Category Archives: Essay

Taking a Knee

I’m taking a knee. I’m taking a knee for you.

People take to their knees in prayer. When I kneel, I humble myself and say, ‘I’m willing to intentionally be less than you.’ It’s plain I’m to do this before God. But I also should do this for you, because Jesus told His disciples, ‘This I command you; that you love one another.’ Love is a sacrifice. Love is taking a knee.

I don’t kneel before you because of your greatness, but because I’m commanded to love you, sacrificially. I don’t kneel to glorify you, but to acknowledge my own flaws before God. I take a knee now to demonstrate that there’s something gravely wrong.

So, the knee is a tool – a tool for proclaiming my humility.

The knee has also been turned into a weapon – a weapon of oppression.

George Floyd didn’t ask to take a knee, but he took a knee to his death. It wasn’t his knee and it wasn’t his choice. He prayed aloud until he died, but no one listened.

I’m still on my knees, praying that it’s the final outrage; this is not what taking a knee is supposed to mean. I have had enough, and won’t stop praying now; I’m just getting started.

Taking a knee used to only be a football term. The quarterback would take the ball and kneel, ending the play.

Taking a knee no longer ends the play. It has begun the play, and the clock is running. With God’s help, we will see its hands spin forward into a day filled with hope and peace. Taking the knee is now a word about justice. But first and foremost it must be a word about humility.

In Isaiah 61 God promises beauty for ashes, and we have more than enough ashes right now. But I’m not talking about burned buildings, wrong though those are. I’m talking about generations of burned lives.

Who is promised this beauty from ashes? Those who mourn. So, let us mourn together as brothers and sisters, and receive this beauty for ourselves. Isaiah goes on to say that those of us who do mourn will repair the waste cities and the desolations of many generations.

Let’s proclaim – together – that these generations of desolation have finally come to an end.

Let’s proclaim – together – that the day of freedom and justice begins now!

Let’s proclaim – together – that we will first look inside ourselves for these.

Let’s proclaim – together – that we will no longer be silent in the face of evil.

And let’s proclaim all this on our knees.

If you liked this essay, you may also like this poem.

Photo from Erik Mclean via Pexels

The Dandelion

[A 3-minute read]

At the end of its blossom cycle, the dandelion waits for the breeze. It has come again to the pinnacle of its existence. Life-giving nutrients have poured in from the earth, navigating the tubercles, the hair roots, the secondary roots, through the tap root anchoring the plant firmly in the soil.

Day after day, the plant has turned its happy yellow face to the sun, combining water and minerals from below with carbon dioxide and sunlight from above: creating energy. By osmosis through its veins, nutrients get to each cell. I am like the dandelion. My water and nutrients come through my system and into the blood, also moving through veins, deposited in each cell of my body.

The dandelion is all potential and no pretense. When it is ready, it goes. There is no hesitation. The dandelion is faith in action. It is what I would be if I had no doubts. Although I too have potential, I’m often held back by pretense.

Each of the dandelion’s 2,000 seeds has the potential to produce anther plant. There is no pretense in this either; it knows what it is about. It is following God’s command to ‘reproduce after its kind’ The dandelion is certain of its identity, and unconcerned about its future.

A seed may land just a hairsbreadth from its parent, or on a calm sunny day ride a thermal for half a mile. But it matters not to the seed. When it goes, it is ready to go, and it flies without fear. It is ready to go be a dandelion.

The future of the seed is held in the nature of its landing place. If there is good soil with good growing conditions, it prospers. If not so good, it may still prosper, if it is hardy enough. But, if it lands in stones, or water, or on pavement, or becomes some creature’s meal, it will not sprout at all. The seed’s potential to be a dandelion will be lost.

I see myself in this too, spiritual being than I am. Because I have imagination, I unwisely concern myself with my landing pad. My brain insists on knowing about the landing pad before the launch.

However, faith does not work that way. Faith is leap first, look later.

As it is, God has yet to let me down when I leap. In spite of His faithfulness it always seems that, as I ripen into seed, I question whether what He’s prepared will be good, or at least good enough. And – is it safe to go?

In those moments, it is important to remember my advantage over the dandelion. God plants the seed, but I can do my part to help Him prepare the soil. By staying close to Him, by fixing my heart on Him, I remain able to follow His command to be fruitful and multiply.

Yet the dandelion has an advantage over me. It is not a thinking being with doubts and fears and anxieties. It never questions whether God will disappoint. It never ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil like I did. It knows no shame.

The dandelion boldly pushes ahead. It always has more than enough seeds to fulfill what God asks of it. You know what? So do I. The secret is choosing to let Him work and only help when He asks me to.

Not all my seeds may find the best landing place. But I can improve their odds, and that is the best advantage of all.

 

If you liked this essay, you might also like this poem.

(Photo used under CC licence from PiccoloNamek at Wikimedia Commons)

The Weakness in Memoir

(A three minute read)

When I write memoir, I engage in a deep review of a dead man’s life, no more, no less. It’s a stroll through the crematorium.

Memoir is a sifting through the ashes of my burned body. It’s as though the molecules rise up and re-form. The fears, demons and oppression of my past re-materialize.

But they can only haunt me if I forget who I am and believe I haven’t changed. If I remember who I am, I can’t be threatened by a pile of ash. If it were to rise up at all it would simply blow away on the wind.

Historians take note: In the world of memoir the past is all, and at the same time, the past is of no effect. My past alone didn’t get me to where I am today. It was God breathing on that past. His redemption of my past makes me who I am today. I am who God says I am, not who I say I am, based on how I feel.

Who I am is much, much more than the sum of my parts.

Back to the ashes. If they rise of themselves they can become nothing. But, when God takes the dust of the ground, He breathes into me the breath of life, and so I live.

Again, the past is all, but the past alone, without that breath, is of no effect. With God’s born-again breath, I live anew, and am set on a narrow path for my own protection. When I veer from that path, it’s because I temporarily rejected my identity (or forgot it).

Momentary captivity to the enemy’s devilish siren song lures me back toward the rocks of self-destruction on which I dashed my fragile craft repeatedly for so many years. But then I get smart, and navigate back out into far deeper waters where I’m safe.

We were born somewhere, you and I, and grew up somewhere. Eventually, we leave home and go our own way, either on the broad highway to destruction, or on that narrow way that Jesus talks about.

Whether we hear His call to the narrow way or not, none of us can afford to stay where we grew up. We have to hit the road. The price we pay for staying at home sitting in the ash heap is much too steep.

Photo by Daria Shevstova on Pexels