Take Your Victory Lap

It was a perfect Autumn afternoon. The clouds had parted and there were pockets of blue skies and warm sunlight. The air was crisp, but enjoyable with a rhythmic gentle breeze that would softly place the brightly colored leaves before me as I walked. Like my very own red carpet rolled out for me.

I’ve been taking these walks as often as possible. My intention being that I can get some exercise in for my body and release some pent up feelings to relieve my mind. I’ve been frequenting the same park the past few weeks and have half expected someone to report me to the police for talking to myself, which I often do as I try and get myself out of the mental rut I’ve found myself in that day. Sometimes in the midst of the steps and complaints I hear the Lord speak to me.

That’s what happened to me yesterday.

As the leaves spread out before me I smiled. Admittedly, my first thought had not been a movie star’s red carpet, but rather Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. As He rode into the city, the crowds began to throw down leaves (not my Autumn colored leaves, but Palm branches) and coats before Him with shouts of praise.

“Hosanna!” they shouted. This word– Hosanna– had been used in the Psalms as a plea. Please, save me! Yet, in this context it’s used differently. It’s used as a praise of thanksgiving for salvation. Jesus would bring them the help and salvation they needed, but it certainly wouldn’t look like what they had thought or hoped. The people longed for political salvation, but Jesus would bring a freedom much more life altering.

This triumphal entry, in fact, did mimic the type of parades that would accompany military victories. These celebrations would usher in the commander that led the troops in victory. It was their moment to soak in their success and show off the spoils of war.

In modern terms, it’s like a victory lap in NASCAR. I’ve been told by my own resident NASCAR expert (since I know absolutely nothing about the sport) that the winner gets to take a lap around the course as the fans cheer and general merriment ensues. It happens after all other 500 laps have been successful completed. Makes sense. You can’t celebrate a victory until you’ve won.

Jesus, though, took His victory lap before He went to the cross. Before the relentless scourging. Before the devastating betrayal. He took it before the battle had really even begun.

And so can you.

In all honesty, I don’t feel equipped to bring this type of encouragement to you. As someone feeling battle weary, broken and drained, most days I’m mustering every ounce of energy just to hold on. But maybe that’s you, too. Maybe you’re dealing with the loss of a parent or loved one and you wonder if the pain will ever stop. Maybe you’re walking through chemo treatments and the side effects don’t seem to be letting up. Maybe you’re grieving your life/marriage/ministry and how it doesn’t look like what you had imagined long ago.

Whatever you’re facing, you don’t see victory yet. It’s there where I want you to take your victory lap. I know it doesn’t make sense. I know it seems silly.

As Christians, we know that we’ve received victory through Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:57). He’s already given it to us and yet we still face our battles. Not fighting for victory, but from it. It may not feel like you’re victorious, but you are and it’s the moments you don’t feel it that you’ve got to walk in the Truth of it.

If you don’t have a crowd of fans, know that I’m here cheering you on. Keep on going.

Advertisements

My 100% Rule

100

I’ve come to the conclusion, a very wise conclusion I might add, that I can’t be 100% right about 100% of the things. Whatever those things may be.

Shocking, I know.

In my defense, I’ve publicly admitted to being wrong before.

With the increased use of social media, people seem to be more comfortable with sharing their opinions. I’m all for free speech and the freedom to share your 2 cents on things. I do that ALL the time. Exhibit A: this blog.

The problem comes when you think your opinion, my opinion, the Pope’s opinion, is the only correct opinion. Listen, I know the Pope is a man of God and even Time’s person of the year, but he’s fallible.

As are you.

Oh, right, and me too.

Whether it be the best sports team or my stance on a variety of theological issues– I’m not always right. This is hard for some Christians to admit because we are so concerned with getting it “right”. Admittedly, there are some issues I’ll stubbornly hold on to until my dying day, but I won’t damn you to hell if you don’t agree. That’s WAY out of my pay grade.

