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October 23, 2010

not random

It has come to my attention that using the word "random" as I do is inconsistent with my worldview. I can explain.

I don't remember exactly when I started peppering my conversations with the word “random”—likely around the same time most other people my age did. But I now realize that it is time for me to retake that word and use it correctly. Because this is what I've found myself saying:
  • "Remember the random girl I told you about who came to Bible study?"
  • "This weekend we randomly had my landlord in for lunch."
  • "Last night in the park a random guy spoke to me for half an hour."

Word choice might seem like a small thing, but I realize that by claiming that so many things or people in my life “have no specific pattern, purpose, or objective” denies my very worldview. I believe that God patterns, plans and arranges things after the purpose of His will. I love to know that He is a God of the details, and I truly believe that He orchestrates blessings of any size, whether a sale item at Goodwill or meeting your life partner.

That "random" girl at Bible study was a huge encouragement to me; she reminded me of the goodness of God in the midst of trials. God placed her at our Bible study—perhaps among other purposes—to encourage and instruct my heart. Who knows how my brother's lunch invitation to the landlord might have met a need in that man's life? I learned a lesson from my talk with the stranger in the park, and maybe he just needed to meet someone who was praying on a blanket, someone who seemed a little too interested in the Bible.

So here's to a vocabulary cleansing. Word choice really is important. Words matter to God, they should matter to us.

And here's to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of history. There's nothing random about Him. "The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. (Psalm 33:11)

October 14, 2010

try a little tenderness

I don't meet a lot of six-foot women. Even from a distance, the blond stranger I met this summer conveyed an air of confidence. Standing next to a bonfire, listening to her speak, it didn't take me long to notice that she was a very hard woman. Cursing, she spoke of how she uses her womanly charm to help her with business deals with men. She flippantly discussed her divorce and the dating game. From what I later learned, she had just left her controlling, live-in, alcoholic boyfriend. My heart grieved for her. A woman of the world, covering up her hurt with a hard facade. Or so I thought.

Around the bonfire, people shifted, and most went to play Frisbee. A few of us were left and I began to ask the blond lady—who I learned was 30 years old—about her about her life and travels. It didn't take long to discover that she'd attended Bible school for a few years. Her younger days were full of missions trips and her parents were graduates of the same Bible school as she. This woman knew much more Scripture than I ever would have imagined.

It struck me: this could be me. This domineering woman grew up in a Christian family, did the Bible school scene, and married a purportedly Christian man. But less than a decade later, this woman stands so hardened that I thought she never knew what Biblical womanhood was. It was a sobering reminder to me of the importance of keeping close to the Saviour, and it got me thinking about this: if the world's woman is hard, what is God's woman like?

From general and specific revelation I gather that women were created to show tenderness. This is seen in woman no matter if she is redeemed or not—even our bodies and voices were created softer than men's. But in the redeemed woman, God develops that "gentle and quiet spirit" which He so values (I Peter 3:4). Alistair Begg says: "Women don’t have the exclusive ownership of the characteristic of kindness, but often they do a much better job in expressing compassion than most men. If you think about it, women that have marked our lives have often marked our thinking on account of their tenderness."

Oh—to reflect our humble, gentle Saviour in a way that is womanly! Don't let the world's scorn undermine your godly desire to be tender toward the Lord and others. Cultivate tender-heartedness (Eph. 4:32, I Pe. 3:8).Value the vulnerability and purity of holy marriage as an exclusive expression of that tenderness. Don't think you're beyond becoming a hardened woman. The blond wasn't, and neither are we. Just on the other side of the glorious gospel there is a cutting, brazen, hardened woman who could be me, or could be you, if we lose sight of tender Jesus. So help us God!