In the Tension

Finding Your Voice, In the Tension

How “On the Basis of Sex” & the Women’s March Inspired Me About the Future of the Church


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“On the Basis of Sex”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I know this case disrupted our lives.

Jane Ginsburg: Who is it for if not for me?

If you have not seen “On the Basis of Sex”, then you need to see if before it leaves theaters. The movie chronicles the story of Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the early years of her career as an attorney. 

During a turning point in the movie, Ruth experiences a setback in the gender discrimination case she’s trying to bring before an appeals court. This case, if they won on appeal, would change the future of gender equality in the US. 

She’s given everything to and for this case. The whole family is involved, including her daughter, Jane. Ruth wants to give up and she apologizes to her daughter for the case disrupting their lives. 

Then Jane says a powerful statement: “Who is it for if not for me?” 

This becomes a turning point for Ruth – both for her relationship with her daughter and for the tenacity with which she holds on to her vision for gender equality. 

Ruth understood something about being tenacious in the tension: 

  1. It’s not about you
  2. It’s about those who come after you

The way the movie portrayed Ruth’s story and her relationship with her daughter, Jane, highlighted the impact our influence can have on those who come after us. Their story reminds us that our devotion to something greater than ourselves can leave an indelible legacy.

The Boston Women’s March

On January 19, I went to the Boston Women’s March. We stood outside in the 30-degree for 4 1/2 hours listening to speaker after speaker encourage us about gender equality and equity. We came together in solidarity for the stories about where we’ve been and where we have the potential to go. 

What marked me more than the speakers were the young folks surrounding me. These young folks came from a range of lived experiences and identities and they came together to acknowledge and advocate. 

Our young people are growing up in a culture where it’s normal for them to go to rallies and rallies. They understand how to navigate conversations about buzzwords that the corporate world is trying to figure out: diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our young people don’t need to figure these words out, because these aren’t words to them, this is their lived experience.

I had the honor of being there with two young Latina women who are hermanitas for me. As I talked with them, I realized the great potential they have to lead not only the future of this generation, but also the future of the Church. 

They understand what Jane Ginsburg understood and communicated to her mom: “Who is it for if not for me?”

They understand that devotion to something greater than ourselves can leave an indelible legacy. 

Millennials, Generation Z, and The Future of the Church

We live in increasingly complex times. As a leader in the Church I’ve watched as we’ve become increasingly insulated as the complexity has disrupted us. I’ve watched as we’ve let go of navigating the complexities – out of fear and out of a lack of clarity.

We stood by and watched the exodus of countless Millennials, because we stopped being tenacious in the tension.

Now, Generation Z, is growing up with advocacy across a range of issues  (many that are and will be disruptive) woven into their lived experiences. 

  • How will we, the body of Christ, respond? 
  • What will our tenacity in the tension look like as we lean towards the vision of loving God and loving others as we love ourselves? 
  • How will we recapture the beauty that the good news of Christ isn’t for us to hoard, but to share with others? 
  • How will we share the full good news of Christ to and for those who come after us? 
  • How can we embrace young folks and empower them to lead alongside us as we build the future of the Church? 
  • How can we listen and learn from their lived experiences as well as disciple them to live out a vibrant faith as followers of Christ? 

8 lessons “On the Basis of Sex”  and the Boston Women’s March taught me about building the future of the Church:

  1. Listen and learn together
  2. Walk alongside others
  3. Make room for wrestling together
  4. Talk about the full gospel because it’s STILL powerful
  5. Prepare to run the long race, because this isn’t a sprint
  6. Devoting time is the gamechanger 
  7. Deconstructing is important, but leads to hopelessness
  8. Create safe spaces to reconstruct the deconstructed pieces of faith 

In the tension together, 

sg

In the Tension, Possessing God's Promises

Possessing God’s Promises // Part 5


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Is the land rich or poor? 

Are there trees in it or not? 

Moses asks them about the fruit of the land. This is no longer an assessment of the soil. Now, we look to the possibilities of the land. 

Moses gave the explorers six questions and one instruction: 

“Bring some of the fruit of the land.” 

