Like A Lamb in the Midst of Wolves

Like A Lamb in the Midst of Wolves

In Luke 10, Jesus speaks of how He is sending His disciples, the few laborers for the abundant harvest, out like lambs in the midst of wolves. When I heard this at Mass several days ago, an image leapt into my mind which has been with me ever since. I imagined a little lamb, still with softly spun small coils of wool, walking down a path surrounded by wolves, growling menacingly at the tender lamb. Yet the lamb moved forward, head held high, and seemed unfazed by the danger that lurked around it.

I considered how vulnerable this lamb was, unable to defend itself from the predators and with little strength to offer on its own behalf. And I thought that perhaps that was exactly the point. Maybe this image of the lamb in the midst of wolves is exactly what Jesus desires for us. This little lamb is aware of its weakness and it is likely this knowledge of its weakness which is its greatest strength. If it fixated on the vicious wolves that surround it, the sheep could never move forward. It is rather gentle by nature, with no claws or sharp teeth to maim an attacker. The lamb surrounded by wolves finds its strength in knowing that the Shepherd will provide.

The moments or situations in life where I have known God placed me in a particular situation, and yet I felt wholly unqualified for the task at hand, are the situations where I have needed to rely entirely on the Lord. In this reliance, there is a strength that is given. I don’t know that I was a better teacher ten years ago, but I was far more likely to storm Heaven prior to a difficult class or to beg for guidance in the midst of students’ questions. It isn’t that I don’t ask for God to help me now, but I’m more confident in my own abilities than I used to be. Yet the littleness, the weakness I felt as a new teacher was also a source of strength. I’ve experienced the same in different ministries or experiences which forced me to offer the Lord unrestricted access, imploring Him to provide in the places where I saw an abundant lack.

Continue reading “Like A Lamb in the Midst of Wolves”

Proclaim Liberty to the Captives

Proclaim Liberty to the Captives

The Lord is a wound healer.  

I’ve been mentoring a young friend for a few months and the last time we met our conversation turned to wounds.  In many ways, I feel I have had a pretty easy life, one without too many struggles or problems.  Yet I am amazed by how many wounds can be found in this tender, little heart of mine.  As we spoke of how the Lord seeks to heal these areas, I couldn’t help but marvel at what the Lord has done in me over the years.

When Jesus heals, He brings freedom into a place I often didn’t even realize was enslaved.  This heart is far from wholeness, but the work the Lord has done in it is impressive.  My gifted spiritual director has spent hours listening to me sob and choke out stories of hurt and pain.  Some are understandable in their immensity, while others seem nearly laughable in their smallness.  Yet my spiritual director has treated each wound as important and in need of healing.  Often it is he who insists on the importance of the incident while I want to be dismissive of the emotions attached to the memory.

As a person who wants to be seen as logical and rational, it has taken years for me to be convinced of the validity of my feelings.  When I can accept that my feelings aren’t foolish, I am able to acknowledge that the hurt is real and needs to be addressed.  In this, the Lord has rewarded me ten-thousand fold.  Working through the intricacies of my heart has forced me to see that Christ wants to redeem and renew every part. Continue reading “Proclaim Liberty to the Captives”

His Terrifying Vulnerability

His Terrifying Vulnerability

There is a terrifying vulnerability in how His arms are outstretched.

I’m not certain I had ever quite seen it that way before.  At Sunday Mass, I was looking up at the large crucifix behind the altar and I was slightly fearful.  That wide open heart, that vulnerable heart, that posture of being unable to defend oneself is what He wants from me.  And it scares me.

A nail pierces each hand, fixing them in place.  He is unable to shield Himself from anything: not the hurled insults, not the mockery, not the physical blows should it come to that.  Briefly, I pictured myself unable to curl up into a ball to protect my heart, to shield my face.  It was terrifying.  I would not be simply defenseless before loved ones but before my enemies.  That place of weakness seemed to be too much to bear.  At least in the face of persecution and mockery, I like to appear to be strong and resilient.

