Truth: On Leave.

Out of character, I’ve been pretty defensive lately, keeping my guard up with the people around me.  Part of it is because there are a handful of students who have learned some of the tricks of the chaplaincy trade and they can now crack the toughest shell with ease (and I need to maintain my mysteriousness). 

As she was working on worship bulletins, Carrie was nonchalantly talking with me, weaving her way through my defenses and she asking me the tough questions.  We talked about my feelings (ugh) and she mentioned that I haven’t been my usual, happy self lately.  I responded that I’m a bit behind in classwork…I’m tired of the school’s systems and unresponsiveness to problems…I’m weary of swings too far to the left and too far to the right…I’m feeling silenced because I’m stereotyped as the oppressor.  I said I’m done with the whole school ‘thing’ and want to move on.

“Maybe you’re beginning to mourn the fact that you’re going to have to move on?  Maybe you’re a little angry that you’re going to have to leave?”


A few weeks ago I had come up with the theme for May’s student newsletter – ‘Leaving’ – and I was looking forward to writing on that subject matter because I have some things I’d like to get off my chest!  But as I think about it and the reflect on the conversation with my friend from earlier today, I’m realizing that she’s probably right – I’m mourning the fact that I’m going to be leaving.  The truth is that I’m ready to go, but I’m not ready to say goodbye to these people.  And I’m realizing that I’m not good at leaving.

I recall being in 4th or 5th grade and having to go to church with my parents outside of our ‘normal’ church time.  It wasn’t rushed or an emergency, but it was still a serious moment.  While not given all the details, I recall my parents telling me that the pastor might be leaving and the church was meeting to discuss it.

The adults met in the sanctuary and us kids went (unsupervised) to the gym to play.  As the evening progressed, it began to sink in that if the pastor left, his daughter – my best friend – would have to leave as well.  My heart dropped slowly through the evening, and I didn’t know how to process those feelings.  I ended up using anger and frustration to express my sadness and heartbreak, and from then on I’ve been protective of leaving moments.

Leaving for college was disastrous.  I intentionally have zero contact with any woman I’ve previously dated.  I slowly let friendships die off if they – or I – move away.  I’d rather cut off, cut out, or destroy any relationship than have to face the process of leaving gracefully.

I know that’s not a healthy way to live, and I think that’s why I’ve been wrestling with all kinds of feelings lately.  I don’t want to be defensive, angry, and holding back my feelings for people – but it’s a whole lot easier than remaining attached and doing the work to maintain relationships.  And it’s a whole lot easier than having to show my feelings and be vulnerable.

I don’t know how to leave gracefully. 

I don’t know how to say goodbye to some relationships and foster others.

I don’t know how to acknowledge that I won’t see most of these people again.

I don’t know how I’ll manage to be in ministry without these talented, loving, Christ-like people by my side.

This hurts my soul…and raises my defenses.

My God,
help me to leave this place well.
let me humbly return.
guide my heart to the new
and bring me often to old.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Prayer Practice

As a child, when I would visit my grandparents on school breaks, there were a few things that I could always count on: my grandpa smelling like Old Spice, my grandma cooking entirely too much food, and devotions/prayers at the end of breakfast.  Every morning my grandpa would take out his Bible from the hutch to his right and leave it out, ready to be gathered up when he was finished eating.  He would move his plate to the side as he placed the Bible on the placemat in front of him, opening the onion skin pages to the saved location.  Using Our Daily Bread as his devotional roadmap, and with the table sitting in silence, he would begin: “This morning’s passage comes from…”

After the scripture came the devotional, followed by an ever so brief pause before moving into prayer.  While the last time I witnessed him do this was nearly thirty years ago, I can still remember that he would have very specific prayers: we would heed the day’s message; God would be in the world and lives of those who were suffering, troubled, or alone.  He would pray specifically for a few families that he and my grandma had known, as well as for the salvation of others who had not known Christ.  All told, the experience took less than ten minutes and we would soon be on to other tasks: catching lizards or fish, weeding gardens, carrying firewood, shooting magpies. 