Then, we are told a detail that they were going to explore the land during the season of the first ripe grapes. Grapes, a biblical symbol of favor, fruitfulness, and fellowship with God, were ripe for the Israelites to experience and enjoy. The opportune time to possess God’s promise was at hand for the Israelites. Moses’s one clear instruction demonstrates the time was now for the Israelites to eat and see the fruitful possibilities of God’s promise. 

Ten of the explorers saw the fruit of the land. They knew what the land could produce. Yet, from the beginning we see them limit the possibilities of the land. 

The fruit of the land in their hands spoiled.

How often does the fruit God puts in our hands spoil?

How often do we destroy the potential God has entrusted to us? 

They had the fruit in their hands. They ate the grapes. They knew the possibilities of the land. But they could not imagine the possibilities of God’s promises. 

Our inability to imagine the possibilities God has for us can spoil the potential He has already placed in our hands. 

Caleb and Joshua had a different experience. They could imagine the possibilities of God’s promises. 

We learn that as the explorers were in the land, the came to the Valley of Eshcol. The Valley of Eschol is located in Mamre and associated with the Hebron region. A land where Abraham lived “among the oak trees” So, we know the land was rich and had trees – many trees. 

What the explorers do next in this valley of many rich, fruiful trees is so significant, but ten of them didn’t fully realize the significance. They didn’t realize the potential they held in their hands.

The explorers cut down a single cluster of grapes. A single cluster of grapes so large and abundant, they had to carry it on a pole between two of them. 

Scholars say that it’s possible the two explorers carrying the grapes on the pole were Caleb and Joshua. I’d love to believe that this is true and this was what made all the difference for Caleb and Joshua’s experience in the Promised Land. I’d love to say that they could imagine the possibilities of God’s promise, because they carried the potential with them. 

Unfortunately, we weren’t there and we don’t know who the two men were who carried the single cluster of grapes. But what we do know is that a single cluster of grapes was carried out of the Promised Land. A single cluster so abundant marking the beginning of the potential of God’s promise.

Caleb could imagine the possibilities. 

Can you imagine the possibilities of God’s promises? 

Can you carry the beginnings of God’s promises in your hands and imagine that there is more? 

The season of the first ripe grapes is here! 

Our exploration of the land ought to be an imagination of the possibilities. 

As we cultivate consistency in our faith to possess God’s promises, we have an opportunity to name our giants, assess our soil, dwell under the shadow, and imagine the possibilities. 

In the tension together, 

sg

P.S. To explore the story of Caleb more in depth, stay tuned for my new book: Color Me Yellow // Finding Your Voice in the Tension between God’s Promises and their Fulfillment 

Questions to ponder: 

  • How will you hold the fruit that God has placed in your hands?
  • How will you imagine the possibilities of a new season?
In the Tension, Possessing God's Promises

Possessing God’s Promises // Part 4


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To dispossess the giants that dwell on God’s promises, we need to reach the giants. 

Are the cities they dwell in open fields or walled in? 

Ten of the explorers report that the cities are fortified and very large. They weren’t wrong! 

The cities throughout the land had tall stone walls built around them designed to protect from enemy attacks. Stones were dug deep into the ground, so that they could not be knocked down. Excavations of the region reveal that the stone walls could be up to 9 feet thick! These fortified cities were the marks of highly resourced communities with infrastructures they were determined to protect. 

How could the Israelites possibly penetrate the fortified walls to possess God’s promises? 

Caleb offers a different response: “Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us.” 

From Caleb’s response, we see that the question Moses was asking was not about penetration, but protection. Caleb knew they may not penetrate through the walls, but they were under God’s protection. 

In the original Hebrew, Caleb’s response is a figure of speech. In English, we read it as “protection”, but the analogy is: “The shadow from the cloud isn’t over them; it’s over us.” In this arid region of the world, the shadows of the clouds covered people from getting scorched by the sun. The shadows from the cloud were protection.

The shadow from the cloud is over us. 

The Israelites dwelled in tents. The giants in the cities dwelled behind walls. 

