The Price of Freedom

I love the story of President Lincoln who is said to have come upon a slave auction one day in New Orleans. As he watched the disturbing event, he noticed a young black girl being auctioned and decided he would bid on her himself.

With every bid offered, Lincoln offered a dollar more until eventually he claimed the girl. Then he told her she was now free to go. But in disbelief, the girl questioned Lincoln. So again he assured her she was free.

When the girl finally realized Lincoln’s intent all along was to secure her freedom, she told him she didn’t want to leave. She’d rather stay with the man who set her free.  Free-Yourself

This remains one of my favorite Abraham Lincoln stories, though it’s been told so often it’s hard to know how many of the exact details remain unchanged. But the essence is true. Lincoln’s views on race may not have been as enlightened as they would have been today, but his political writings are filled with his distaste for inequality or the idea that one person can “own” another.

In a letter to Joshua Speed, Lincoln’s closest friend and confidant, on August 24, 1855 he wrote, “You know I dislike slavery: and you fully admit the abstract wrong of it.”

I enjoy this story because the picture of being purchased then set free is what the message of Christ is all about. But freedom is an interesting concept.

We like to think of ourselves as free, and in a democracy like ours, we have plenty of reasons to celebrate. Even on a bad day, I’ll take America any day of the week.

But the fact is, a lot of us are held captive by people or things we’re not even aware of. Some of us have given ourselves over willingly. Others of us have put up a heck of a fight.

Some of us have even chosen to use the freedom God has given us against Him. We ignore Him or label Him obsolete. And we see the evidence of this rejection everywhere.

In an interview after 9/11, Billy Graham’s daughter was asked how God could let such a terrible thing happen. Her answer, now legendary, was both painful and profound:

“I believe that God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are. For years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”

A friend recently told me he doesn’t believe in God or any kind of judgement. I told him I wish I didn’t either. But I’ve hedged my bets with God, and because of it, He’s proven Himself trustworthy.

He stood at the auction block and outbid the things that threatened to enslave me most, like fear, guilt, and bitterness.

Now I’m like the slave girl who instinctively knows to stay close to the One who has chosen to set her free.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

(Look for Permission to Doubt. Published by Kregel. Wherever books are sold.)



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Foxhole Promises

When I was in high school, I saw an off-beat comedy called The End starring Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise.the-end-movie-poster-1978-1020240733

Sonny, Reynold’s character, was told he didn’t have long to live, so he tried to commit suicide. But when he botched his attempt, he landed in a psychiatric hospital. That’s where he met Marlon, played by DeLuise, a nutty patient committed to helping his new BFF kill himself.

But nothing Marlon tried seemed to work.

What I remember most about this movie is how it ended, which was both hilarious and insightful. When Sonny finally decided to take matters into his own hands, he swam out into the ocean as far as he could. But when he got there, he had a sudden change of heart and decided he didn’t want to drown.

Realizing how far he was from shore, Sonny frantically called out to God for help and began promising Him everything. “I’ll be a better father! I’ll be a better person! Just make me a better swimmer!”

Sonny promised to keep the Ten Commandments, though as he struggled to recite them he promised to learn them first. He promised to be honest in business and not sell lakeside lots unless there actually was a lake around.

He promised to give God 50% of his money, pointing out that no one does that. “We’re talking gross, Lord!” he yelled as he tried to stay afloat.

But the closer Sonny got to shore, the smaller the percentage became. It was quickly down to 10%, and by the time he actually reached shore, we knew all bets were off.

The movie ended with Sonny collapsing with relief on the shore but crazy Marlon waiting behind the rocks. The fiercely devoted friend was unwilling to believe Sonny had changed his mind, and the movie ended with Sonny running for his life.

I’ve always thought The End was a great example of how life can get. As autonomous creatures, we love our freedom of choice. In fact, when life is going smoothly, we’re pretty fine with God keeping His distance.

But when things get difficult, we begin to wonder where God is. Are you there? Do you care?

My family has been going through some tough things lately, and I too am waiting on God to answer. I’m not quite Sonny, flailing around in the ocean and yelling at God. Not today, anyway. But I’m not quite the Apostle Paul either…a slightly better role model.

When Paul wrote his letter to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 12 and told them about a struggle he’d been facing, he admitted how he felt like he was drowning too. He begged God to remove his affliction, but when God told him He had another plan, which was to perfect His strength in the midst of Paul’s weakness, Paul gained an entirely new perspective.

