Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Snake skin: an unexpected spiritual metaphor




While on my run on Monday, I found this snake skin lying in the grass alongside the trail. I was impressed by its size (4 feet long), and I had never seen a snake skin so fresh. It was soft & pliable, and even still a little wet even though it was lying in the sun. Though the snake must have been there just minutes before, I didn’t see the snake anywhere nearby so I lingered a bit to investigate.

It was remarkable how, at first glance, an empty shell looked like it was the actual snake that the skin had come from. (At that time it was not yet dry and wrinkly, so still held the form of the intact snake.) And yet, though it still looked like a snake and was at one time the most visible part of the snake, although it still had many of the external features of a snake, the skin itself was definitely not an actual snake. (Thank God! I don’t want to meet a 4-foot snake on the trail, thankyouverymuch.)

As I continued on my run, I meditated on this idea of empty shells and true life. I see the Christian life in that snake. The phrase “put off the former things” reverberated in my mind.
22 … in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Ephesians 4:22-24
I “lay aside the old self” like the snake sheds its skin. There are ways of life, habits of behavior, and patterns of thinking that I once identified as central and essential to my identity. This old self is visible in the “skin”, the way I externally present myself in the world, but it comes from within. The skin grows out of who I am on the inside.

But, like a snake, the skin I once wore it doesn’t fit me anymore. A snake molts because its skin cannot grow.1 New growth requires that the snake “lay aside the old self”. If the old skin is not removed, blood flow is constricted and growth is hindered.

Are you constricted by the skin you’re in? Are you letting the old self of who you once were set limits on your growth? Do you look to the “skin” of what people see when they look at you to determine your sense of identity? What do you need to put off in order to allow for growth?


Next post (tomorrow?) I want to talk about more parallels to spiritual growth that I see in this snakeskin. It’s weird, I know. Snakes are not something I normally think of as a spiritual metaphor for anything other than temptation. But it’s amazing how God created the world in such a way that as we look around in nature, we can see glimpses of His character and the ways of His Kingdom reflected all around us. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Why I'm writing for #dosummer2015

My friend, Trena, invited me to join her in the #dosummer2015 challenge. 
15 minutes a day, for 100 days, I'm going to write something and share it.

For years I’ve talked about wanting to write more often, to improve my writing skills and find what I’m meant to say. But the go-go-go busy pace of life that I’ve fallen into has made it difficult to find the time and make it happen.

Oh, who am I kidding? We’re all busy. None of us have extra time. If I’m honest with myself, and with you, the real reason I haven’t written consistently is because it’s easier to hide behind “busy” than to risk failing.

What if I have nothing to say?

What if I have too much to say

What if I hurt people?

What if it’s meaningless

Those questions sit here with me, scratching and tapping at the back of my head as I scratch and tap at the keyboard. “stop. Stop. STOP!” they say, “What if you waste your time? What if you waste your life?”

Well, fear, what if?

What if I waste my life listening to you, stuffing down that thing inside me that says “write. Write. WRITE! You have something important to say!” What if I spend so much energy trying to avoid the pain of failure that I end up missing the very reason that I am made



It feels scary to say “I’m going to write at least 15 minutes a day, and I’m going to just put it out there in the world and let anyone read it.” (Ya’ll be gentle, ok?) I know that somehow writing is a part of the way God wired me to engage with the world, to find what’s real and true and right and good and share it. To wrestle reality into words and put them on the page…it helps me to see, it helps me to hear, it helps me to speak. I have a story to tell, I have a song to sing. God’s given me a voice, so I’m going to learn to use it. 

Image: http://allididwaslisten.blogspot.com/2011/10/things-i-wonder.html

It’s risky, this business of sharing life with each other and being our real selves, not just some made-up fa├žade. When we hoard the things that we hold most valuable, when we resist being vulnerable, we think we are protecting ourselves from loss. Avoiding risk feels safe. But as a good friend once said, “Life is risk. Better make the risk count.”

I hope and pray that this writing counts; that by the end of the summer I will have spent 1500 minutes learning, practicing, and growing in a way that matters. If nothing else, I will learn something.

So, what is the risk you need to take? What’s that thing you keep saying you want to do “someday”, but you’ve been too busy, too afraid, too distracted to actually start doing? Want to jump in and #dosummer2015 with us? It's not just for writing. It's for anything. What do you need to do?

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Margin

Took the long way home from work today. The drive only adds about 7 more minutes to my commute, but it's significantly more beautiful than my usual route.
As I drove, unhurried, I wondered momentarily why I don't do this more often - why I don't take the longer way, even when I know I enjoy it so much more. The question was answered as soon as I wondered it.
I usually don't have 7 minutes to spare.
Not even just a 7 minute margin, for beauty's sake.
Margins on a page give space for a story to come to life, to take shape, to be comprehensible.
Withoutspacesitshardtofindthemeaningofthewords.
Margins in a life give space for our story to come to life, to take shape, to be comprehensible.
Without space it's too easy to lose what gives meaning to our lives.
Margins are for beauty. I'm carving out space for more.