In my immediate family’s home, we weren’t quite put together in the mornings, so our main prayers as a family were at dinner led by my dad.  These prayers were not particularly long, nor were they detailed, and they were definitely not eloquent.  Similar to my grandfather’s prayers, my dad prayed for specific people, but my dads’ prayers varied more than my grandpa’s.  But there was a phrase in my dad’s prayers that has been burned into my mind, and it’s one he still uses to this day: “Thank you for this food before us, bless the hands that prepared it.  Let it nourish our bodies so that we can continue to serve you.”

While I wish that I could say that this dedication to prayer is genetic and that I, too, am approaching God in daily conversation, I must admit that I am the worst pray-er.  I’ve written before about how I’m terrible at regular prayer, and I’m terrible at praying when asked to do so, but since I’ve been in seminary there have been two practices which have helped me in my prayer life.

A rather simple and intentional practice has been for me to remove my eyeglasses when I pray.  At first it was all spiritual and intentional: By removing my glasses when I pray, I am acknowledging that God is my true vision (if you read this in a snooty, pompous voice, you’d be correct).  While this was the intent of the practice at the onset, it’s moved beyond that, and now is a physical movement to signal my body that I’m doing the thing: Hey – we’re praying!  Stop doing everything else! Let’s do this!

The other practice I’ve been working with is using a komboskini – a Greek Orthodox prayer rope.  Moving slowly from knot to knot as I pray, the small woolen rope has allowed me to focus more intently as I pray.  My brain has this awesome ability to lose focus of the task at hand, but as I have been using this rope I have been able to have more intentional prayer times.  [The practice of using the komboskini is usually linked with the Jesus Prayer, but I have found this rope to be useful in much more broader senses of prayer]

While I’m thankful for these tools and practices, I need to remember that they are merely tools – the actions are not the moments of prayer. And there’s a real danger in that practices can become idols: am I praying to God or to this rope…am I worshiping God or am I worshiping God’s Word in the form of this book?

That First Thessalonians type of praying is difficult. Praying continually just isn’t always possible, convenient, or desirable. I take comfort in knowing that the regimented praying grandpa I knew developed over decades of failure. I take comfort in knowing that my father continues to pray those same words day in, day out, not out of habit but out of genuineness. Prayer takes practice. It takes work. It takes successes and failures.

May God give me grace and leeway for learning how to pray, and may I continue to practice while moving towards perfection.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Evil.

I recently finished up my paperwork to move into the next step for ordination.  One of the things I had to do was write out my faith statement followed by a deeper explanation of one of the subjects within that statement.  A brief, one-page explanation.  I chose to write about evil, because that’s easy to succinctly define, explain, and say what God thinks about.  My one page ended up being nearly two, and I could have easily stretched it out into one hundred.  Evil is a huge subject, and it’s something we all think about at one time or another.  It’s something we discuss; it’s something that happens around us; it’s something that affects us.

We want answers to why kids kill one another.  We want answers to why adults allow kids to kill one another.  We want answers to why adults kill one another.  We want answers to why people suffer, starve, thirst, or remain in pain for years.  We want answers to why there is injustice, inequality, and all the -isms (racism, sexism, classism, ageism, etc.).  We want answers to cyclones and earthquakes and forest fires.  If we were created to be good and decent beings, why are we so terrible to one another?

The other night I was talking with my dad about all of this and I mentioned that I’ve been trying to pin down exactly when everything went south.  My belief system tells me that it happened in the garden of Eden, but I want more.  I want someone or something very concrete to blame for why the world is the way it is, and I want that someone to be more recent than the dawn of time.

I want to blame the generation before mine for being so wild and free.  But…
They can blame the generation before for being too restrictive and controlling.
And they can blame the generation before for being too turbulent and unstable.
They can blame the generation before for being too exploratory and chaotic.
And they can blame the generation before them for being too…
They can blame the generation before…
And they can blame…

We all want to blame someone or something else for the evil in this world because it’s so un-explainable.  While I believe that there are supernatural ‘things’ moving in this world  and contributing to evil, ‘the devil made me do it’ is not entirely the answer.  There has to be more.

