The Journey of Discovery

We’re studying the book of Isaiah in church, and the instructor of the video study guide relayed a story of one of her classes.

Isaiah describes a person called the Servant in later chapters. She asked the students, which consisted of Jews, Christians, atheists and Buddhists, to name a few, to figure out who that person is, may be, or was.

In the end they determined that person would be both human and a deity.

As a Christian, I know exactly who the Servant is. I learned about him in ways that didn’t include Old Testament prophesy. In reading Isaiah, there’s no question. As Brandon, one of our pastors said, “That’s Jesus. Next!”

I heard a line on the show “Earth: Final Conflict,” where a character –a scientist — complained how scientists were no longer necessary, because the Taelons were giving humanity everything. Humans no longer needed to endeavor scientific advancement. He said, “The journey of discovery is what makes us human.”

What happens, then, when we are deprived of that journey?

I felt a little of that loss during last week’s study. Like getting the answers to a test without even knowing, let alone understanding — or discovering — the questions. Or someone telling me the end of a story before I have a chance to read the first page.

I don’t regret my journey with God, not even close. I mostly wonder what uncovering him through Old Testament prophesy would be like, to have that a-ha moment of discovering Jesus for the first time as I read the Bible instead of discovering Jesus before I read the Bible.

An Attempt at Losing with Grace

Well, I’m a little bummed. I submitted my latest novel to a contest, and just discovered it didn’t even make the semi-finals.

Part of me is thinking, “Wow. It must have sucked. Maybe I should give up on editing the darn thing, because it has no chance of even getting published.” (Don’t worry, I’ll get over it, because it did win a different contest last year. All this means is the competition was especially good, not that mine sucked).

Sure I was hoping to at least make the finals if not win, both for bragging rights, and because after each round, the judges submit a score sheet with comments for improvement. Win or lose, those comments alone are worth the price of submission.

The good news is I no longer have to think about going to the conference this year when they announce the winners.

Call it coincidence, or call it irony (or ironic coincidence), but less than 15 minutes before discovering I had lost, I commented on a Facebook post about one of my favorite verses in the Bible:

“Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked.” Ecclesiastes 7:13

Believe or Else — Until You Leave The House

I overheard a boy say, “I have to believe in God until I turn 18 or when I move out. Then I can believe whatever I want.”

I found that a little concerning. It almost sounded as though faith was being forced on him, and that he looked forward to not believing in God later in life.

Faith should never be forced on anyone.

Some could argue at this point that Christians believe just that. Even Jesus said that those who don’t believe in him will die (John 3:16-20 & John 8:24). History abounds of instances where churches killed or imprisoned those who refused to convert.

I won’t argue church history, except to say they got it wrong. Jesus never told anyone to force others to believe; he merely stated what will happen to those who refuse to believe (see Matthew 13:41-42 & 49-50).

We are all still free to make that choice, as long as we first consider the consequences of that choice.

Nor do I think we can force anyone to believe anything anyway. Sure, we can say we believe in God to appease others, but we are also fabulous liars. We, in fact, more often than not hide what’s true in our heart than what we reveal — both good and bad.

Jesus, however, knows what’s in our heart regardless. Sure, scripture says we must confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9), but we must accept it as truth in our heart first.

Jesus will always know the difference even when those around us don’t: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” ~ Matthew 15:8 (& Isaiah 29:13)

I also had to ask a question of myself. Am I forcing my own son to believe in Jesus? After all, I take him with me to church twice a week, he goes to a Christian school, I pray with him every night, and I keep my car radio on a Christian station to name a few.

Yet I never once said, “Believe or else.”

Exposing and even immersing my son in my faith is showing him how important Jesus is. At the same time, I try to encourage him to ask questions, even (especially) the hard questions. Still, I know that no matter how much I encourage him to believe, that choice will always be his to make — the whole leading the horse to water stuff.

I think it’s important to encourage, and not threaten when it comes to faith, children most of all. They all rebel in one form or another, and if we present our faith as tyrannical, and unattractive, they will run away from it the first chance they get — perhaps permanently.

I’ll leave you with these:

“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. ‘Honor your father and mother.’ This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.’

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” ~ Ephesians 6:1-4

“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. “ ~ Deuteronomy 11:18-19

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” ~ Proverbs 22:6

Busy!

