Ragamuffin Reflections after Brussels

Tuesday morning I woke from a strange dream.  In an attempt to distract myself I opened my phone only to see news of the explosions in Brussels that morning.  For the rest of the day I wrestled with the fear and sadness that typically accompanies such news.  However, there was something about it that made it more unsettling to me then other recent events.  Finally, I realized that the reason it was all so unsettling to me was because of my personal experiences in Brussels.

Brussels is an emotional location for me.  The first time I visited the wonderful city I had a frightening choking incident that thanks to the Heimlich maneuver was short lived.  Several years later I was unexpectedly flown into the airport to wait for a connecting flight after an overseas trip went horribly wrong.  I spent hours curled up on the floor of the terminal convinced that I would never recover.  It was one of the worst days of a years long dark night of the soul.

As I reflected on my own experiences and read through the experiences of those in Brussels I realized how ill prepared I am for the troubles of this world.  I kept asking myself how can I help people and what can I do?  The answer was not what I was expecting.

If you have ever flown you have heard the instructions to “secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.”  There’s a reason for this.  A lack of oxygen will cause you to pass out and if you pass out you will not be in a position to help anyone.  We need to be in a place physically, emotionally, and spiritually where we are not going to “pass out” when we face the troubles of this world.  Many people view passing out as a sign of a job well done.  I disagree.  And I believe the best model for this is Jesus.  Both Luke and Mark write about how Jesus would go out alone.  He would engage and then retreat engage and then retreat.

What would Jesus do when he retreated?  He would pray.  Prayer: powerful, transformative, and mysterious.  I have this new theory that prayer is less about getting things done and more about bringing us into the love of Jesus. In his book Ragamuffin Gospel Brennan Manning writes:

“…that we be men and women of prayer…people for who God is everything and for whom God is enough.  That is the root of peace.  We have that peace when the gracious God is all we seek.  When we start seeking something besides Him, we lose it.” 

When we come to a place of peace we can enter into a place of being. 

A place where we can love others securely. 
A place where our identity is steadfast. 
A place where we can serve honestly.

A place where we know to:

“Turn [our] eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face”
and then
“…go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!”

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus feat. Lauren Chandler 

Jesus, Tantrums, and the Socratic Method

A few weeks ago I drove home from an event where one of the speakers used an example that triggered a painful reminder of my body’s brokenness.  I was furious.  Problem was I had no space left to cram my anger.  All that anger began bubbling over until I finally let loose an angry tirade viciously attacking God.  It was not pretty. 

As soon as I finished an internal battle began.  On one hand I instantly regretted what I had said, but on the other hand I didn’t.  I had said exactly what I was feeling.  Back and forth I argued with myself until I came to the conclusion that it didn’t matter because I had already gone too far.  But then a quiet question:

“Do you love Jack?”

“Umm… Of course!  What does that have to do with anything?”

“What about when he screams at you and hits and kicks the floor?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I still love him.”


“Because I am doing something good for him…because I love him. He just doesn’t understand yet.”

“I see… And it’s okay for him to scream at you and hit and kick the floor?” 

“Not exactly.  It okay for him to have those feelings.  He needs to process what he is feeling but I would like him to express those feelings more appropriately… Ohhhhh”

I drove the rest of the way home in silence.  Trying to grasp this idea that Jesus loves me as much as (and more than) I love the little ones in my life. 

Is there someone in your life who not matter what they do you love them? Maybe a pet? Or maybe there is someone in your life who no matter what you do they love you… 

God loves us infinitely more.