I had an opportunity to contribute to a devotional at my church for Advent this is my share. When Joy’s comes around I will see if she will let me post it as well.
A friend was telling, the other day, about a job prospect, and he was anxious about making the move. Taking it would mean that he would be closer to a woman who had flirted with him years ago. The interaction shamed him to the point that he mentioned it a few times over various conversations. So what’s the big deal about a woman flirting with a man? Well he’s married, and his consternation was about if he should discuss it with his wife. I am very opinionated, but I do try not to tell grown men what to do with such personal questions. I asked all the “wise” questions I could think of and hoped that he would make the right decision on his own, but encouraged that he should talk to his counselor if he still needed expert advice.
The next day, the conversation wouldn’t leave me alone. I was playing Monday morning quarter back: coming up with all the smart things that I should have said. One thing that came to mind was “Why are you reluctant to share something that bothers you so much with the human you love the most?”
That was deep, but I couldn’t leave it at that, so I played out his response. I was sure it would be something about being ashamed and not wanting to unnecessarily burden his wife. So it was time for my comeback in this mental dialogue “The real problem is you want to hold on to the excitement of the thing that is shaming you. You can’t confess or deal with all that guilt because you want to hold on to the guilty pleasure.” I had finally struck the death blow in this conversation we would never have… And then I thought to myself, “Dude! why am I stressing out about some other guy’s problem?”
That’s when I realized the real reason for this mental battle: I was putting up my arguments not his. Some lustful thoughts had passed through my mind and really shamed me that weekend… the kind that only a jerk would have. I rationalized my thoughts saying “I was tired,” and “I had been sick,” or “I wasn’t thinking clearly.” But still, I wasn’t sure I wanted to share these two passing thoughts with my wife … even though they were a bother from the time they popped up. So, while I was pointing one finger at my buddy, all the other fingers on my hand of accusation pointed back at me saying “I can’t lose the shame because I want to hold onto the thrill.”
So then, what did I really want? To keep that thrill and keep swimming in shame? He and I both would express in a later conversation how these thoughts made us feel like a pervert or a jerk. The longer we held onto those thoughts without confession, to God and trusted loved ones, the more we would shame ourselves into believing those names. The more we believed those names, the easier it would be to give into the lies that they are, and the cycle would not stop.
In years past, I would try to numb the shame by hiding in a closet full of even more lustful thoughts. But there is an encouragement in the first part of James 5:16 (ESV) saying “… confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed…” This time, God would show grace to me in this process of confession.
Redemption replaced the anxiety as I hesitantly shared with my wife. She gave me a taste of Ephesians 4:32 (ESV) (“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as in God Christ forgave you.”) The thoughts that once held me in shame could no longer drag me through the mud. From what I understand, my buddy had a similar experience with his wife. This means we let go of the ugly names that we were clinging to. Instead, we embrace the names Jesus gives to any who believe in him as “Loved and redeemed Children.” This experience of repentance and grace opened up the opportunity to live freely and glorify Him.* May the spirit continue to help us live into that freedom.
I was torn about starting this blog. On the one hand, I want this to be a blog where I share lessons I learn mostly from my brokenness. On the other hand it feels like a very egotistical thing… Like I am saying let me show you how I have it together. When talking to my brother about setting up the blog, I even joked about breaking his server with all the traffic I will bring. But I was still hesitant was this what God would want me to do?
I was challenged not to think about “Is this what God wants for me,” but rather “will this bring me closer to God.” I quibbled: My pastor and I both thought that we were focusing more on God in our consideration. This really gets technical but I was looking at the subject of the sentence (God wants vs me moving), and he was looking at the object of the action (for me vs closer to God ). I want to do the blog, and don’t see God opposing it, because I blame the technological barriers on my ignorance and malevolent sources. So It turns out that the question “will it draw me closer to God?” is a better question.
Then the decision solidified for me while I sat in my last FirstLight meeting (for now). I had just shared work on surrendering to God, like why I don’t want to surrender and what it might look like if I did. And the leader went into a little discussion on humility. He talked about humility being power submitted to control… I took this to be the control of the Spirit. This really focused the idea of the chipped dish. The whole point is not me or my powerful thoughts; it is the submission of all of me: power and brokenness.