And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”  The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!  (Luke 23:35-37)

Continue reading “His Terrifying Vulnerability”

To Affirm is to be Vulnerable

To Affirm is to be Vulnerable

I dislike feeling vulnerable.  This doesn’t mean that I never share my thoughts or feelings with others because I definitely do.  Rather, I need it to be in a safe place.  My students, generally speaking, are not that safe place.  Some classes have been exceptionally open and I’ve found it easy to share my heart with them, but that is not the norm.

As far as I can remember, those classes have always been my sophomore classes.  Sometimes I force myself to be vulnerable with them, though.  It is difficult because: they are teenagers, they don’t understand the significance, and I feel like it places me in the position to get hurt.  And I, human that I am, don’t like to be hurt. Continue reading “To Affirm is to be Vulnerable”

The Gift of a Little Heart

There is a bit of my heart in everything I write.  It is how I express my heart.  Spoken words are never quite as useful for me, but if you give me some time (perhaps the most crucial element) and paper and pen (or a computer), I can describe (to an extent) the workings of this heart.

Writing allows me the chance to tidy the messiness of a heat that feels.  Too often I rail against my own heart, how the feelings it has do not line up with logic, how I cannot control where my heart is pulled, or how the heart has a power that the head finds difficult to contest.  When I write, I give my head the chance to make sense of this little heart.  I am able to wrap up some loose ends and to really consider what is occurring deep within.

Once upon a time, way back in college, I was on the verge of dating.  In the process of trying to understand my own heart, I wasn’t very good at letting this man know what the internal conflict was over.  He wrote me a letter to say that perhaps it was best if we didn’t date.  Although I didn’t like the contents of the letter, it gave me the freedom to respond in the way that is most natural for me: in writing.  After reading through my letter, a few pages long and filled with heartfelt attempts to give a brief glimpse into my inner chaos, he said that he was able to understand me better.  Apparently, what was going on inside of me wasn’t what he had thought from his outside perspective.  Granted, in any relationship you need to have the capability to sit down and have a conversation (one cannot always be stopping the conversation to pen a lovely piece of prose about what one actually wants to say), but it can be helpful to take a step back and write it out.

As self-centered as this may seem to be, this blog has always been about me.  Well, it is about Jesus, but it has always been for me.  I need to write out the workings of my heart.  I find solutions and solace when I can express myself in this way.  Yet I’m very protective of my writings, as though they are my little children.  I am detailing the movements of my heart in words that anyone with the correct web address can access.  I try not to think about it too much, but sometimes I will see where blog views come from and I wonder, what does that person in China/Russia/Germany think about this little heart way far away?  Does a heart that feels these same emotions beat within them, too?  Do they read a few lines and then scroll away, uninterested by a heart of such meanness?  (Ahem–meaning: “poor in quality and appearance; shabby“)

Yet while this blog started and continues to be for my own benefit, I am led to wonder if perhaps, like healing, the Lord is asking for it to be about you, too.  He has this interesting way of dealing with me.  The Lord knows I am slow, so slow.  He knows He must gently ease me into anything or else I will fall into a melancholic heap and pray for death (ask my parents about my first year of teaching).  Perhaps this is what He is doing in this situation, too.  He shows my heart how to express itself and then reminds me that it is not for me alone.  And who knows what He will do with that?  I don’t, but I am beginning to get used to the idea that my littleness might be useful when placed in the shadow of His greatness.  Because isn’t that what I’ve always wanted?  To somehow have a great mission even though I am little?  Perhaps He has a plan for all this littleness.

No.  Not perhaps.  He does.  

Maybe God will change the world through each of us by utilizing something within us that seems commonplace and ordinary, but can be fantastic and wonderful when in the light of His Majesty.

Perhaps all He ever wanted anyway was our littleness.  Our hearts scribbled on paper, unadorned by anything but the Truth.  A vulnerable, sincere gift of self.

“For in sacrifice you take no delight, burnt offering from me you would refuse; my sacrifice, a contrite spirit. A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.”  -Psalm 51