Favorite Words from 2017

Here are some of the words of wisdom that helped me get through 2017. Maybe something here will help you in 2018.

God does not give us overcoming life – He gives us life as we overcome. – My Utmost for His Highest Devotional

We don’t follow him to be loved, we are loved so we follow him. – Neil Anderson

There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth. – Charles Dickins

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. – Proverbs 19:21

Mostly it is the loss which teaches us about the worth of things. – Arthur Schopenhauer

The Lord’s mercy often rides to the door of our hearts on the black horse of affliction. Jesus uses the whole range of our experiences to wean us from earth and woo us to heaven. – Charles Spurgeon

We are weak and do not know how to pray, so the Spirit steps in and articulates prayers for us with groaning too profound for words. – Romans 8:26

Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. Faith is the belief that God will do what is right. – Max Lucado

Suffering introduces you to yourself and reminds you that you are not the person you thought you were – Paul Tillich

The Golden Rule for understanding in spiritual matters is not intellect, but obedience. – Oswald Chambers

A religion without mystery must be a religion  without God. – Jeremy Taylor

The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved – loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. – Victor Hugo

Most of us are not spiritually coherent because we are more concerned about being coherent externally. – My Utmost for His Highest Devotional

Sometimes the Lord rides out the storm with us and other times He calms the restless sea around us. Most of all, He calms the storm inside us in our deepest inner soul. – Lloyd John Ogilvie

The very best and highest attainment in this life is to remain still and let God act and speak in you. – Meister Eckhart

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.” – Isaiah 41:13

Anyone who has ever known Him has known Him better in the dark than anywhere else because it is in the dark where he seems to visit most often. – Frederick Buechner

So when the troubles begin, don’t be afraid. Look up – raise your head high, because the truth is that your liberation is fast approaching. – Luke 21:28

If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He does not ask you to put it right; He asks you to accept the light and He will put it right. – My Utmost for His Highest Devotional

People who are crucified with Christ have three distinct marks: (1) they are facing in only one direction, (2) they can never turn back, (3) they no longer have plans of their own. – A. W. Tozer

Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love and the future to God’s providence. – St. Augustine

What is it to serve God and to do His will? Nothing else than to show mercy to our neighbor. For it is our neighbor who needs our service; God in heaven needs it not. – Martin Luther

When you have nothing left but God, then for the first time you become aware that God is enough. – Maude Royden

We must alter our lives in order to alter our hearts, for it is impossible to live one way and pray another. – William Law

I have held many things in my hands, and have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess. – Martin Luther

God is never too late, nor too early, but just in time. – R. T. Kendall

Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for? – Leonard Ravenhill

I call you friends because everything I have learned from my Father I have made known to you. – John 15:15

I know all those words, but that sentence makes no sense to me. – Matt Groening

You can’t depend upon your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. – Mark Twain

Christians must learn again what Christians have always known – how to live without immediate hopes in the world. – T. R. Milford

I have to see a thing a thousand times before I see it once. – Thomas Wolfe

Nothing under God’s control is ever out of control. – Charles Swindoll

God is not interested in our spiritual life. He is interested in our life. – John Ortberg

 

 

 

 

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Who You Thought You Were

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I was watching a talk by writer David Brooks a few weeks ago. He said something that seemed very important to me.

“As Paul Tillich put it, suffering introduces you to yourself and reminds you that you are not the person you thought you were.” 

Tillich was a Lutheran theologian from Germany (1886-1965). He spent his academic career here in the United States first at Union Theological Seminary and then at Harvard Divinity School. I hear these words from the past and I discover some meaning to the road I’m on for the past few years. A road I’m sharing with several others as well.

My response to suffering has been anything but pretty. I can’t believe what’s coming out of my mouth most of the time. I’m the guy who has old men at church calling me “sir” – surely at this stage I am supposed to have things figured out and be able to maturely handle defeats and disasters. But that’s not what’s been going on. Tillich hits the nail on my head. I’m never going to grow up if I’m not even sure of who I really am.

“I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but to mature and transfigure us.” ― Hermann Hesse

When we suffer we are able to look past the fable of who we think we are and present to others. We see another side of ourselves, the vulnerable and broken remains.

  • Suffering helps us to grow up because it reveals to us a truth hidden from our happy introspection
  • Suffering helps us to see what must be attended to in our lives, we see faults and frailties for the first time or that we thought we had outgrown
  • Suffering shows us more of the truth and less of the fiction that keeps us deluded about whether we are moving forward or not

This quote from Tillich continues to speak to me because it calls me to cast off more and more of the comforting veneer and become more genuine, more frail and less in control. I believe that transformation, healing and growth can happen only when we look at our true selves. No, I’m not who I thought I was.

That’s okay.

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed