Drop It

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”

Romans 12:17, KJV

That last rock hit hard.

I had not known it was coming. My beat up shield had become heavy and my battered defense was down.

But to be honest, the rocks that hit hardest are those thrown from directions you had been led to believe were safe, rocks from the hands of a person who, at least most of the time, had appeared to be on your side.

Who most of the time, genuinely is on your side.

And it was just about enough. I could feel that hurt begging to be released through a missile of angry retorts.

In my visually inclined mind, that rock had hit the red “DO NOT PRESS” button and in my head I could not be held accountable for the amount of verbal “mass destruction” it was about to unleash-

… And then that still small voice…

I had the rock in my hand, the others poised as an arsenal stacked beside me and I was ready to retaliate-

But that still small voice…

Drop it.”

Urghhh.

You know the feeling.

I wasn’t dropping that rock so easily.

At least not before thinking it through.

The problem with thinking things through- its usually the moment of hesitation needed to cut the fuse- it may still be burning, but chances are its not headed for the canister of dynamite anymore.

In a matter of seconds several things ran through my head;

  1. One I really wanted to throw that rock.
  2. Two I really didn’t want to throw that rock.
  3. Three at this time that person was the worst in the whole world and deserved to be hit with this rock… (also they had hit me first… with this rock).
  4. Four… I still really loved that person
  5. Five… hurt(ing) people hurt people

And then as a bonus thought

*Bonus If Jesus is the Lord of your life and he said to drop the rock… you should probably drop the rock.

And so I dropped it.

Then mentally just kind of sat down among the pile of all the rocks for a little bit, deciding what to do with them. (Possibly looking back at Jesus like and now…)

Then the question occurred to me, “Why did they throw this rock?”

What was their purpose in their words?

… The motivation behind their words?

And how much of that really had anything to do with me?

I realized there’s power in not throwing the rocks back.

You can weigh them and probe them and try and get to the heart of them.

Some may even hold crystals.

These rocks are rare, they have been tossed back and forth for long periods of time, sometimes lifetimes- experiencing extreme pressure. Just waiting for somebody to be willing to take the time to crack it open.

It’s hard work (my nephew can tell you) – and once its open there’ll be a bit of a cleaning process-

However the end result is priceless.

And how humbling, to have the opportunity to participate in such a process- knowing that it is undeserved and deep down recognizing that no matter how hard that rock hit- you never had any right to cast one yourself.

Not that any of those things makes it any easier when faced with the initial assault.

However, those things do place a few seeds of hope in your hand that may help prevent you from picking that rock up and tossing it back.

With all this said- I am going to leave you with three more things:

  1. First this quote I found scribbled in the margins of my Bible, that I found really helpful for such a time as this; “We sin more than we will acknowledge and are loved more than we will ever understand.”

2. The final verse of Romans 12, 12:21 “Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (aka You’re an overcomer, you have the power to drop it and ruin the enemy’s day- #win)

3. This picture of my Nephew with his secret crystal filled treasure- Because why not

Featured Photo by Tanner Vines on Unsplash

Barely Brave Enough

Still He kept looking around to see her who had done it.”

Mark 5:32

I wish I behaved a bit more like my Biblical heroes.

And by a bit, I mean a lot. In several ways.

It can be easy to forget that our Biblical heroes ever struggled with God’s directions. That their faith and confidence in God and His ways was born of time tested truths formed through intimate relationship with Him.

That their faith and confidence in God, which sent them into lion’s dens, fiery furnaces and chaotic crowds making bold declarations- did not know it all.

They had no idea what He was doing.

And that was okay.

They would (potentially) be eaten. They would burn. They would be executed.

But they would not bow. They would not worship a false image, or even pretend. And they would not be silent.

From the Old to the New, the Bible tells stories of people facing impossible opposition and seemingly hopeless situations.

And in some of those situations, against varying opponents, Biblical heroes were delivered. Lion’s mouths were closed, furnace flames were unable to singe and prophetic voices were heard.

However, in other situations, deliverance did not look the way the world would view as victorious. Believers were sent to Nero’s circus, Followers were sentenced and executed and Christ was crucified.

All of this to say, I sometimes wonder if I am brave enough to do all the things that could one day be required of me.

… Specifically the things I think I’d most definitely rather not, because our God is all wonderful and great things… however He is not a God who respects human concocted comfort zones…

Anyways, as I sometimes wade the waters of a seemingly life/ identity crisis, such as the one I seem to recently, continuously, be finding myself in- I turn to Him.

In hopes He’ll show me the map while simultaneously thankful that He does not. … Lets face it… I’d probably be terrified.

Don’t get me wrong, I am sure it is a glorious plan.

However, often, this world enlists a spirit of distraction- taking my eyes off of His assistance, presence and ability and turning it toward a list of all the ways in which I am undeserving, unqualified and really in contrast to the task- quite useless.

In an act of exasperation or desperation or probably both- I sat down with my Bible one evening- having no idea where to turn.

So in true end of the line style- I just flipped it open and started at the top, praying that one of God’s Biblical heroes might speak to me, that Jesus’ words would meet me.

That they’d tell me to take heart, be of good courage, fearless and uncompromisingly confident.

The Biblical hero I met encountering Jesus though, sounded a lot more like me than… well the others I had been meditating on.

Tucked in Mark 5 I met a woman who had just been barely brave enough.

Barely brave enough to reach for the hem of Jesus’ robe… with a faith so set- so determined- Jesus noticed.