Certainly some people choose to act in evil: murder, rape, fighting, slander, gossip, etc.  Sometimes people have to choose evil to obtain good: stealing bread to feed a family, fighting in a war to free captives, supporting the enemy of my enemy.  But some people inadvertently choose evil: buying from unethical corporations, voting for leaders who are unknowingly evil, having health insurance with a company that denies life-saving procedures.  Sometimes there’s just evil in this world – hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc. – these aren’t evil in-and-of themselves, but they cause evil through senseless death and destruction.

Why does a good God permit evil?  Why does God allow bad things to happen?  Where is God when evil is occurring?  Does God want evil in this world since it seems like nothing is changing?

As much as I hate to do it, I have to admit that we live in a fallen world that started with Adam.  Paul wrote, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth…” and that we as people “…groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:22-23, NRSV).  While we live with the consequences of that far-away sin, we live with hope for reconciliation and renewal in the future.

Sometimes evil is supernatural.  There is an enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).  We can’t blame all evil on this enemy, but we should acknowledge its existence and movement in the world.

Sometimes evil happens so that good can happen: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28).  I am not a fan of this, and we should never ever say this in the midst of evil.  [Seriously.  Don’t console people with this.]  This is a hindsight perspective when we can see where things were terrible and how that moved us forward.

Sometimes evil is un-explainable.  We can point fingers at God, at society, and at each other, but there’s nothing and no one specifically to blame.  It’s just there.

I think there are some things we can do when we’re faced with evil:

  • First, we should never stop having the discussion with God. We should question why evil exists, why such a good and loving God would allow evil, and why nothing is being done to change it.  We should always have these conversations with our Creator.
  • Second, we should never stop trying to combat evil.  We can divest and boycott, protest and march and refuse to back down.  We can write letters, campaign against evil, speak for victims, and give space for victims to speak themselves.  We can wisely support programs, organizations, and companies working against evil in the world.
  • Third, we should do all the good that we possibly can in complete opposition to evil. We can offer our time and resources to developing and supporting good.  We can encourage and pray for those who are in the midst of evil.  We can be a present and active source of good in the world.

It’s not easy work – either understanding evil nor working against it – but it’s work that needs to be done.  May God give us courage and resilience to witness, stand against, and oppose the evil in this world.  May God give us hope and strength to encourage and heal those wounded by evil.  May God give us voices to always ask our Creator and one another why evil occurs.  And may we someday find the answer.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Knowing Nothing

This morning – at 4:23 am – I finished a paper for one of my classes.  Granted, there are three weeks left in the semester and it’s not due until May 17th, but I wanted to get it out of the way (I’m moving into the season of just writing papers as quickly and as fiercely as possible).  What amazed me about this paper was that I managed to write eleven pages and create a church handout on a twelve-word prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

My paper isn’t all that impressive when I look at the stack of books that I used as research – books about the prayer from an Easter Orthodox priest, a Quaker, two Evangelicals, a Catholic priest, two mainline protestant theologians, a Benedictine monk, and one anonymous English text from the 14th century.  All of these writers and their works focused directly to this twelve-word prayer and I didn’t use nearly all of the books that I could have.

What fascinates me about all of this is that the amount of information I can use is all centered on God.  I have two seminary libraries with hundreds of thousands of books on their shelves, as well as the University of Texas libraries down the street with just as many, if not more books available to me.  And these books are all about or related to God.

Yet, as much as has been written about God, there is still so much more that is unknown.  It’s unfathomable that we admit we know even a portion of who God is…what God is…how God is.  While God is surprisingly simple, God is also completely complex to the point of non-understanding and un-understanding.


We often use the little phrase ‘both/and’ at seminary for a variety of things related to God – God is both simple and complex; God is both known and unknown; God is both present and distant; God is both in the room and around the room.

While I think I have a pretty firm grasp on this Jesus Prayer thing, but really, I have only managed to merely glimpse the tip of the iceberg from a thousand miles away.  The same can be said about my knowledge of God – and that’s where today’s truth resides – as much as I think I have a firm grasp on God and a steady knowledge of the Divine, I really don’t have much of a clue about any of it.  I both know and don’t know.  I both understand and am clueless.