Overcoming the giants would be a challenge. But God overshadowed the Israelites. 

We may look at the giants in our lives and say: “we can’t penetrate the walls protecting them.”

Giants can’t build the protection God gives us. 

Walls trap us. 

Shadows free us. 

Walls limit us. 

Shadows make us limitless. 

Fast forward to the birth of Jesus. Mary asked the Angel how she could possibly be pregnant. The angel responds:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…For nothing will be impossible with God” // Luke 1:35; 37

The word “overshadow” spoken to Mary is a similar word spoken to the Israelites. When we realize God overshadows us, the possibilities are limitless. We move in the freedom of possibilities – the possibilities to possess new opportunities and to birth new visions. These possibilities do not come shut up behind walls. 

Psalm 91:1 says it this way: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Many scholars attribute this Psalm to Moses looking towards possessing God’s promise. 

We don’t need to be concerned about giants that dwell behind walls. 

We dwell in freedom. 

We dwell under the shadow of God. 

Walk towards God’s promises. 

Walk under the freedom of God’s shadow. 

This story continues as the twelve explores respond to each of the 4 categories of questions. Join in on the journey of learning to possess God’s promises!

In the tension together, 

sg

P.S. To explore the story of Caleb more in depth, stay tuned for my new book: Color Me Yellow // Finding Your Voice in the Tension between God’s Promises and their Fulfillment 

Questions to Ponder:

  1. How can the freedom of God’s shadow allow you to walk towards God’s promises this week? 
  2. What possibilities can you seize this week? 
Possessing God's Promises

Possessing God’s Promises // Part 3


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Is the land they dwell in good or bad?

The next category Moses asks the explorers about is the land.

Is the soil a fruitful kind that can give life or a useless kind that cannot?

Ten of the explorers come back showing Moses fruits from the land, “the land flows with milk and honey” BUT then saying, “the land devours its inhabitants.”

From their perspective, even though they held the fruitfulness of the soil in their hands, the land could not create, but only consume those on it.

How could they show the fruits and simultaneously allege the land could not be fruitful?

It wasn’t that the land was not fruitful. The ten explorers allowed the giants they saw on the land to tarnish the fruitfulness of the land. They allowed what was on the land to destroy its potential.

How often do we allow current obstacles to destroy future opportunities?

Naming our giants is a crucial key to possessing God’s promises, but it goes deeper than simply naming what we need to dispossess in order to possess God’s promises. We must also assess our soul. We must reflect on whether the land our giants dwell in is good or bad?

What are our lands and how do we see them?

Our lands are everything from our relationships, to our communities, to our workplaces and to our schools. But perhaps the most important land is our inner world – our mind, body, and soul.

Our giants – the fear giant, the doubt giant – are superficial obstacles connected to deeper origins. Naming our giants is the first step to understanding their origin – to understanding the roots. The things that seem like obstacles to us are often connected to a root wound.

It’s in the roots where we can assess the soil. It’s when go to the origins of the obstacles, that we can determine whether the soil is good or bad. It’s when we acknowledge the wounds that produced the giants that we discover the fruitfulness or fruitlessness of the soil.

Until we assess the soil, we cannot possess the promise.

If the soil is not fruitful, the promise cannot flourish.

What wounds do we find in our soil?

Rejection from family or friends. Oppression from systemic racism. Trauma from the loss of a relative, job, or future plans. Abuse from someone that was supposed to protect you. Pain from falsely spoken accusations. The list goes on. These root wounds become the origins that produce giants.

The rejection wound may turn into the fear giant. Because we were rejected by those closest to us, we fear we will never be accepted by those who don’t yet know us.

But the land can still be good land, when we examine our wounds and allow God to do the deep work of healing.

Healing comes from…

  • a willingness to acknowledge our wounds,
  • a confession of our wounds, and
  • a determination towards the work of monitoring our wounds

God longs to heal us, so that our soil can be good soil. Good soil requires maintenance. We must assess our soil and monitor our wounds. 

