I like to fly, but nearly every flight has those moments, those heart-stopping moments of fear. I hate those moments. Cruising along, finally able to turn on portable electronic devices (and listen to music on my iPod, tuning out the conversations all around), I get comfortable and open my book and, all of a sudden, the airplane bumps and bucks. We all look around, trying to gauge by the flight attendants’ expressions whether we should be worried. The plane hits more turbulence and we look out the windows, having trouble believing that we’re not actually hitting something. It feels just like a car running over something. As hard and violent as the bumps seem, it’s hard to believe there’s not something physically in the way. But to the naked eye, the air looks clear.
Air turbulence is caused by air masses traveling at different speeds. The “bumps” occur when an airplane crosses over the point where two different speeds of air meet each other. We can’t see these spots. Much of the time the pilots can’t predict or avoid them. But visible or not, they’re there. They cause the plane to suddenly accelerate or shake or dip or bounce. If you’ve never had that experience, if you’ve not been jolted around by those bumps, if you’ve not grabbed your armrest and wondered if you’ll make it home, you may not really understand. But once you’ve experienced that kind of turbulence, you know it’s real.
So many people have never had an experience with God. They may know of Him, and they may even believe in Him, but they haven’t felt him. Without personal experiences, it can be difficult to believe, and I understand that. But once you have experienced Him? You’ll feel a jolt more powerful than the air turbulence. You’ll marvel at how real He is, even if others can’t see Him. You’ll understand that experience triumphs sight — if you’ve felt Him, you don’t have to see Him. If you’ve had a run-in with the Almighty, you will know. You will feel the effects of it. You might even be a little scared. You will definitely be changed. You might even change directions. You might accelerate down the same path you were already on. You might fall down. But no matter what your personal experience is, you won’t want it to stop, because going on a journey with our Heavenly Father is like nothing else. You’ll reach new heights, and you’ll probably end up going places you never imagined. So when you feel that bump, whether it’s big or small? Don’t fight it. Don’t try to get away from it. Just close your eyes and hang on, because you’re in for the ride of your life.
The Bible is clear about the importance of tithing, or giving back to God a portion of what He has given us. I remember going through different stages before I fully accepted the need to tithe, from thinking a few dollars a week was good enough, to wanting to give more, to wanting to show how much He meant to me, to trying it to see if I could afford it, and finally, to willingly and gladly giving, without question, knowing I can’t afford not to tithe. I no longer feel like I’m giving away my money to the church. I believe I am simply returning to God what was always His as a way to show my faithfulness.
Now that the commitment of tithing is deeply ingrained in my soul, God has thrown a new twist at me. It’s time to tithe on all my resources. All of them. My health. My family. My talents. My time. Especially my time. No, I don’t think God is up there with a stopwatch checking whether I give him 2.4 hours of each day. No, I don’t have to sacrifice my first-born son (although there are times I’d consider giving him away to the first taker). But I do have to remember this: It all belongs to Him. Every bit of it. Every thing of value I have came from Him. Every ounce of ability, every loving relationship, every moment of every day. So when God wants me to spend time with Him, I need to understand that I shouldn't be looking at my schedule and deciding when I can pencil Him in. I’m not picking how much time I can spare, or which part of my day I want to donate to Him. Instead, just as I do with money, I’m simply handing back to Him the part that was always His.
Same goes for every other aspect of my life. It’s not about determining exactly how much of any given thing is 10%, but it is about setting aside a portion for God. If I’m not using my talents for Him, they’re being wasted. If I’m not taking care of my body, I’m squandering the health He gave me. If I’m not using my money to further God’s kingdom, it has no lasting value. And if I’m not honoring or recognizing the Lord during my day/week/life, then it’s really not worth anything. Only when it is by Him and for Him and filled with Him does it — does anything — have value. I don’t get to decide what belongs to God. I only get to choose the attitude of my heart when I return it to Him.
I checked in on Dina, my favorite blogger (maybe because she seems fond of me in return) and found that she was awarded a Kreativ Blogger award. After listing five things about herself, she was to nominate a few more blogs. I'm touched that I was on that list.
So here goes... five random facts.
1) I would leave my husband for one and only man... Colin Firth... but ONLY IF he's appropriately dressed, dripping wet, and speaks as though he really is Mr. Darcy.
2) I didn't like coffee until a client of mine, who owned a gourmet coffee company, personally fixed me mochas at every meeting to try to get me hooked. Eventually the coffee taste wasn't strong enough and I graduated to coffee. Now I drink a Cafe Americano every morning (two shots of espresso and hot water).
3) When I sit down to design a new logo, I start with -- not a drawing -- but a list of words I want to describe it. (And my friend Lisa, a writer, starts with sketches instead of words.)
4) I have never watched most classic movies (shame on me) and I could never bring myself to actually read Shakespeare. Or J.R.R. Tolkien.
5) As a child, I always wished I could bring Laura Ingalls into the future and show her all the way cool things we had nowadays, like cars and TVs and refrigerators.
And now some of my favorite creative blogs (I'm only sorry I couldn't re-nominate Dina)...
the mcg family - inspiring words and the best eye. I know they're mostly of her kids, but she knows how to take an amazing photo and they're beautiful enough that I, too, love them (although I've never met any of them!). I love the way she sees the world.
Where am I wearing? - He's a published author and way beyond this, but I still love reading his perspective. Kelsey Timmerman wrote a book about going on a "global tour to the countries, factories, and people that make our clothes." What an idea!