I think a lot of people choose to step away from seminary (and from God) in these moments because they can’t fully know and this leads to frustration and a turning away from it all.  At the end of the day most of us have to just throw up our hands and admit that a large part of what we’re learning about is handled with a healthy dose of faith.  As much as I can talk about atonement theory, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, or Pneumatology, I really don’t have a clue about most of it and largely have to leave it to faith.

I thank God that my faith (as miniscule as it is) is greater than my doubts, and I pray that this is the case for others as well.  I pray that God can guide us to knowing and unknowing and not-knowing, and that we can rest assured in the places where we stand.  I pray that God will continue to give us places to learn, opportunities to grow, and chances to slough off falsehoods.  And I pray that some day…some day we will fully know and understand.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Confession

I’m taking a class called ‘Spirituality for Church Leaders’ and it’s kind of a double-edged sword for me.  I know that I need to experience more ways to connect with God, but at the same time I’m very reserved and suspicious of new things.  While I’m learning new ways to pray and express myself in the presence of my Creator, I’m also running this mix tape through my mind: Is this really going to make a difference?  Is that too far into the unknown?  What if someone sees me?  Do I need to do this, or can I get away with less?

One of my biggest struggles came last week as Dr. Johnson sat in the front of the class, gently stroked his snow-white beard, and then instructed us to write a prayer of confession: “I want you to write down everything you need to confess to God.”  Part of his wisdom (and a source of my frustration) is that he doesn’t go into great detail with these things – whatever we feel we need to do, we’re to do it.

Truthfully, while I knew that God knew all that I did, my having to admit those errors was difficult.  I sat staring at my sheet of paper for what seemed like ages, mulling over the assignment: Do I write down what I feel guilty about, or do I write down the easy stuff that won’t be too bothersome to admit?  How much confessing can I do and still make it count?  What exactly do I need to confess?  What if someone finds this sheet of all my sins?

I know, too, what constitutes a sin, so this confession thing shouldn’t be that hard.  The things that hurt me, the things that hurt others, the things that hurt God – those are sins.  The things that are not done with love, the words spoken in resentment, the cold shoulders given to people I don’t like – those are sins.  Putting love of others or things before my love of God, desiring more than I have (and not being thankful for any of it), being jealous that so-and-so is spending more time with others than me – those are sins.

I know what sins are because I do them all the time.  But I’m not good at telling God all about it.  When I was a child, I accidentally broke the car antenna off of a neighbor’s car.  Immediately after it happened I began to cry because I knew I’d have to tell my parents, and I’d get in trouble, so I tried my best to make it look like nothing happened.  When I sin, I feel guilt and remorse, but it doesn’t always push me into confession…because if I confess, I’m going to have to face the consequences.  I’m more afraid of God’s wrath than I am at understanding that I have a loving God who’s ready to forgive.


One of the great things we do in the Presbyterian church is a prayer of confession – it’s a time to reflect on our lives and admit where we’ve missed the mark.  I’ve come to appreciate this time because I don’t do it often enough in my life.  I don’t readily acknowledge where and when I’ve sinned (because if you don’t admit it, it didn’t happen…right?).

One of the other great things we have is “a strong affirmation of trust in the forgiving grace of a loving God.”[1]  In this time of affirmation we are assured that God loves us, is more than willing to forgive us, and welcomes us with open arms.

As I get more comfortable with confession, I know that I’ll get more comfortable with God’s love.  And vice versa.  I learned with my parents that I need to tell them everything because they love me and want to help me be better, do better, and live better.  The same goes with God – I need to confess where I’ve made a mess and receive the gift of forgiveness.  May I be strong enough to confess my sins, and may I be weak enough to admit I need God’s love.

much love. sheth.

[1] The Theology and Worship Ministry Unit, Book of Common Worship (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 89.

Truth: 4 pm

When I went through a very difficult period of my life I ended up taking anti-depressants, and they were a valuable part of my life for a time.  While they kept me from feeling depressed and sad, they actually kept me from feeling much of anything.  I wasn’t depressed (which was good), but I wasn’t happy, either…I wasn’t much of anything.