“In this life, all healing is temporary” // Erwin Raphael McManus

Through assessing our soil, we can respond like Caleb did.

The land is exceedingly good and the Lord will bring us into and give us the land. // Numbers 14:7

The land is not only good. The land is doubly good. The land is better than we could have ever imagined.

This story continues as the twelve explorers respond to each of the 4 categories of questions. Join in on the journey of learning to possess God’s promises!

In the tension together,

sg

P.S. To explore the story of Caleb more in depth, stay tuned for my new book: Color Me Yellow // Finding Your Voice in the Tension between God’s Promises and their Fulfillment

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What are your lands and how do you see them?
  2. What are the wounds in your soil?
  3. What wounds can you pray into this week, confessing to God that you need Him to do the deep work of healing?
In the Tension, Possessing God's Promises

Possessing God’s Promises // Part 2


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Last week, we began unpacking this big question:

How do we possess God’s promises?

When Caleb says let’s go into the land, he means let’s possess the land.

Possess in Hebrew: yaresh (yaw-rash) meaning to dispossess what possesses something

The word “possess” implies that something must be dispossessed in order to possess.

To possess the promises of God, we must dispossess the obstacles to the promises.

Moses’s first category of questions about the people in the Promised Land is a helpful starting place: 

  1. Are the people who dwell in the land strong or weak?
  2. Are the people who dwell in the land few or many?

Ten of the explorers say: “The people in the land are strong. The descendants of Anak (the giants) are there. The Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, and Canaanites are there.”

Who were these giants?

Promised Land

What are the obstacles these giants represent?

    • Amalekites: Made them feel doubt
    • Hittites: Made them feel fear
    • Jebusites: Made them feel oppressed
    • Amorites: Made them feel rejected
    • Canaanites: Made them feel small

Caleb saw who these giants were and understood the obstacles they represented, but he responds to the giants in a different way.

Do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. // Numbers 14:9

Caleb’s use of figurative language reveals that despite the obstacles the giants represent, they could consume them. He never minimizes the reality of the existence and representation of the giants, but he doesn’t allow what they are to determine who God is.

I’ve experienced the tension of believing fully in God’s promises one moment and then the next moment confronting a situation that discourages me. What I’ve discovered is that when I’m discouraged, it’s because that situation is uncovering a giant. The fear giant. The rejection giant. And that uncovering leads to discomfort.

Honestly, it would seem easier to ignore the giants. To not wrestle with them. To pretend they are not there. To hide from them.

Ignoring the giants doesn’t dispossess them. The more energy I’ve invested ignoring the giants, the worse the discomfort is when another situation uncovers the giant again.

Having faith in God was never meant to be about ignoring our giants. Faith doesn’t mean we live in a world where nothing hurts, where nothing scares us, where nothing challenges us.

Faith gives us a lens to see how God wants to work in us and is working in us. Even working through our giants.

Naming the giants puts them into the right perspective. The right perspective allows us to consume the giants.

Caleb had the right perspective about the giants. He knew the giants and He knew God. He knew that the giants were meant to be consumed and not to consume them.

Don’t ignore your giants.

Name your giants.

“How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.” – Japanese Proverb

We can possess God’s promises by naming our giants and consuming them one bite at a time.

This story continues as the twelve explores respond to the next category: the land. Join in on the journey of learning to possess God’s promises!

In the tension together,

sg

P.S. To explore the story of Caleb more in depth, stay tuned for my new book: Color Me Yellow // Finding Your Voice in the Tension between God’s Promises and their Fulfillment

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What are your giants?
  2. What are the obstacles they represent?
  3. What would it look like to consume them one bite at a time?
Dreams and Visions

Turning Points


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The greatest ride of my life so far was this past summer riding the rails on the Amtrak across the country. I spent two weeks on the rails with some amazing friends and I’ve held on to nearly all of the stories from this trip. Sometimes the journey isn’t something that needs to be shared right away. It simply needs to be treasured like a sacred gift. But I’ve been thinking about the way leaning into turning points give birth to greater glories.

