“Is it okay that I read your wife’s blog? Her writing challenges me every time I read.”
—recent comment from a man friend
Kari’s husband Jeff here. She’s off at another commitment and under my watch right now our kids are scurrying from the yard to driveway pretending to be a peregrine falcon and Thompson’s gazelle, respectively, so we’re safe to write for a few minutes. Until a playful predator comes. That would be a crisis to their uninterrupted play time.
That’s what I want to talk with you about: crisis. Crises in fact. Lots and lots of mini-crises, created from our own hands.
A crisis is when you need God to come through, because otherwise you’ll fail. You don’t have what it takes, so you take what He alone can give.
Of course, we cannot create anything ourselves, but all of our creative powers — our creativity — is on loan from the Creator, borrowed to be used well. Whether we steward these powers for good or spend them foolishly on self, we better know what kind of power we’re dealing with. Too many people use their supposed “power” to play it safe, seek comfort, take no risks. That’s some kind of tragedy. (Others create all sorts of drama for themselves and every moment seems like a crisis. That’s sad but not in view here.)
Humanity has been made in God’s image. We may not look like Him in outward appearance, or take a representative form too often, but our essence, our createdness, is in the similitude of God. Makes sense, since He’s our Father.
God has created us for crisis. We were made to shine brightly in dark situations. Yet a person will only know if he or she is ready to trust Him in the inevitable big, unplanned crisis, if they’ve first learned by experience to trust Him with many mini-crises.
That is one secret to Jesus’ life. He is the definition of true humanity, coming to recreate what has been broken lost in us. Yet He did not do it by Himself. Jesus the Son depended moment by moment on the love, approval, and power of God the Father. He imaged the Father well. Perfectly, in all manner of crises. Never hurried, ever-present, calm and collected to unleash the power of God on the situation of Their choosing.
I hope soon Kari can tell you about the many mini-crises she encounters each week, and as you can consider yours, each one can find perspective to keep on creating these crises and growing as people. It is because of her steadfastness in the face of these crises, forged in fact by each crisis itself, that each us gets to read on the Sacred Mundane. That’s why many men I know read her blog. There’s meat here, substance more than mere style. Using the mundane moments of each life, what seems at first so unspiritual, she makes connections to the Gospel. Every man, woman and child can benefit from that. Kari makes public many private details, though each is processed in prayer and with her husband (me), and together we sense the Spirit’s leading for her to share. Frankly, it would be easier to not share anything personal. Just “write about God,” but while the words would be true, they would not be real.
Realness is where the crises happen. Realness is what we’re after.
There is a gap for each of us between the ideal and real, between what we say we believe and how we really live it out.
Most men I know … scratch that: every man I know likes to do things he feels confidence about it. Some only do the things they feel confident about. It’s why some don’t search for a better job, and why others like to fish. Confidence makes one work on their own car, and for the same reason others take it to the dealer to get serviced. Confidence. One can have the appearance of confidence with mere talk, yet to truly reveal one’s confidence, a crisis has to do it’s work.
One’s confidence is featured in crisis, and lasting confidence is forged in crisis. We live in the self-esteem age where young people are told their accomplishments are significant and greatness is on the horizon, yet they have not been prepared to rise to the occasion. (And they know it, despite all the cheerleading.) Why? In part, because we’ve kept them safe from all manner of crisis.
Every seven days I have a crisis. I have to preach a sermon, and Jesus has to show up. I can’t change people, and the hardest part of pastoring is wrestling with the reality that not everyone wants to grow. As I seek His face and search for His message, He proves faithful every time. Even in those times when I trust in my own strength and cleverness. His power and wisdom trumps it every time. Knowing the crisis is coming, I try to prepare.
The other six days begin with a crisis, usually before sunrise. Upon waking I head out for a run. Sometimes with others, often alone; intermittently on a bike instead. No matter the mode, God has to show up and give me the energy. We converse, I meditate on His truths. During this time I can be honest and real with my frustrations and fears, dreams and despondency. I will have to pour out my soul that day, so this is a time to be filled. He is real to me as we run together. I never knew what I was missing before. Every mini-crisis helps that seventh crisis that will come along. (Looking for more than a fun story and inspirational words to say on Sunday.) Every man I’ve counseled these last few years has benefited from those crises runs.
Our kids benefit when I venture out into uncharted territory to lead them well (remember that confidence thing and men?). I can enter into overwhelming situations and not get rattled. Why? Because uncertainty is no longer scary.
“You can understand dependence when you know the Maker’s hand.”
—Mumford & Sons, “The Cave”
Those runs aren’t really a crisis, are they? Well, they aren’t. But they do create moments of dependence (mini-crises), and prepare me to embrace whatever wave will crush that day. I’ve learned in those moments of temporary pain to know the Maker’s hand. It’s strong, stable, swift.
In crisis confidence is forged in us, and confidence comes from knowing who we are, and whose we are. Without that second part a man is just pretending with faux bravado. You know you’ve forgotten your way when you feel like you have to achieve an identity rather than receive your identity.
“If ever I forget that You’re my true identity,
show me who I am, and help me to believe.”
—Citizens & Saints, “Made Alive”
I implore you, take risks: create a few crisis, small ones, where you will need God to show up. Where your resources are beyond spent. When you need Him to show up or else the situation will be a failure. That’s how we grow the muscles of faith. That’s how Jesus — who has always been the Truth — becomes real to your heart.
Jesus can withstand any crisis. Especially the big, unplanned ones. Learn to know His hand.
[Kari will write the next one or a thousand. Thanks for reading.]