I believe the comfort my family is sensing now comes from a prayer life that extends beyond foxholes…not that there’s anything wrong with that. Prayers under pressure are a good thing, I just sense God inviting us to go deeper.peace girl sitting

He’s proven Himself to be there in the light, so we’re quite certain He’s here with us in the dark. And foxholes or not, we’re pretty grateful for that!


(Look for Permission to Doubt. Published by Kregel. Wherever books are sold.)

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Conquering Fear

Sometimes even I have a hard time believing I actually stand up in front of people and speak. I mean the path to public speaking rarely winds its way through the world of panic attacks.

Well, maybe it does.

In college psych class, long before I entertained the idea of public speaking, we studied the statistics of fear. I was beginning to have some break-through symptoms but had no idea I was standing on the precipice of a full-fledged panic disorder.

I only knew my body was responding to anxiety in ways that seemed way over the top. So when the professor pulled out the statistics, I leaned in. I paid close attention.

Divorce, job loss, relocation…they all made the top ten. But public speaking was at the top of the list. panic-attackInterestingly, fear of death was second, which means, as Jerry Seinfeld famously points out, we’re better off lying in the casket than having to give the eulogy.

But here’s the amazing thing.

My life is a walking talking illustration of a calling and empowering that came from something outside myself. What I bring to the table is a panic disorder. What God brings to the table is strength made perfect in my weakness.

In many ways, I have fear to thank for making it “easier” for me to focus on Him. Going it alone was never an option…unless I wanted to provide some serious drama from the podium.

When I first started speaking, I’d joined a women’s group at my church that included lots of older women. I was young and had young friends, so instinctively I knew I’d learn more from the well-seasoned gray-haired set.

I knew I was being called to speak even before my first invitation came from the ladies. This was puzzling, though, because I also knew the risk of collapsing from a panic attack and traumatizing them from the podium.

But since doing the right thing isn’t about looking good or feeling good, I ignored my fear and left the details to the One who was charting my course. I’d prepare like it depended on me but trust like it depended on Him. These weren’t “my” ladies, they were His. If they were thrown into cardiac arrest, it would be on His head, not mine.

Ahh…the sweet liberation of letting go.

I was called. I went. And within days an internist diagnosed an adrenalin problem I’d been battling for thirteen years and fixed it with heart meds.

Years later, I confessed to one of the grey-haired ladies my fear of falling over in front of them. She said, “That would have been OK. We would have just picked you up.”

Her words framed my future. Of course they would have just picked me up.

Fear is normal. Finding ways to deal with it is essential. I was fortunate to have been surrounded by women who loved me as I cut my teeth. But sometimes we don’t have the luxury of a love-fest. We’re forced to walk into the lion’s den. Tlion roarhe boardroom. The classroom. The courtroom. The hospital room.

It’s those moments we need to prepare for ahead of time with mentors, coaches, trainers, and even a God who’s gone to extraordinary lengths to invite us to draw strength from Him.

I may need to drop “chapter and verse” as I expand my speaking. But I carry with me truth that transcends the lines between secular and sacred…panic and peace.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6)


Look for Permission to Doubt. Published by Kregel.

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Out of my Comfort Zone

My comfort zone has always been in words, which is why I’m fascinated by people who’ve mastered numbers.

When I watch John Nash portrayed in A Beautiful Mind, Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, and Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, my head spins.


Michio Kaku

Michio Kaku is one of “those” people. He boggles my mind. He’s a renowned theoretical physicist who attempts to make quantum physics palatable to the numerically-challenged…like me.


Homer’s crayon in brain

I appreciate his effort. Though I was sort of hoping my problem was a crayon stuck in the brain like Homer. (Simpson, that is. Not Iliad.) But no such luck.

Hawking has also tried to bring science to the average Joe with his PBS series, Genius. When it first aired, I watched with interest to see just how he’d answer questions he raised, such as Why are we here? and Where did the universe come from?

I wasn’t really expecting Hawking to offer any new answers or information he’d been keeping under wraps. But I did find it interesting that he felt it important we celebrate the fact we exist at all. Call it luck, but as a species, we’ve survived against astronomical odds, Hawking said.

We are here by chance, nothing else.

Some scientists resist attaching actual meaning to the universe. Maybe because it smacks of “religion” which puts them out of their comfort zone. Who can blame them for squirming if it brings to mind a time when scientific discovery led to burning at the stake?