I took that medication for a time and when I came off of it I was greeted with all kinds of feelings that I had forgotten about.  Laughter was from my soul; happiness was found in the oddest of places; coffee commercials made me cry.  I had all these rediscovered feelings and I was unsure if I was ‘doing’ them correctly.


And I didn’t always know how to name what I was feeling.  I ended up using a ‘feelings wheel’ like the one above.  It lists all kinds of words for feelings and emotions, and it was helpful to pinpoint exactly what was going on within me.

Last week I briefly spoke with my mom and amid the conversation she asked if I was feeling okay.  She commented that I didn’t sound well and was concerned for me.  I admitted that I was fine – and I was – and we continued our quick check-in.

I told the truth to my mom because I am fine.  Things are good.  School is busy but useful and I’m gaining knowledge and wisdom.  My jobs on campus are keeping me busy and I think I’m doing good things through them.  My relationships are steady and I have many good friends that keep me entertained, engaged, and satisfied.  Honestly, life is fine and good.  But there’s been something not quite right and I haven’t been able to identify it.

This morning I went to chapel and it was a good service.  We sang songs, we prayed, and we heard the sermon – it was chapel in all its goodness.   As Dr. Rigby finished the liturgy for the Table, she said something along the lines of, “Come, eat, the table is set” and in that moment a small voice in my head said …but…but, I’m not hungry...

It was at that moment that I realized what I’ve been feeling, or, in my case, what I haven’t been feeling: I’m not hungry.  My life feels like 4 pm – lunch has been eaten and is nearly forgotten and yet I’m not hungry for dinner, either.  I’m not excited for what’s next, and I’m not able to enjoy what had come before.

Life is good, things are going as planned, and I’m doing all the correct things, but I’m not hungry.  I’m making decent grades, in a great relationship, and have a healthy social life, but I’m not hungry.  Life is far from routine, I’m doing unexpected things, and I’m satisfied.  But I’m not hungry.

I’m not hungry for my future, for what may come next, for where I’m going.  I’m not hungry to help others, to serve those around me, to love my neighbor.  I’m not hungry to learn more about God, about the scriptures, about why I’m here.  I’m not hungry.

I think it’s more than okay to not be hungry, but it’s a little disconcerting that I am not expecting another meal in the future.  I don’t know what my next meal is going to be or where it will come from; I don’t entirely remember what my last meal tasted like or how satisfying it was.  I’m kind of in this limbo right now, this 4 pm of life, and it’s not bad, but it’s not entirely good.

God, grow in me a deep hunger, a deep desire for more.  May my life rumble and grumble with expectation for the coming meal, and may I once again find that desire for more than what I have had.

much love. sheth.


P.S. – Seriously, I’m good…I’m fine…just wanting to be hungry.

Truth: Emulate

Last week I was given this prompt for one of my classes: Why do you support, believe in, follow, or wish to emulate …. (the person, organization, etc., of importance to you)?  On the surface, it was a rather simple exercise and I could have easily gone for one of the softball-sized answers that came to my mind.  I could have listed my parents, Thomas Merton, or Saint Francis – there are a lot of good people to emulate.  But for some reason (I like to make my life difficult) I didn’t want to go that route and I wrestled with being brutally honest with myself.

There are a few truths I have heard about my life: I know that I am a child of God, I am a friend of Christ, and I am accepted.  I know I am holy and beloved, chosen by God, and am a new creature.  I know I am set free.  I have heard, recited, and known these descriptors of myself for a long time.  But while these words describe the person God sees me as, I don’t always believe God’s vision.  If I’m honest, I wish to emulate the person God knows me to be; I wish to emulate who God sees in me.

It’s an odd thing, because I can tell others that they are summed up by these scriptural qualities, and I thoroughly believe that they are these things.  But my scrutinizing self-doubt and savage self-condemnation keep me from fully living into these truths. Instead, I lean into falsities:  I’m not good enough.  I’m not holy enough.  I’m not worthy enough.  I don’t always do what’s right.  I don’t always speak love.  I am more displeased, irritated, and unforgiving of my own short-comings than I am with someone else’s.  I can overlook my neighbor’s terrible sins against me but I can’t get over my own little misstep that did no harm but to myself.


