Month: June 2015

Letters to the Family: Cody

One of the most gifted writers I know. A genuinely deep sense of humility. A faith that is willing to wrestle through the dark days. This is my friend Cody. She and I met 7 years ago in a Bible Study.  A few years later, we both found ourselves at Bayou City Fellowship and I had the joy of getting to know her more. Now, in different places, I only see Cody on occasion. In all of those years, there is one quality that stands out. Peace. Cody carries with her rest for tired souls. Whether reading her writings or sharing life over a cup of coffee, Cody’s words are a place of restoration. I know her words to us today will be the pause and life-giving breath many of us need.

CodyIn her own words: I love my family, my friends, my dog, words, group games and efficient errand-running. I thrive off of good conversations with trusted friends (preferably over ice cream or coffee), and if laughing was a hobby, it would be my favorite one. I’m not sure about everything in this thing called life, but I have found that the Lord is good and that He loves us, and I go from there.

Dear Church,

You served communion today.

I was sitting in the second row. I really like sitting up front like that, but I’m a little insecure about it too, so I rarely do. (I also rarely admit that. Now you know.) But there, from my second row seat, I had the privilege of watching so many of you stream through the line.

You pull your portion of bread off of the whole.

The Body of Christ broken for you.

You dip your piece in the common cup.

The Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.

And I could weep. Because of your beauty. Each one of you. All of you together. You are skin-wrapped bearers of the God that I love. You are His hands and His feet and His ears and His shoulders. Not only to the world, but also to me.

I know that you are only a part of this vast thing called the Body of Christ. I know that Christ’s Church is much larger than the one we attend on Sundays. I know this because my church is much larger than the one I stood among this morning, because ones I dearly love gathered around the city and the state and the country.

And so I write this to the ones of you I hugged this morning, to the ones who gathered elsewhere, to the ones I do not even know.

You raised me. You correct me. You encourage me. You make me laugh. You let me cry. You let me try. You graciously bow your head when I fail. You cheer when I win. You whisper prayers over me. You kneel on my behalf more times than I will ever know. You text and call and sometimes knock on my door, showing up when I don’t know I need you. You let me sit in silence. You let me struggle when you know I need to find Him outside of everyone else.

And, well, what I want to say more than anything else is thank you.

Thank you for letting the Spirit of Christ dwell in you. Thank you for letting Him live through you. Thank you for letting Him speak and heal and pray and laugh. Thank you for being God with skin on. Each of you. All of you. Together.

You aren’t always perfect. And that’s part of your beauty. We are a marred mess of individuals making up this one collective Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:18). We aren’t perfect witnesses to who He is, but we are witnesses nonetheless, empowered by the very Spirit of God to represent Him to this broken world (Acts 1:8).

Sometimes we are the broken Body of Christ right here in this broken world—beaten and bleeding and buried not by an enemy but by our very own selves. The left hook to our own jaw. The heel slammed down hard on our own foot. The elbow to our own ribs. And we reel in pain. And it smacks of betrayal. And it hurts all the more because the Head, our Christ, keeps insists that we are one (1 Corinthians 12, John 17).

Oh, yes, the Body of Christ is a terrifying thing when it goes awry.

Brothers and sisters fight hard and often unfair. Isn’t that always the way with those closest to us? The capacity to wound is somehow heightened by proximity. I’m sorry I’ve hurt you. I forgive you for the times you’ve nearly killed me.

But when we get it right, when this marred mess of individuals miraculously melds into the one Body of our Lord, I’d venture to say that there is nothing more beautiful. I keep wanting to say that you wear Him well, but it might be more accurate to say that He wears you well. His Spirit shines in and through you, refracting through those places you wish weren’t yours to share, and splashing colors and light into the fraudulent dark.

So, yes, thank you. For being Christ to me. Each of you. All of you. For letting me be Christ to you. For letting me be Christ with you.

Oh, Church, it is an honor and a joy to walk through life a part of you.

I love you so much.


The Dragon Boy

I love a good story, don’t you? The familiar narrative of good vs evil has been played out in a million ways from the sweetest of love stories to tales of warring nations. But the ones that really seem to stick with me are the stories of unassuming characters battling their own tendency for darkness.

It has been years since I’ve read The Chronicles of Narnia series but lately, I cannot seem to stop replaying “The Voyage of The Dawn Treader” over and over in my mind. In this beautiful allegory, the enemy that the beloved characters face is within themselves. The movie does not do it justice, turning the villain into a green mist that entices those it envelopes, drawing them to the edge of temptation. It’s an Oz-ified version of the Smoke Monster from Lost and it is not in line with the book. But, if I were Lucy, Eustace, and the others, I would want the green mist to be the culprit. At least there would be someone or something to blame.

But we do not get off that easily, nor do Lewis’ characters. Lucy stands, with the power to make herself more beautiful staring her in the face, and she can feel her flesh begging for her to speak the words. She can hear her insecurities whispering the way in her ear. Edmund stands at the edge of a lake of endless riches and his mind runs wild, dreaming of the status he could purchase with the gold this lake could give. His insecurities nudge him from behind. And braggadocios Eustace, always positioning himself as the highest, steps full into an opportunity to make more of himself. And what he discovers is that he has lost himself completely. He becomes a beast, a dragon. The hardness of his heart now worn as skin.

I have felt it too, the hardening of my heart, the threshold of temptation, my insecurities wooing me, softly calling to me to speak the words, hoard the riches, position myself higher. The moments I can feel that struggle taking place are probably good for me. Certainly better than me not noticing the darkness creeping in at all. But we must be honest about our scales. We do not always turn away from the temptation. Sometimes, we step full into the green mist of our own brokenness and our hearts get a little harder and we board up our souls in scaly skin.

But, there is one who comes with compassion. He comes with strength and truth and he sets to work on our dragon armor. See, it was a glimpse of Aslan that gave Lucy and Edmund the strength and wisdom to step away from the temptations. And it was Aslan who was courageous and kind enough to approach an arrogant, obnoxious boy, now enslaved and broken by his own darkness, in order that He might set him free. So Aslan peels and pulls back the scales, causing pain but so that there might be healing. Then raw from the tearing of the callouses, Eustace is submerged in healing water and finds himself once again. No longer beast…neither in flesh or in soul…but a boy with a heart ready to be low, to walk humbly, to enjoy life.

There is One who fights for us. He loves us and His heart breaks for our hardened hearts. It is His joy to loose the hold of the darkness, of the dragon-skin prison we wear. He will heal us though it might seem at first He is slaying us.

May we more often surrender to the first glimpse of our gentle Lion-King and turn to fight the darkness with Him. The first step, in either direction, is always surrender. We will surrender to the Lion or to the darkness in us.  He will have mercy on whom He has mercy, may we surrender to the only merciful King.