MORNING MEDITATIONS

By Lisa Huddleston

praying-with-open-hands

Thy will be done … Thy will be done, Lord … Oh Lord, Thy will be done.

Love me with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.

And how do I love thee, Lord?!

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Oh! But who is my neighbor, Lord?

The people who live on my street?

Yes

The people who live in my town?

Yes

The people who live in the city?

Yes

In other states? Other countries?

Yes

Those who hate me, Lord?

Yes

Those who hate You?!

Yes

Oh, Lord …

Yes? 

 

And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. But the greatest of these is Love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

FINDING MY FIT BEFORE I HAVE A FIT

Friends?

Friends?

by Lisa Huddleston

This is one of those times when I am reminded of what I strongly dislike about social media–and the on-line religious community. I have stumbled upon a Twitter debate that stirs my emotions like a huge, boiling cauldron of angst. My stomach is full of acid even as I write, and I am reminded once again of my need to lead a quiet life or explode.

The debate? That between Rachel Held Evans and various complementarians from various religious backgrounds. Ugh. The first conversation I stepped into was between Evans and Owen Strachan, a professor at Boyce College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Strachan had written a very negative review of Evans’ year old book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and he and Evans were having a “discussion” via tweets (which thankfully Evans requested be moved to someplace more appropriate since I couldn’t keep myself from reading it.) I was interested, because I had just read Evans’ book and found it neither mocking nor preachy. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In my opinion, Strachan was arrogant, condescending, and willfully (or perhaps not) misunderstanding of the premise of Evans’ book. It was difficult for me to stay out of the debate–I wrote and deleted many Tweets as I followed their interchange. Thankfully, Evans did not need my help to defend herself. She wrote an excellent response on her blog, http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/real-complementarian, and asked for real discussion with those who call themselves “complementarians.” (Complementarians generally–and VERY simplistically defined here by me–believe that men and women have different roles determined by their gender alone. These roles are complementary, biblically-based, and therefore, they believe, God-ordained.)

Today I read a heartfelt (although, I believe, misguided) response by a Catholic woman who takes the debate back to the Reformation and rejoices that she is a Catholic who can leave these decisions to the leaders of her church (all men). Although much sweeter and less condescending than the Baptist brother, this interpretation just added further juice to my boiling stomach. And I guess this is my gastric solution–to write it out on my blog (which is read by very few) and then to let the Big Girls and Boys work it out between themselves.

Ok, my two cents for what it’s worth which is probably much less than two cents: I believe in equality between men and women, that mutual submission really means mutual, and that when the Bible says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” that’s just what it means. Now I know that there are many other verses that can be pulled out of context (as I just did above) to support many other opinions, and I am not writing here to debate them. I have read The Baptist Faith and Message, Mary Kassian, and Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I tried my best to agree and to fit into the places outlined for me by my church–but I just did not. And I think perhaps that may be why there are so many churches from which to choose. Unless we are very limited in our mobility, we can look for a place in which we can worship without the rolling acid rising in our throats. For that I am very thankful.

And I am not opposed to the discussions I have mentioned above. These are topics that must be openly debated because separate but equal is still unequal, and I believe that human rights matter. But they do not have to be debated by everyone and in a social media forum. I realize my limitations and my inability to handle the anger and conflict. I will do best by focusing on the gospel of Jesus and allowing others to work out some of the more painful details. For me, I am thankful that God has set my feet in a more spacious place, one that does not pinch so hard, and I gladly bow out. Also I genuinely love and respect people in a variety of different camps on this topic–in fact, as they say, “Some of my best friends are complementarians”! I do not have to agree with them on everything nor do they have to agree with me. (Good thing, right?) But we do have to try to be kind to one another–love matters more.

So, nothing new in this post, but at least I’ve relieved some of the building pressure I’ve felt to have my say in print. And don’t worry–since I have no clear “platform” and my blog is small potatoes–very few will be offended by my words. Whew!

