Friday, March 23, 2018

Present and Connected or... Not?

Mindless (definition): “Acting or done without justification or concern for the consequences.
Mindful (definition): “The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.

When the Bible meets neurology, it sounds something like this to me:

The general tendency of our hearts – especially the PFC (pre-frontal cortex) – is toward deceit and hiding the truth (the depth of our emotion, memory, and relational patterns, as well as the reality of a God who loves us beyond belief) from ourselves and others. Its general trajectory, when left to its own volition, is to disconnect within itself and from other hearts.” (p170, Anatomy of the Soul)

Sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, who would knowingly head aimlessly toward disconnection?

I put away my iphone for lent, in the hope of learning to become less distracted, more mindful, and spend more quality time with God and with people. In other words, more connected.

In the course of the past weeks, though I’ve discovered that as much as I like people – and God – it’s not my natural bent. Even in the absence of my electronic mind-numbing-device, I’ve found other ways to distract my mind from the harder work of intentionality and connection.

TV in the evening
Facebook surfing
Playing solitaire
Sometimes all three at once…

Why is being intentionally present and connected to God and others so stinking difficult?

Doctor Curt Thompson states in his book “Anatomy of the Soul”:

The degree to which we set our minds on – pay attention to – those desires of the sinful nature tends to dis-integrate our minds by encouraging a state of mindlessness. One – if not the – primal sinful “desire” is the urge for instant reduction of distressing emotions. We tend to turn away from unpleasant emotional states toward inner or outer mental or behavioral means that will disconnect us from or eliminate those very states… When we do this, we pay less attention to what is happening in our minds. We then tend to respond to internal or external events with sinful thoughts and behaviors. When our minds are set on these things, it does not lead to death. According to Paul, it is death. Death is that state of dis-integration, disconnection, and isolations that leads to everything that is wrong in the universe. And according to Paul, you don’t have to be without a pulse to be dead.” (p 178)

Wow. Especially those last two sentences.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that watching TV, or surfing Facebook, or playing solitaire are sinful. However, the fight against the desire to “get away from it all,” to “check out” – especially when life gets a bit more chaotic, the unpleasant emotions are many, and the voice of the enemy comes in like a flood – is not an easy battle. Paying attention to the unpleasant emotions is, well, unpleasant. When I feel rejected, under-valued, and overwhelmed by all the things that are wrong in the world that I have no control over – my first thought isn’t “why am I feeling this way?” or “What is true, and what is not true in this situation?” Nope, I just want to not feel badly – and that translates most of the time into just wanting to “not feel.”

However, if “life in abundance” is superior to “survival,” and true “peace” is better than “numbness,” then it’s worth struggling for.

So today, I’m going to put away my laptop and sit with God in a quiet place, and ask Him what’s on His heart. I’m going to check in with myself and ask myself why that situation the other day made me feel so crappy, when I know the people on the other end of it had no idea or intention of hurting me – and ask God to remind me of the truth of His love for me, and who He has created me to be. I’m going to stop procrastinating, and reach out to that friend and check in, let them know that they are worth caring for. Today I’m going to step toward connection, and not away from it, just because mindlessness is easier in the short run, but much more painful in the long run.  

What steps will you take today toward connection with God? What steps can you take today toward connection with others? Instead of “coping strategies,” are there “healing strategies” that you can engage in that will start you on the path to a more abundant life, which is what Jesus promises (John 10:10)?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Week 2: On Failure

Yesterday I failed really well: I messed up on a major part of my job right now – filing reimbursement requests for people on the field. I miss-filed, miss-directed and made a general royal mess of things. Not just once. But repeatedly. And my first response was the familiar feelings of panic and shame – “What are you even doing here?” “People are going to think you’re incapable, and not really cut out for this,” and “It’s not really my fault, my training was super-fast.”

Have you ever failed before? Or felt like you were failing? Inadequate for the task? Even incompetent?

How do you respond when you aren’t performing well at the task given? Do you want to curl into a ball, give up, quit and look to do something else? Do you brush it off, ignore it and look to distract yourself with things you like? Do you become defensive? Perhaps look to see who else may be at fault that you can share the blame with? Do you berate yourself, and tell yourself what a failure you are? How do feel when you know that someone in authority over you is aware of your failings?