But maybe it’s more than that.

black holes

Black Hole

In a lecture Kaku gave on quantum mechanics, he spoke of the profound mystery of black holes. Scientists use the term singularity to describe the infinite number of zeroes they consistently come up with when they take two proven math equations, both pertaining to quantum physics, and try to reconcile them with one another.

The task is impossible, and the calculations are unanswerable, Kaku said. Another scientist called it a “virtual nightmare for the physicist” and an embarrassment, as scientists are never comfortable with something they can’t get a handle on.

Personally, I’ve never had reason to be saddled with that kind of ego. It must come with the territory.

As the brilliant men talked about the “astronomically heavy and infinitesimally small” holes, how they seem to collapse everything we know about the physical universe, and what could possibly come out of them, I thought about what a great sci-fi novel that would make.


Tower of Babel-Genesis 11

Then I thought about the story of the Tower of Babel in the book of Genesis. Whether one takes it literally or not, the message is clear: Man’s attempt to reach God or stand on His level is futile, as futile as our efforts to grasp infinity.

There are plenty of scientists who see no conflict between science and faith. In fact, science is a leap of faith far more often than we’d care to think. To the open-minded scientist, a new discovery is an opportunity to discover more about the creative forces of God.

Maybe there is a purpose to our existence…why we’re here and where we come from. Maybe it runs deeper than numbers and words, or chance and dumb luck. Maybe it involves a deliberate effort to force us out of our comfort zone and remind us that He is God and we are not.

“Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).



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The Look of Desperation

It’s crazy the first time you look in the mirror and see your mom’s face. How did that happen?clock is ticking

You suddenly realize the clock is ticking. You’re not getting any younger. You’ve probably already peaked, and it’s all downhill from here.

Actually, I’m far more familiar with these sentiments than I’d care to admit. But, fortunately for me, I know how to surround myself with people who didn’t get that memo. Like my mom’s older siblings I sat visiting with recently.

After they wore me out and went to bed, I said to my sister, “Wow. I’ll have what they’re having.”

When they hit 70, I thought they’d be done. By 80, they were still going strong. Now, rounding 90, they totally amaze me.

Sure, they may not be as spry as they used to be, but don’t tell them that. They’re active, engaged in life and relationships, and they love to laugh.old happy people

They put me to shame.

It’s no secret I had my first mid-life crisis when I turned 30. My second at 40. So by 50 I was really good at it.

That’s when jokes about getting older started making sense. Like you know you’re getting older when your secrets are safe with your friends because they can’t remember them either. Or, you’re still hot at 50, only now it comes in flashes.

I especially love the updated version of childhood games that have been modified specifically for the aging. They include…

Musical Recliners

Sag! You’re it!

Pin the Toupee on the Bald Guy

20 Questions…Shouted in Your Good Ear

Kick the Bucket

Spin the Bottle…of Mylanta

Simon Says…Something Incoherent

Red Rover, Red Rover, the Nurse Says Bend Over

I’m beginning to see old stories in new ways too, like the one about Potiphar’s wife coming onto Joseph in the book of Genesis. Life as the wife of a captain of the palace guard must have gotten tedious for her. What was she supposed to do? Wait for her husband to give her the attention she craved?

Instead, she set her sights on Joseph, who’s described as well-built and attractive. Mrs. Potiphar may have been the original cougar. She was Mrs. Robinson!

The Graduate

Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate

I was a young woman when I read her story for the first time, and I remember thinking…Eww.

Years later, I understand how life can get routine or disappointing. I also have a new appreciation for the beauty of youth. But I also recognize desperation when I see it…and a woman so wrapped up in herself she doesn’t care how she hurts others.

Getting older is an adjustment, but the last thing I want to become is a woman whose desperation is planted all over her tightly stretched face. I don’t want to mess up others with my own hang-ups. I’d like to leave the place better off than I found it…not worse.

So, at the risk of sounding uber-spiritual, which I definitely am not, I’ve found a solution that works.

I’ve completely shifted my prayer life.

I’ve begun meditating on things that are less fleeting. I’ve begun asking God to help me age gracefully, love more intentionally, and discover new ways to really be productive.

And when I do, He is faithful to replace those feelings of desperation with a kind of satisfaction that continues to surprise me.

