Run with the Horses – "Hard Times"

“Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy-five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained. In other words, if it ever were to be possible to eliminate affliction from our earthly existence by means of some drug or other medical mumbo jumbo… the result would not be to make life delectable, but to make it too banal and trivial to be endurable. This, of course, is what the Cross signifies. And it is the Cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ.”

Malcolm Muggerridge, A Twentieth Century Testimony

I’m reading a book by Eugene H. Peterson (translator of The Message) titled Run With the Horses right now… I don’t know if it’s intended as a chapter-a-day thought provoker and heart awakener, but that’s how I’ve found it to work for me. Today I read the 7th reading… “Pashur Beat Jeremiah.”

It’s quite natural to want to avoid “hard times,” isn’t it? I’ve certainly found that to be the case throughout my entire life, naively throughout my childhood and teenage years, and then with full-blown intention as I grew into a man, husband, and father. We come into life with parents who keep us from pain, who teach us not to touch the stove because it will burn us, and not to ramp our bikes over the creek because we might crash. I wouldn’t dream that pain upon my own son or family, either. But at the same time, at one point or another, we’re going to be introduced to the world of pain. Whether it’s through parents who decide “it’s time” and let us do what they know is not good for us but we’re dead set on doing, or whether it’s through running headfirst into the brick wall of life and discovering that marriage isn’t easy, a “career” is anything but security in life.

As I read this chapter, and from everything else I read of this book so far, I’m impressed by what a man Jeremiah had become. I find it intriguing to see where he got the affirmation he needed to go from the excuse of “I’m only a youth” to condemning the top-of-the-ladder man of the temple with a new name: “Terror on Every Side.” I can hardly wait to get to this book in my year-through-the-Bible reading plan this year, as I think it is shedding new light not only on Jeremiah’s ministry, but also on his person, his faith, his confidence, and above all, his God, who is also mine.

A few more quotes from this reading that hit home with me.

One group of people sees religion as a way to successful happy living; nothing that interferes with the success or interrupts the happiness will be tolerated. The other group sees religion as a way in which hurt, flawed, and damaged persons become whole in relation to God; anything will be accepted (mockery, pain, renunciation, self-denial) in order to deepen and extend that reality. One way is the way of enhancing what I want; the other way is a commitment of myself to become what God wants. (p. 86)

The task of a prophet is not to smooth things over but to make things right. The function of religion is not to make people feel good but to make them good… God does not want tame pets to fondle and feed; he wants mature, free people who will respond to him in authentic individuality. (p.89)

Truth is inward: we must experience within ourselves that which we profess. Truth is social: we must share with others what we profess. Statistics are a farce. Popularity is a smoke screen. All that matters is God. (p. 91)

Jeremiah was humiliated, but not intimidated. (p. 92)

We don’t have to like it. Jeremiah didn’t like it. He yelled at Pashur, and after he yelled at Pashur he yelled at God, angry, hurt, and somewhat bewildered that all this was happening to him (Jer 20:7-10). He didn’t like any of it, but he wasn’t afraid of it because the most important thing in his life was God – not comfort, not applause, not security, but the living God. What he did fear was worship without astonishment, religion without commitment. He feared getting what he wanted and missing what God wanted. It is still the only thing worthy of our fear. What a waste it would be to take these short, precious, eternity-charged years that we are given and squander them in cocktail chatter when we can be, like Jeremiah, vehemently human and passionate with God. (p. 93)

The idea.

This is the spot for me to write thoughts on the vision God has been showing me. Not my vision of what how to do His work, but what He is doing, and my way to step into it in love and service. These pages, marked with the @vision category, should only be available at http://vision.chetcromer.com.

Test of a private post

This is a test of a private post. It should be visible on private.chetcromer.com but not on www.chetcromer.com or www.onethingido.org.

The idea here is that I can use a single blog to blog general public stuff, but if I tag something in a @private category (or actually any category starting with @) it will only be visible on domains that contain the string of letters of the category in their name. For instance, @private posts will only be visible at private.chetcromer.com, and @onethingido posts would only be visible anywhere on the onethingido.org domain.

Awkward Love

Honest communication in love is the only way to live and grow in friendships. There are ebbs and flows. There may be real hurt and disappointment. But with the grace of God firmly holding us, it is possible to nurture and sustain deep friendships. We are designed to live in relationship and share in the lives of other women. We need one another. God knows that. We have only to ask and surrender, to wait, to hope, and, in faith, to love. We must also repent.

For a woman to enjoy relationship, she must repent of her need to control and her insistence that people fill her. Fallen Eve demands that people “come through” for her. Redeemed Eve is being met in the depths of her soul by Christ and is free to offer to others, free to desire, and willing to be disappointed. Fallen Eve has been wounded by others and withdraws in order to protect herself from further harm. Redeemed Eve knows that she has something of value to offer; that she is made for relationship. Therefore, being safe and secure in her relationship with her Lord, she can risk being vulnerable with others and offer her true self.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable . . . The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers . . . of love is Hell. (C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves)

(Captivating , by John and Stasi Eldridge, pages 181–82)

Good Quotes from Howard Thurman

Me thinks I need some Howard Thurman reading… these are some monster good quotes:

  • Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.”
  • “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that. Because what the world needs is people that have come alive.”
  • “There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days at the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”
  • “Commitment means that it is possible for a man to yield the nerve centre of his consent to a purpose or cause, a movement or an ideal, which may be more important to him than whether he lives or dies.”
  • “A dream is the bearer of a new possibility, the enlarged horizon, the great hope.”

What Role are You Playing?

We come into the world with a longing to be known and a deep-seated fear that we aren’t what we should be. We are set up for a crisis of identity. And then, says Frederick Buechner, the world goes to work:

Starting with the rather too pretty young woman and the charming but rather unstable young man, who together know no more about being parents than they do the far side of the moon, the world sets in to making us what the world would like us to be, and because we have to survive after all, we try to make ourselves into something that we hope the world will like better than it apparently did the selves we originally were. That is the story of all our lives, needless to say, and in the process of living out that story, the original, shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us hardly end up living out of it at all. Instead, we live out all the other selves which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather. (Telling Secrets)

Think about the part you find yourself playing, the self you put on like a costume. Who cast you in this role? Most of us are living out a script that someone else has written for us. We’ve not been invited to live from our heart, to be who we truly are, so we put on these false selves hoping to offer something more acceptable to the world, something functional. We learn our roles starting very young and we learn them well.

(The Sacred Romance , 84–85)