I had a friend who thought that if she didn’t beat herself over the head, she’d never learn. Unfortunately, none of us learn well that way – not when someone else is demeaning us, nor when we’re demeaning ourselves. This past year, God spoke deeply to my heart about the performance trap – needing to do well, all the time, in order to validate myself in front of others. The reason that it’s a trap, is that it leaves no room for learning and growth – “if you can’t do it perfectly at first, then why even try?” – and how many people are good the first time at everything they put their hand to? If you’ve been with those who think they are, they can sometimes be demanding and grace-less when it comes to others around them. I know, because I’ve been one of them – a perfectionist caught in the snare of pride in my abilities, and shame in my shortcomings.

If you recognize yourself at all in this, then let me share what God spoke to me last Summer: “Your value is not determined by your performance,” and “You can’t earn love or grace.” Read those one more time, because this is huge: our value isn’t determined by others’ opinion of us, or of how we perceive others’ opinion of us; it’s not determined by how well or how poorly we come out in comparison to others. Our value is determined by, and only by, what God says about us.  And He has counted me – and you – worth His own life: the mystery of the only Son of God, God himself, given in our place for our shortcomings, and sin. The value He places on us, has everything to do with His opinion of us, His relentless love for us, and nothing to do with our performance, or our ability to earn that love.

So, what’s the big deal? The big deal, I believe, is that we can’t step into our purpose unless we’re willing to learn and grow. And learning and growth almost always have to come through failure, through the grace to get up and try again.  If we’re not willing to fail, and admit to failure, we won’t take the risks needed to grow – and we’ll remain stunted in one area or another of our lives. And God’s purpose in us will remain stunted and unfulfilled as well. Not to mention that living in pride, fear and shame is not a fun thing.

The encouraging thing is that after 44 years, I am learning!  I am encouraged – I did fail – super well. But at the end of the day, I was able to recognize the fear and the shame, name it, and reject it. I’m not “a failure,” I just have a chance to own up to my own short-comings (I could have asked questions, and waited instead of plowing ahead, trying to fix things myself), and to grow. And growth is good. Not painless, but really good. How else will we become like a tree planted by streams of living water, bearing fruit in season and out, if we’re not willing - or able - to grow?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Dusty Streets and a Softening Heart

After the 3 hour bus ride, I made my way up through the dusty and hilly streets in the foothills of Carabayllo for one last visit.  Two years ago, my heart was angry at this young lady, angry at her wantonness, and angry at my foster son’s inability to resist her.  Of course he wasn’t the problem… she was. If only she weren’t so easy, or so aggressive, he would be able to see clearer. What I wasn’t seeing (or wanting to see), was that she was just as broken as he was… but she had no warning voice reining her in.  So he struggled, and she won her prize – a young man who turned his back on God to be with her, and in so doing, turned his back on his conscience and gave up the struggle to deny himself anything. He crumbled in the face of the temptation of turning back to drugs, of life on the streets… and of other girls. 5 months after winning her “prize,” she was pregnant, and the father of their baby was already with another girl, working sporadically, and treating her like something to be used and discarded.  “Enlarge your heart,” God had spoken to me way back when she was relentlessly pursuing him… and vice versa. Oh, how slow we are as parents to see, that the fault may lay within our own.  How slow to see that that “problem,” may be someone just as desperate in need of love, of counsel, of the presence of someone who truly cares and is willing to speak the truth to them in love.

            Now, two years later, I’ve had the privilege of spending time with her, and with her son, who is a precious and smiley 8 month-old. I pray with all my being that he is not another casualty of the consequences of abandonment, family violence, abuse or neglect.  She is so young… and still so broken.  It has been good to be with her, hear her story, and be able to speak some truth – in love this time – to her. Truth about her worth, about God’s love for her, about her need for His counsel, as He truly does care for her.  I’m not sure how much she has “heard.” When we fix our eyes on another savior apart from Jesus, we are easily sidetracked.  She is soon heading back to the jungle to try to raise her son with his father, who says he is now repentant for the way he treated her, and I pray that somehow, in the mess of it, they all find God’s redeeming grace, forgiveness, and wisdom.