Most of us don’t wear the look of desperation very well, and I’m no exception. So when my vision gets clouded, as it inevitably does, and I feel the clock’s relentless ticking, I return to the One who numbered my days before one of them came to be.

That’s where this desperate woman always finds relief.

Psalm 90


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Look for Permission to Doubt. Published by Kregel. Wherever books are sold.

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Maybe Orange is the New Black

One of the cardinal rules of public speaking is to know your audience.

But what did I know? I was brand new when I was booked to speak at a banquet in downtown Milwaukee. I’d been asked to speak to a group of women on the power of self-control.

I prepared for weeks, and when I finally walked into the historic brick building, I noticed a handful of women rushing around the large banquet hall putting finishing touches on their beautifully set tables. Banquet_Table_2RSOther than that, the place was empty.

One of the coordinators approached me and smiled. Seeing my confusion at the empty chairs, she quickly explained that the buses would be arriving any minute.

“Buses?” I asked her.

“Yes” she answered. “Didn’t they tell you the women will be coming from prison and halfway houses?”

“No,” I said. “They must have forgotten…”

Seeing the color drain from my face, she tried to reassure me. “Don’t worry. The women will love you”

But I wondered. Why would they love me? They’d take one look at me, a blonde girl from the suburbs, and wonder what I could possibly know of their struggle.

Then she added, “I should warn you. Sometimes they can be a little rude and yell things out at the speaker, but don’t let it throw you.”

Tiny drops of sweat began gathering along my back as I watched the women file in. They were one serious looking bunch.

The banquet had been put together by a group of Pentecostal women who had a passion for helping people in need and were doing fabulous work in the inner city.

But then it hit me…the real irony of the situation. I was about to give a talk on the topic of self-control to a group of women straight out of prison.

I found a chair in the corner and began scribbling furiously at my notes. This line was no longer appropriate. This joke was no longer funny.

The coordinator sensed my desperation and asked if her committee could pray for me. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

They led me to a door in the back of the banquet hall, and as we stepped inside, I realized it was a broom closet. The door closed tightly behind us.

As everything went black, I felt hands resting on my head and shoulders as the women began praying in languages I wasn’t familiar with. They prayed like there was no tomorrow, and I suddenly wished there wasn’t.

I’d heard of “prayer closets” before, but I never knew they included mops and buckets.mopsandbrooms

In Matthew 6, Jesus again takes the religious hypocrites to task and warns them about praying in public simply to impress others. “Go to your room and close the door,” he said, “and talk to your Father there.”

The women’s words were foreign to me, but as we stepped from the closet, it was reassuring to know that God understood their hearts. This wasn’t my expression of worship, but it was theirs. And though it was a little uncomfortable, I appreciated their passion.

I grabbed my notes and made the exceptionally long walk to the podium with a brand new sense of conviction. These women had not come to be impressed by me. They’d come to hear about the One who sets the prisoner free. You could have heard a pin drop.hands-on-prison-bars

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted and to proclaim freedom for the captives” (Isaiah 61:1).




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Crazy Body Issues

Why do some people have an enormous amount of self-confidence, even when it seems they shouldn’t, and vice versa?

I read an article recently about Demi Moore who admitted to struggling with a negative self-image. With that long dark hair, those big brown eyes, and a body chiseled to perfection, who’d ever suspect that she, along with a lot of other Hollywood stars, battles insecurity?

Then there are those who overestimate their assets, like my girlfriend discovered when she wandered onto a nude beach in Europe…purely by accident. She decided those beaches are populated by all the wrong people.

A negative body-image is common, and it’s a huge source of discontentment, particularly in women’s lives. HeadinHands_overviewBut here’s the newsflash. Unless we are competing for Miss America or a place on the runway, most people don’t see our imperfections the way we do.

This is especially true when it comes to how men view the female body. I heard two guys beautifully illustrate this point on a radio interview.

One guy told the story of how he’d recently stepped out of the shower. As he toweled down, he noticed his wife lying on the bed watching TV. In order to get dressed, he realized he’d have to pass in front of her to get to his clothes from the closet.

He had a choice to make.

He could stay wrapped up, go to the closet, get dressed, and then go back to hang up his towel in the bathroom. Or he could save himself a trip by hanging up the towel first and then walking to the closet…in all his glory.

Slightly overconfident, he chose the latter. But the moment he stepped into the bedroom, he knew he’d chosen poorly when his wife said, “Honey, please. Cover up.”

