I Will Handle It

“He knows the way I take… when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” – Job

“He knows how much I can handle, and how much I can’t. I trust him with my life. Therefore, I will handle it, and when this is over, I will be even more like he wants me to be.”

– Stu Weber / Tender Warrior

Such good words today. I’ve gone to bed, woken up, and lived my days far to anxious the last several weeks. We are in a good place, with a good team, doing good work, for good clients. We have worked long and hard to get to this place, and the path forward, even though it is somewhat dark, rocky, and hard, is well worth the effort.

I will handle it. I will stick it through. I will come forth as a better man, a better husband and dad, and a better leader. There may be no magic moment when it all clicks and the waters turn crystal clear, but I’m not here to live in the easy. I’m here to raise myself and others into our full potential, to blaze a trail, and to be part of bringing a possible future into reality.

I will handle it. I will see it through.

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)

Visioneering, by Andy Stanley

I’m reading a book by Andy Stanley called Visioneering. Excellent book about not just leadership, but finding out who God made you to be, and what He made you to do, and how to get from “here” to “there.” Right now I’m reading all about that “wait and pray” phase that so often is right before the “give up because it must not be God’s will” phase. This post is a place for me to jot down quotes, thoughts, and things I learn from the book.

The basic building blocks of a vision:

  1. A vision begins as a concern.
  2. A vision does not necessarily require immediate action.
  3. Pray for opportunities and plan as if you expect God to answer your prayers.
  4. God is using your circumstances to position and prepare you to accomplish his vision for your life.

And some quotes and lessons as I go through the book.

CHAPTER 1 – A VISION IS BORN

  • We’ve forgotten who we are and where we came from.
  • “Visions are born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between what is and what could be
  • A dream is not a vision. “Vision is a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be… Vision is a preferred future.”
  • “Nehemiah’s vision didn’t begin as a vision. It began as a concern, a burden. A burden for his nation and its people… So what did he do? Nothing. He did absolutely nothing. He didn’t steal away across the desert int he night. He didn’t fabricate a reason to leave Persia. He didn’t even share his burden with other concerned Jews. But neither did he allow his daily responsibilities to distract him from the burden that had gripped his heart… He chose to waitWhat could be and should be can’t be until God is ready for it to be.

CHAPTER 2 – PRAYING AND PLANNING

  • “What can you do to keep your dream alive? Nehemiah did two things. He prayed and he planned… We see what we are looking for; we often miss what we don’t expect to see… Prayer keeps us looking. Prayer keeps the burden fresh. It keeps our eyes and hearts in an expectant mode.”
  • Dreamers vs. Visionaries: “Dreamers dream about things being different. Visionaries envision themselves making a difference. Dreamers think about how nice it would be for something to be done. Visionaries look for an opportunity to do something.”
  • “Think about this. If God could sway King Artaxerxes to finance the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem, he could certainly change the heart of those who stand between you and the vision God has given you. Humanly speaking, there was no way int he world King Artaxerxes was going to support Nehemiah’s vision. But prayer takes us well beyond human possibilities…Vision normally precedes jus about everything necessary to bring it into the sphere of reality.”
  • “New visions die easily. And understandably so. There is little to go on. Praying and planning willhelp you keep your vision alive…When your vision dies, part of you dies as well… Pray for the people who could help you launch your vision. And while you wait, plan! Develop a strategy. Dream on paper. Find the one or two things you can do and get busy.”

The face of a suffering child

“To look into the face of a suffering child is to see the depth of humanity and the heart of God.”

This is a timely quote as I read through the book Fields of the Fatherless. The world is full of children, families, and men and women with no hope… without even a hope for hope.

I heard the words above in a video I saw today. It’s graphically realistic.

Compassion

I’m reading a book called Fields of the Fatherless by C. Thomas Davis right now in my “spare” time. I picked it up for two reasons: First, it caught my eye with the “Fatherless” part of the title. Second, it was 75% off. The book is actually all about caring for those in need – orphans, widows, and strangers. Towards the beginning of the book, it asks the question, “what do the Fatherless look like today,” and gives these pictures:

  • A widower at church who always shares candy with the squirrely kids.
  • The girl who babysits your children and has no father at home.
  • The single mom next door who always seems to be harried – in and out of her car with kids, groceries, and work related paraphernalia.
  • The unruly little boy at your child’s class who keeps getting moved to another foster home
  • The only looking Asian college student waiting for the buss everyday as you pass by.
  • Even your own grandma who lost her husband 10 years ago and spends her days watching soap operas.

The book goes all through the Old and New Testaments, talking about God’s care and concern for these “strangers” in life, and how that concern was put into flesh by Jesus. It then goes on to talk about what we can do to make a difference in the lives of these people. I love this excerpt on the true meaning of compassion, which goes far beyond what we typically think of in our day to day lives:

The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean “to suffer with.” Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.

There you have it. The definition of compassion is about involvement. To be compassionate means to get out of the boat of our current circumstances and get into the boats of those who are suffering. We are called to bear the burdens of those who are in need of our companionship – to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).”

I love that. Compassion is not just about caring. It is about involvement… about doing something when you find someone in need that you can impact.

I’m looking forward to finishing the book. It’s a good read. On their website, they have this little poem, which I think summarizes the book, and the mission, well:

In this world you are an orphan—

eagerly anticipating your adoption as God’s child.

In this world you are a widow—

longing for reunion with your Bridegroom.

In this world you are a stranger—

a pilgrim waiting to become a citizen of heaven.

And in this world, God has called you to care for the orphan,
the stranger, and the widow. Fields of the Fatherless is a journey
that brings you back to what Christianity is all about:

Giving yourself to others

  Being Christ to a hurting world

And living for the one that comes next.