However, as I walked up the hills of Carabayllo, I wasn’t praying anymore for my heart to be open to her, now there was another “problem.”  Her sister has been living with her and their mother for a few months now also, recently broken up with her fiancé.  In my mind and heart, I had made her into a “problem,” as well. Joking with her sister about being a “sinner” as she tried to read her Bible, dressing provocatively as she went out on the street… I was convinced that she was being a bad influence on her younger sister in her vulnerable state.  “Lord, help me to see her through your eyes, help me to love her with your love,” I prayed as I walked.  I had found out that she wasn’t working for the moment, a flu having kept her home for a few days.  My self-righteous nature is easily awakened, and once again I found myself in the clutches of “if onlys…”

When I arrived, the sister was there, and not the brash girl I had seen on my last visit. She asked about missions, asked about why and how I was in Peru, and confessed her difficulty in connecting with God. She shared how she had gone to church with her fiancé, and had received Christ, but only to please him. She confessed how boring she found church, and how she had told her fiancé she wanted to be there and wanted to follow Christ, when she really didn’t at the time. In effect, she was sincere and vulnerable with me… and it undid me.  God answered my prayer for my heart to be open to her in ways I didn’t know were possible during that short visit. Over lunch when I was talking with her Mom about giving her life to God to have Him sort through it instead of her trying to “clean it up” in order to give it back to Him pretty, the sister broke down crying.  “I’d really like to follow God,” she said, “but the world seems so attractive sometimes… and church so boring. Do I have to go to church to follow God?” We had a great conversation about the need for fellow believers, about different churches, and about the value of the eternal versus the temporal.  I got to share the fun fact that I’ve never found God boring after deciding to follow Him wholeheartedly… frustrating, painful, and heart-rending at times, but never boring, hahaha.

So, once again, I am humbled by the fact that God uses us even in our brokenness. Do join me in praying for this family who are searching and hungry for Love.  And for me, that I’ll continue loving in ways that are stretching to this sometimes-critical heart.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Baptism - What of it?

Sunday afternoon we drove a few kilometers south of Tambo de Mora, and two precious young ladies were baptized.

Abigail, 10 years old, had come to the church around a month ago with her Mom, scared and asking for prayer. She had been having demonic dreams, full of fear and impotence. No matter how much she prayed, and her Mom prayed, the dreams kept coming back.  It's hard to take authority over spiritual attack when you don't know Who your Father is yet. After chatting for a bit with her, her Mom, pastor Robert and a few girls from the World Race team there at the time, she indicated that she would like to give her life to God, and would like Him to be both her Savior and her Shepherd. I tried to make sure it was something that she truly wanted, not just a patch for a scary moment, and she said she was sure she wanted to give her life to Christ. We prayed and gave her further strategies for telling those spirits that she belonged to God, and they had no right to bother her.
The next week when they came to church, she said that after 3 more nights, the dreams had stopped, as she continued to introduce the bothersome spirits to her Heavenly Father, and His authority.

That same week, her older sister, Anghyolina, who is 14 years old, came to church with her Mom, brokenhearted because her stepfather blames her when anything goes wrong. One of the racers, Andi, was able to share her testimony about growing up in a broken home, and speak directly to her heart about what it looks like to find your worth in what God says about you. It was a beautiful moment.

After the service that night, two of the women were talking about being baptized, and young Abigail expressed her interest in being baptized too. As we were talking about it on the way to take them back to their home in Chincha, she mentioned it again to her Mom, and her sister Anghyolina piped up too, "I also want to get baptized!" So we arranged for a class on baptism with them the next Sunday afternoon with pastor Robert, and then set a date for the baptism after that class for this past Sunday.

In the Catholic church culture down here, infants are baptized, and many see it as an amulet of protection for them against sickness or evil spirits.  Those who are baptized are saved, and those who aren't, well - aren't. In the Protestant church here, it is a symbol of one's commitment to God, and our willingness to be united with Christ in His death, receiving His forgiveness and burying the "old man" with it's old nature with Christ and trusting in His grace for a new way of living in Him.  But, there's a big "but" for me: I still have questions.

