Archive | November, 2011

we are everywhere in chains

21 Nov

Back when I was a fulltime missionary (2001-2007) and until January of this year, I kept a blog called thegermanygirl: ruminations.

The reasons I haven’t posted on that blog in nearly a year are myriad, but suffice it to say that because of my many other endeavors, I simply haven’t had time to ruminate anything for the “old” blog.


When I checked my email this morning, I found a notification of a new comment on one of my thegermanygirl posts. The comment and my reply to it are worth sharing here:

“Tony” writes:

I see from your Profile that you believe that “Jesus sacrificed himself for the eternal freedom of humanity”.

Most people agree with Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains”: this must mean that the sacrifice was in vain.

I guess you must have read him, so presumably your observation of the world differs from Rousseau’s. Or perhaps two thousand years has not been enough, and we must wait longer for our eternal freedom.

I replied:

You might think it strange enough, but I agree with Rousseau (whom I have, indeed, read). I’ve never belonged to that segment of the Christian population that believes in original sin; I have never believed that any of us is born tainted. We are truly born free in every sense of the word. We are born innocent, untainted, fresh, new.

But I believe we put ourselves in chains as we carry on our lives and make our choices. We say and do things that cause each other pain, and each word or action that causes pain is just another chain we clamp around our own wrists. There is not a single one of us who has not caused harm to another.

We are “everywhere in chains” because we lock ourselves away from each other and lock ourselves away from the one power in the universe that can break down all the doors and unlock all the chains.

The sacrifice that Jesus made was not in vain, because the freedom he offers is available to anyone who wants it. The crux of the matter is that he can’t give freedom to those who don’t want it. He won’t force his freedom on anyone. Each of us will spend eternity exactly the way we want to. And that’s the most liberating part of the whole deal.


I hope my response to Tony will challenge him to think further on Christ instead of pushing him away. It’s so difficult to know how my typed words will come across to someone who lives on the other side of the world (I checked his Blogger profile). Communicating tone is nigh on impossible in blog comment format! Ugh. And we’re missing every nuance of body language, which tells so much more than words.

Still, I hope that I said what Christ would want me to say and in the way he would want me to say it. That’s pretty much all I can do.


baby, are we ever on fire

20 Nov

So, today, our group celebrated our second Thanksgiving together. Eats-wise, I particularly enjoyed the turkey that Ed smoked (if you can roll it, you can smoke it), the sweet potatoes made by someone wonderful but I don’t know who, and the sopapilla cheesecake that Tracy stole from heaven and delivered unto us. BANGERANG.

Food-wise, I got a cramazing peek at how it seems Christ views our group.

You see, we heard from Milt today about a group of Christians who are “on fire for Christ.” The second I heard that, a pang of jealousy flashed through my heart. “On fire.” Are we on fire? Are we passionate enough that someone might look at us and say, “Those people are on fire for Christ?”

I honestly don’t think so.

It’s not a competition. And yet, I felt jealous. And then I felt sad, because the weight of comparison suddenly sat heavy on my shoulders.

Later, Tim repeated what Milt had said. “On fire for Christ.” And I admitted openly to everyone: “I feel jealous of that.”

And the moment the words were out of my mouth, a little voice spoke up inside my heart and whispered, You don’t have to.

And I smiled. Because I understood.

I don’t have to be jealous of “on fire for Christ.” For one thing, passion for Christ is not, never has been, and never will be a competition. The weight of comparison is not a burden I am subject to. Christ never looks at his bride and says, “This part is lovelier than this other part.”

To put it bluntly, Christ never says, “Baby, I love your face, but your butt looks a little flabby. How ’bout I buy you a gym membership?”

But before I get too far into the beautiful bride picture, here’s the main thought about the fire metaphor:

In our group, I see a passion for Christ that is a firepit of smouldering coals. You might see an occasional tongue of flame, but there is no raging fire here. Sometimes, the coals glow — especially if you poke them.

Ah, yes, do you see what this collection of hot coals might become? Do you see the potential here, the quiet undercurrent of energy?

If you get close, it will be hot to the touch.

A house fire might rage all day — but once the firefighters put it out, everyone still has to wait before they can go sift through the rubble. The coals are too hot. Any breath of air might set them aflame again. The heat of coals is not something to take lightly.

Even campfire coals harbor a vast store of amazing energy. The great thing about smouldering coals is that you can bury them — and once they’re in the ground, you can stretch out your sleeping bag over them. They’ll keep you warm all night long: all that stored-up, buried heat, warming you from underneath. In the morning, you dig the coals up and blow on them, and pretty soon you’ll have a fire that can cook you breakfast. In the evening, you bury your coals again, because you need their underground heat to ward off the cold of night.

We are seasonal. We wax, we wane. We grow in the warmth of the sun. We sleep in the cold of the night.

And while we sleep — or even while we lie awake and marvel at the starry glitter our Father has spread across the universe — our passion for Christ smoulders like coals. Joyous. And waiting.