* yes, there should be FIVE sets of boots but Allen ignored my advice to get adequate rain gear...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Not Really About Ireland

A long-time friend died and I have no way of attending his funeral.  We visited Belfast and I was sharply reminded of perversions of religious passion.  I differed rather sharply in my beliefs about religious doctrine with the church we had been attending in Dublin and was reminded of the Vision Forum letter about Virginia Tech and was clearly reminded of how easily these perversions can come about.  My first responses to both being rather far from Christian charity and grace.

To be crystal clear, I don't agree with Vision Forum on the vast majority of things but I feel it's important to be in relationship with people with different perspectives, however passive the relationship may be.

This is a devotional I presented to my MOPS group last spring.  I've been thinking on it rather a lot over the last few days.  I am trying to remember to shine brighter and love harder rather than turn my back in the face of pain; that Christianity is based on the bedrock of love; that we can fuss about doctrine all we wish but that as we all go deeper into our faith, regardless of creed, we all seem to get to the same place; we all want to share a deep and eternal love.  We can all use our lives for something greater.

"What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life" is the last line of the poem The Summer Day by Mary Oliver.  It's lovely and well worth reading in it's entirety.

The beginning of the devotional talked a great deal about a friend that I lost in the shootings at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007.  He actively chose to seek out the gunman in an effort to save other lives.  I withheld that section out of respect for the family's privacy.

In memory of those who shined so brightly.


I believe that there is an element to life on Earth that is epic.  I believe in good and evil.  I am not sure I believe that people are evil but I do believe we can be tools for good or for evil and that we can either choose a side or be chosen.  I believe that evil chose on April 16, 2007.

I am weak on my Bible knowledge.  If entry to heaven requires me to recite the books of the Bible, I will be in big trouble.  But, one of the passages I do know is Matthew 5:14  “You are the light of the world.”  It is one I turned to when evaluating what it was I wanted to do with my one wild and precious life.  I pray regularly to be a light.  To be a force of good.  To allow God to shine through me. Some days my light is dim but the North star can be as good as the sun to one who is lost.

Thing get really interesting when you pair a desire to be a light with 1 Peter 4:8-11

8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. 11 Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

I always appreciate it when the Bible gets specific and we aren’t wandering around in a parable.  This is the nitty gritty.  We are to love.  We are to serve.  We are to shine.  We are to plunge into relationship!

This is scary.  This is when things start getting just a little epic.  This is when evil or it’s good friend indifference get a toehold.  You are risking rejection.  You are risking weird looks.  You are distracted.  You are busy.  God knows this.  It’s ok to just maintain the line.  To give a gentle nudge to good.  To simply love as you are able.

Consider if you might be able to manage to smile at just one person that you only sort of know today.  If you are feeling wild, say “hi.”  Nod at the mom who is wrangling the tantruming toddler.  Let the little old lady at the grocery store coo over your baby.  Plunge into relationship.  Let your light shine.

Perhaps you might be up to inviting.  It is a wonderful thing to feel wanted.   It is often nice just to be asked.  You have given a gift of love even if nothing ever comes of your invitation.  I know it can be scary but it doesn’t have to be.  Start by simply sharing and then offer an open ended invitation.  You can’t be rejected and the other person feels no pressure.  For instance I might say “My children adore Maria’s classes at the rec center.  Let me know if you want to sign up for one with me next semester.”  Or “I love my church community.  If you ever want to visit, let me know and I can show you around.”  Plunge into relationship.  Let your light shine.

Some days your light will almost go out.  This is when it gets hard.  This is where dark creeps in and evil gets a toehold.  This is where we really struggle.  We must accept!  When your light sputters, accept the gift of a spark!  Give someone else a gift in your time of need.  Let someone experience the joy of sharing the light when it is most needed.  There is a season to give and a season to take and there is no shame in either.

Add light and remove dark in very quiet ways.  Something that I often do is pray for someone I don’t like.  And, by that, I mean the prickly mom at school, the dad who ALWAYS takes the good parking spot at preschool, the cashier who sighs when you give her a stack of coupons.  And, when I pray for them, I am careful to keep it all about them, not about what I hope will change in their interaction with ME.  I might pray that the mom find a friend; that I might have an easier time finding qualities in her to appreciate.  I might pray that the father get the support he needs since he is so obviously stressed and frazzled and that I find more compassion in my heart.  I might pray that the cashier find fulfillment with her job or that she get the opportunity to peruse a dream.  I have been surprised at what an impact this simple and silent act of love has had on me.  I do find myself liking the previously un-liked.  I can feel my light shining brighter as what was once an absent-minded negativity is removed from my day.

Be a light.  

Choose your side.  

Don’t allow yourself to be chosen. 

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?


I invite you to share my prayer. 

Dear God,

Please help me be a force of good.  Please help me push back the dark.  Please shine through me.



  1. beautiful and honest. i'm so sorry about your friend. what unspeakable tragedy--but such bravery in the face of fear and hurting!

  2. Such a simple thing, but so hard to remember to do sometimes... Shine.