That we live our verbs, not nouns

That we live our verbs, not nouns[1]

I was asked if  I could set the “blog ball” in motion for 2020 – how could I refuse.  Naturally, I was a bit panicked as to what I would write and then realised that I can only write about what I am currently learning or more appropriately re-learning. 

I tend to journal a lot.  Over the past few days, a few themes have emerged which I will share.

One such theme was the ongoing reality of living with ambiguity, uncertainty.  2019, was a year in which I worked hard to address the uncertainty in my life only to find that at year’s end, it was in fact, my constant companion as opposed to my constant enemy.

In his book, What Matters Most, James Hollis puts so succinctly the truth that when you are “more comfortable with your uncertainty…this acceptance of ambiguity will better lead you to a more developmental agenda, a mystery-driven life than “certainty” ever would.”[2] 

For this reason, I have referred to the ambiguity in my life as a “companion” as it is continuously stretching me to be even more reliant on the Lord and to transcend my fears. 

It is also causing me to stay in the day and to listen even more deeply to what God wants to do in my life.

More importantly, this “companion” has peeled back every label or noun that I thought I was. I’ve learned that as my Father is forever creating, my life is also about be-ing and not static – hiding behind any label/noun I had outgrown would keep my soul small. “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” (John10:10).

As we all know, there is no such thing as a coincidence in God’s world so the next theme occurred when “coincidentally” I began reading a beautiful book called Alive in God: A Christian Imagination. What I happened to read complemented what I had just read in the Hollis book which was: “We become more deeply alive as we are slowly liberated from identities that are too constricting…a tame faith betrays what is at its very heart, which is the adventure of transcendence.”[3] Transformation and transcendence are always the outcomes of ambiguity if one chooses to surrender to the process and “let it be done to me according to thy Word”  (Luke 1:38).  You see, “Christianity makes the strange claim that to be fully alive means embarking on a perilous journey that may cost you everything.”[4]

Timothy Radcliffe, the author of Alive in God gives a lovely teaching on Jesus renaming Simon to Peter, the Rock.  He points out that this new title was not only a process to be lived but it was to be Peter’s destiny.  Peter’s new name was dynamic and not static. “His new name embodies a hope for the future.”[5]

The last theme which emerged was when facing into my continued ambiguity for 2020, I suddenly had moved from faith to fear. I felt prompted to listen to a talk on YouTube. When I opened the app the first thing I saw was “Why are you afraid?”!! The talk I listened to was delivered by Max Lucado who spoke about the storm at sea! [6] Some key points he made fit with the whole theme of this blog. As he says “If you’re going to get on board with Jesus expect to get wet”!

Lucado explains that life does come with fears. However, it is the mismanagement of our fears which exclude God. When this happens, we subject ourselves to a position of fear and allow our anxiety to define our lives.  This is what Christ warns us against. “Do not be afraid” Isaiah 40 or as Lucado puts it “Do not place yourself in a state of fear.”  He closes by saying: “Could it be that what stands between you and courage is a prayer to your heavenly Father?”

Given the three themes of surrendering to ambiguity, allowing the journey to teach us transcendence and lastly, following Jesus is challenging but He is Lord over fear. I think its only fitting to close with that lovely verse from 1 John 3:2 “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be, has not yet being revealed. What we do know is this: we will be like him, for we will see him as he is”.

[1] James Hollis, What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life. (Penguin Group: New York, 2009) p.93

[2] Ibid p.94

[3] Timothy Radcliffe, Alive in God: A Christian Imagination. (Bloomsbury Continuum: London, 2019) pp 43-48

[4] Ibid 48.

[5] Ibid 48.

[6] Max Lucado Why are you afraid?

Theme photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

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