But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
It has been a long time since I posted here. Navigating life, as a senior citizen caught between adult children and elderly parents, took us through some rough seas. The difficult journey left me wordless. The calendar turned, we made it through the holidays and birthdays, and I am a half of a year closer to retirement. Our big trip is planned, and we are making campground reservations. Cory earned several new scentwork titles. Lark, the gangly Doberman puppy, is now an adult weighing 70 pounds with mostly straight ears, ribs just beginning to spring into that barrel chest that Dobies are known for. As deep as her bark and as threatening as her stance can be, Lark has a secret. She has a security monkey. We call him George. She plays with George, tossing him about, but when she is tired or overwhelmed, she cuddles him and sucks on his head. She’s still just a baby after all. At least on the inside. If only we could see what is on the inside. Too often, we judge based on the outside and can be completely wrong in our assessment. The death of Rachel Held Evans this week was one of those blows you don’t see coming. At 37 with two small children, she was too young to die. As soon as I heard of her illness, I knew that those critical of her “brand” of Christianity, with its progressive, loving, more like Jesus attitude would start circling like wolves. As I expected, even among my own friends, there were comments that insinuated she was not the right kind of Christian, even some who dared to say, she was not a Christian at all. They reasoned, “What about judgment? What about the law? What about the sinners who need Christ’s redemption?” In their opinion, Rachel focused too much on grace. There were snarky comments on my Facebook feed about a woman who would have turned the other cheek and pronounced, “Jesus loves you. I am trying.” I didn’t know Rachel personally. I’ve read her books and heard her speak. I know that she drew more people to Christ than any of those who would dare criticize her now. The communion service she helped organize at the Evolving Faith Conference last Fall was so tender and intimate that it took my breath away. When it was over, I longed for Jesus and a group of people who modeled Him with their behavior. Most importantly, Rachel, and others like her, led me from the cocky, know it all side of the pew to the one where it is okay to say, “I don’t know.” Because I don’t. Just like I don’t know why a 70 pound dog would need a toy monkey, I don’t have all the answers. I am not a mind or heart reader. I only know that I am called to love. That’s what Rachel taught me. Set aside religion. Be the Hands and Feet of Jesus.