It’s the end of May, and I didn’t get to writing a Rabbit Trails last month. I actually haven’t gotten to a lot of things the last two months, which might be something you can relate to. There have been a list of things I normally can cross of my list, but it seems like my mental margin has been through a roller coaster while sheltering-in-place with my family. This last week our church launched landing page for TVC, and I wrote an article talking about the exhausting reality of COVID-19. As we make sense of our current experience and make choices for the coming year, I believe we’ll need to understand our bodies, acknowledge how our actions shape who we become, and find hope beyond returning to normalcy. A key part of this is moving from asking the question, “What do we do now?” to ask, “What kind of person do I need to become for what is ahead?” You can read why here.
Below are some thoughts and items from the last few months. Perhaps one will spark your imagination and lead you down a trail of you own. Enjoy.
§ Receiving Zacchaeus
During breakfast one morning recently my oldest two and I listened to God’s Big Story about how Jesus loved Zacchaeus. It was during the podcast where I started thinking about what isn’t mentioned in the text, about what happened when Zacchaeus made good on what he promised to do. I think about tax collectors, used by Rome, shamed by their own people, perhaps even shamed by themselves for the pleasure and stigma of the money they took.
Then I thought about Zacchaeus, able to meet the eyes of people around him because of the lightness of heart he had with Jesus. I saw him knocking on doors and handing over leather bags of coins before eyes full of judgement, fear, and suspicion. A trick, this is, what game is he at? Am I in trouble with Rome? What is this man doing? This is more than I owe.
And Zacchaeus, free because Jesus loved him, making amends from a wealth of joy. A joy that brought endurance through slammed doors, scorn, and disbelief as he made the wrong he had done become right.
I wonder how many doors he had to knock on, and what the gossip was in town that day.
“Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
How easy it is to grow weary in doing good, to falter in joy when faced with disapproving eyes. I wonder how his change of heart was received by those who allowed him no room to be other than he was before today.
How easy it is to grow weary in change, when our desire to be more today than yesterday is met with the record of who we were versus who we hope to become. I feel at one time both the man on the doorstep wanting to pay back more than what I owe, and the hand receiving actions I doubt based on memory alone.
Paul’s words settle my heart, as I look to give and receive grace as I have been given:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
§Gentle and Lowly
Dane Ortlund’s work, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers has received an immense amount of attention sense it was published. All of it is well deserved. There are plenty of reviews you can read about the book, there is even a two week podcast of 3-4 minute meditations on topics from the book.
I have greatly benefitted from reading this work, and it is one that I am reading slowly on purpose—because the truth therein is antithetical to the false stories I tell myself about Jesus. I am reading slowly in hopes that I believe the true stories Jesus tells about Jesus.
For the Christian in quarantine, frustrated with all in and outside of their control, fighting through waning patience and fraying self-control, Ortlund writes, “Your salvation is not a matter of a saving formula, but a saving person.” (91) This work is set to acquaint you with your Savior as he is in heart: gentle and lowly, a friend of sinners.
I’m 1/2 way through this book, and it is a treasure. Grab yourself a copy.
§ Scott Erickson
AKA Scott the Painter on Instagram. Here is his website.
I started following Scott’s work over the last year, and am thankful for his art. Spend a few minutes and look at his catalog. Here are a few pieces.
I’m deep into summer Church History PhD reading, (which means I could use your prayers!) and am reading a lot of things outside of the norm. Here are a few things I am into on the side:
- Cal Newport & The Deep Reset
- Alan Jacobs & Thinking during Covidtide
- Gregg Allison on The Holy Spirit
- Gilles Emery on The Trinity
- UPDATE: Bluey, a show I wrote about recently, won an Emmy. The Kings love Bluey!
- My new friend: Libby. Having a library card (yes, they do still exist) during Covidtide has helped as this free audiobook platform has brought some great fiction into my ears as I clean up legos and wash dishes.