I know baptism doesn't save you - we are not saved by works, but by faith - however, does anything supernatural happen at baptism? And if it does, how do I know so many who have proclaimed by being baptized their desire to follow Christ... but have turned back to the world and to dependence on themselves, their own wisdom, and strength to get what they want out of life? So many people share about experiencing great peace when they were baptized, or of an infilling of the Holy Spirit. Others say it's just an act of obedience to God's mandate to be baptized, nothing more and nothing less.  Just like with Jesus, though, it seems that for many, the public declaration of the desire to follow Christ is followed by a time of testing in the wilderness... and perhaps not all pass the test.

The mandate in Matthew 28 is to go, making disciples, baptizing them in Jesus' name, and teaching them to obey all that He commanded.  I do believe that as exciting as baptisms are, it's the last part of that directive that gives the church (and me) trouble. The "teaching them to obey all that I commanded."  Discipleship to Christ - not to doctrine, not to oneself, not to a denomination, but to "hear His voice and follow," I believe is truly where we need to be working.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the matter.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Rimac - Finding Healing in the Broken

Yesterday my friend Sofia called at 8am. "Did I wake you?" she asked, and I laughed her off with a "At 8am? Don't be silly... even if you had, it would have been time to be up anyway!" The reality was that I was struggling to drag myself out of bed... again. At night my thoughts keep me awake, and in the morning it just seems easier to keep shutting them out with more sleep.

"Hermana, could you come with me today to visit my sick brother (in Christ, not by blood)?" I tried to stall for time to answer, "What time do you want to go? Let me think... I need to be back in time to make supper, it's my turn to cook tonight. Where is he?" Trying to sound like I care (I truly want to care, but the weight of my thoughts makes me listless), while inwardly acknowledging the reality that I might rather stay home... and do what? There was truly no good excuse. And isn't this what I'm here for? To be available to meet others in their need? She was ready to leave immediately, I just had to pull myself together, so I gave her an affirmative answer, and asked for an hour or so to "take care of some things." Like getting up, eating, getting dressed and trying to press in to a devotional time with God.  

The upside was that I got to go out and have some reprieve from my thoughts. The downside was that he lives in Rimac, one of the most crime-ridden sectors of Lima.  At 11am we finally met up in Chabuca, a park right behind the presidential palace. The river Rimac runs by the park, and on the other side of the river is the sector itself, standing in dirty stark contrast to the area surrounding the presidential palace. I followed her lead, as she was familiar with the zone and knew how to stay away from more dangerous spots.  We took a taxi to Rimac market, then another car to the San Juan area on the side of a hill, walking an uneven block to the house where the sick man, Gustavo, was. 

 A year ago he had been diagnosed with a malignant cancer, and given a year to live.  He was in bed, rail-thin, a man in his late 50's more or less, with a still dignified demeanor even on his deathbed.  His yellowed eyes gave away his quickly deteriorating condition, but we chatted about the weather, my friend Sofia's early years as a believer, and his family.  He had been a police officer, and had 9 children, not all by the same woman.  He had his sweet wife Yoli bring out the certificates he had earned in courses taken for chaplaincy service after coming to Christ.  I was impressed by his effort to better himself to serve those around him.  Then we sang and prayed together.  "Tu fidelidad es grande..." "Your faithfulness is great..."  As we prayed, he started to writhe and moan, and all my doubts of my ability in my present state to minister to anyone flooded in, but I continued to feel led to pray against depression and discouragement... and God showed up. Turns out God isn't limited by our imperfections - asking in faith in His goodness even apart from our worthiness is enough.  Gustavo stopped writhing and started nodding.  "Gracias, Señor." "What do you feel, brother?" I asked. "Peace. A lot of peace."  Just what we'd been asking for.  My heart flooded in gratitude and awe at the mercy of God. 

Later Sofia told me of how he had been wounded by the church, and how pastoral jealousy had kept him from meeting his full potential to serve.  How the pastor had never visited him, even after knowing that his cancer was fatal, and on one occasion when he had felt well enough to attend a service, had remarked that "nowadays it takes cancer to get people to go to church." Wounded people wound others, and the wounds of discouragement were deep. Sofia felt sure that this is what left him as we were praying. 