Blessings to you, friends. Enjoy this beautiful fall day and be glad in it. I plan to!

ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE

By Lisa Huddleston

I am a person who feels the connections in the world; therefore, a truth in one arena is suddenly attached to a truth in another with a quick and jarring leap.  I learn in epiphanies and visions.  Presently I am considering that God gave this world everything it needs to have true shalom.  In other words, everyone in everyplace in every corner of this planet should have all he or she needs to lead a good life because God has provided enough to make it so.

My journey to this truth has been circuitous as I am prone to wander.  (Lord, I feel it.)  It began last week as I was sitting quietly to observe a counseling session at the center where I work.  As one in training, my job was to watch and listen and keep my mouth shut.  The client was a precious young woman for whom I immediately had maternal, protective instincts.  She had received very little help to make her way in the world.  With a less than average IQ, parents who left her, and very little income, she continued to smile and make me love her.

When I left that session, I had to go to a private office and cry my frustration out to a friend.  “It’s not fair,” I wailed.  “Why does God give some so little and others so much?”  It really ticked me off.

Next, several days later, my husband and I had time to kill before a church home group gathering  so we walked over to Starbucks to sip a couple of cups on the patio during our wait.  My heart lurched as I made my way through the doors to the outside tables, and Chuck went to the counter to order our drinks.  A very dirty, very wounded, obviously homeless man was lying on the bench with his swollen and beaten head propped up by his filthy backpack.  Oh great!  How can I sit here?  You know I have a weak stomach, God! But I decided to stay there as there were other people around, and Chuck soon joined me with coffee.

It hurt to look at the man’s distended eyes and lips.  There were black stitches circling his right eye and scattered across his face.  I literally ached in my gut.  And, of course, I thought about the Good Samaritan.  Where was a good Samaritan when you needed one?  Come on, God.  Oh man, surely it couldn’t be me.  And I remained miserably seated and silently sipping my scalding brew.

When Chuck decided it was time to go we stood,  and I gathered my leftover pizza from our dinner at Mellow Mushroom and started to walk past the man.  His eyes were closed, and he hadn’t asked for anything.  Still, I felt terrible.  I said, “Sir?”  And he opened his eyes, probably expecting me to shoo him away.  But instead I gingerly handed him a ten dollar bill, mumbled something I can’t even recall now to try to tell him I cared and left with tears in my eyes.  Lame!  I didn’t even offer him my pizza.  Pitiful!

So we headed to home group.  Can you believe the first thing we read was the story of the Good Samaritan?!  Of course, you can.  God is good like that.  He always ties the truth up with a bow–at least for me he does.

While the group discussed our responsibility to the poor, I sat and pondered a fact I had heard in the past: “The world produces enough food to feed everyone.  There is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories per person per day” (2012 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics).  Then why are there so many people hungry?  God has given us all we need, but it hasn’t been evenly distributed.  And the distribution is what we seem to have the most trouble with.

As people in the group tried to justify not contacting the poor or clothing the naked or freeing the prisoners, I silently kept thinking that God has given us (the BIG US) all we need for everyone.  Some have genius IQs–let them use them to help the mentally disabled.  Some have enormous belt sizes–let them invite the hungry to the table to share their food.  Some have securities and insurance and rainy day savings that will never be touched–let them spread the wealth and clothe those who will be freezing in a couple of months.

Oh God, forgive me.  “Let them” had a safe distance that is not accurate in any way.  Let me!  Send me, Lord.  I have time to volunteer.  I have skills that others need, and I can give them away.  I have clothes and food and more than I really need in just about every area of my life.  Open my eyes.  Open my heart.  Open my hands.

God blessed Abraham so that the whole world might be blessed.  To those whom much has been given, much is required.  Thank you for the reminder that we are blessed in order to bless others.  There is enough of everything.  It’s time to stop talking and start doing.  Share!