I thought I’d share with you from my moleskine with a prayer that you would be strengthened to lean into the turning points in your own lives.

Day 7 – July 29, 2016 – 1:50PM PST

The stories of the journey we’ve been on in the past couple of days is too good not to tell, but I have to write about the wonders we’re beholding in this moment of our adventure.

We’re traveling up the coastline from LA to Emeryville. I’ve always dreamed of riding this coastline – of taking a car and driving Big Sur. But God wanted to take that dream to the next level and had something even more special in store for my first experience. The train is taking a route that’s completely unavailable by cars in several sections. The tracks run through private lands – lands that you can’t even get close to. With ocean to my left and the mountains to my right, we’re on the move.

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We could see the train turn outside of the window from where we were sitting

This is our God. A God who takes our wildest dreams into His wildness and makes them even more wild.

The train takes us to Point Conception. A place where the southern and western currents meet and as a result the waves are some of the strongest in the country. Historically, Point Conception was the place where Native Americans believed their spirit would rise to their next life (hence the name Conception).

But what is more interesting is the geographical collide. The state of California coming from the south to the north travels west until it reaches Point Conception and then it shoots north. It’s been such a distinct point in my mind of the map of the U.S. But today, I learned something about that point that makes it even more distinct.

c298cae50ff253d764327d45fa0ccae3-jpgThe collision of wave currents. The wild Northern and Southern waves crash into each other producing powerful and amazing waves that surfers love to ride. But the place is completely remote. It’s completely desolate. And in this collide, there’s a birthing – a new birthing.

This is the wonder of our walk with Christ. In the wild and forceful collisions of turning points in our lives we get to ride the greatest waves and experience new births that make us come alive.

But it’s scary…the sharp curves, the collisions of waves from two directions, never knowing what’s around the turning point. But these turning points that are so wild and so unknown are where we are conceived. These places are the places that become the stories we tell about the people we’re becoming. These wonders – in the wild – are the wonders we look back on and discover they are distinct not just because of their shape, but because of the way they shape us as we experience them. Often times that experience happens in the remote and off the grid places. Often times wilder than our wildest dreams. And God does that on purpose.

His desires are wilder than our wildest dreams. And the thing is, I’m not certain that we could ever contain His desires in us. But we can expand our dreams to be bigger and wilder and know that He will exceed them. He will do exceedingly more than anything we could ask or imagine.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. [Ephesians 3:20-21]

Turning points give birth to greater glories. As we lean in to the collision of the curve, not knowing what’s on the other side of that turning point, we can trust that it will give birth to a new glory in us that reflects His glory.

In the tension together,

sg

In the Tension

Fatherly Affirmations, Fire Alarms, and Fruit Roll-Up Hugs


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We start all of our Sundays with Prayer and Prep at 11:15AM. It’s the most important moment we get as a team to center ourselves as one body, one family, and one movement before we start to serve God’s vision for Radical Culture. But Sunday, November 13 (the Sunday after the elections), God was up to something in our community and in me.

In the days after the elections, I’d spent a lot of time thinking about the question:

What role does God want the Church to have in our country in this season?

As I wrestled with (and continue to wrestle with) this question, I had a fleeting thought that I could have greater influence for the Kingdom if I went back to a legal job. After leaving my job as a lawyer, nothing has gone as I anticipated. The challenges have worn me down and worn me out.

That fleeting thought went away almost as fast as it came and the Lord kept whispering Fatherly affirmations to me about my ministerial calling, my commitment to Radical Culture, and my vision to build-up people into their God-design.

Even as I confront my own challenges in the tension, I’ve learned an important life tip: steward what’s right in front of you.

God allowed that post-election question to marinate in my mind and spirit and with it He had given me clear instructions to do this Sunday a little bit differently. So, my assignment was to steward that question and those instructions.

My objectives for our Worship Experience were two-fold:

  1. Create a safe space for our young people to share their thoughts, feelings, and emotions about the elections 
  2. Start to engage in a dialogue about what role do we, as Christians, need to play

During Prayer and Prep, I looked at our team of leaders and volunteers who were serving and noticed that 12 out of the 16 people were young people 22 or younger. As I looked, I felt God affirm: “I’m doing it. I’m making my vision for Radical Culture to be a movement of young people radically committed to the kingdom of God a reality.”

