Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Way of Love

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

1 Corinthians 13

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Perspective Check: Take 2

The “check your perspective” reminder never felt more relevant than today.

I lost something that I was hoping for today.

(Don’t worry mom. This wasn’t anything life altering in case you’re concerned.)

It was just a little boost of hope that I had hoped would turn into something great. It didn’t. No big deal. Back to my point.

So when 2pm rolled around and I heard the beeping on my phone, I looked down to read: CHECK YOUR PERSPECTIVE. (A reminder that goes off every day at the same time.)

I’ve been thinking about perspective a lot lately. Job perspective. Friend perspective. Family perspective. Life perspective. Often, I get stuck in the trees in the middle of the forest. I worry too much about one tree (me) without looking to see how that one tree plays a role in the vastness of trees that surround it (the rest of the world).

I stop looking at the big picture. I focus on the minutia.

As I glanced down to my phone, I took a deep breath and reset my perspective.

1. I am so healthy.

Two years ago this week, I was on a liquid diet, on pain medication, nausea medicine and antibiotics. I had just had my colon removed. I had just learned I had cancerous tumor growing inside me that was caught “incidentally.” I was scared, emotionally exhausted, and oh, I had unbelievably stomach pain and my doctors didn’t know why.

This year—this year I’m so healthy.

2. I have a career beyond my wildest expectations.

Just when I start to feel stuck, a new opportunity opens right before me. I look back over the past ten years since I decided to leave home and chase my dreams and I’m overwhelmed by the people I’ve met and the doors that have been opened—from being Bob Costa’s personal chauffer to standing on the sidelines of a Sunday Night Football games. I’ve interviewed heads of nations and mass murderers and held little babies just moments before they died. I worked in newsrooms in the nation’s top markets. I’ve had beers with network executives. I’ve traveled the world. I’ve chased my dreams.

I’ve been so blessed.

3. I am loved. My life is full of friends and family. FULL.

And I am so thankful.

As I adjusted my perspective and listed all the amazing things in my life, I was reminded of the most important thing.

My life—this life—is not about me. It’s not about my health, my career, or even how much I’m loved.

I’ve been reading through Paul’s New Testament writings—about how he abandoned everything good in his life for the sake of the cross. He didn’t walk through life expecting blessings and throwing in the towel when he didn’t get it. No way. He suffered humiliation and excruciating pain for his convictions. His life was about being content and serving the Lord in any and every situation. Whether well-fed or hungry, healthy or sick, rich or poor, his life was not his own. His life was the Lord’s.

Just like Paul, this life is not my own. It’s not about me and it’s not about losing the things I hoped for. This life is about following Jesus every moment of every day. Giving up my hopes, my ambitions, my plans, my dreams and trusting that the story of the forest is much cooler than the story of the tree. (Thank you Donald Miller.)

Perspective: Reset.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(Just as a PS to this piece: I do want to say that I truly believe that the death of the things hoped for always means resurrection of those hopes in an even greater way. And that is hope I will hold onto until the end.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Slave or Son?

I have a problem with giving things away. I used to think I was just a nice person. Turns out, I'm probably not. I'm probably just sick. It's more of a guilt complex. If I'm out to eat with someone, I always feel like I need to pay.

(For those of you whom I have bought a meal, I truly wanted to bless you. No really.)

I can have NOTHING in my bank account, and I still (trying to hide my cringed look for making a bad decision) pay for meals.

Paying for dinner isn't my only weakness. I have bought plane tickets, given away my favorite clothes, jewelry, even considered letting a friend keep my dog once because she truly, truly loved him. Am I crazy? Uh, yeah.

In the past few months, I've been presented with a multitude of new life options. Options concerning my job, my love life, and the city I want to live in. They've all been great offers. But every time one has been presented to me, I think of friends who would be much better suited for the position, the man, the apartment, the city.

Yes. I have been on dates, girls, and thought of some of you as I sat across from handsome men who were there to wine and dine me.

I sat in an interview with the hiring producer at Good Morning America and thought of my sweet friend Laura who deserved this shot way more than I did.

I interviewed with my dream network and considered all of my DC producer friends who could take the job much more easily than I could.

I'm telling you. I'm sick.

After a few months of introspection on my "illness," I came up with one conclusion. I don't value myself the way others value me or God values me. How many of us are in that place?

A few weeks ago, I was reading Romans 8. I've read it so many times before, but this time, I picked up something new.

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his Glory."

It reminds me of the Prodigal Son. The kid who took off with his inheritance, spent it and all wound up living with pigs. When he finally sucked it up and returned to his father, the first words out of his mouth were "make me one of your servants." The father looked at him like he was insane and said, "You crazy kid. You're my son. You will live like my son not as a slave."

So often, I walk around with my slave mentality. I don't think I deserve, and therefore I give up the awesome gifts God drops in my lap. I forget that I am an heir of God. What is His, the creator of the universe, is also mine!

I'm clinging to a new verse these days. Romans 8:32

"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for all of us--how will he not also graciously give us all things."

God allowed his own son to die on a cross to inform me that I was valuable. That my life means something. That I'm not a slave. That I'm his child. His heir. And all that is His is mine.

How will he not also graciously give us ALL things. All things. That job. That salary. That hot man sitting across the table at dinner. God cares about the intricacies of our lives. He cares about what we care about. He knows the desires of our hearts. He values us. Maybe it's time we start valuing ourselves and expect it ALL.