Sunday, August 24, 2008

Stewardship of relationships

All that I do with all that I have after I say, "I believe." This definition of stewardship is rather all-encompassing, involving my relationships. Those are perhaps my hardest challenge. Relationships by definition involve more than one person, so the dynamic of the relationship is not entirely under my control. It's easy to get bogged down thinking that if my relationships are not going well then I am not being a good steward. On closer scrutiny, however, there is a buried pride in this. My control does extend over my behavior in the relationship, but it ends there. Perhaps the best thing and the hardest thing at the same time is to be honest in those relationships. I may be wrong, but I can be honestly wrong. I may be right, and I can humbly, honestly be right. Owning my own feelings and behaviors is stewardship of the most severe kind, for it calls me to godliness and also those with whom I am in relationship. My fear, of course, is that some relationships cannot stand that kind of health--and perhaps my fears are not entirely unfounded. But what is the pay-off? If a relationship is predicated on falsehood it cannot last anyway. A good dose of humble, healthy, owned honest will go a long way to setting things straight, and in the long run it is the only godly thing to do. Remember: "All that I do with all that I have after I say, 'I believe.'"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

my thoughts about family

We've just had our granddaughter here. She's just over two months, which means she is a cross between a super-hero and a witch. She has the power to make a fool of me and make me like it, and she has a magical charm that brings strangers from across the room to make fools of themselves with me.

I was struck, however, by the essential difference in how my son, the baby's father, and I see the situation. He is full of a healthy, holy dread. There is a tender seriousness in the way he picks her up. He solemnly informed me that he no longer drives over the speed limit. Overnight this little creature has dominated his time, altered his marriage, and commanded his future, yet he rises to it with an almost cosmic sense of urgency. I well remember the days when I felt that way about him.

But I feel quite differently now. I've been there, done that, and I'm ready for something new. Sure, I want to just look at her and marvel. Sure, I will do anything for that magical smile. And sure, my whole discretionary income is suddenly happily at her disposal (well, almost!) But that's not the heart of the matter. When one is a new parent one is aware of launching out into unknown territory. When one is a grandparent one sits back and watches one's own launching bear fruit. My joy is in a line come full circle.

Perhaps that is how God feels when we do something for the least of these.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

beginning thoughts

I've been thinking a lot about death and resurrection, how it lies at the heart of living. Of course you can point to all the natural illustrations, winter into spring, seeds into flowers, the death of an idea and the birth of a new one. But on another level human maturity comes at the death of certainty. We praise the simplistic solutions of youth, and they are inspiring with their clarity and simplicity, but we don't operate on that level because sooner or later we come to mistrust the simplicity--they don't encompass all the complexity of life. We would like to assume that with our increasing maturity we could handle the increasing complexity, but soon even that outstrips us. To imagine that we still control it all is illusion that sooner or later makes us out to be the fools we are. But to die to my own capacity is redeeming--it allows space for community, it allows room for honesty, and ultimately, it allows place in my life for the experience of God.