When I discover “that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself – that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness – that I myself am the enemy who must be loved,”¹ that is when I know my truest self.  And that is when I will begin to know the real ‘me’ whom God sees.  When I understand who I am in God’s eyes, when I can honestly emulate that person, and when I can love myself intensely and freely then I will be free to love others just as passionately.

If I can emulate who God sees me as, I can love – love God, love myself, and love my neighbor.  When I set free within my soul – within my deepest being – the love and compassion of God to conquer my heart and accept myself as the person God knows me to be, that is when I will truly live and love.

much love. sheth.

1  Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & CO LTD, 1933), 271-272.

Truth: Christmas.

Honestly, this isn’t really a Truth Tuesday post…just a little quote I heard a few years back that continues to rattle my core being.

I first listened to this On Being podcast a few years ago as I was delivering the mail during the Christmas season (the USPS delivers far more gifts than Santa does – so you should start leaving gifts for your letter carrier). The following quote concerns Christmas and Jesus, and I still don’t know what to do with it; I’m not entirely sure what it means to me, but I continue to wrestle with it:


“It’s a nice, pretty story about two nice, good looking people, usually white…you know, who had a pretty baby in a manger. But in a sense, it’s a terrifying story. In terms of what they had to undergo. And it’s also, I have to say, it is a shocking story. It’s not just a baby. It is God being born in human form. And it’s just as shocking as the resurrection. And I think we’ve tamed it. And in a sense it doesn’t demand our belief. We can just kind of look on it, and say, well, that’s cute.

But if you say to people do you believe that that is God incarnate in that stable. What does that mean for you, that God comes to us as the most helpless being that you could imagine? You know, sort of crying, and wetting his pants, and needing to be nursed. What does that say to us about who God is for us, and how God is for us, and how much God loved us to do that. And that, I think is an entirely different story than, you know, the — the kind of Christmas-cardy stuff that we see.”

My friends, may your holidays be filled with shock, with wonder, with helplessness, with a desire to share with others about your faith – whatever that may be. And may we all come to understand the beauty and reality of Christ’s birth.

much love. sheth.

Truth: Learning.

Earlier this morning I finished my exam for World Religions and am officially finished with my third semester of seminary.  It was a difficult semester, to say the least, filled with stress, lack of sleep, approximately 7 pounds of coffee (pre-brewed), some poor food choices, internal (and external) debates, and plenty of tears.  Here’s what I learned:

I learned how money – and the lack thereof – can affect my life.  Through a series of unfortunate events, my student loans weren’t disbursed until mid-November.  While I was able to take a small advance on it, by the grace of God I was able to make it without.  I had my family and my church, who stepped in and helped me out when I needed it most.  I’m not out of the woods yet, but I have learned (again) to lean on God and trust that things will work out.  It’s difficult, stressful, and scary, but it will happen.

I’ve learned that Christian ethics is not so cut-and-dry.  While it may seem like the Christian answer is the right answer, why it is the right answer is much more difficult to verbalize.  It’s certainly easy to say It’s what Jesus would do, but why would he do it?  What compels that response?  What are the outcomes of such a response?  Is it the only answer, or are there others?  What if that answer harms others in the process?  It’s a difficult and challenging mindset when dealing with real-world issues.

I’ve learned that preaching is both one of my greatest joys and one of my greatest fears.  I love being able to share the word with others in that venue and it always challenges me to be my very best.  But it also scares the tar out of me!  There’s nothing more frightening than standing in front of a group of people, sharing personal stories, theology, and what the Spirit has placed in my hands, all the while attempting to make it sound pleasing.  It’s something I need to work on and it has exposed some of my weaknesses, but it’s an area where I know I’ll grow.

I’ve learned that the world’s religions are unique, impressive, and complicated.  It’s not so easy to explain the differences between Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism without having a lot of knowledge in all three religions.  While I know that my Christian beliefs don’t always make a lot of sense, it’s encouraging to know that every other religion is just as rich and complex.  There is beauty in all of them, there are places where we can find similarities, and we need to talk with one another more in order to drive out fear.

