Where feet may fail

G:

I’ve been listening to that latest Hillsong song a lot. You know the one. The one that goes on somewhere between 8-12 minutes. And everyone that’s singing is Australian.

OK, it’s the one about oceans and feet failing and being called to step out upon the waters into the great unknown.

I’m a good hour and a half drive from the Atlantic right now, but I feel like you have me ready to jump onto some mighty waves before the ocean reaches optimal summer temperature.

And I’m nervous.

And I’m not ready.

So instead I worry. I worry about taking the wrong step, hopping onto the wrong wave, feet failing. Sinking. Sinking into the great unknown. Where there are probably sharks.

But just like the song says, You are there in the unknown:

You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown

Where feet may fail

And there I find you in the mystery

In oceans deep my faith will stand

My faith is like my arm muscles. They don’t become strong unless I put them to use. My faith isn’t going to get stronger if I’m sitting in the safety of the boat. My faith becomes stronger when I actually listen to the call to get out of the boat and step onto the waters.

You didn’t let Peter drown. I know you won’t let me either.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surround me

You’ve never failed

And you won’t stop now

Help me choose not to waste a single hour of my life worrying about the mystery of my life, because it’s not a mystery to you.

My great unknown is your great known.

So lead me. Call me out from the boat and onto the waters. Wherever that may be. Whatever the temperature. (Preferably with Flipper not Jaws.)

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever you would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

Your child,

m

Advertisements

Cite your source(s)

G:

I’m a plagiarist.

And the copy and paste shortcuts on my keyboard weren’t even utilized.

It started out innocently enough. I’m at work receiving praise from a colleague, and we’re not talking the throwing-flowers-at-my-feet-let’s-erect-a-statue-in-your-honor praise, we’re talking the one-pat-on-the- back-and-a-teeth-showing-smile praise.

And I received it without any hesitation.

No online websites or articles were copied and pasted (including Wikipedia), no one received $20 dollars from me in exchange for a B paper on sustainability in Eastern Europe, and no books from the library were harmed in the making of this act of plagiarism.

All I did was forget to cite my source. (Even after years of constant threats of expulsion from institutions of higher education and multiple copies of the MLA handbook.)

When someone comments on my seemingly chronic state of smiling, I receive it without any hesitation. When someone compliments me on a wise word I said, I receive it without any hesitation. When someone notices my personal contentment and joy, I receive it without any hesitation.

I receive it as if I am the one responsible. As if I, through personal hard work and perseverance, created within myself a content, joyful, and wise spirit. As if I manifested these characteristics of my own accord.

But I know full well that every good and perfect gift comes from You[1].

The hope I have in your grace and Christ’s sacrifice[2], gives me a joy that radiates. Your love[3] keeps me in a seemingly chronic state of smiling[4]. Your Holy Spirit grants me wise words in difficult conversations[5]. The promise of Christ’s power to give me strength in all situations cultivates contentment within my soul[6].

This is all a sign of Your hands at work—not mine.

I’m guilty of taking Your work and passing it off as my own.

I’m a plagiarist that needs to start citing her Source[7].

Your child,

m


[1] James 1:17

[2] Ephesians 2:1-10

[3] John 3:16

[4] 8+ hours of sleep helps. Also, peanut butter. Also, Youtube videos that involve fluffy puppies.

[5] Romans 8:26

[6] Phillipians 4:11-16

[7] God

The 7:45 PM train to Paoli/Thorndale

G:

Remember that time the 7:45 PM train to Paoli/Thorndale was running late and I was running early? Cold, tired, my backpack sat heavy on my shoulders.

He approached me like he had approached the other ten people waiting on the elevated outdoor platform. He apologized for the interruption, curious to know if maybe, just maybe, I could spare a few dollars.

“How much do you need?”

My soul stirred with some sort of Christian obligation, the paraphrased verse “whatever you do for the least of these you do for Me,” flashing through my mind. He didn’t look dangerous or homeless—he just looked like he wanted to go home.

“Just four dollars.”

You remember what I did next. I sneakily fumbled through my wallet using the wall of my purse as camouflage. My fingers flipped through a five, a couple twenties, and two one dollar bills.

I paused as my thumb and index finger tugged the five dollar bill, hesitated, then pulled out the two one dollar bills.

He thanked me, hoped that You may bless me, and walked further down the platform.

I figured he could easily get the last two dollars he needed for the $6 train ticket. After all, you know I had my own uses for that five-dollar bill. I saw him get at least one more dollar from a young girl with a ponytail and a duffle bag.

As the awaiting mass gravitated towards the doors of the approaching train, I saw him out of the corner of my eye asking for one more dollar. I grabbed my purse ready to unzip to get my wallet, but the elbows of impatient passengers propelled me through the open door like cattle into a pen.

You remember what happened next.

The western suburbs of Philadelphia blurred outside the moving car as I took the longest twenty-five minute train ride of my life. Cold, tired, my wallet sat heavy in my lap, the vision of the man standing on the platform as the train pulled away heavy on my mind.

He made me think of you.

You’d think I would have learned by now. You’d think I would remember that everything I have is because of You. But no, I’m holding onto my wallet, attempting to hide what you know too well I have in there saying, “How about two dollars?” Nodding to the girl with the ponytail and the duffel bag “I bet you she has a great job. Go bug her for more.”

