Thanksgiving: How Are You Shaping the Next Generation?

diverse hands original
In any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety. – Abraham Maslow


They faced the horizon and watched a tiny vessel grow large until it finally docked on their shoreline. Coughing and unsteady, pale refugees emerged from the ship who would forever redefine their society.

The Wampanoag tribe leaned into the unknown, expanding their understanding of the world instead of hiding. They stepped toward growth as the immigrants stepped away from religious persecution in Europe.

The first Thanksgiving offers a lesson in risk and community that reached across racial and cultural comforts. They celebrated together after months of hard work and sacrifice as cultures and worldviews rubbed against each other.


“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” said Neale Donald Walsch, and I can’t ignore what I need to learn from the Wampanoags. They ran toward the mystery, risking and throwing themselves into the the unknown. They gave in order to sustain a foreign culture. Gave to sustain lives not their own.

Authentic, racial integration not only reflects God’s kingdom, but it serves as my textbook into greater facets of God’s character. Diversity is more than living among those who look different from me. No, it involves admitting my need for others, as I see and study and welcome the culture that comes with the person. It respects and acknowledges how much other image-bearers of God can teach me. Really, true diversity involves heaps of humility.


But just one generation later exercised a radically different worldview. Just one.

Ironically, the children of those who bravely ran from religious persecution oppressed the Native Americans, oppressed those who were the very reason for their parents’ survival. And somewhere, woven throughout their lust to make people just like them came the insatiable need for power and control. The root of so many sins reared its ugly head even in the late seventeenth century.  


Do I really need more power? Am I so insecure, forgetting my identity is in what Christ did for me on the cross, that I need the validation that others are like me?


Maybe some of the Pilgrims were too busy surviving to share their worldview and convictions with their kids. Maybe their deep loss and grief silenced their mouths as their hearts broke over and over again.  


And lest I appear woefully judgmental, I sit here today wondering how clear my deepest passions are to my children. With the sports schedules… and the homework… and the play rehearsals… and the reminders to clean rooms — Are my son and daughter absolutely certain of my deepest convictions? Tragically, I have to ask if what I’m portraying in my home (and in the car) as I hurry about speaks a different philosophy than what I truly cling to in my heart. Is my heart repurposed enough to speak boldly amidst the scurrying? Is the Gospel woven so deeply into my life that my actions speak my thoughts?

I will sing of Your unfailing love, Eternal One, forever.
     I will speak of Your faithfulness to all generations.
     I will tell how Your unfailing love will always stand strong;
     and how Your faithfulness is established in the heavens above. Psalm 89:1-2

God, help me. Life is too short. Their childhood is racing by.

Later this week my U.S. friends and I will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. But regardless of where you are in the world, may we impart to the youth in our lives what is truly important to us. May we help them see God’s goodness from the beginning of time. May we risk, despite the mystery and the unknown, and may we point the next generation to a God who radically pursues us.

As we point to Him, may His gospel infuse our worldview, infuse our everyday routines. And may we recklessly love each other well.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Photo by Han Kim

Choosing Substance: Defiant Hope (Day 5)

refugeemama

After the wise men left, a messenger of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. Get up, take the child and His mother, and head to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you it is safe to leave. For Herod understands that Jesus threatens him and all he stands for… After a few months had passed, Herod realized he’d been tricked. The wise men were not coming back. Herod, of course, was furious. He simply ordered that all boys who lived in or near Bethlehem and were two years of age and younger be killed. Matthew 2:13, 16

He simply ordered… It’s a tragic part of the advent story that’s been swept away by countless Christmas pageants. It’s hard to process, so I avoid. Hard to reconcile, so I ignore. Have you looked away, too?

Only Matthew chose to go there — not Mark, Luke, or John.

Mary and Joseph fled a leader’s insatiable greed and insanity, racing to Egypt. No promise from family to email. No hope of seeing their relatives’ Instagram posts. No ability to connect to headlines to see what was going on back home.

The carpenter-turned-refugee fled. The girl-turned-Mother of Messiah found herself a refugee, too, desperate to escape Herod’s wrath. And the Son of God, in all his mortal, two year-old adorableness was clinging to his mama and probably asking “Why?” a hundred times all the way to Egypt.

Are you, too? “Why, Rescuer? Where is Your deliverance? Why Emmanuel? I’m so alone, so lonely. Why, Morning Star? Why is my story so dark?”

