lips.

Think of one way that you can reach out to someone who is unfamiliar to you.  Ask God to give you His love, His strength to burst that Bubble and care for someone.  Then, do it.

Love, Wendy

 

 

Leap of Faith

I've flown a fair amount during my lifetime and have experienced all sorts of responses:  thrill, motion sickness, fear, fatigue, anxiety.  What used to be sort of fun became fear-filled when I unexpectedly endured a minor "panic episode" on a flight back in June 2001.  Several months later, of course, our nation grieved the loss of lives on 9-11 and I determined to NEVER fly again.  Unless...I was able to one day visit my dream location, the United Kingdom.  Last year that dream became a reality and I was willing to step foot on an airplane after twelve years in order to see the sights of London.   Friends prayed for me, I memorized scripture related to overcoming fear, and I stepped out in faith.  Since that trip, I've flown again several times and have realized that flying will perhaps always be a leap of faith for me.  I'm not sure I'll ever be able to say, "I got this."  And, I think that's probably a good thing. If I could handle all things, I would not need the Lord.  Of course, none of us can handle all things, but often we are under the illusion that we can...or should.

When I am not stressed or going through a trial, I can believe that I am in control.  I would venture to say that I feel like I have control of almost all of my circumstances.  If I don't, then I don't want to be in that circumstance.  This is seriously faulty thinking, though.  In fact, it's prideful thinking.  Whenever I am attempting to control my life (or others' lives), I am acting as Creator.  Yet, as this creator, I only have imaginary powers.  I imagine that I can cause others to do only what benefits me.  I imagine that I have control over my health, my lifespan, even my salvation or right standing with God.

This is a post that could be elaborated upon many times over, but for now, a challenge to myself and to our readers:  Do something hard.  Something beyond your control.  Are you frightened of something?  Do it.  Maybe you need to NOT do something.  Instead of fretting, running around and trying to fix things, perhaps it's time to rest in God's power and control.   Regardless, ask God to reveal more and more of your heart.  If you are avoiding things because of fear or loss of 'your control', then know that you are also avoiding a dependence upon God and an opportunity to exercise faith in Him.  To grow in our belief in Him, we must give ourselves up.  As we trust more in God, He will guide us in dealing with tough situations or major trials with a peace that passes all understanding.

This kind of peace reminds me of a child and her unquestioning faith.  On the descent from Detroit to Chicago, we experienced much turbulence.  At one point, the plane seemed more like a roller coaster as people spontaneously exclaimed, "Wheeeee!" and my son raised his arms in delight.  During this whole time, I was sober-faced and hanging onto my husband for dear life.  He looked over at me, and then at my young daughter next to me, and laughed at the contrast.  While I was 'preparing for the worst', she had her arms up in the air and singing "Everything is Awesome" with a big smile on her face.

Our heavenly Father has 'got this'.  Let's have joy in the good...and in the bad...because He is in control, He is good and is working all things for our good.  What do I have to fear?  What can man do to me?  Step out in faith and see Him at work in your life!

Love, Wendy

 

 

Re: flect-Ing on Jesus as Mighty God

A few months ago, a routine day of yard work and chores ended with my arm broken. Now a broken bone was not a new experience to me; I have broken a lot of bones in my life. So when the doctor ordered a bone density scan I thought, “No big deal.” I have always thought of myself as strong, able to do anything my mind could conceive, so when the test showed osteoporosis, I was shocked.  

Over the last 9 months, God has been teaching me about dependency on Him. This decline in my bone strength was just one more lesson pointing me to the fact that in myself, I am weak and must depend upon Jesus.

 

How wonderful it is that Jesus is given the name Mighty God.  I am not dependent on a god that diminishes over time, nor one that has areas of weakness. Jesus is perfectly Mighty. He is strength without any weakness.  His might will never fade nor shrink. The might that Jesus displayed at the creation of the world was the same He displayed on the cross and the same power He uses today to sustain my life and yours.

 

If you are 50 and find your bones deteriorating, or 35 and always tired at the end of the day, or 20 and unsure how to take that next step in life, do not despair. Be thankful for the weaknesses in your life. When we feel strong and mighty within ourselves, we do not need God. We don’t see Him as Mighty because we think in ourselves that we have all the might we need.

 

 My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

The world sees the sacrifice of Jesus’s death on the cross as an act of weakness. It tells us that real strength seeks its own good. But this is not the truth of Scripture. We must return daily to the cross of Christ, embracing the power and might of the One who could conquer sin on our behalf. This will help us to embrace our own weakness and cling to Jesus, our Mighty God.

Love, Cheryl