The thing that frustrates me the most about the “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality is that it comes off super cocky. It tells the other person that you care more about being right than about having a listening, loving ear.

Listen, I’m not asking you to change your mind or your stance on issues. All I’m saying is take some advice from Kid President. Next time you disagree with a FB post, tweet or politician tell them: “I disagree with you but I still like you as a person who is a human being and I will treat you like that.”

Dear fellow Christians,

letter

Be nice.

That’s it. Be nice. Go along now…

Uhhhh, can we can a refund? We were hoping for something deeper and more meaningful.

Listen, I get it. It’s seems super simple, but I assure you it is ONE of the biggest things we are getting wrong as Christians. It’s like we’ve forgotten the concept that kind gestures and common courtesy go a long way.

Being kind may mean…

…not screaming at the person ahead of you in line for not moving fast enough when the cashier  calls them up to the register on Black Friday (AFTER you’ve been standing there for TWO HOURS).

…giving a stranger across the room a warm smile instead of the stink eye.

…being more concerned with loving someone with a different political view as you than demanding to be “right”.

Maybe this topic has been at the front of my mind because of the holidays. Everyone seems to be in a rush. Everyone is expecting to get the most for the least amount of money. Everyone is wading through expectations from family members . The days seems to dwindle and our to-do lists just keep getting longer.

About 9 years ago, around this time, I was in a store with a friend. She found this sweater she wanted to buy, but when we got to the register it rang up different than the sign had suggested. My friend didn’t seem bothered, but instead of keeping my mouth shut I made a fuss and gave the lady some attitude all the while feeling justified because the “customer is ALWAYS right”. Right?!

Walking to the car, I’ll never forget the sadness in my friend’s eyes. “Was it really worth the $5?” she asked. I tried explaining that we were right and they shouldn’t have had the wrong sign-up. I had been more concerned about saving a few bucks, than showing another human being some grace for an honest mistake that she didn’t even do.

Fast forward to this past Thanksgiving. It’s mid-afternoon and I’m at the local laundromat trying to take advantage of the fact that no one else should be there doing laundry. But there is. There’s this older woman a few washers down.

I throw my loads into the washer and find a spot in front of the TV. I flip on some rerun episodes of FRIENDS to have on as background noise keeping my eyes glued to my phone screen. After loading her own laundry, the woman sits down next to me and quietly reads the paper.

I notice her looking at some ads for the upcoming sales and ask her if she goes Black Friday shopping. When she turns to me, I can see she has a black eye and a bruise on the bridge of her nose. She tells me stories of past shopping adventures. I tell her some of my own, which includes a 6-hour wait in Walmart for a TV.

In the midst of the small talk, she tells me her mom passed away a few years back and she’ll be having dinner with a friend in a few hours at a local hotel restaurant. Later, she goes on to explain how she got her black eye. Apparently, socks on linoleum can be quite dangerous. She seemed quite happy just to have someone to talk to and it didn’t kill me either. When I left, I wished her a happy holiday and thanked her for chatting. She smiled.

See the difference? When I left the one woman, she was happy to see me go. If she were like me, she probably mumbled a few words and a “Good riddance!” as I walked out the door. But the other woman, smiled as I left, not because she was happy to see me go, but because I had been kind and showed some interest in her.

Maybe it will make more sense if I bring Jesus into this discussion. Jesus wasn’t a douche. Sure, He tried correcting the Pharisees and Sadducees and all the other “cees”, but He was also the guy making breakfast for his buddies after they’d been out fishing all night.

This holiday season when you’re out looking for the perfect gift and you’re kicking yourself for not doing more on-line shopping ask yourself this: How can I show someone kindness today? And I’d encourage you to be more mindful, not just with friends and family, but with those who will never be able to return the favor. A person in line at the Post Office. An elderly person at a local nursing home. The car vying for the same close spot at the grocery store.

And while you’re at it, let’s start being known for giving LARGE tips. And that doesn’t mean throwing down two tracts instead of one.

Love, Holly