Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Strong Women

"The King had his arm on the Unicorn's shoulder, and sometimes the Unicorn
nuzzled the King's cheek with his soft nose. They did not try to comfort
one another with words. It wasn't very easy to think of anything to say
that would be comforting. Tirian had never dreamed that one of the results
of an Ape's setting up a false Aslan would be to stop people from believing
in the real one."

That's from "The Last Battle," by C.S. Lewis. The thought holds true for
today. We have so many false representations of God that no one believes
the real one when He speaks. I still have trouble with hearing Him, being
well programmed.

I did a sculpture yesterday. The day started clear and breezy, then the
wind picked up and clouds covered the sun. Cold. Near shivering. Then the
clouds broke up, the wind went down and God's glorious sun washed the beach
with warm yellow light. Clouds built up around us, over the mountains,
masses of grey and white that took fire near sunset.

"I wish I had wide-angle lens," I said to my friend Rich. If I'd obeyed
God's voice, I'd have had one for this beautiful evening, but I just
couldn't believe it. That old model of God still rules at times. I was
forgiven, the evening was still glorious, and the sculpture was a standout.
Still, you can't take pictures with a lens that's sitting on a store shelf,
and the high clouds would have been a spectacular and beautiful backdrop.
We don't get many days like this.

How do we learn of God? By example. Most of the available examples are bad,
giving a repeated idea of a God who can barely get out of bed in the
morning, much less minister to us. I'm fortunate in that I have run into
some good examples who show forth a living and active God.

I went to a church one time--only the once--that named its men's ministry
the "Iron Mill." Another calls its men's ministry "Forge." Naturally I have
nothing to do with these. I guess they have their place but not for this
man. I have had my fill of male cruelty and expectations; I don't want to
be forged into a rigid tool, nor have my corners chopped off and milled
flat and straight.

What I want is all that God offers. Being a man had better include a lot
more than the usual driven roles. Where is there room within these tightly
defined "ministries" for a man made sensitive by God? What I want is the
strength of women.

Carol. Kim. Lu. They never give up, but they don't narrow their worlds as I
did and as it seems men have to do. Men see everything as nails, and use
the biggest hammer they can find. Women look for the right tool, or they
wait. They don't quit. A lucky man knows some women who will let him know
the truth.

Carol was upset that I interpreted her comments as "the Riot Act," as that
wasn't her intent. She went on to explain her devotion to truth, which is
very similar to mine. Truth is the rock amid the changing ground and
crashing waves. Truth is the light that picks out the one path between
gnashing teeth and freezing. Truth is the way out of depression, the way
into life, the first stepping stone into the land of joy.

And Carol had the courage to tell me that, to tell me that she'd been hurt
by my words. She said "Ouch!" instead of talking about sports. That takes
courage. It's just the most recent in a life of similar acts: raising
children, sharing life, showing the truth in her actions.

Kim had the courage to hang on in a life that showed no sign of promise
until it suddenly started to change. Now she's using what she learned in
those dry years to get 14-year-olds excited about the Bible! Can you
imagine a tougher group?

And Lu, mixing sound at Mosaic Beverly Hills while hoping she didn't just
fall apart in front of us. Going off to a strange city to help start a
church so that others can learn Who holds her in His hand.

All three of them go far beyond any ideas of "Women Aglow" and studies of
Ruth. They're out there in the real world, holding their lives together
with elements of grace men have no concept of. Men of iron stand unaffected
by the world. Women can't afford to do that; they have to engage the world,
and this takes courage far beyond what can be forged.

This is a rather odd story. It has brought to the surface more passion than
I expected. I have been victimized by men and their rigidity, their crude

There are a few who go beyond that. They listen, they think, they speak
what is true to them instead of what other men expect them to say.

Craig, for example. Taking the time to expose his heart to me, making him
the first man to do that. Astounded, I did the only thing I could: respect
his heart enough to respect his Savior too. He led by example. If Jesus
liked Craig, then maybe He'd like me, and make me into a real person like

And there's Rich, who defies all categories. Resolutely his own man, but
willing to join with others and share himself.

Jesus Himself never bought anyone's stereotype. He dealt gracefully and
accurately with all kinds of people, and never purely on the basis of
gender. Each person He met was a person, unique and the center of His

When you walk into a Christian church it's as if you're expected to very
neatly divide into classical women and classical men. So many activities
there are based on gender differences, which encourage the stereotypes I've
had to fight all my life.

I had dinner with Debbie and Nate on Friday night. On the way home Debbie
asked "What is your experience of the Holy Spirit? How do you know He's
"He's always in the back of my mind, kind of like a cord connecting me to
God is the way I visualize it. A constant presence."
"Sometimes He just blows me away. His presence is so strong that I feel I'm
turning red. That happened last night at the Life Group. That's why I was
"He sometimes just rains blessing onto me, a gentle shower," I say. "This
seems to be different for every person. God is unique for everyone, giving
them what they need." it's an idea that has grown over the last few months
as I hear more stories like this. Most of the time it's the women who will
talk about and explore issues like this.

The world desperately need examples of people living whole lives. Women
have the courage to become whole and let God live in them. And they don't

2004 December 5

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