With that Fatherly affirmation, I went over our two objectives for that Sunday. I affirmed the power of their presence and the power of their service to God’s vision. I shared some words from my prayers that week about the reason I serve young people and serve alongside young people. I told them it’s because I want to build sustainable bridges for them to cross into the future. I told them I want to dig deep wells for them to drink living water from as they stand in the gap for the Kingdom. I told them I want to train them well, so that they will train the generation that follows them well. We prayed together and we started to serve God’s vision.

As affirmed as I felt by God for this particular Sunday, I know that I can never take the opportunity to teach, preach, and build young people lightly. Our young people needed to hear from God’s voice in a way that resonates with them, so that they could be comforted by God’s words, confronted by God’s ways, and conformed to God’s will. And that…well that is not an easy assignment. In these days, where our young people are bombarded by the noise of voices that influence and form them, how could I offer a kingdom-cultural voice?

Here’s another life tip: Pray for prayer people. Choose them. Use them. I have prayer people and I had already chosen the prayer person who prays me into the hardest battles to pray. She prayed specifically about my influence and that I’ve been chosen to have that influence because of my righteousness before God. She affirmed our objectives for that day and my calling. I was ready.

We followed up the worship set with an open-ended question about general thoughts, feelings, and emotions about the elections. I shared from David’s story about a moment when he embraced the mystery of God’s timing and seized an opportunity for reconciliation. Then, we opened up the conversation again to make some observations about Christ-like reactions and responses to this moment in our culture.

As one of our young people shared about the challenges of a Christ-like reaction, the fire alarm went off.

Are you kidding me right now? Talk about mysterious timing! There’s always a message in the mystery. 

I grabbed my guitar on the way out, determined not to miss out on the momentum of this moment. I rallied our community and the young person who was talking during the fire alarm finished sharing.

As the fire alarm went off and the fire trucks approached the church, we prayed. We prayed for those who may be feeling fearful about the future. We prayed for those who were hurting and in shock. We prayed for God to have His way. We prayed for our newly elected president.

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The fire alarm stopped, the fire trucks left, we got an all-clear to re-enter the building, but we stayed outside of the church praying in a parking lot.

Then, one of our leaders led us to keep holding hands and wind up in circles – basically like a fruit roll-up – until we were all in a giant group hug!

In that fruit roll-up hug, I played my guitar and we sang, “No Longer Slaves” as one body, one family, and one movement of young people radically committed to the kingdom of God.

In that moment, I had one of those out of body experience where you’re watching yourself. I watched us the way I imagine God may have been watching us. I smiled as at us. I smiled realizing this generation is bright with the light of His presence outside of the walls of the church. I smiled seeing the power of our young people. I smiled confident that God isn’t waiting to use them until they’re older, but that He’s using them now. I smiled at myself, thankful that He chose me. I smiled affirmed that although I’m in the tension, I’m leaning into and living out God’s calling.

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Fatherly affirmations, fire alarms, and fruit roll-up hugs, have taught me (and are teaching me, because I’ll need to keep learning this) the depth and truth of what the author of Hebrews says:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and since which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may no grow weary or fainthearted…It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline…For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. [Hebrews 12:1-3, 7, 11]

In the tension together,

sg

In the Tension

Go – Lesson #3


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This is the third and final lesson that I learned about the tension from rock climbing. I challenge you to reflect on how God is training you in this season of your life for His calling and vision for  your life.

Lesson #3: Go through the uncertainty

While our whole team was still in the section with the “easy” walls (read “Go – Lesson #1″ to see why they weren’t that easy!), I walked over to the tall and “harder” walls. They definitely were harder. I hooked in my harness and made an attempt to climb a pink path. I was on my own this time. No one was spotting me or watching me. I made my way up the wall. Only to realize, I had no idea how to follow the path of pink that allegedly was supposed to get me to the top. I was uncertain. I let go. And I didn’t even attempt this wall again. It was too uncertain for me, so I didn’t want to make the attempt to climb a wall I had no clue how to climb.