Not only did Jesus notice, He looked for her and then kept looking for her… “Still He kept looking around to see her who had done it.”

He kept looking, to see her.

This woman seemingly so brave and full faith though, did not step forward easily.

But the woman, knowing what had been done for her, though alarmed and frightened and trembling, fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.” Mark 5:33

Alarmed, frightened and trembling.

I would say that her words were probably not eloquent.

Clearly her tone was not steady. And I would bet she stammered and stubbled a bit.

Regardless, she clung to something bigger than she was. She held on to what hope and faith had strengthened her to reach out and touch His hem, knowing that in doing so she’d break the law.

Herself considered culturally “unclean” purposefully touching another, a teacher, one decidedly above her situation.

He could have publicly humiliated her, had her ostracized and punished.

She had no idea what He would do, how He would react- but we can be sure she knew exactly what He could do, how others would react.

That day however, barely brave enough, was more than enough.

She reached out. She told the whole truth. And Jesus restored not only her physical health but spiritual peace.

Her frightened, trembling, truth filled words were met with blessing, restoring and affirming words.

In summary the two things which caught and comforted me, that I wanted to share:

  1. Jesus kept looking, to see her. She was frightened and probably a bit perplexed- she knew what she had done and what had happened… but what next? She had just done something culturally “wrong,” and may have been falling away towards a sense of guilt. Jesus was not looking for her who had done it to accuse her or humiliate her. He was looking for her who had done it to affirm her and assure her.
  2. Moving forward in His direction and according to His purpose frightened, trembling and alarmed- is a viable option. Even if our faith is only barely greater than our opposition, it can move mountains. It will move mountains.

Needless to say, I may not always be as brave as I want to be- but I will always be brave enough.

And so will you Friends.

I pray that at the end of the day our actions and words will mirror those of “her who had done it” – her who had shakily reached out in great faith, her who Jesus kept looking for and her who though frightened was just barely brave enough.

Late Bloomer

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Psalm 139:16, ESV

I’ve been called a fair number of things in my 29+ years.

Mostly good… some relatively not favorable… needless to say humans and humanity can be hard.

We try to categorize, label and define one another. Things with definitions are safer. We can understand what we can box and classify.

Now, before I dive too far into this specific conversation, I am going to table it for now and move on.

Because what I actually wish to share with you tonight, aside from the theological and spiritual implications of words and labels, is a story.

On July 26th a beloved family friend and honorary grandmother of the Shears clan went to her heavenly home.

You may be wondering why this blog is being posted on August 14th in comparison to the number of days that have passed between now and July 26th.

And I am going to be completely honest-

1. Because I cannot offer another explanation,

and 2. Because all the explanations fall short of providing an adequate reason regardless.

Throughout this past year I have stumbled and failed in my blog posts.

Can I tell you the number of moments and memories which have passed- dates, anniversaries, commemorations of those of loved ones who have passed, where I didn’t write a post?

It began in February with Jamie and Mom. It continued into March. I managed to communicate something near Easter. I wrote a book somewhere in between.

My desire to write never ceased, but you should know words continued and continue to evade me.

Even now, this post feels insufficient to the memory, love and incredible legacy of this one woman.

I could repeat a thousand stories a thousand times, reworking words and vocabulary- and yet it would still fail.

Words would be deleted. Whole posts would be erased. Weeks would begin to accumulate. (Exhibit A: My 2020 Blogging history).

I have spent the better part of 2020 frozen and hesitant, intimidated by what I could not communicate.

What I have learned through 2020- is that somethings are like that.

More importantly, it is not an inefficiency on my part that leaves them like that. But a supremacy on their part that leaves me like this.

The love, loss and legacy of a person is something we cannot harness with letters or box with words. Paragraphs will fail to encompass, whole texts will always come up short.

However, the lack of ability to encapsulate should not prevent us from the attempt to communicate. (I told you I’ve spent a great deal of time in a dictionary).

In summary, where my words will fail, I no longer take it as an immediate sign of my incompetence- but a witness, declaration if you will, of what is something/ someone far beyond our skill to demonstrate through language alone.

A beauty beyond comprehension.

A picture beyond imagination.

Grandma Charolette once saved me from some words that were not so kind. And to ensure I fully understood just how “okay” I actually was, later that day she sought me out and found me on my best friend’s room.

Taking my hand, Grandma Charlotte assured me that despite what others may say, there was no shame in being a “late bloomer.”

“You see,” she said, “a late blooming flower is never actually late, but blooms just when it is intended to.”

And while there was a bit more to that conversation, that bit of wise advice has followed and sustained me.

Every societal benchmark I appear to miss.

Every culturally derived timeline I seemingly reject.

Every prearranged checkbox I fail to mark.

Grandma Charlotte, a little over a week from her 95th birthday, was a million wonderful things to more people than we will ever be able to know.

Her incomprehensible legacy is reflected in the love she shared, still beating and being written in the lives of her children and equally wonderful family.

Her influence still flowing through the veins of those who were blessed in knowing her.

From the ice cream, to the laughter and the confidence- Grandma Charlotte left her mark in the world.

Several marks actually.

Mine being only one heart better for the time that will be forever cherished.

It doesn’t matter where you are in life friends. I am sure there is something you feel you’re “running late” on, a To Do on the To Do List that is overdue-

Which is why I want to leave you with this bit of wise advice:

Take heart friends, where you are is not a surprise to the one who has ordained each day of your existence- before your existence.

Breathe. You are right on time.