Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Boldness of Youth

John 1:23: Finally they said, “Who are you?  Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us.  What do you say about yourself?”  John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

Jeremiah 1:4-10: The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”  But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’  You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.  Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth.  See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

All my life I have been encouraged to be bold, to be myself, to stay true to what God created—and my parents raised—me to be.  At twenty three…I’m still trying to figure out who, exactly, that is.  This is old news: few people know who they are at twenty three.  Or twenty four.  Or twenty five. But, still, every person feels like they should.  Will we ever understand it is not for us to know everything?

Jeremiah 10:23: LORD, I know that people's lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.

am young.  Sure, I might not be a prophet in the traditional, Old Testament sense, but I write.  I (sometimes) share my faith, I speak to people.  In creeps that seed of doubt: I am a mere twenty three years old: how could I possibly have the words of a “full adult?”  

Perhaps God calls the young because we don’t have it figured out.  We are still clay in the potter’s hands: willing to be molded, stubborn enough to keep on truckin’ in the face of “impossibilities”, resilient enough to be broken and re-formed.

1 Timothy 4:12-16: Don’t let anyone look down on your because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.  Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.  Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.  Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

All over the Bible, young people are implored to set an example: be diligent, be humble but confident, be rooted in your faith regardless of those who tell you you’re too young.  If you have a gift, be it creative writing, logical argument, drawing, singing, composing, dance, martial arts, scientific writing, poetry, administration, acting…whatever…use it.  Do not neglect it: you have that skill for a reason, even if you feel too young to have it be any good.  It is yours to use, even if it is not yours to decide how or when it affects people. 

Young people throughout history, not just in the Bible, have long been the movers and shakers of the world.  The most poignant, and perhaps one of the bravest, examples of youth as leaders are the Freedom Riders.  I told my dad once that I am certainly grateful I wasn't around during that time, because I would have felt compelled to be one of them: he shuddered, and agreed.  These youth risked their lives—and some lost them—to be bold, make a point, and stand up for what they thought was right. 

2 Timothy 1:5-9: I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.  For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of hands.  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.  So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.  But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.

I have the words because I am given the words.  If it were left up to me alone, out of my mouth would pour meaningless chatter, cacophonous ramblings, distracted sentences.  As it is, these words I write are not my own; no, they flow freer than my own words ever could.

I write (I might write too much) not because I think that every word I publish changes every reader’s life, but because I have a hope that someday, something will click in one reader’s mind, and their life will be better for it.  If one sentence of all the sentences I’ve ever written helps one person, I’ll consider my words successful. 

Even if twenty three is young by the world’s standards, it is not her standards to which I compare myself.  I compare myself to the standards set by the Lord for Timothy, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Samuel, David, John the Baptist…all the youngsters that heard the call, said they would be bold, and persevered to complete their works.  So will I.  I will write.  I will write until words fail me.  

Isaiah 6:3-8: And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, hold is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”  At the sound of their voices the doorposts and the thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.  “Woe to me!” I cried.  “I am ruined!  For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the Kind, the LORD Almighty!”  Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”  Then I heard the voice of the LORD saying, “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?”  And I said, “Here I am.  Send me!”

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Green Beach

For all the horrid weather we have dealt with this week—rain every day, whipping winds, muddy traps, fallen trees, soupy roads, sad crops, no bears—today is absolutely beautiful.  Now, it could be because I’m not working, and just have an opportunity to lounge, but regardless. I am supremely thankful for this Saturday.

I wandered out to the edge of a scrubby dip…the wild land in my huge front yard.  I’m maybe 100 yards from the cabin and “civilization,” but with my back to it, I can pretend I have found solitude.  My temporary seat is in my hammock, strung between a catalpa tree—elegant with its spade-shaped leaves and stringy seed pods—and a sawtooth oak—graceful and sharp, with jagged leaves and shaggy acorns littering the ground.  From here, I can feel the wind come at me, full tilt, mussing my hair, cooling my bare feet (OH! How I miss going without confining boots and socks!).  I see the wind wave that derned romantic invasive, Spanish moss, see it bend the tall grass—you know, the one with a v-shaped, seed studded top with those annoying black bits—hear it rise and die not unlike the waves of an ocean.

It may be a July Saturday in Georgia, but I only know that for the white noise of cicadas and the incessant, yet charming, question of the bobwhite call.  Without those tells, I would easily believe I was on the edge of an ocean with the strangely calming, yet irritatingly irregular, rhythm of waves.

Frankly, I’d rather be…

Here than there.  HA. Gotcha.  You thought I’d choose the beach.  Nope.  I’m looking out into a sea of green, rippling, fluttering, waving, and shuddering in the wind, and it is infinitely more interesting to all the senses than the blue and tan of a beach.  For one thing the birds have better tastes in music.  Quick trills, long runs, perky chirps, squeaky wheels, and persistent questioning phrases bounce all over, accompanying the bring flashes of red, blue, yellow, brown, black and gray of these birds.  For another, my sea of grasses, pines, oaks, blackberries, cherries, greenbriar, grapes, daisies, pokeberries, poison ivy, maples, Virginia creeper and countless other plants provide numberless shades of green that rival the best box of crayons.  And today is different from tomorrow: in that time some leaves will burn, will brown, will turn red, will mature into a darker, more “adult” green.  Yes, I would take this sea over the blue one (comprised of “seafoam green,” “sky blue,” “turquoise,” “slate gray,” “cadet blue,” and “sand).  The whipping wind does not sandblast your skin, but instead serves as a gnat removal tool and a cooling touch to contrast the hot sun peeking through the rippling leaves.  AND the wind brings with it that smell I can only describe as “green.”  The wind picks it up from that vast dip before me and rushes it to my nose, uphill, as if to say: You smell that?  That’s life!  It’s quiet, inexplicable, but bursting with infinitesimal processes and constant change!

Indeed, that smell is far more pleasant than the aroma of salt—NaCl?  A reminder of chemistry?—and sand—chunks of old, dead creatures and bits of glass litter?—and gull poop—I mean, gross.
So, you beachgoers, carry on, reclining on your 2.5x5.5 foot toweled rectangle, coating your body with wind-borne sand.  I’ll be here, buffeted by cooling winds that carry with them the exhalations of the green, living sea before me.


In other news, on Friday I darted my first bear!! YEAH!  I need practice, but I did it!

Saturday night I caught my first bear!! YEAH!  I reset a trap Casey had put together, and it caught a bear!  Unfortunately, this was a bear we’d already collared (109)…and caught three other times.  Actually, he was the handsome 280lb bear I posted a picture of in “Summer Nights”.  Silly bear, traps are for new bears.  Maybe he just likes the free nap!