Tag Archives: Giverny

Your grace finds me

It’s there in the newborn cry
There in the light of every sunrise
There in the shadows of this life
Your great grace

It’s there on the mountain top
There in the everyday and the mundane
There in the sorrow and the dancing
Your great grace
Oh such grace

From the creation to the cross
There from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me, yes your grace finds me

–Matthew Redman, “Your Grace Finds Me”

Giverny, France.  Photo by Evan Schneider.
Giverny, France. Photo by Evan Schneider.

I was listening to this song on the radio the other day and reflecting on the baptism of my daughter, which took place this weekend at our church.  And as I hummed along, the truth of that chorus, “your grace finds me,” clawed at my heart.

I think all baptism is holy–infant, adult, and all those in between.  And yet, because I’m Presbyterian I’m much more familiar with the tradition of the sprinkling of waters on babies who may sometimes cry, but are otherwise blissfully unaware of the weight of the sacrament.  We Presbyterians are known for our conviction in the total depravity of man, and God’s sovereignty (following John Calvin), to which all our will and desire and deeds in the world don’t even hold a candle.

And while I often struggle with a doctrine that claims the depravity of infants or the predestination of only some, the older I get the more convinced I am in and grateful for the sovereignty of God.  While we may seek much in this life, it is truly by God’s grace that we live and breathe and have our being.

And so as I watched my sister, who is a pastor and who assisted with the baptism this Sunday, pour the water over my daughter’s head, I remembered how wonderful it is that even at her tender age, there is great grace, and it has found her.

How like little children we all are in the arms of our sovereign God!  

May we yield as little children do to the loving arms of our maker, may we seek to walk in God’s ways, and may we remember in each moment that it is God whose grace finds us and hardly the other way around.

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Lenten Links

Flowers in Monet's Garden.  Photo by Evan Schneider.
Flowers in Monet’s Garden. Photo by Evan Schneider.

It’s inspiring to read all the posts out there on Lent this time of year, so I thought I’d link up to some of my favorites today, and I hope you’ll do the same in the comments section.  Additionally, I’d like to pass on this reflection on fasting and feasting which my mom passed on to me, and which I think sort of bridges the gap between those who abstain, add, or simply try to be more intentional during Lent.

Happy reading!

Lent: Spring Training for Christians

20 Things to Give Up for Lent

These last three aren’t specifically on Lent, but I thought they were inspiring and appropriate for this time of year all the same:

18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

The Most Revolutionary Question You Can Ask

The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying

A snail at Giverny.  Photo by Evan Schneider.
A snail at Giverny. Photo by Evan Schneider.
True Lenten Discipline 
(author unkown)
 
FAST from judging others;
    FEAST on Christ dwelling in them.
FAST from fear of illness;
                FEAST on the healing power of God.
FAST from words that pollute;
                FEAST on speech that purifies.
FAST from discontent;
                FEAST on gratitude.
FAST from anger;
                FEAST on patience.
FAST from pessimism;
                FEAST on optimism.
FAST from negatives;
                FEAST on affirmatives.
FAST from bitterness;
                FEAST on forgiveness.
FAST from self-concern;
                FEAST on compassion.
FAST from suspicion;
                FEAST on truth.
FAST from gossip;
                FEAST on purposeful silence.
FAST from problems that overwhelm;
                FEAST on prayer that sustains.
FAST from worry;
                FEAST in faith.

The evangelist in me

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”                              —2 Corinthians 3:17

The Japanese bridge at Giverny, France in Monet's Garden.  All photos by Evan Schneider.
The Japanese bridge at Giverny, France in Monet’s Garden. All photos by Evan Schneider.

A few days ago, I met with my spiritual director and told her about this restful trip to France, the adventure of following God, and the newfound freedom I’m experiencing in simply being who I am in God.

She’s been someone with whom I’ve laid bare my concerns about this dual calling to ministry and anthropology, with whom I’ve questioned, sometimes painfully, how I can do both–that is, academia and Church work– and how I can carve a space for myself that truly and faithfully integrates the two.

But as we spoke, that question started to sound so misplaced, so trivial…and even unfaithful.  As she repeated my own question about how I might synthesize these two callings back to me, it all suddenly sounded preposterous.

Because I’m not the answer.  

Of course, it’s just about the most basic truth in the book, but I marveled as I realized that I don’t do this work of integrating, synthesizing, or redeeming.  That’s all God.

Delaware River.
Delaware River.

And God is good at it.  

As I mentioned yesterday, God deals in abundance.  For God, there aren’t categories and confines, limitations and boundaries, but God is the very definition of holism, the place where our callings find perfect harmony and symphony.

And suddenly I feel so secure in all of that, and it’s effecting everything: the way I live, the way I speak, the way I rest, and the way I work.  This security in who I am in God has prompted me to share the faithful parts of me with my colleagues in anthropology and to find that they can not only understand, but also value what I’m talking about.  It’s pushed me to bring anthropology into the classroom at the seminary only to find that future pastors find it challenging, instructive, and meaningful.  And it’s shaped how I talk, write, and minister to foster mothers and brothers and sisters in China, the academy, and the Church.

“And that’s the definition of evangelism,” my spiritual director replied as she heard me muse on my newfound freedom in this God who is so perfectly gifted at integration.

A private courtyard in Paris, France.
A private courtyard in Paris, France.

I nodded, and tried not to gulp or cringe.

You see, I have an uneasy relationship to that word evangelism.  It’s partly my reverence for culture and diversity that makes me suspicious and uneasy of the hubris and insensitivity that often undergirds conversion.  It’s also my own experience–the fact that I’ve learned so much about myself, my faith, and my God from non-Christians– that makes me wary of anything that smacks of evangelism.  And finally, there’s the trappings of that loaded word evangelical and its problematic place in American politics and culture.

But if I’m honest with myself, those objections to the term or the project of evangelism are once again, more about me and my problems, than about God.  When it comes down to it, I’m all about ministry that’s outside the walls of the Church, prayer that stretches across boundaries of believers and nonbelievers, and beholding the sacred in everyday life.  I’m all about a God whose news is so good it doesn’t just dwell within the walls of the Church, the hearts of believers, or least of all, me.  

Flower
More from Giverny.

I’m beginning to accept that God’s good news seeps out of me, in spite of me, and that is good, too.

So you heard it from me first.  Turns out I’m an evangelical who’s learning to love the evangelist in me, because God is abundant, faithful, and good.  Because I can’t do what I’ve been called to without God’s wisdom, patience, and grace.  And because I’ve been set free–from sin, fear, and death–and that’s worthy of a testimony or two today.

Amen.