There’s an old fable about a lion and a mouse. One version of this story explains that the lion caught the mouse in a trap but the mouse, being small and agile, was able to wiggle away. Later, when the lion was caught in a trap, the mouse remembered how scary it felt to be trapped, so she took courage and showed the scary lion some undeserved kindness, setting him free.
It takes great courage to be kind, especially when we are facing scary “lions” in this world.
I was speaking at an event recently on the topic of the collective imago Dei – how together, in our unified diversity, humanity represents the manifold glory and image of God. Afterward, a woman came up to talk to me about her spiritual journey; she was a seeker, having traveled around the world to learn about different religions, desperate to find what is true and beautiful. As we talked, she said something I will never forget, “Look, I like what I hear about Jesus in my travels. But the Bible seems very anti-women. I cannot bring myself to worship a God who is so misogynistic.”
I was at a doctor’s appointment recently, waiting in the reception area for my name to be called when another patient struck up a conversation with me. After discovering I was a church planter in the same community where she lived, she asked if our church was doing anything to support Ukraine after the Russian invasion. “Yes,” I responded, then proceeded to list the small, but intimate ways we were doing our part to support this war-ravaged nation and its refugees.
It’s on every coffee mug and tote bag in Christian bookstores. We write it in graduation cards and use it as a mantra when life seems to be veering out of control. One of the most oft-quoted verses in scripture—Jeremiah 29:11— is that verse, the one most of us are well acquainted with: “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
This verse seems like a declarative promise that life will go our way, that our plans will come to fruition. Because surely that is God’s plan for us, right? To fulfill the plan, we think is best.
My aunt and uncle recently lost their home in the Nashville, Tennessee tornado. Before they could turn on the TV to watch the weather, they heard a freight train sound and felt the air change. They dropped to the floor just as their roof blew off.
In the chaos, they motioned to one another to crawl downstairs to their storm shelter. But the downstairs door would not budge because of the intense pressure. My aunt began to cry out, “God, help us! God, open the door!”
If you’re like me, you may have read the creation story in Genesis so many times without every really noticing its profound nature. The truth is that there is much power contained in these few sentences. Let’s take a look together at five truths about your identity found in the scriptures above.