Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Stranger to Myself

Phil has to wave to get my attention. I was expecting a white pickup truck, but he's in a sedan; I walk over and get in. Phil was the leader of the clan I was in at Mosaic's Highlander men's event in 2003.

He points to a book on the car's seat. "There's a passage in here I want to read to you. Something about it, I don't know what, said 'Larry' when I read it." He talks about his business as he drives to the Eastside Market for sandwiches.

We're lucky. There's a car pulling out right across the street. After we wait in line and finally get sandwiches, there's a table in the back. The place is packed. They've made good sandwiches as long as I've been in Los Angeles, a bit over 20 years.

Between bites of sandwich, he talks about business and car matters, and then asks about what church I've been attending. When I say "None," I can see the concern on his face. He tells me how he values community, and that Mosaic does to. I mention that he's the only Mosaic person I've heard from in months, which means curious kind of community, and I go on to say that I need more contact than that.

I go on to tell him of alternative communities. Community is where you find it, and with bits and pieces here and there I've assembled something that, while it's not ideal, works for me. Blogging included. People who use words and time to communicate what's on their hearts.

He mentions the courage required when he came to Los Angeles. He'd been a loner, much as I. Then he reads from John Eldredge's "Waking the Dead."
"He writes in here about the heart. It's about turning a stone heart into flesh."
"You should read my blog," I say, smiling. "Mary Lu mentioned the same thing."

God, and heart, and creativity. The final part of what Phil reads describes how courage is the core of the others. Without courage they don't happen.

Keith would say this is another example of God putting His message to me in neon lights. Courage. Heart of flesh. Confluence.

"I've never been very courageous," I tell him. "Except in certain hidden ways, like sand sculpture. There's my heart, laid out right on the beach for all to see, but it's perfect because no one sees it! And yet Lu sent me an Email a while back, saying I had a warrior's heart. I told her I didn't buy it, and, well, you don't know how she writes. Get her fired up and she will read you the riot act in such an elegant and organized way that you have no grounds for resistance. She wrote back to me in very clear terms. I had to buy it after that, and then God started filling in the details."

God really is a good teacher. He uses all these events to teach what I need to know. If I'd been as courage-less as I've always thought, I'd have given up. Being creative does call for some courage, to follow what I believe is right rather than joining a crowd. It's pretty easy, though, when you're a bottom-feeder in life. Unpopular people don't have any problems doing their own thing. It's the popular ones who get caught in traps of their own making.

I did learn something valuable in that. No one else's plan will work for me. Phil adjured me to get involved in a church, telling me how he has counseled people who've traced their own problems back to the day they started departing from a church.
"I believe there will be a time when that happens, but at the moment it's not. I have no friends of the kind you've described, someone to challenge me, someone who'd help when I was coming apart. But that could very well be my own fault because I draw such a self-assured veil around myself. People probably think they can't get in."

"That's an interesting idea," he said. "I hadn't thought about that. Sometimes there are seasons of isolation."

"God is working on it. The last couple of months have been very difficult." Stone into flesh. The wonder is that God has talked me into believing He's right. "And I'm not too worried. God keeps after me. Fortunately."

We got up and headed out. Back to work. It was a nice interlude.

Larry, This is an awsome post. I do think courage is at the heart of God, heart, and creativity, but I guess I hadn't thought of it quite that way.

Boy, have I been fighting the courage battle--as you might have read in my Aslan post. It really helped me to see myself walking forward, past the fear, between Alsan's front legs, underneath his powerful jaw. Totally surrounded by my Protector. I don't have to be courageous all alone.

Funny that this post talked about Eldredge's book Waking the Dead. I just left a comment on your Nov. 4 post about another of Eldredge's books. God has used that man mightily to help me find my heart, my passion, my creativity. Like you said, God's the ultimate teacher, He keeps pursuing and never gives up. He takes the whole thing we need and gives us snippets from lots of different directions until one day we wake up and have no choice but to dig deep and deal with what He's showing us. My journal has been my life line. I blog some of that stuff now, (but not all. some is too private). Anyway, I'm excited to watch God unwrap the gift of you. He's on the move. I can see it. Can't wait to read more of your stuff.
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