On the way home, I wondered at a God who uses the broken to bring healing to others.  Who took a womanizing police officer and turned him into a police chaplain and family counselor. Who planted a transformed police officer in the middle of a corrupt and delinquent sector of the city and whose family, even in his sickness, is a beacon of light to those around them.  Who got a depressed girl out of bed on a Wednesday morning to go pray against discouragement and depression in a terminal cancer patient.  Truly, great is His faithfulness. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Mourning the Unmournable

“The way he treated you, that’s not gratitude.”
“He didn’t deserve your care.”
“Let him be the one to show you he’s truly repentant."
"You don't send kids back, no matter how terrible they are acting."
"If you were a real mother, you'd never have let him go." 

After spending a year as a foster mother to a 15-16 year old boy with a trauma and abuse background, replete with addiction issues and poor coping mechanisms, I had to send him back to his biological mother when I found out he was stealing from me, and after all the lies, manipulation and breaking of trust time and time again, emotionally, I didn’t know how to cope anymore.  

These experiences don't come with manuals... at least not ones that you know about when you just jump in over your head. But everyone, including myself, has an opinion on how things should be, even if the opinions don't line up.  Still, in my heart, he was a son.

What I didn't realize, is that I too had a lot of baggage that I didn’t know I was carrying. The baggage of codependent behavior in myself, of being too needy to be a good Mom at the moment. Fear is never a good guide, and I was drowning in fear - fear of losing him, fear of what would become of him if he made the wrong decision, instead of listening to the still small voice of the Father who loves – but has good boundaries.  The baggage of wondering if I had somehow screwed him up more by my enabling… and then by my abandonment.
The hardest person ever to forgive, I've found, is oneself.

“Of course God used you in his life, you just can’t see it yet. These things take time.”
“You never know how God used you. You showed him love, now you just have to let go and trust.”
... and so on. Well-meaning words of comfort, but it's never seemed that easy to me to let go and trust. Perhaps I'm a horrible Christian too. 

What do you do, when you’ve been a Mom, and all of a sudden, you aren’t anymore? When you realize that you’ll probably never see them fulfill the dreams that they had shared with you? That the house will be empty from now on, and what was can not be again? And in the place of purpose, connection, hope and belonging now, is just loss. Disconnection, guilt, shame, blame, and confusion.

If only I had been more vigilant. If only I had listened to God better. If only I had protected him more, protected him less, scolded him more, scolded him less, and let him face consequences earlier… if only I had been a better Mom, this wouldn’t have happened. 

What do you do when you lose a son… but you feel that the people around you blame him, and wonder why you’re still caring about what happens to the manipulative twit? Or when you feel that people blame you, and wonder why you gave up on a kid that you had called “son” once? Gave up? No, I felt he was forcibly ripped from my hands by God who could not have said much louder, “Let go!”

Then, what do you do when God gives you a gift… and then takes it away? What do you do when you feel that all you ever knew of God’s goodness and faithfulness seems to contradict what He’s asking of you? How do you trust God again when you’re not sure if maybe you’re the next one to be evicted?  And how do you mourn a son who is still alive but not your son anymore?

A friend of mine lost her son at the same time I lost mine, but in a car accident. And I watched with horror, compassion… and might I even admit… a twinge of jealousy, as she processed her loss and grieved publically on facebook. The horror and compassion are understandable – I could empathize with her ravaged grief. But the jealousy? How was I to mourn, and who could I talk to? All my conversations felt like they were about betrayal, failure and… loss? But what loss? The loss of an angry, manipulative, and oh-so-wounded teen? But oh, what loss!

To not hear his voice in the morning coming from downstairs, saying “hello, mamá!” and “good morning, mamá!” And his favorite way to bother me as he was washing (clothes, dishes, etc.) down below… “mamá!... mamá!... mamá!” until I caved and said, “what?”… “nada… jajajaja!” Or, the alternative answer: “I love you! Jajajaja.” To not hear the quiet “good night, mamá” in the evening when the house was dark, and I could barely hear it whispered through the floor.

And the things I learned from him. I learned about God’s amazing sacrificial love for us. When my laptop was run over, falling out of a motocar he was in, and was supposed to be taking care of and he responded with palpable remorse and said "I wish I'd been the one run over," I learned about how God paid what we could never hope to pay for, in order to maintain relationship with us through Christ. When he told me not to thank him for washing the dishes all the time, because it felt like I was trying to pay him with my gratitude for something that a son should do for his Mom, I learned that love is not earned, and we don’t have to bargain for it… and that gratitude should always be sincere, not offered in payment, which is a bit manipulative. The things that God showed him about how God offers us more and more precious treasures as we grow deeper in relationship with Him, but how we often settle for cheap and gaudy on a superficial level. He heard God’s voice, and with what he learned, I learned.