Scott Flood Writing - I worked with Scott years ago and have always loved his sense of humor -- and his matter-of-fact approach to solving creative problems. Don't get me wrong -- he's still very creative -- but unlike so many people in the advertising community, he believes the approach should always make sense. Gotta like that.
And lastly, my friend Corinne is perhaps the best storyteller I've ever known. Sadly, she puts most of her posts, comments and observations on Facebook and has sorely neglected her blog (hint, hint)! But you'll enjoy the few posts that are out there.
Thanks again, Dina.
In response to some thought-provoking discussion going on at one of my favorite blogs, Causerie, I posted some questions and responses of my own. I love these kind of discussions, so I'm putting my reply here, too... so, if I have any readers out there, I'd love it if you'd throw in your own two cents' worth in the Comments below this blog post. Respond to any of my comments or any of the ones found at Causerie. I'd love to know: What do you think about it all??
OK, I’m not sure if this is exactly where you were going, but this discussion brings to mind a question I’ve pondered for some time now. If I am a Christian, and if I believe the Bible to be true, then I am told that it is my responsibility to share God’s love and preach the “good news”. If I love my neighbor, and if I have found something that has transformed my life, and if I believe with all my heart that God is real and living and true, then I am supposed to tell people about it. But the difficult part is that many who do not consider themselves Christians are REALLY turned off by Christians talking about “their” God. Or they’re offended by the implication that if I believe this to be true and if I believe they need to know about it, I’m conceited and assuming that I am correct (which implies I think they are “wrong” or I am trying to change them because they’re not “good” enough). But I’m just trying to do what I’m told to do by the God that has transformed my life, and I don’t mean any judgment by it.
I’ve met many people who are not Christians (and those whose beliefs are Christian but who don’t associate with a formal group or church) who truly seem to “know” God. They are spiritual, they have faith, but they have unconventional “religious” views. But the Bible I believe says Jesus is THE way, the only way to God. Yet in spite of my belief in the Bible — because I do believe it is truth — I can’t bring myself to believe these other people don’t know the same God I know.
Sometimes I think having faith means choosing to recognize that sometimes we just don’t know. Sometimes the questions are too big for us to get our heads around. In spite of any apparent contradictions, I believe that God is real, He is alive, and He is bigger than all of my questions. He has the answers, and if I don’t know what those answers are, it’s because I don’t need to know. My questions and doubts don’t keep me from believing. I may not get it all, and I may not have all the answers, but I know that I know that I know that God is real and that He loves me. There are many areas we can debate -- most of which have to do with “religion” or “church” and very little to do with the relationships I believe God wants to have with each of us – but to me it comes down to this: what can I do to best represent the God I want people to know? How do I let Him shine through me? How do I communicate that He is all about love and not about division and estrangement? How do I show people the way He can change lives without offending them? Again, I don’t have these answers, and every time I seek answers I discover more questions. But I find it all fascinating and wonderful anyway.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. They’re almost a joke. Nearly everyone makes them, but very few follow through. Maybe they should be called New Year’s Intentions. We intend to make changes, but we rarely have the fortitude to stick with it. But we try, because a new year seems like a great time for a fresh start. We are filled with hope. We are inspired by the thoughts of renewal. Christmas isn’t the only religious holiday. God is in all things, especially the business of renewal. And God is the author of hope.
On New Year’s Eve, I got a mailer from Weight Watchers because they know that this time of year everyone vows to lose weight. It’s a universal thing. People decide to start exercising, to drop 20 (or 30 or 40) pounds, to drink more water. There are other resolutions – to stop smoking, to stop spending money, to stop drinking. But mostly, we focus on earthly things, battles of the flesh that we need to overcome. We always start with hope that we can finally conquer these issues. This will be the year! But the problem is we’re focusing on the flesh, not on the spirit. Each of these items has a spiritual parallel, so maybe that’s where we should begin.
Are we carrying around too much weight? It’s not just an extra 20 pounds that makes us unhealthy. It’s the excess baggage. The resentment that festers and damages our hearts. The hatred. The judgment. The fear. All the ugliness that holds us hostage, keeps us in bondage, and breeds even more fear. Maybe the most important weight to lose is that. And maybe, once our spirits are right, our bodies will follow suit. After all, we will no longer eat out of desperation or loneliness or depression, because we will have allowed God to fill those holes. We need to take control of what we feed ourselves. Does it nurture us or simply temporarily fill an emptiness?
Going along with weight loss is exercise. It’s not enough to control what goes in; we also have to strengthen our hearts, lungs, muscles. In order to function in the way God designed them, our bodies need regular workouts. So do our spirits. Just like physical exercise, sometimes it is hard to get started. It hurts, because we’re not used to doing these things. We need to pray until it becomes natural. We need to expose ourselves to the Word until it becomes familiar. We need to make a concerted effort to work at it, and when it becomes easy, we need to step it up a notch and push ourselves even more.
Years ago, at a New Year’s Eve party, several of us declared our resolutions. Every one of us vowed to drink more water — it finally became a joke. But isn’t that what we all need? Not just any water, but living water. The water of eternal life. The water that finally quenches our thirsts, that finally satisfies. The water promised by Jesus. So this year, go ahead and make resolutions if you must. But maybe the best way to start is by drinking deeply in the Spirit. Then the rest will come.