But throughout our time at the rock climbing center, I had this nagging feeling in me that even though I was uncertain about how to climb up this pink path, I needed to go back to it and make the attempt. This time when I made the attempt, I didn’t make the attempt alone. I had two friends watching as I climbed through the uncertainty. (I learned a thing or two from Lesson #2.)

Somehow I found – with the help of my friends who were watching – a path through the uncertainty this time that wasn’t clear to me the first time I tried to climb up this wall. But as I made my way up the pink path to the top, there was a point in the path that swerved all the way to the right. I had no clue how I was going to twist my body to make it over there. My friends were shouting suggestions from their perspective about which pink rocks I should climb. I was thankful for their perspective, because when I was uncertain about where to go they were certain about where to lead me. Their certainty helped me get this far, but then there came a moment when it wasn’t clear to any of us which parts of the pink path I should take to climb to the top.

And then I felt it. With my left hand, I felt a rock hidden on the side of the wall. I couldn’t see it, so at first I was uncertain about whether this rock was actually part of the wall. But as I felt it, I felt that it was a hidden rock for my hand to grip. This rock would allow me the mobility to make it through the right swerve in the path and to the top of the wall.

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In the tension between God’s promises and their fulfillment there will be uncertain paths. I wonder if one of the things that scares us the most about going through uncertain ways is the risky feeling that we can’t see a clear path. to the promise. God may have declared something powerful over your life and you want to believe that His promise will become a reality. But the path to the promise is uncertain. 

I feel a lot of affinity with the story of Abraham and Sarah. (And not just because my name is Sarah ;)). God gave a promise to Abraham about his family, his name, and his inheritance of blessing for all people on Earth. The part that resonates with me is when God explicitly told Abraham to “Go to a place I will show you.” Aka go through the uncertainty. He doesn’t give him a map. He doesn’t give him a gameplan. He gives him a promise and an instruction to go.

Abraham is so obedient that He does go. His story is not an easy story. He makes mistakes. Big mistakes. But check out what Paul says about Abraham thousands of years later:

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” [Romans 4:20-22]

He didn’t waver when the path to the promise was certain. He took the risk of faith in what he could not see and this made him righteous before God.

He climbed up the wall and, like me during the moment when the wall swerved, he didn’t see the rock on the side of the wall, but he felt it and he used what he felt by faith to continue on towards the promise.

Go through the uncertainty with the certainty that God will make the path to His promises clear.

In the tension together,

sg

In the Tension

Go – Lesson #2


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God is training you for your God-design in the midst of your everyday normal life.

Can you see His hand? Can you hear His voice? Can you understand His ways?

These three lessons I learned about the tension through rock climbing are an example of how. You can read more about Lesson #1 here.

But more than learning alongside my lessons, I challenge you to reflect on how God is training you in this season of your life for His calling and vision for  your life.

Lesson #2: Go through the shaking

Another wall in the “easy” section literally became the giant I was determined to conquer before we left! I’m not sure if this wall was so challenging for me because my body was tired from climbing other walls or what. But every time I tried to climb this wall, every muscle in my body started to shake and couldn’t continue to hold on, so I would let go. This happened so many times, I had to take a break from even trying with this wall.

During my break, I rested my arms. I went to the front desk to get chalk to use on my sweaty hands to keep them dry. I cheered for our leaders and volunteers who climbed this wall and made it to the top. I watched strangers climb this wall to try and understand their strategy. I even saw a little girl, who could not have been more than 10 years old, climb the wall in what felt like 60 seconds!

Now it was my turn again. I was ready.

I made my way up the wall and started to shake again. Then, I heard one of my friends – who also happens to be a Crossfit Coach – tell me to go. “Keep going.” My body was shaking like a maraca and I kept thinking there is no way I can go through this shaking! But he kept telling me to go. “Go!” So, I went. I went all the way to the top. I went through the shaking.