I noticed I haven’t shared an entry in almost three weeks. I’m not slacking, though. Writing-wise I’m doing a lot:

1. Editing my fantasy novel (for the umpteenth time)

2. Finished writing devotionals for my church.

3. Beta reading two short stories for another writer

4. Will be beta reading a friend’s novel in the next few days

5. Reading (although not as much as I’d like, because I keep buying books without first reading the ones I have now).

Happy Friday!

Why I Hate The Phrase . . .

“God answered my prayer.”

People only say that when they get the answer they want and/or expect. What about the times when we don’t get the answer we want? Does that mean God didn’t answer it? That he turned a cold shoulder as a way of saying, “What a stupid prayer that was. Don’t waste my time.”

When we ask people for something and they say no, do we run around complaining that they didn’t answer?

No. Instead we say, “He said no.”

Same way with God. He answers all our prayers. Most of the time the answer is no, and that’s a good thing. We don’t always know what’s best for us, but God always does. I can look back at some of my more fervent prayers when God said no, and invariably I find out later he was right.

Instead of telling everyone, “God answered my prayer,” we need to say, “God said yes.” It works the other way as well. Instead of crying to everyone, “God didn’t answer my prayer,” we need to say, “God said no.”

And be thankful for it. God always says no for a reason, even if we won’t know that reason for a while, if ever.

That’s the definition of trust.

Addendum: I actually wrote this four years ago today. The program I use to write my journal/blog entries sends me automatic notices of past entries I’ve written on today’s date. It’s possible this same entry is on my blog, but I think it deserved a re-post.

A Dose of Reality. It Sucked

A few nights ago my husband went to a club meeting, and our son spent the night at a friend’s house. Normally I enjoy the alone time to read, write, or watch a show only I like (in this case “Andromeda” with Kevin Sorbo).

I did a bit of all three, but I also felt rather lonely. Weird for me, but what caused that loneliness made me sad, too.

Our son is ten years old. Although he still likes to snuggle with me, and asks me to stay in his bedroom long after saying our prayers, my brain knows those days are numbered.

I think my heart realized it that night. Tom didn’t want to snuggle, or to spend time chatting after prayers. Instead he prefered to spend time with a friend. I got a glimpse of him spreading his wings, and I’m not ready for him to leave the nest — however slowly.

So says my heart.

My brain, on the other hand, is pleased.

Part of our job as parents is to not only protect our children, but to teach them how to be God-fearing, confident, smart (both book and life), ambitious, compassionate, generous, and shrewd so they can protect themselves and their own family when the time comes. In short, better, more successful versions of ourselves. They must be able to do it all without us, because we won’t be around to help them someday.

I like the fact that my son can be without us for a night. I hope he continues to exercise and strengthen those wings, so that he can soar higher and farther than I ever dreamed. Hopefully my husband and I continue to teach him well, so we won’t worry as much knowing he can take care of himself when we’re not around (this might happen largely in spite of us than because of us, though).

As long as he comes home to see us once in a while.

Even as my heart cries that my little boy is no more.

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” ~ Elizabeth Stone

Not Everything Needs to be Profound

Some of my best thoughts seem to come right after I go to bed, and far too often, I decide not to write it down, convinced I will remember it the next morning.

Yeah, right. Like that’s ever happened.

This time, however, I had a thought and decided that I must write it down. I am currently breaking one of my house rules — no electronics in the bedroom. I break it now only because I don’t want to get out of bed, turn on the light, and write it in a paper journal. I’ll have to rewrite it in my computer anyway, so waste the time (since I do enough of that already)?

I’ve been having trouble coming up with ideas for my blog.

I keep another blog on a different site. While lately I’ve been copying from this blog to that one, it was meant for more personal, daily life entries.

Tonight I decided to write “a day in the life” entry, and it felt good to do so. Nothing deep or profound, just some interesting things that happened.

I realized then that not all of my entries need to be profound. Lighter entries are okay, too. After all, people who read my blog do so, not only because I have opinions on certain issues, but to get to know personal things about me (not too personal, though, because, eww).

While I may not lead the most interesting life compared to some, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth sharing sometimes.

Especially the silly stuff, and I have plenty of those. Such as when I came down with a cold last year. I was so out of it, I went to work wearing two different shoes, and didn’t notice it until two hours later. Or when I warmed a breakfast sandwich at work. I accidentally set the microwave for ten minutes instead of one. It left a horrid smell in the entire building that lasted nearly two days, and no amount of Febreeze could cut through it.

I don’t mind sharing stories like that. I enjoy making people laugh, even at my own expense, because it keeps me humble.