At a Bible Study I've been attending, taught by Dale Batten, I heard him say these words, "Denying yourself means that other people will feel comfortable around you."  I've been mulling over that.

It's been years since I've updated... the last time I did, I was still at U of M.  Now I'm still in Detroit, still standing on some sort of threshhold? but I am starting to believe that believers live on thresholds because we are on the threshold of His return.

I won't say I haven't been frustrated, I'm read to get moving, but I have learned a lot about what it means to follow Jesus. On this website, I have written quite a bit about the need to follow Him, but I believe that I'm starting to see exactly what it means to be His follower.  He begins by setting us apart--we look at the world as a threshold instead of a home.  But waiting for Jesus requires us to live differently.  Instead of living independently, fending for ourselves, we live at the feet of others.  We live at the feet of Him.  This is basically the same thing.

I have met Jesus in many places, but I think he glowed the best (for me) in Utah, through a woman named JoEllen.  Lisa and I stayed with her as one of the final stops on our roadtrip.  Lisa and I were both pretty weary--we had one of our worst fights (our worst fight?) at Yellowstone Park.  My faith was extra low--almost too low to enjoy the geysers.  But then God sent us to Salt Lake City to home with up-coming wedding decorations strewn all over the living room, a tap dancing dog named Bo Jangles, a Salt Lake City cop, an energetic eight-year-old cutie, a hiding thirteen-year-old beauty, and, of course, JoEllen. 

As soon as I stepped into their house, and she greeted me, something odd happened; I felt as if someone had ripped off my outer-layer.  I felt exposed.  But I felt something else, too: confident.  I felt joyful, silly, and warm.  I blame JoEllen.  After all, this white woman with fuzzy blonde hair twisted and clipped to the back of her head told me, when I told her I was from Detroit-Proper, that she was the only black woman living in Salt Lake City. Besides her glorious sense of humor,  there was something about her that gave a new meaning to the term "hospitable."  She was more than hospitable. She was an open door than anyone could walk into and be comfortable.  I don't think I stopped laughing during our entire visit.

JoEllen was a person who took in dogs; I believe BoJangles was a stray, or some dog from the pound that she felt sorry for.  They had another dog with a similar story... now that I think of it, they might have had three dogs?  Lisa help me out...

JoEllen was a person who took in children.  She didn't adopt them, like she did the dogs, but she mentioned some kids she was mentoring.  One girl came with us when we went on a hike to see some cave.  This girl, JoEllen informed us, had all kinds of home trouble, and JoEllen wanted her to feel included into her family outings as much as possible.

I could have talked to JoEllen about anything, but there didn't seem to be a need.  There was too much light to enjoy around her to have my mind on the darker things that plagued me at that time of my life. ??? At the time I knew she was amazing, but now I believe she struck me that way because she had the light of Jesus in her in a way that He allowed me to see it.  This is a light that I continue to crave even though it's been years since I've visited her.

I used the Over the Rhine quote up there because I think it describes the attitiude I want to have towards other people, the attitude JoEllen mastered?.  The line describes an openess to others, not just a facade of openess, marching down the street with an anti-war or anti-racisim protest... I guess I'm trying to say that the openess to people is different than the openess to issues.  And I think that's where (we) liberals are headed--are so focused on the larger issues that we forget about the souls of the people we want to save.  The song that the quote came from, called Born, describes hours of listening to another person over a table over an open bottle of wine. A large part of our job as believers, I thin?k, is the need to live at this table, listening to what another soul has for us and not discounting it because they use phrases that we don't (intuition, de ja vu, the Holy Ghost isn't even something i tend to use in my vocabulary to describe what Jesus is doing.)  Jesus is talking to us, and He's using other people. 

On this threshold of His Return, we live in relationships.  We live in a relationship to Jesus, and we live in the relationship to other people.  These are basically the same thing.  We love because we're loved, by others and by Jesus.  God gives us his miracles, much like the fish and the bread, through us.  As Dale says, Jesus didn't hand anyone in the multitude  any bread, but He broke it and gave it to his disciples and they distributed it.  What a great description of what it is to follow Jesus.
intuition, de ja vu,
the holy ghost haunting you,
whatever you got, i don't mind.

~Over the Rhine
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