This weekend, I was blessed to hear the voice of the Spirit through the generosity of my parents flying me to Colorado and all the wonderful times that we were able to share over meals, walking around Pearl Street, and watching the Olympics. I also heard the Spirit through times with dear friends, at a crazy golf driving range and quieter conversation at Starbucks after, and of course also through the majesty of nature that surrounds.
But I also heard the voice of the Spirit through several others – through a beautiful message in worship yesterday by Pastor Mark Peterson where he shared a mantra that came out of yesterday’s Gospel reading – Deny yourself, lose your life, take up your cross that has stuck with me since he shared those words. I heard the Spirit through several podcasts by Rob Bell opening up two parables in ways that I had not considered before and then two others that resonated deeply
You and Your Bags of Gold – Focusing on the Parable of the Talents where was not as much about a guilt-based message about “how are you doing what God has gifted you for” but instead how are you taking the generous gift of God and participating in God’s generosity in your life and in others.
You and Your Bookkeeping – On the parable of the unmerciful servant of how incredibly and inexplicably generous the master is in the parable and how the unmerciful servant just doesn’t get it even when he is forgiven a debt impossibly large.
Parables with Pete Rollins – One parable in particular about the old adage of “if you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you” really hit me as Rollins turned the question on its head.
Seatbelts and Snowflakes – Simply spoke to me in the journey and process I have been going through the last year.
As Rob Bell says many times over, “So good!”
And then a book that I finished this weekend – Everything Happens for a Purpose and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler. This was a book I had to read slowly and carefully. As one who is a fast reader, it is always tempting for me to just fly through a book just to get through it and chalk up another book read. Dr. Bowler is a professor at Duke Divinity School and is her reflections through her initial journey with stage IV cancer. It is a powerfully real telling and one of the best books I have read on the struggle of trying to reconcile the realities of life with what we read in Scripture and hear from pulpits and from others alongside us. It is tempting (and I just went through my highlights looking for a good one) to try to find some singular quote to “sound-bite” the book but that would take away from walking with Dr. Bowler through what she shares so beautifully and honestly. As one who has grown tired of the pat answers that we often try to offer (and I still find myself offering at times), this was a necessary book. I needed to hear her feelings, her thoughts, her experiences. I needed to find myself moved deeply by what she shared and be challenged about how I not only approach challenges in my life, but even more so how I am as I walk with others through similar times. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. In a western religious world that is so steeped in health-and-wealth / prosperity messages, Dr Bowler brings a needed reality for us and for that I am grateful as I continue to pray for her in the life she continues to seek out and live.
May some or all of these voices bless you and speak to you as well.