Perhaps one of the most challenging parts of holding on and continuing on through the tension is when the shaking sets into our bodies, our minds, our hearts, our spirits, and our voices. How do we go through the shaking when we’re weary? How do continue going through the tension when everything that we are wants to stop holding on, to stop going forward, and to just let go?

I know that it was the voice of my friend telling me to go – in his powerful and persistent coach voice – that kept me going. It kept me going all the way to the top of the wall. It kept me going, even though I was shaking the whole way!

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Our Radical Culture Leaders and Volunteers aka some of the coaches in my life that keep me going!

In the tension between God’s promises and their fulfillment we will feel shaky. As we hold on to that promise, that vision, and that word that God proclaimed to us, our grip will get shaky. We get shaky, because of exhaustion. We get shaky, because our muscles are being worked hard. We get shaky, because we’re fearful that we don’t have the strength to keep going. But God is like a Coach telling us to go. Our friends are like coaches telling us to go. Our coaches know that if we go through the shaking, we find another dimension of strength in us. We find a strength that came from going through more than we could handle. Going through the shaking is when God activates the momentum of power that can only be broken out of weakness. It’s when we go through the shaking of the tension that our voices are most powerful and our victories most prominent.

“Leave safety behind. Put your body on the line. Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind–even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say. Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants.” – Maggie Kuhn

In the tension together,

sg

P.S. I love learning. I love hearing about other people’s stories. Maggie Kuhn has a powerful story of using her voice to make a tremendous difference as a social activist for the rights of the elderly. #OldPeopleForTheWin Learn more about her story here or by clicking on the quote.

In the Tension

Go – Lesson #1


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God wants to use every experience of your life as a training season for His calling and vision for your life.

Our Radical Culture community is in the midst of a series entitled “Training Season” that is about that big idea. I love the ways this series is pushing me to think about the training season God has me in right now. A couple of weeks ago our Radical Culture leaders and volunteer went rock climbing and God used rock climbing to teach me a few lessons about my training season!

Over the next few days, I’ll share those lessons with you. I challenge you to learn from these lessons, but more than that to reflect on how God is training you in this season of your life for His calling and vision for  your life.

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Lesson #1: Go through the obstacles

After we were suited up with our harnesses and shoes, the instructor brought us to an area of the rock climbing center where we had the opportunity to practice on “easier” walls. (I say “easier”, because I didn’t think they were that much easier.) Rock climbing walls are color-coded and each color corresponds to a different path to the top of the wall. The first section that I climbed followed a black path. I chose this section and path, because there was an obstacle directly in the middle of the path. (I’m pretty confident that if I had never been rock climbing before, I would not have chosen to go up this section. But I had a little confidence under my harness because I had done this before!)

I like to look at the colors before I start climbing up the wall to figure out my path to get to the top. The first time I got to the obstacle in the path, I tried to get around it but couldn’t, so I fell back and started again. The second time, I decided that instead of trying to find a path to the top around the obstacle, I was going to go through the obstacle. There were places on the obstacle itself to grab with my hands and put my feet on, so I navigated the path my going through the obstacle. By going through the obstacle, I was able to get up the path so much easier than when I was trying to go around it.

In the tension between God’s promises and their fulfillment there will be moments when we don’t see a clear path. There will be obstacles. Sometimes we try to find a safe way around the obstacles. We try to find a way to avoid the obstacles. We try to find a way that may be exceedingly more complicated, but exceedingly less confrontational.

But what if the more confrontational path is the path that gets us to the promise faster? What if taking the path of more resistance, instead of the path of least resistance, actually brings us into a truer fulfillment of God’s promises? What if the going through the obstacles refines our voice, because it causes us to be more clear, more concise, and more convicted about what God has promised us?

God didn’t speak a safe promise to us.

God didn’t speak an avoidant promise to us.

God didn’t speak an confrontation-less promise to us.

The path towards finding our voice in the tension won’t be found in safety, avoidance, or less confrontation. The path towards finding our voice in the tension comes when we go through the obstacles.

In the tension together,

sg