I’ve learned that I need to approach the bible with an open mind because there’s a lot that we don’t know. In my Mark exegesis course I was challenged by my professor who used ‘creative imagination’ in his work.  I appreciated learning this technique and how it can be a springboard to other ideas, but I also learned that I need to be careful with my imagination.  While the text has some holes that we can fill in, we need to be careful with what we’re using as filler.

Seminary is certainly one of the most challenging things I’ve been called toward, but it’s been worth it all.  I know I’m where I need to be, and I know that God is preparing me for something greater than I can imagine – the difficulties are temporary, but the reward is lasting.  May we learn more and more each day about our Creator, about one another, and about ourselves.

much love. sheth.

Truth: I Know Best.

There’s more to follow, but first, my rendition of Luke 5:1-8:

Jesus was talking to some folks by the Lake of Gennesaret, when, off in the distance he saw two boats near the shoreline.  He walked towards the boats while he continued to talk with the small crowd, and when he approached the boats he stepped up into one of them and asked the owner to put out the boat a bit farther from the shore.  Then Jesus sat down and continued to teach from it.

Simon, the boat’s owner, did what the man had asked of him and he moved his boat a little further off shore.  Simon was stunned that he did what was asked of him, but also confused as to why this stranger decided to use his boat as a park bench.  Simon’s countenance shifted from awe and amazement to contempt, and he glared at the man as he was speaking, waiting for the opportune time to question the man.  “Who does this guy think he is?” Simon thought to himself, “He comes and sits in my boat, has these people following him…traipsing all over my fishing gear, and then he tells me where to go fishing!”

Simon looked at the man, who was grinning and looking back at him.  Jesus wrapped up his discussion then said to the weathered fisherman, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”  Exhausted from the previous night’s expedition, Simon knew better than this man that it was a terrible time and place to fish, “Master,” said Simon sarcastically, “we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t…caught…anything.  But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

With a half-hearted motion to his fellow fishermen, Simon and company let down their nets.  After all the nets were cast, Simon looked at Jesus, “There.  The nets are out.  I hope you’re happy.”  Simon folded his arms onto his chest, “Oh, and thanks for wasting my morning.  I had plans to go into town and take care of some business, but no, this…” he quickly spread his arms wide, gesturing to the water around him, “…is much more productive.”

As he was lowering his arms in frustration, Simon lost his balance – the nets pulled the boat hard, and the fishermen all shouted with a mix of bewilderment and excitement.  There on Lake Gennesaret, Simon and his fellow fishermen caught so many fish that their nets began to break!  He was astonished and looked at Jesus who was grinning from ear-to-ear; Simon weaved his way over to Jesus and fell at his feet.


Jesus comes and sits in my boat telling me where I should go and what I should do?  I know best!…right?  In all honesty, I usually feel like Simon – I see Jesus approaching my life, wondering why he’s hanging out in my boat, and I question his calls for me to act.  I question and wonder and second-guess because I see my life through my own eyes – I’ve been living my life and I know what’s best for me.

If Jesus calls me to help someone, I question whether I’m the best one to help; if Jesus calls me to speak with someone, I question whether I’ll have the right words; if Jesus calls me to lead, I point out others who would be much better for the job.  My life seems to be a series of occasions when I think that God should have arranged things differently.  God should have given me that job, or kept me in that relationship, or provided for me sooner instead of letting me struggle for so long.  In those moments I’ve wrestled with God I think I know what’s best for me.

As much as I think I have all the answers – as much as I think I know when it’s best to wash my nets or go fishing – I don’t know much at all.  When I turn my vision towards Jesus and trust in his calling, when I believe that he knows me best, then my life can only be the best it can be.  I may struggle at times, I may have to learn a few lessons along the way, but Jesus is always there telling me the better way to live.

I can only pray to be less like Simon, and not only have ears to hear God’s voice, but to also have unbound trust in what God is going to do in my life.

much love. sheth.