Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Do we unwittingly lean away from life, afraid of its tough challenges? Instead, lean in.

DO WE LEAN AWAY FROM LIFE?  I wrote this piece in 1995 and it appeared in a periodical called The Standard (thanks to the encouragement of a friend).  Today I pulled out a file looking for something else, and the poem reminded me of an important turning point in my adult life.  Perhaps it will resonate with you.  I've resisted the temptation to edit it after 14 years of living and leaning and learning...

I’ve spent a lot of energy avoiding life’s lessons.
Couched in tests of character,
Cloaked in difficult relationships,
Revealed in spiritual temptations,
I’ve resisted what I’ve needed to learn--
And as a badge of Christian virtue.

I notice that we Christians take great pains--
Even make careers out of--
Avoiding temptations,
Resisting difficulties.

Frantically, we keep such at bay,
Deny our susceptibility,
Subordinate our emotions,
Don the cloture of holy immunity, and
Presume to live above such toxic exposures.

We may successfully put off
Difficult dilemmas for years
And think we’ve accomplished
A God-assisted feat.

Yet, sooner or later,
We wind up having to undergo them,
Just like everybody else.
We aren’t spared.
We aren’t immune.
We, too, are led into the wilderness,
Through the valley,
Where there are no “Pocket Bible Promises”
that seem adequate.
We, too, must weather heat,
Pierce illusion, and
Endure until a way out is divinely provided.

By avoiding pain,
(Or thinking we should be exempt from such),
We lean away from life.

Tiptoeing around its edges,
Watching others join in the game
(Some of whom are ripped by lions),
We become fearful, denying spectators.
Instead of courageously living through,
We finally, fearfully,
Crash into life.
Sooner or later, thankfully,
We will find grace to be sufficient.

If only we could learn to lean into life.

The Christian way is less about avoiding and
More about learning through the tests.
As long as we avoid and resist
We will live at the periphery of life.
We will create subculture.
Counterculture, on the other hand, is
Forged in an active engagement of life.

Do not fear your energy.
Set your heart and mind to please God.
Do not resist the way you are led.
Guard your heart.
And live forwardly.

Lean into life.
Only then will we begin to know
How to be “in the world and not of it,”
Co-laboring a new world with God.

In the spirit of dialog, I welcome comments and/or questions. Click on "responses" below to post. They're moderated only to reduce incivility.


  1. Anonymous11:14 PM

    i like

  2. knowing what I know...excellent. Good thoughts at what had to be both a hard and exciting time in your life.


Your tasteful comments and/or questions are welcome. Posts are moderated only to reduce a few instances of incivility.