I suppose there are lots of women who wouldn’t have minded the free show, but this story illustrates how men and women see things differently. This was confirmed even further when the guy explained why he’d chosen the way he did.

He said the real reason he walked in front of his wife naked was because he knew how much he’d enjoy it if she’d do the same. He was just returning the favor. Paying it forward, so to speak.

Clearly, there is plenty of beauty in the male frame God created. Think Michelangelo’s David.

But, honestly, what is with these men we hear about in the news who send texts of their private parts to women? Really? Next time send a box of chocolates instead.

It’s just different with men and women. Men don’t typically stand in front of a mirror for 30 minutes or ask their friends if their jeans make their butt look big. Not most of them, anyway.

I reminded a group of young moms recently to ease up on themselves. The fact that men see things differently is good news, especially for those discontented with their bodies, who dive under the covers, and insist on killing the lights.

Relax! And remember. Two things happen when a woman undresses in front of man. She becomes insecure, and he becomes grateful.

I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me” (Song of Solomon 7:10).

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The “Difficult” Grandma

I used to love spending time with my dad’s mom. But she was complicated.

She was the grandma who didn’t go to church and wasn’t too keen on the “Christian” stuff either. It wasn’t sophisticated or educated enough for her, I guess.

Ironically, she admired the likes of Hemingway and others whose lives didn’t end so well.


Norma Shearer

Still, as a child, she captured my imagination. She smoked cigarettes from long slender holders and bought me my first Shirley Temple. From her old photos, I imagine her young, liberated, and looking very much like Norma Shearer.

My experiences with my mom’s mom were the polar opposite. She conjures up all sorts of happy images, like chicken dinner, play clothes, and cousins. She was the grandma who prayed for us, whose home always smelled like warm bread and fresh coffee.

Over the years, the story of my dad’s mom filtered down to me, and I began to get the picture. She had some seriously bad breaks. Her mom died when she was barely a teen, her father was far too stern, and ultimately she was shipped off to live with relatives.

Then, just about the time life was coming together for her, tragedy struck again. Her husband, whom she adored, died suddenly of a brain aneurism in his forties while they were vacationing. She never married again, and time didn’t improve her.

My grandma reminds me that most difficult people don’t set out to be difficult. It’s not like a childhood dream. But life happens. And like the rest of us, they have choices to make. They can allow pain to consume them, dictate their actions, and tarnish their chances for contentment. Or they can grab hold of it, reassess their situation, and adjust accordingly. That’s what life is about.

Bad breaks are never made better by bad choices. My grandma taught me that. She also taught me that among the bad breaks are opportunities for good things too. She was brought up by an aunt she loved, she gave birth to two beautiful and gifted twin boys, and she had grandkids to love.

But often, she resisted and allowed her pain to turn inward. She died a very self-absorbed woman.

So I’ll say it again. Bad breaks are never made better by bad choices.

Thinking about her now, I’m grateful my difficult grandma and I connected as well as we did. She showed me another angle to our struggle for contentment. eggshells

She taught me that difficult people speak an entirely different language. Trying to communicate with them is frustrating. We get tired of walking on eggshells and want to throw up our hands and say, “Forget it. I’m done with this idiot.”

But if we really want to reach the difficult people in our lives, we’ll learn their dialect. We’ll connect with them on their level and take our cues from their timing.

I expected nothing from my dad’s mom, so she never disappointed me. Instead, I was fed emotionally and spiritually by my other grandma, which enabled me to enjoy my dad’s mom for who she was–imperfect like the rest of us, but definitely worth loving.

love never fails

(Look for Permission to Doubt. Published by Kregel. Wherever books are sold.)


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Perspective is Everything

A man was shipwrecked on an island, desperate and alone. He spent his days struggling to survive, gathering branches to build himself shelter and searching for food.

At night, he’d collapse in exhaustion by the small fire he was finally able to start and pray that God would rescue him. campfire-840542_960_720

Months went by.

One day, still clinging to hope, the man left his shelter to find food, but when he returned, everything he’d struggled to build was engulfed in flames. His eyes burned as he watched the billows of smoke.

Dropping to his knees, he wept, “God! How could you let this happen when I begged you for help?”

With his energy spent, he fell into a deep sleep and was awaken the next morning by the sound of voices on the beach. He looked up and saw a man dressed in a captain’s uniform with several men standing beside him.