The injustice they left behind was so threatening, so severe, that pursuing the unknown with no one waiting on the other side was the solution. As Christ fled deeper into refugee status, baby boys in Bethlehem were being ripped from their mama’s arms, torn from the earth forever. The wounds of the community’s heart were so great that Matthew pointed back to another refugee crisis in his people’s history:

* A voice will be heard in Ramah,
    weeping and wailing and mourning out loud all day and night.
The voice is Rachel’s, weeping for her children,
    her children who have been killed;
    she weeps, and she will not be comforted. Matthew 2:18 (Jeremiah 31:15)

And suddenly the advent story sounds similar to our own headlines. Did you catch it? Countless murders. Utter fear. A refugee crisis. Injustice.

A person of substance hopes defiantly. Her belief and desire will absolutely not be conquered.

From His birth, Christ entered a world churning with violence and injustice and fear, and from the beginning, He pointed to the cross. His cross. For through violence and injustice toward the Rescuer, we have life.

Our hope is not in what we watch every evening, or the headlines we scroll through on our phones, or countless news analysts. Our hope is found in a God who saw injustice and chose to enter the suffering in order to save us. His solution was to strip Himself of glory and wrap Himself in the mess. All the way to cross.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ ”  Revelation 21:3-5 niv

On the fifth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me the Reason to hope defiantly.

… A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…

photo source


Choosing Substance

  • What keeps you up at night?
  • What horror abroad is making you restless? What situation in your own story leaves you unsettled every morning, every night?
  • Read the Maker’s response to Israel’s weeping long ago: Jeremiah 31:16-17, Jeremiah 31:25, Jeremiah 31:35.
  • How’s that definition of choosing substance coming? 🙂

* Matthew 2:18 — “The setting is Ramah, a village a few miles north of Jerusalem, where exiles are assembled before the long march to Babylon. Later the prophet himself will spend time in this refugee camp awaiting his own exile (Jeremiah 40:1). For now, he paints the picture of Rachel, one of the matriarchs of this nation, weeping for her children as they head off into captivity.” (The Voice: Step into the Story of Scripture, p. 922)

Your Refugee Heart


refugees

I’m one of those. Unashamedly, I’m one who puts away Christmas as soon as I can. I’m not eager to sweep away the mystery or the miracle, but I’m hungry for new and will get there as soon as I can.

There is, though, a crude little sculpture I can’t box away into months of darkness.

Glance quickly and your mind plays a trick on you. You did, after all, see numerous Marys and Josephs and Babies last month.  You can almost dismiss this clay as just another Nativity scene, but it’s not.

Mary is on a donkey, yes.  But she’s holding the Baby in her arms, and her womb is empty. The hope and wonder has been replaced by an overwhelming sense to rescue her son so He can rescue the world someday.

See them fleeing Herod’s insatiable greed and insanity as they race to Egypt.  Joseph and Mary – and the Rescuer of the world – are refugees.

Tired. Misplaced. Unsafe. And not in control.

Are you not in control? I know. It’s terrible, isn’t it?

Dear, dear Joseph has had quite a couple of years. Just a year or so ago he was well into a career designing and producing in his carpentry studio. And now the Master Artist is radically carving his life into something else.

Does your life look different than you planned? Is your heart being carved?

And Mary. Bless her. Her days were clearly not her own, either, and this escape to protect the Son of God must have seemed almost wrong. Did we misunderstand, Joseph? Truly we didn’t hear Yahweh clearly… Her journey to Bethlehem had been full of Hope and Promise kicking inside her. What life was she giving the toddler in her arms now?

Have you ever felt inadequate? Do you maybe have regrets?

Friend, look at the refugees, holding the Hope of the World in their arms, furiously determined to do their part in helping God heal the world.

I love change. I’ve craved it. I’ve sought it many times. I’m simply fond of new.

But I do see how much of my yearning is steeped in discontentment.  Lord, quiet my restlessness. My infatuation reaches only to the point when I’m in control… when I’m the one dictating the change.

I bow to the idol of control as I resist the Author’s twists on my story. I simmer in anxiety and drown those around me with it. I scorn brokenness without noticing the Carpenter wants to reform my heart. Wants to carve away the ugliness I crudely patched on myself.

Have you ever felt the need to be repurposed?

He’s calling you to bravely live in the unpredictable. (Life has a way of shifting what we hold dear, doesn’t it?) He’s calling you to radically embrace the unknown. For in the unknown, we’re no longer pushing our own agendas. There, our purpose becomes much grander. And really, it feels so good to be part of something big instead of starring in our own little mini-dramas. (You know your own story and can read it if you want.)

But you are a chosen people… Beloved, remember you do not belong in this world. You are resident aliens living in exile… Live honorably. I Peter 2:9-12 

And though we’re refugees — tired, scared, numb — ultimately His plan is for us to travel right into His presence. Away from choices gone bad, away from insecurity and regret, away from misplaced treasures. 

Journey with me?