(photo courtesy of Laura Boggess)
Jennifer Lee wrote today :
“I turn the rocks in my hands, weeping for all the ways that we cast stones at ourselves, making ourselves believe we’ve never been good enough, and we never will be.”
This past weekend at Jumping Tandem: The Retreat, we were challenged by Jennifer to write down our fears, the things that were standing in our way, of chasing our dreams, of stepping up to the challenge of walking the journey laid out just beyond the gate before us. We wrote them down on river rocks and then surrendered them to woven baskets reminiscent of those holding the loaves and fish. Offerings which seem so small in our eyes and yet God turns and multiplies for his glory. And in this instance, the multiplication is the peace in our hearts and the glory of Him in our lives that begins to be renewed and re-flame once again.
Jennifer shared that she would pray over each of these rocks, that she would pray for the woman who had shared each fear and that she would lift those to God. It had been a visual sign for us to relinquish our fears in this way, and for some it was quite difficult to walk up and surrender…not knowing what life without those fears looks like. I have been guilty of choosing to live in a ‘less-than’ life, because facing the unknown seems to be far more scary then moving out into the life of dream chasing and faith living.
Before leaving for the retreat I shared with some of my dear friend what some of my fears were heading into the retreat. They prayed about them with me…but some of them were still present when I entered the building. I had this idea that there are ‘big B’ bloggers, those who are well known, have a platform and in my mind are ‘achievers’ of perhaps what I desire for myself. Big blog names that everyone seems to know and follow. Then there were some of the others of us ‘the normal b’ bloggers, the ones just getting started, who were rarely known and were trying desperately to figure out how their desire to write fit into this crazy life that God was calling them to walk with Him by their side/my side.
What a misconception. I had thought through (and been reminded by my friends) that each of these women (and men) were merely human and that they hadn’t ‘arrived’ as I had thought but were also journeying along and figuring out life and had their own insecurities and questions as well. It took me time to realize this was true, but only through interacting with them…and geeking out a bit. However it seemed that the lie of ‘what am I doing here and what do I have to add to the conversation’ came out into the light again in one of the sessions on Saturday. and i was reminded gently that sometimes the voice speaking loudest in the quiet, is not the quiet calm of my dear Saviour, but rather the Lie speaker pretending that truth comes from his mouth.
And as I read Jennifer’s beautiful entry today, I began to ponder the following: that my own voice is my worst critic and speaks my fears so loudly. Perhaps its not others who are yearning to throw that first ostracizing stone but rather my own hand…’He who is without sin’…thank you for getting my heart stuck on that idea, and see how much I need to cling to grace and see that He has paid it ALL…
I am referring to the woman who has been caught IN sin. She has been brought before Jesus by the religious leaders to trap him into saying something that they could arrest him for. Instead Jesus puts forth a loaded statement and then stoops down and writes in the dust.
Jesus calls them out by saying “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (John 8:7). We don’t know what he’s writing in the dirt. I like to imagine that he’s writing by her feet…that her head is hanging down in shame, she is on edge not knowing what this Rabbi will do or say, but she is intrigued that he has bent down near her and begun to write in the dust. Perhaps he writers her name, perhaps he writes sins that they were all guilty of, we do not know. What we do know is that he gave each person the chance to realize that he had turned their very clever ploy on its head and knew that they couldn’t possibly claim to be completely without sin. And so one by one they wander away, probably trying desperately to figure out another way to trap Christ in what he said. However, As she stood quiet, perhaps tears running down her face, perhaps in defiance, waiting for her judgement…I’m sure his words are very confusing to someone who knew the rules of the day.
When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11)
His question must have taken her by surprise. She was being asked about her perpetrators…she wasn’t being asked about her sin, whether what she was being accused of was true or not, but rather if she was still standing there. And when she replies (As Jesus already knows) ‘No one’ remains, he speaks truth into her life that she couldn’t possibly have expected, and yet I assume, drank in deeply.
I do not condemn you…go and sin no more. such short commands and yet so full of promise of new life and a new journey. His acknowledgement that he knew she had been involved in sin was brief, he didn’t read her a list of her indiscretions and tell her how she must pay for each one. Instead he spoke of her sin and how she had not been condemned but rather set forth (go!) and challenged to change her life, after meeting Christ.
sometimes…i let the words of the deciever grow so loud, that I lay in torment accepting the blows. if only I opened my eyes, I would find that the one who throws those stones that rip my dreams to shreds and leave me quaking in fear…are resting in my own clenched fist, ready to be hurled at my wounded heart.
Lord…i need your grace, let me cling to your promise ‘Neither do I condemn you’. You have paid IT all. There is nothing that I can that will slip by the waves of grave. ‘Go and sin no more’ is your challenge to seek healing for our hearts, by seeing that all we could ever need or desire can only be found in YOU and no where and no one else. Let my eyes not continue to be blinded by my misguided beliefs of not having much to offer or say. Thank you Lord for giving me words, for giving me a passionate heart, for giving me a compassionate soul…
thank you God…for the hope that can only be found in you.
Jennifer and her daughters will be taking those stones, the ones we wrote our fears upon and tossing them into a natural lake by her home. Each of those stones after having been prayed over will be tossed as far as the eye can see…and come to rest in the recesses of the cool water, where only the fish and fauna will be privy to once held us in its vise-like grip. These rocks have been surrendered to forgiveness, the cleansing blood as covered them…each of those fears, has been paid for at the cross. I’m not saying its sin to fear…I’m just saying that he knew that was coming…and it has it covered. Your fear is no surprise to Him.
so I strive to remember…that fear and all the rest which might pop up are natural to be faced as I journey into my God-sized dream, but they don’t have to stay there, blocking the way, making me tremble at the thought of having them thrown at me again and again, but instead they can be seized named for what they are, lies…and surrendered to the one who will break their hold and speak truth over his daughter (and sons) once and for all.