Poison Dart Frogs are some of the tiniest and beautiful creatures on the planet; they are also incrediably deadly. So, why call this blog "Tiny Dart Frog"? It goes back to the old adage - good things come in small packages. We are all created exactly as God has intended - unique, strong, and beautiful.
I am restless by nature. If God asked me to move a mountain, I would be all over it. I'd gather a team, grab a bunch of shovels, put on my boots and get to work. I do.
I am not a good sitter. When I am feeling especially overwhelmed I often think, "Wouldn't it be nice to sit on my back porch, sip a soda, and read a book (or maybe a 'trash' magazine like Cosmo or something). But given the chance, I really don't know how to do that well.
It's much harder for me when Jesus says, "Come, sit with me for awhile." I want to know what's next. I want to know why. I mean in there a point in just being still, Jesus?
Well, the other night, I was having dinner with a few friends and one woman started talking about a Spiritual group she attends. It's not really a Bible study, but they talk about the Bible. It's not really a support group, but they support one another. It's just a gathering of people who every single Monday answer this question: "How is it with your soul today?"
It's the founding question of John Wesley.
Every week to be confronted by the question, "How is it with your soul?" by people who care is, to me, enchantingly lovely. It sends chills up my spine.
How is it? What a different question from, "How are you?"
It has stuck with me so much these past few days. There is, for me, something about the poignancy and sweetness and directness which beckons me to look inward at my relationship with God. As I think on that question I honestly can't help but sit and slow down.
As I've been praying and dreaming over this question, I've started to know again that Jesus, he really wants to be with us. Maybe even enjoys our company.
Oh, I know all the theology, that we are Baptized into Christ and made new and holy through the blood and body and water of our God who will stop at nothing to redeem this world. I truly believe all those things, but sometimes our words and theology may get in the way of our relationship with God.
There's something very, very compelling about God caring so much that God would say to us, "How, my dear child, is it with your soul?" And I'm just wondering if I can answer it....
the cry of the soul
deep within the caverns of your body
i lie....restless for you to remember
there is more to you than flesh and bone
i am your true heartbeat
i am divinity
and you push me down
isolate me and cut me off
and it hurts.
what i know so well is
that i am
I get a lot of junk mail and it's probably my fault. You know, I'll order some super cute item for one of my kids' knight collection and BAM! I'm on every medieval collectors mailing list around. Or, I order a new pair of running shoes and now, not only do I receive every athletic magazine on the planet, but also every road race promotion and outdoor adventurist advertisement known to humanity.
And then there are the catalogs that come with all the cute graphic t-shirts.
At least half of these catalogs are from stores I have either never heard of or never set foot in.
I don't look at all the catalogs, but...I do look at a lot of them, just to peruse what's out there.
Today was no different. Not one piece of mail I needed, but 5 catalogs. As I flipped to the last page of one I just happened to notice the postal instructions from the company. "Please deliver to Current Resident." The words 'current resident' were underlined, as if to highlight the fact that it could possibly be to the benefit of the company if the magazine ended up in the hands of an unintended recipient.
Which, of course...it would be, because as soon as it lands in an unintended recipient's hands, the company has broadened it's marketing base.
Never bought a lego set in your life and you love Volkswagen Bugs...we have just the thing for you! A lego baby blue VW bug.
Companies know that every magazine that goes out has the potential to reach one new person. They know their words don't go out with no return...even if they don't see the return right away. Someday a person may be looking for a frog hose holder or a lego pirate or a self-scooping kitty liter box. You just never know...
Which brings me to God. Yes, I know cat boxes, legos, frogs, magazines and God are an unlikely combination.
But, hear these words from God found in Isaiah, "So shall my word which goes forth from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
Unintended recipients seem to be what God is all about. Wherever the Word lands, God says, God can do something there. I'm thinking that God would almost rather have the Word read by a bunch of people who have NO IDEA what they are reading or hearing, rather than a bunch of people who went to seminary, who can debate dogma and theology on blogs and in classrooms.
Yes, proper teaching and preaching and exegesis are necessary.
But even when we screw it up (which we will) that doesn't mean that the Word returns empty or does nothing - that would be a fairly low and flat view of what the Word of God can accomplish. What we view as unintentional or accidental or mis-delivered may just be the means through which God will work.
If God's word can work through Pharaoh and Saul, then I'm fairly certain the religious and denominational and racial and ethical and sexual lines we've drawn aren't going to stop the Word of God from accomplishing all that God intends.
Which brings me to my primary point of pondering...
If the magazine marketers intension is mailing to whoever so that people will buy from them...
Then what's God's intention?
Isaiah's words don't actually say.
Maybe we're not supposed to know. Did you ever think of it that way? I mean...of course, we want to know, we think we know, but we do not fully know the mind of God, even as we are given the mind of Christ, as Paul says.
Sure, we know a lot about what God's ultimate intentions are for the world and mostly those intentions are related to restoration of relationships between God and humanity.
But wouldn't it be interesting to trust that God sends the Word out...and then see what good came come from it rather than just deciding whether the way it's proclaimed or interpreted is right or wrong.
I hear enough about the fundamentalists and the liberalists; the ELCA Lutherans and the Missouri Synod Lutherans; the evangelicals and the protestants; the spiritual, but not religious and the religious and sorta spiritual...
How about listening to how they've experienced the Word of God in their lives and in their worship and in their vocations and honoring that. Because even if you don't agree with them, with us, with me...God is still at work and promises to accomplish something.
One cannot (well, they can, but it doesn't make it true) deny the glory of God working in unexpected places or ways. If it's God, it's God, even when it doesn't fit in our dogmas and theologies. We can't say God's Word can transform our lives and save the universe...basically do anything, and then say but we better keep a close eye on it otherwise it will fail to accomplish God's mission.
It is not up to us to control God's Word. It is up to us to share it as much as we possibly can, in as many places as we possibly can, in as many ways as we possibly can.
What we deem as unintended recipients or inconsequential interactions, God may see as current residents, who happen to be in the right place at the right time.
The Word promises to return to God full. That filling up may just take a bit of time sometimes, especially when we end up spilling things on the ground. But the Word made a promise to God to return full so that we might all dance in the light of God, so that the trees might clap their hands to the music of God, and so that the all might join in the song the God is conducting.
"So shall my word which goes forth from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. I will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." Isaiah 55: 11-12
My name is Christine Stephan, although I answer mostly to Mom or Pastor.
I am a Lutheran pastor for an amazing group of Jesus' disciples just outside Washington DC AND a mom to 3 of the best boys in the universe.
I blog here about family and faith and frustrations....That thing we call 'life'.
My boys are passionate about all things legos, anything involving a ball, video games, and chocolate.
I am an avid runner, a lover of interesting books and deep conversation, a very amateur writer, and also a lover of chocolate.
I also love theology (which is weird, I know), but I don't love theology more than Jesus.
This blog is hardly ever profound, but it is real. As a pastor and I mom, I find 'real' to be more helpful in my journey with Jesus than crossing all the t's and dotting all the i's.