It’s silly, really. I trust you in every other area of my life: career, potential marriage, you name it, but when my direct deposit comes in with my paycheck suddenly that’s off limits. Please step away. Please do not touch. You see that there aren’t any extra zeros added onto my available balance so why would you ask me to give you 10 dollars let alone 10%? Let’s be realistic here, let’s be wise. You know that if I give you 10% I won’t have enough money to pay for my food, gas, my Chickfila 8 count nuggets. Heck, don’t even mention my savings account with 4 cents in it. You want me to wise, right? But you also want me to trust. Why can’t I seem to trust you with my money?

I keep thinking about Jacob after his dream in Bethel when on his journey to meet his future wives Leah and Rachel. You spoke to him and told him you were going to be with him wherever he went to fulfill the promise you gave to Abraham—that his descendants would be blessed and would be more numerous than the stars. When he woke up, he took the rock he used as a pillow and propped it up as a pillar vowing that if you took care of him, gave him food, gave him shelter, and brought him back to his dad’s house, that he would give you a tenth of all that you gave him (Genesis 28:10-22). Fast forward to Malachi, and you ask me to test you in this by bringing my whole tithe into your storehouse. “Test me in this… and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (Malachi 3:10). Have you not provided me with a place to sleep, food to eat, a job that pays the bills? Why then do I continue to hoard what I have instead of bringing it into your storehouse?

I know you promise that I am more special than the birds of the air and the flowers of the field (Matthew 6:25-34). Like birds, like flowers, like Jacob, you promise to take care of me.

Me of little faith.

Forgive me for not being faithful with the little you have given me. For how can I be trusted with more if I haven’t been faithful with little? Forgive me for not having faith that you will take care of me financially. Forgive me for giving you two dollars when I should be giving you my wallet.

Everything I am, everything I have, is from you, and is Yours.

Here’s to bringing my 10% into your storehouse.

(Stay tuned for the opening of the floodgates.)

Your child,

m

RESPONSES I RECEIVE AFTER TELLING SOMEONE I HAVE MY MFA IN CREATIVE WRITING AND WORK AT A COLLEGE ADMISSIONS OFFICE

  1. Enjoy it now, the world awaits.
  2. My grandson is currently holding auditions for a trophy wife.
  3. If you work at a non-profit organization for over 10 years, the gargantuan debt you unwisely and unnecessarily burdened yourself with will be forgiven.
  4. Awwwwwww.
  5. If you take your MFA off your resume, employers will actually call you back for an interview.
  6. You’re tall. Have you thought about modeling? Someone has to wear those shoes in Payless commercials.
  7. My condolences to your parents. Do you have any siblings that show promise? I’d hate to picture your parents crying themselves to sleep at night, trying to convince themselves that you are actually adopted.
  8. I’ve heard that exercise helps with depression.
  9. I have some extra food in my fridge that expired on Sunday— I’ll bring it in tomorrow.

G:

Sometimes I wonder if I should have been a landscape architect.

That’s what my career aptitude test kept telling me in elementary school. Even after I retook it. Eleven times.

Except that I have no desire to plant shrubbery and also I hate bees. Bees are outside. And they fraternize with shrubbery.

I remember telling a teacher in the third grade that I wanted to be a writer. She responded, “No, really. I’m serious, M. What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Today, people ask me what I do for a living. I tell them I have a master’s in writing and also work in Admissions at a college. I see them sniff and waft the air, as there must be something in my scent that gives off the fact that my kitchen cupboards are naked and inevitably I’m asked over for dinner.

But there are probably worse degrees, right? Like Philosophy. Am I even really here? Is this blog even real? If someone writes a blog but no one reads it, does it even really exist? Or, history. Wars. And dictators. With moustaches. Writing at least has transferrable skills like… the ability to write. With a pen. Or on a computer. (Versatility!)

You remember what that one guy said in response to my job and degree, right? “Enjoy it, the world awaits.” Gee thanks. Pretty sure I’m already living in this world. With a lot of debt and nothing but a gallon of milk in my fridge.

But he’s right. By the world’s standards. To the world, I got a fun degree and am in a fun job where there are petting zoos on campus during reading day (it’s true). I’m not “there” yet—I haven’t embarked on the path to success yet. I’m in a holding pattern, I’m waiting on the runway, not yet taken off to reach the heights of the status quo.

I know I’m guilty of it. I’m guilty of wanting that job in a glamorous place, with a glamorous title, and a paycheck with multiple zeros before the decimal point and not after. I’m guilty of tying my worth into my degrees, into my job title, into the world’s standards of who I should be. Heck, I’ve never even put on Facebook that I have a master’s and where I work.

I’m guilty of thinking I’ve failed.

I know you heard me crying on the phone when I called my mom complaining about the four pennies I have stored up in my savings account.

She reminded me of your truth.

You don’t ask me to be successful. You ask me to be faithful.

My worth is not tied up in what degree I have or don’t have. My worth is not tied up in the title I have or don’t have at work. My worth is not wrapped up in the place I live, the car I drive, the numbers that show up on my direct deposit into my bank account. My worth is found in You—in who you made me, as your child that you created with certain gifts for a certain purpose (Jeremiah 29:11).

To you, worldly success means nothing. To you, my faithfulness is everything.

Your child,

m