But his past caught up with his present in the form of a girl, seductive and broken, just like he was. From a past of abuse and abandonment, with the same hurts and same struggles… and she started playing with his heart, and he started playing with hers, and they both lost. Even after God warned him time and again to stay away from her. And I’m sure if she could have heard God, He would have been telling her the same thing. And now there’s another baby growing up without a Dad present, far away with his Mom in Lima.

How do you mourn such loss when there doesn’t seem to be any platform for it? To be a Mom, then to not be a Mom… but not through a death, though it felt like a miscarriage. Or an abortion. How do you mourn when there’s such guilt? And blame? And so few that might understand without feeling that you’re minimizing their loss (when their child really has died), or exaggerating your pain (he deserved it, get over it)?

So. I still mourn. And wonder how long it takes to heal, when I have a son/not son out there that I don’t know what to do with in my heart.  How to maintain any connection, from a distance, without setting him up for false expectations? Or how do I let him go, when he was not mine in the first place? And how do I hear God in all this, when all the messages seem conflicting, those from without as well as those from within? 

So. I'll mourn. And continue to mourn until the mourning is done, whether those around me agree with my mourning or not.  And I'll continue to pray for him, undeserving as he might be... for weren't we all once enemies of God, when He loved us enough to lay down His life for us? And I am convinced that even with his anger, rebellion, fear, shame, self-loathing and poor choices... that God still loves this stinker, and still has plans for his good, if only he will trust Him once more.

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.”
Jeremiah 31:15 

And please, Lord, verses 16-17 too.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

God's Foolhardy Grace

Free Will.” I am learning so much these days as a temporary parent, with a son on loan from God and from his earthly mother. I don't even want to think about the Pre-destination vs. Free Will debate right now. I have no doubt that Psalms 46:10 and 11 are true and that God is sovereign: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” We can indeed cease and desist from striving, from effort, from works and quiet our hearts before the King of the Universe, knowing that He will be glorified, that He will be exalted – because He is God, and we are not.

However, at the same time I am blown away more and more each day by the incredible freedom that God allows to operate in, with His permission and within that all-encompassing sovereignty. He truly does want our love, and not our obligatory service. I can give my “son” advice, I can set down rules and consequences... but his grudging and dark-faced obedience is not what makes me happy. On the contrary, it breaks my heart. I don't want his reluctant service or his conformity – I want his heart. I want to see him able to make the best (and hardest) choices for himself. Choices to love, to toss fear out the window, choices to deny himself, to give to others, to be considerate and kind, to seek his Heavenly Father and His will with all his heart. And the only way those choices are valid is if he is the one making them – not me. So there are times that I don't insist... I make my desires known... then give him freedom to make a decision, knowing that I may worry and ache when I see him choosing what will eventually bind him instead of freeing him.


But the alternative is miserable and multiple times worse. Forcing his hand, forcing his obedience, constraining him through punishment, shame and manipulation to conform to my will – these only breed anger, rebellion and push him farther and farther away from the ultimate goal, which is his true freedom to choose love. And I see more clearly each day how God has given man the dangerous and heart-wrenching freedom to choose Him or to deny Him. And I am starting to feel how His holy and loving Father's heart must ache when He sees his children run helter-skelter away from Him toward their own (and even others') destruction. But the other option is impossible for a God who desires our very hearts and selves, free and able to choose what is for His glory not just our own comfort or pleasure, what is loving, what is bold, what is based on trust in His love for us – not our forced obedience, nor our dark-faced service. God gives us a ridiculously long leash and is absurdly patient with us, preferring a few that see and choose to return His prodigal love, even if it means leaving others to shipwreck their lives on the rocks of rage and selfishness. He prefers to permit the consequences of our terrible decisions in the world, instead of Divinely and irrevocably insisting that we all obey unquestioningly ... and involuntarily.

Thoughts? I'd love your wisdom too - I for sure feel super un-prepared for this!

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”

Romans 2:4