Years ago when I first decided I wanted to learn to paint I took a course called The Fear of Drawing.
I had a wonderful teacher named Nancy who knew most of us beginners were a bit apprehensive. I was. I had never done anything except doodle.
But that course – and Nancy’s encouragement – got me started on a journey as an artist that still continues.
I thought of that when I read my friend Lon Allison’s new book ImPossible. What we may think is impossible God can make possible through our real lives.
His book could be called “The Fear of Witnessing” – about sharing our faith with others.
I have read books about evangelism as a “lifestyle.” This is about evangelism as a “lifestory.”
It’s how Lon and his wife Marie learned a lifestyle – prayer/care/share- that has brought so many into the Great Story of God.
Here’s what Lon writes:
“Being a witness of God’s story – a story that provides a solution for every sorrow and sin – is a cool but rather gravitas sort of assignment. I can get overwhelmed by it. But then I try to remember that God doesn’t make mistakes and that He does His best work in us when we admit we can’t do it. That weakness opens the portal to power, as His Spirit takes the leader on the witness project.”
“To witness is to cooperate with God and others to lovingly bring people, one step at a time, closer to Jesus Christ.”
That speaks to me. I believe it will help many.
Get a copy. It’s readable and interesting. You can order it here.
And it may for turn a fear of witnessing into a lifestory for you too.
Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have. I walk out to the pond and all the way God has given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord, I was never a quick scholar but sulked and hunched over my books past the hour and the bell: grant me, in your mercy, a little more time. Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart. Who knows what will finally happen or where I will be sent, yet already I have given a great many things away, expecting to be told to pack nothing, except the prayers by which, with this thirst, I am slowly learning.
Wherever you go, God is sending you.
Wherever you are, God has put you there.
God has a purpose in your being right where you are.
Christ, who indwells you by the power of his Spirit,
wants to do something in and through you.
Believe this and go in his grace, his love, his power.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Dr. Richard Halverson (for many years chaplain of the U.S. Senate)
This morning in a blog by James Howell, pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church of Charlotte, I found these quotes.
“Tenacity is more than endurance, it is endurance combined with the absolute certainty
that what we are looking for is going to transpire.”
“If our hopes are being disappointed just now, it means that they are being purified.”
From My Utmost for His Highest
Somehow they spoke to my condition today – so I want to share them with you – perhaps they will speak to you too.
In the last few days I have been listening to a series by the late Henri Nouwen on The Life of the Beloved.
I never met Henri, and he died (quite young) before I might have.
But through his writings – and this video series – I feel as I have met him. His face is strong, his voice powerful.
The video series can be found on YouTube – here.
As I see him speaking to a large group I hear God’s voice – the “first voice” as Nouwen describes it – saying again what I personally need to hear, over and over.
The voice that said to Jesus, “You are my beloved” speaks also to you and me.
These talks have been good for me these Lenten days – they may be for you too!
May GOD support us
all the day long
till the shadows lengthen
and the evening comes
and the busy world is hushed
and the fever of life is over
and our work is done.
Then in GOD’s mercy
may we be granted a safe lodging
and a holy rest
and peace at last.
The first book of a poet should be called Stone
Or Evening, expressing in a single word
The modesty of being part of the earth,
The goodness of evening and stone, beyond the poet.
The second book should have a name blushing
With a great generality, such as My Sister Life,
Shocking in its pride, even more in its modesty:
Exasperated, warm, teasing, observant, tender.
Later books should withdraw into a mysterious
Privacy such as we all make for ourselves:
The White Stag or Plantain. Or include the name
Of the place at which his book falls open.
There is also the seventh book, perhaps, the seventh,
And called The Seventh Book because it is not published,
The one that a child thinks he could have written,
Made of the firmest stone and clearest leaves,
That a people keep alive by, keep alive.
I have been reading the book Beauty by the Irish poet-philosopher John O’Donohue.
He writes about the beauty that is in music this way: “Often in the human voice things long lost in the valleys of the mind can unexpectedly surface.”
This made me think about my dear brother-in-law Billy. At 98 years old he is profoundly deaf. He can’t hear me speak because my voice is deep and he can’t hear Jeanie because her voice is soft but I have found that if I sing he can hear.
Some months ago we were with him and as usual he couldn’t hear what was being said so the four of us who were with him decided to sing some of his old crusade songs: “To God Be The Glory”; “My Jesus, I Love Thee”; “Blessed Assurance”.
When we stopped he said, simply, “Sing more”.
So we sang “How Great Thou Art” and when we finished he quietly breathed “Amen”.
I believe that the beauty of music touched the deep beauty of Christ
in his soul.
It led me to think we ought to be more like the Psalmist, singing his great songs of praise and sometimes desolation, and like Paul who encouraged us to sing to one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs the beauty of the Spirit through our voices.
And perhaps on this St. Patrick’s Day we should consider being more like the Celts, whose soulful and haunting music has touched and touches so many souls. In classic Celtic music the melodic line moves up and down the primary chords. Students of music tell us that this is because such a melodic progression makes it easier to sing in harmony – so that the gifts of each can bring richness and beauty to the whole.
It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am, the more affection I have for them. It is pure affection and filled with reverence for the solitude of others. Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say…
For us solitude means withdrawal from an artificial and fictional being of level of being which men have fabricated in order to keep peace with death…
Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas