Monday, September 22, 2008

I Surrender!

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

                        Matthew 16.25

Lost and Found

The financial term for recovered loss is “made whole.” This intrigues me, as it derives from a King James Version euphemism for healing. The hemorrhaging woman, for example, is “made whole” by touching Jesus’s cloak. The modern usage is altogether appropriate, since restoration is the overarching theme of Christ’s ministry. His parables constantly return to “lost and found”—the lost sheep, coin, pearl, etc. And in Luke 19.10, He defines His mission: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” He came to make us whole, to restore our lost hope and relationship with God. Then, in one of His many classic reversals, He tells us we’ll find what we’ve lost by losing what we have.

Taking Stock

It takes a few tries to bank that hairpin. Our first impulse focuses on the verbs: save/lose, lose/find. But it helps to consider what we must lose and what we’ll find. Although Jesus uses one word (“life”), He’s speaking of two things. This lost-and-found message isn’t retrieval. It’s replacement—the exchange of an obsolete, dysfunctional, selfish life for one that’s relevant, effective, and caring. What must be lost, then, are habits, attitudes, and fears that contradict His principles. (Notice the subtle insertion of “for me” on the lose/find side of the equation.) We like to say we “give our hearts to the Lord.” If only it were that simple, handing ourselves over to let Him sort out our mess! It’s not, though. Taking stock of our lives, discarding everything unsuitable for His use is our job.

What’s in Your Closet?

“Coming out” isn’t an exclusively gay rite. Our individuality requires all of us to leave some kind of closet. We all worry how others will respond when we muster the courage to be ourselves. In the process, we amass piles of prejudice, resentment, and disappointments—along with selfish desires, expectations, and beliefs. At first, they help solidify our resolve to live our own lives. But once they’ve served their purpose, we don’t toss them. We stash them away, just as we cram our actual closets with derelict appliances, funky clothes, and cheesy memorabilia. We can’t use them, don’t like them, are embarrassed by them, and need the space for better things. Still, we hold on to them in case

So what’s in your closet? We all need to take a realistic, pragmatic inventory of our closets, haul out everything that gets in our way, look at it one last time, say, “I surrender!” and throw it out, once and for all. That’s how we lose our lives and how we find them.

Clay Crosse: I Surrender All

(Tomorrow: Don’t Stop)

Postscript: Two Sisters

Just when I think I can’t possibly be more amazed at the extraordinary group of people who intersect at Straight-Friendly, someone else pops up and I’m bowled over once again. Among the more recent stunners are two new “sisters,” Tammy and Fran, each of them a knockout in her own unique way.

Tammy is a Web designer and the music minister at Oklahoma City’s Cathedral of Hope, a thriving community of faith with a predominantly gay membership. Not that it matters, but Tammy isn’t gay. After years of service in mainstream churches, she offered her talents to COH in response to God’s call to repent (her word) from the homophobic doctrine embraced by the congregations she served. Since then, she’s become a zealous champion of GLBT inclusion in her hometown and anywhere else she’s needed. Her story, spirit, and talents are truly remarkable, and you can discover them for yourself on her Website. To give you a little taste, though, here’s one of my favorite gems:

What’s most important to me isn’t a “movement” or a “church” or a group called “Christians”, what's most important to me is what God truly wants. What I’ve come to realize is it’s not more programs or more churches or more “Christians” who do everything right. He wants [an] authentic relationship with YOU, with ME. Period. Again, there’s no magic formula, God doesn’t care if you say the “right” words, do the “right” things, He cares that you reach out to Him and that you are REAL in your relationship with Him.

Amen, sister! There’s a lot more where that came from, at:


If there’s a sharp, progressive, inclusive Christian blog or Website that Fran’s not hip to, give her half a second. While her blog, FranIam, isn’t limited to theology (her passion for social justice, politics, culture, and people runs just as hot), it’s tough to imagine there’s a foot of theological turf she’s not covered. FranIam reminds me of a cool off-campus spot where all the movers and shakers hang out. The eclectic personalities and subject matter one finds there are astonishing.

In one click on my scrollbar, I was whisked from a link to an article about the infamous Ms. Spears (“Britneytards, Unite!”) to a powerfully introspective post in which Fran ponders her decision to volunteer for the Obama campaign. This piece was headed by provocative quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. and Edith Wharton and closed with Gandhi’s timeless truth, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Finally, FranIam is an invaluable resource for anyone with far-reaching interests. Its blog roll is an embarrassment of riches and you’re sure to find yourself leaping around the Internet like a crazy person (as I did), exploring link after link. But you always come back to Fran, because her magnetism and energy are what holds this enthralling crowd together. Check her out! 


Missy said...

Isn't it cool the way we come together as a community this way? I'm so glad you found Franalish!

As for that closet... don't we all have skeletons and baggage, though? How true.

I am fairly marinated in Matthew these days--last and first, lost and found.

Sometimes you think you've thrown something away and then there it is in the bottom of the storage room.

Tim said...

Hey, Missy! Actually Fran found me--thanks to you! Please forgive me for not mentioning that. In the future, I'll make a point of citing the links that draw us together.

About that thing that turns up in the storage room--how true! Our lives are plagued with bad pennies, but we have to refuse to live with them. Every time they resurface, we've got to give them the heave-ho.

Enjoy Matthew!


Anonymous said...

Thanks Tim. We, none of us truly grows up until we open the closet and come out as our authentic self. And plenty of us don't, and plenty of us have no clue that we arent' either. As to the two bloggers, Fran I have come to know and love. She drives me insane, because she never stops finding great blogs and then I have to add them, and then I spend more time I don't have....well you get the picture. !

Tim said...

How right you are, Sherry. I wanted to say something like, "Don't open FranIAm if you've got any pressing engagements, because you're sure to be late!" Once you're there, it's so easy to get carried away and lose all sense of time... but it's always a luxury well worth affording.