The shipwrecked man sobbed with joy and asked, “How did you find me?”

The captain answered, “We saw the smoke signals you sent up.”

Lately I’ve been wondering if the secret to contentment is really about perspective. I mean, sometimes life looks really messed up, and it’s hard to see any rhyme or reason. But there must be.

I was reminded of this as I watched a debate between Christian apologist William Lane Craig and atheist philosopher Christopher Hitchens. Both men, brilliant thinkers, saw life so completely different.

The first looked at the cosmos and saw evidence of God’s fine-tuning, design, and beauty. The other saw the destruction of shooting stars, collapsed suns, and failed galaxies. SunRise

The first saw evidence of God’s grace and restoration in the midst of mankind’s faulty choices. The other said that if there were a creator, he would appear to be capricious, cruel, and incompetent.

How does this happen? How can two people look at the same evidence and come to such different conclusions? Is it disposition? Is it personal experience? Is it a choice?

Two women I admire most, who are both in their 50s, have lived with huge obstacles since their early 20s. They should be complaining, yet they seem to do very little of it.

One discovered she had Type 1 diabetes while studying abroad and dragging herself through the streets of London trying to keep up with her classmates. The other was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis after she stood up from the couch and realized her legs wouldn’t work.

These women are greeted by limitations every morning. And while I’m busy complaining about pulled muscles, bad haircuts, or high gas prices, they seem to measure out their complaints judiciously. It’s like they decide which ones are really worth their time and effort.

They should be really ticked off at God and incredibly discontent. But instead, they seem to know He sees their smoke signals and sends a rescue ship daily.

“This is what I do,” God says to us.

“For my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

(Look for Permission to Doubt. Published by Kregel.)

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Reasons to Believe

Some people think that the only reason Christians believe in God is because they want to believe. Or they believe because that’s how they were raised.

Personally, I’ve found the opposite to be true. There are plenty of times when being a believer is extremely inconvenient, like when I’m angry with God or when I’m cut-off in traffic by a driver unfamiliar with the blinker. It’s there! Use it!

patti supermodel

Patti Hansen and Keith Richards

Being raised in a particular belief may work for a while, but at some point, we need to think for ourselves. In a Vogue Magazine article, Patti Hansen, my favorite supermodel, discussed her health challenges, her faith, and her thirty-year marriage to Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

“I’m a Christian,” she said. “I’m a believer. I believe that Christ is God. And Keith questions all that. I think he believes in a God, but he’s not a Christian. And he just gets into this ‘You believe because your parents believed,’ and I’ll say, ‘Don’t do that to me, Keith.’ I have a strong faith. You are sort of brought into it and then you make a choice yourself. It’s my choice.”

In college, I found being raised by Christians to be a bit of a stumbling block. It seemed unlikely that I should just happen to be born into a home that had an edge on the truth. By then it was hard to ignore the weight of the evidence about Christ, but it just seemed unfair.

Jackson Browne spoke about these things in an interview. And since I’d played his first three albums until I wore them out, and his lyrics taught me to go a little deeper than an 8th grader might, it caught my attention. Jackson BrowneHe said, “One of the things that Christianity believes that I can’t really adhere to is the idea that unless you are a Christian, you won’t go to heaven. That’s leaving an awful lot of people out.”

I agree, if that’s really what Christianity teaches.

The fact is, Scripture doesn’t say much about how God will deal with people who haven’t had a chance to fully understand the truth of Christ, thus haven’t had the opportunity to straight-up reject Him. But the first two chapters of the book of Romans come close.

The Apostle Paul points out that everyone, whether they’ve heard the name of “Jesus” or not, is accountable to God to some degree, purely through the revelation of nature. Not only that, but evidence for God moves beyond nature and creation and calls us to a measure of accountability through a “God-consciousness” we’re all born with.

Obviously, not everyone has been given a good understanding of truth nor will they be held accountable in the same way as those who have. But that doesn’t make the truth any less true. Professor John Lennox points out that some students are graced with exceptional math programs, while others are not, but this doesn’t make the rules of calculus any less true.

Sometimes Christians can come across as smug, but understanding truth isn’t simply a privilege. It’s a responsibility. We can expect to be held to a higher standard and asked, “Did you love more? Forgive more? Feed the hungry more?” feed the hungryNot much room for smugness there.

“From the one who’s been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).



(Look for Permission to Doubt. Published by Kregel. Wherever books are sold.)




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