With Us and For Us

John Steinbeck wrote East of Eden. You might have heard of this book in English class, or (perhaps more likely) from Oprah’s book club.  The story  focuses on Genesis Chapter 4, the story of Cain killing Abel.  The novel hinges on one key word in the story: Timshel. 

This interesting Hebrew word translates as “thou mayest.”  

Mumford and Sons have a song with this word as the title.  The song, much like Steinbeck’s book asks the question, “Why does God let us choose when we have the capacity to choose so wrong?”  

​Why does God trust us that much?

Even when our choices or the choices of others leave us imprisoned by hurt or death or illness or addiction, at the very bottom we find the purest and most loving of gifts from a Giver who’s not afraid to go to the bottom with us and for us.  

Grace gives us choice, loves our will, empowers us to ask for forgiveness and when we find ourselves asking, “Why?” Grace says to us, I love you. . . thou mayest.


Great Giver, 
Thank you for choices in life and for support You provide for us when we feel our choices are stifled.  May we show and be grace for others today.  Amen.

Quit Asking What You Want From Life

I’m anxious about the Husker season, and not because of the hail Mary loss last week to BYU.  I’m nervous for potlucks that will bring THE question, “So, how’s the new job?”

(I recently quit my cool college teaching job to take a cool youth ministry job. . . which didn’t work out. . . and I got a cool opportunity to teach eighth grade English. . . an hour away from home.  The end.  Er. . . the beginning.  So my real answer to this question is a bit of a game day casserole.)

I am loving the kids.  I am hating my closet as I stand there in the morning unsure of what to wear.  There may have been some ugly crying.  I feel like the closet thing isn’t really about my clothes.  So, how about them Huskers? 

It’s good. (Smile.)

In his book, The Road to Character, David Brooks notes that character is built through drama and the everyday.  But don’t I have enough character?  Can’t we be done with this stretching?  My elastic is sorta starting to crunch.  

Angsty teenage responses aside, Brooks does help me process.  Instead of the typical, “What do I want from life?” he directs us to ask a different set of questions:

What does life want from me?  What are my circumstances calling me to do?  In this scheme of things we don’t create our lives; we are summoned by life.  The important answers are not found inside.  They are found outside. . . Your job is to figure certain things out:  What does this environment need in order to be made whole.  What is it that needs repair?  What tasks are lying around waiting to be performed?  Or, as novelist Frederick Buechner puts it, “At what points do my talents and deep gladness meet the world’s deep need?” 

I’ve seen this Buechner quote before, but I always focused more on the “my own deep gladness” part and less on the world’s deep need.  

In all this change I am reminded that the Christian walk is more descent than ascent.  My bubble is intact, albeit a little deflated, but God’s power is made perfect in weakness.  

And yesterday I was feeling pretty weak. 

Today is better. 

Gratitude grounds us when the familiar gets shaky and new: 

  • I’m thankful for work that challenges me.
  • I’m thankful that my littles (C & O) are so well cared for by Grandma.
  • I’m thankful for my students, the quiet ones and the crazy ones and the ones who fart loudly in the middle of reading Poe’s Tell Tale Heart.
  • I’m thankful Brene Brown audiobooks that speed the commute.
  • I’m thankful for the grace to write about the twists in the past few months.
  • I’m thankful for my prayerful, supportive family.
  • I’m thankful even for the tears that are washing something away, making space for something new.

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going.  What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” – Thomas Merton