Sunday, March 23, 2014

"I am a better one"

I have been using my getting-ready time in the morning to listen to the Bible on audiobook.  Listening to larger chunks of scripture at a time has brought new things to light in passages that are familiar.  Today, I was listening to 2 Corinthians.  Chapter 11 had some verses that struck me.  In verse 23, Paul says, "Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one..." If I were to hear someone start a conversation with those words, I would expect them to follow with things like, "I read my Bible every day," "I pray for an hour each morning," "I've started three churches and been on 12 mission trips," "I give above and beyond a 10% tithe," "I volunteer at the homeless shelter every Thanksgiving."

But how does Paul finish that statement?  He says, "Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness" (2 Cor. 11:23-30).

I never think to boldly proclaim my suffering as evidence that I am a servant of Christ.  That is, in part, due to the fact that I haven't suffered much.  None of the things Paul mentions have happened to me.  If this is the mark of a committed servant, I have some work to do.  Am I engaged in spreading the Gospel in a way that Satan feels the need to attack?  If everything is going smoothly for me, maybe my life is currently ineffective for Christ.  In Paul's letter to the Philippians, he says, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death" (Phil. 3:10).  We fellowship with Christ when we suffer.  Why do I seek to avoid suffering and instead base the value of my Christian contribution on what I have done, instead of what HE has done?  Why do I run from the very thing that will bring me closest to Christ?  

May I become a woman who can "boast of the things that show my weakness," so that Christ can be glorified more and more through me.  May I be open to the suffering that comes to a true servant of Christ and relish the opportunity to fellowship with Christ. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011


If you haven't given up on my poor neglected blog, thank you.  I love sharing my heart here, whether or not anyone even reads it.  :)  But I wanted to let you know that you should check for me now on a new blog for a while:  I have been away for a month because I've been processing the news that I have cancer.  Seriously!  :O  (that emoticon is supposed to be me with my mouth hanging open)  All the details are available on my new blog, but the short version is that I have stage 1 invasive breast cancer and have also tested positive for a genetic mutation that makes me highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer (BRCA2).  Our first mode of attack is going to be a double mastectomy and we'll take things from there.  I'd love for you to keep up with me as I brave this.  Just pop over to Just a Closer Walk and say hi. 
Love, Katherine

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thought of the Day

"Life’s a piano, and it so easy to think that the white keys are blossoms, petals, pure joy, and the black keys, the ache, the grief and the rain.

And yet — black keys, they are there to sing songs too."
(Ann Voskamp)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ever Think You Don't Understand God?

What It Means to Live the Christian Life

My poor blog has been terribly neglected lately.  In keeping with the theme of my blog's title, I'd describe the part of the road I've been on for the past month or two as slow-going.  The kind of road where you have to put your car in 2nd gear just to keep moving forward safely.  But my class is finished and I am slowly revving back up. 

Below is part of a blog post by Connally Gilliam that I read last week.  Its description of the life of faith as lived out in our fallen world was encouraging and fortifying for me.  I hope it is for you as well.

We are all pilgrims on a journey.  The ultimate destination is, though I'm not sure what it will look like, the new heavens and the new earth (John Bunyan in "Pilgrims Progress" calls it "The Celestial City") with our loving and powerful God reigning smack in the middle of everything.  We journey in this life to Jesus, our Redeemer, and then with him and others we journey towards this, the believer's final destination, or first beginning.  It's actually, as CS Lewis famously said, Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on Earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

But en route, we aren't detached Buddhists, negating this world with its pleasure or pain.  We are women and men called to fully engage--responding to God's original call to worship and know him, to build families and communities, and to work to cultivate the most human good that we can (literally & spiritually).  This is what we were made for.  It got all messed up by sin, but because Jesus has come, we get to experience and help others experience something of how it should be--we get to be involved in helping (if always imperfectly in this life) to realize the redemption Jesus has inaugurated.

So as we go, the assured reality of heaven infuses our journey with hope, even as God's Spirit infuses our journey with love and strength.  We hold our unmet longings and unsought suffering in the open palms of our hands, an offering, even as we thank him for His incredible provisions.  And we pray like crazy for more and more join in the journeying throng.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Start with One

The story below is one of my favorites and I have references to it in both my house and office, but it came unexpectedly to me in an email yesterday and I appreciated the reminder that it only takes one.  Maybe you can use the reminder, too.

Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young boy and the young boy wasn't dancing; instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer he called out, "Good morning! What are you doing?"

The young boy paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"Why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?"

"The sun has come up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in the ocean they'll die."

"But, young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!"

The young boy listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said-
"It made a difference for that one."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Don't Try to Pray Away Your Problems

Yesterday's Jesus Calling article:

"Do not long for the absence of problems in your life.  That is an unrealistic goal, since in this world you will have trouble.  You have an eternity of problem-free living reserved for you in heaven.  Rejoice in that inheritance, which no one can take away from you, but do not seek your heaven on earth.

"Begin each day anticipating problems, asking Me to equip you for whatever difficulties you will encounter.  The best equipping is My living presence.  My hand that never lets go of yours.  Discuss everything with Me.  Take a lighthearted view of trouble, seeing it as a challenge that you and I together can handle.  Remember that I am on your side, and I have overcome the world."