Toward the end of my share I said that I am not sure what it really looks like to be submitted to God or to taste and see that God is good. The whole point of “chippeddish.com” is this: acknowledging that I don’t have it together, but I do seek the kingdom of God who does have it together. 2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
This is effectively open journal. I don’t want to confuse anyone reading this blog. My posts are not going to be scripture, though I may reference the bible. They may not even be theologically sound, though I hope not to be a heretic. My posts are going to be hopefully a way to externally process the fact that I am a chipped dish, ruminations on life around me, and wrestling with what God is doing. I hope you will engage the thoughts, provide insight your own, and encourage the better way
For the first post, why not a post about what this name came from. Joy and I have always talked about a coffee shop and I have subtitled it the “Chipped Dish Café.” When I recently was thinking about what name I would use for the domain and blog I liked the idea of a chipped dish. You may have heard the quote/book title that “God Uses Cracked Pots.” Well there’s no reason he couldn’t use a chipped dish.
I want to be able to explore the brokenness and find the beauty. I hope to explore good, bad, ugly and what they say about what is and what should be. At all times I hope to be a pointer to Jesus as the hope. As noted in the name of the blog and this first post. I may be a flawed pointer, but hopefully this is not a distraction from the truth that no matter how chipped and cracked I may be Jesus will make me whole.
When I was in high school, I worked for a man named Richard Jinks. A couple times asked for a letter of recommendation. Over the years, I would remember … but then forget. When he passed, I remembered his request. This was initially published in my mom’s column the El Dorado News Times and she keeps it on her blog called JottingJoan.com, I wanted to share it on my blog, too.
To whom it may concern: I understand that Richard Jinks is up for promotion. I hope that you will consider what I have to say. Richard Jinks is amazing in many ways. I have known him from my youth. He is a good leader. He demonstrates a desire to develop community through work at church. I could tell stories of his ability to draw or develop men of character by taking boys into the woods and showing them survival techniques. His lawn service demonstrates his diligence in providing for his family. However, that is not the best understanding of Richard. Initially I thought his character would be summed up in his ability to tell a story, but still there is much more. The first day I went to work Mr. Jinks clearly demonstrated his character better than any other synopsis I have seen. It was early in the morning. I was used to my old push mower at home, so once I started the mower, I knew to push. But I dared not push the lever because I did not want to kill the motor. On that first job, there was a hill that was better for demonstrating gravity than for pushing a professional mower across. Richard observed as I pushed, that the mower drifted downhill rather than making the nice smooth back and forth cuts I was supposed to make. He said, “Hey, Nate, why don’t you push that lever?” I responded that I did not want to kill the engine – but I gave it a try at his admonition. Rather than die, as I had expected, the mower practically jerked out of my hand, surging forward to cut the grass. Cutting the grass on the hill afterward was easier because the mower did all the work as I walked behind it. This makes a fun story, but we are just now getting to the reason for this recommendation. Richard’s character really shines in his reflection on this mundane event. He pointed out that I “was cutting grass without using the self-propelling mechanism in the same way people sometimes try to push through life, on their own, doing it without God. Trust in God will not kill mojo, rather He is the power for life when circumstances are pulling us down,” Richard said. In a way, Richard’s insight animates what Jesus meant when he said “my yoke is easy.” That lesson sticks with me, and the application is so universal that I share this story in many situations. When I am trying to be good enough on my own, rather than trusting in Jesus’ sufficiency, this is my reminder. This letter of recommendation is unnecessary for him now that he has passed on. Besides, his life serves as a pointer to Christ – He is the true letter of recommendation. Richard knows that even more now than he did when he was with us. Since Jesus took care of Richard’s letter of recommendation a long time ago, I share this letter here to encourage others with Richard’s lesson. Embrace life. Love your family. But most of all rely on God and listen for His word however it comes. We are leaving a legacy. I hope that mine and yours point to Christ in such a marked way as Richard Jinks. Respectfully, Nathan Hershberger