Late Summer Yielding

Today is moving day.

A couple of boxes of books, files to fill up a small two-drawer cabinet, and a couple of lamps.   This morning I’ll go grab a shelf or two to put high on the wall; bookcases will take up too much floor space.   I’d like the room to look a bit like a cozy back room in a 3rd space sort of way, but I’m probably wishing.   It’s not important.

Summer is winding down.  Tomorrow, the Shoreline Parade and Festival is the highlight, and next Friday night, the NW Church Block Party rocks our neighborhood.  Both events announce summer’s demise, as does the return of my children to their respective schools.  Our new preaching minister arrives today, and the next three weeks will be both a time of reflection and imagining the future.   Rehearsal begins in 10 days for Taproot’s Enchanted April, details to handle galore, and this week, I’ve dealt with more internal stress than I’ve felt in a long, long time.  I feel like I’m swimming through mud.   Don’t feel sorry for me–my sense is that it’s testing season for some reason.

The word “surrender” keeps coming up.

We watched Children of Men in our film group Wednesday night.  Theo (Clive Owen) playing savior to the first child born in the whole world in over a decade.  Images of Christ were everywhere, and while not a great film, I was moved by several scenes, two in particular.   Theo’s intentional move into the refugee camp–a world convulsing with violence and fear–in the late night, and the shattering war inside the camp halted, the bullets and tank bombs fading into stunned silence by the miraculous appearance of a baby.   The first, the intentional entry into the refugee camp, was Joseph and Mary searching through a late night Bethlehem for a place to have the most important ever born.  The second, a beautiful physicalization of the coming of the Prince of Peace.   If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth your time.

“Surrender.  Yield.”

Daniel and I watched a documentary late last night, Lord, Save Us From Your Followers, by Dan Merchant.   Merchant and I had coffee yesterday morning, where he told me of plans to launch the film in art houses at the end of September, the same weekend of Enchanted April‘s opening.   I’ll blog about the film in more detail later, but I took some copies of the DVD and told Merchant I’d help get people there if I could.   And I will.  It’s a good film, a film addressing the question: why is the gospel of love dividing America?   Merchant functions as the Michael Moore of the film, and his take on the strident political-religious conversation of the public square is witty, insightful, and most importantly, really helpful.  It’s easy to see how listening to each other and offering those who oppose our views the deep respect and dignity owed them on the basis of our common humanity might really change the whole conversation.  And Merchant does a nice job of highlighting some of the better work going on in the name of Jesus, work that might make even the most cynical atheist admit that there might be something to this Christ-like thing after all.  I hope the film does well.

“Surrender.”

Earlier, the worship team sang “Shout to the North” which contains the lyric “You are strong when you feel weak, in your brokenness complete.”   I stopped them and asked for their take on what that meant.   Weak-feeling is a fair description of much of my week, and I was hoping they could connect me to the strong stuff.  They said good, solid things, the kinds of things we all know.   “In our weakness, God comes and works, and that’s our strength”…those kinds of things.  It’s truly a faith move, because whatever strength there is remained unseen and unfelt.  But I affirm the thought and the reality behind it.   So, it’s been a strong week, I suppose.   How old was I when I first heard that God was rife with paradox?

I figure it’s a good thing, all this poking, prodding, and testing here at the end of the summer, at the end of my run as a full-fledged preacher.  God knows what He’ll say to me when we meet face-to-face about this particular season of my life.  And while it matters, I won’t worry about it.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that it’s all His.   Grace, energy, and result…all His.  I live and breathe and rise and fall according to His ways and means.  I control nothing of that. My job is to love, to live, to reach out, to forgive, to make something on this particular Kingdom plot of ground, and…to surrender.

Moving day, deeper into yielding…

2 Comments

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  1. The hardest and last thing I wanted to surrender was my weakness – my sin, my desire to be always right, my fear of the unknown, my fear that I would be found out for the coward I really am. But God already knows about all of that, and he has invited and welcomed me into his kingdom anyway–at great cost to himself.

  2. Amen, Neita! Before I read her comment, I was just about to say that “surrender” seems to be the way of much of my thinking for quite a while….surrender on various levels and in various forms. I continue to learn how to lay it all down…as I continue to learn to respond to how much very, very much He laid down for me.

    Thanks for the post, Jeff. I continue to love hearing your thoughts.

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