In HOPE 8.5 

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David Timms  

Lent Stories

Lent began two weeks ago. For those of you who have chosen to use this season to press a little harder into God, what's been happening? Spiritual struggles? Spiritual victories? Spiritual insights? Spiritual silence? Our experiences will differ dramatically, but we can encourage each other by sharing those experiences. I'd like to hear your story thus far. Can you drop me a note? I look forward to hearing from you.


Richard Foster's Streams of Living Water (Harper Collins, 1998, 420 pages) is a helpful discussion of the major streams of Christian spirituality over the ages. The book explores the prayer-filled, virtue-based, Spirit-filled, Word-centered, justice-oriented, and Presence-aware traditions within the Christian faith, using a lot of fascinating and inspiring stories. Foster expands our historical and spiritual horizons while remaining thoroughly biblical. He writes wth his usual clarity and wisdom.

Hope International University
Fullerton  CA  92831


"Faith might be precisely that ability to trust the river, to trust the flow and the lover.... There is a river. The river is flowing; we are in it. The river is God's providential love." ~ Richard Rohr

Flailing & Floating

Darcy thought her young son might never learn to float. For a month she watched him straining in the pool with his swim instructor. It seemed so unnatural to tilt the head right back. (Do you remember that scary feeling?) Then, in a moment of total surrender, he got it. No kicking, splashing, or flailing. No jerking the head to look around. The water could only support him when he yielded to it entirely.


Most of us flail-not in swimming pools but in life.


When our health fails, we kick. When our kids rebel, we swim harder. When we interview for a new job, we splash all over the place. It's so hard, it seems, to tilt the head right back and simply look to the sky. Instead, we worry about what's ahead of us, behind us, and around us. We grow tense, like the child first learning to float, working harder than we need to, and growing exhausted.


We say that we trust the Father but we don't actually keep our eyes on Him.


We pause briefly, holding on to the side of the pool for some instruction and advice-perhaps briefly each morning or just each Sunday-but back out in the deep water we revive our old, bad habits, afraid to surrender entirely. We feel certain that survival in the hostile environment of life depends on our own strength. Will we make it?


Nothing scares us more, initially, than complete surrender to the Father's love. We vainly believe that we know what is best for our deepest happiness-a healing, a better paycheck, a marriage partner, a larger home. What if the Father doesn't come through? What if our greatest happiness is not His highest priority? St. Ignatius of Loyola described such doubts as sin and those doubts turn us into flailers, not floaters.


This Lenten season focuses our attention on the cross of Christ and bids us nail our flail to the cross-beams. The apostle Paul eventually learned that to "die daily" (1 Cor 15.31) or to be "crucified with Christ" (Gal 2.20) meant to cease straining in his own strength and find life-resurrection life-in the Father, not himself.


Life is not about forging our own path to success or significance. Instead, it's learning to float all over again "in the river of God's providential love." May we be better learners (disciples) this week.






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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.