I’ve often lamented the busyness of life in law school, that the experience preys upon our desires for success and leads us to forsake the more important things. “I don’t want to waste the opportunity God has given me to attend institution,” says one student, making the slide toward compromise that much easier. It can be a subtle shift in priorities, but one that has ghastly results for our spiritual lives.
How to counteract this creep? In parts one and two to this series, I’ve touched on other non-negotiables for the Christian law student, and now, it’s time to offer yet another:
Contemplation and Sabbath Rest. Continue reading
“Most of us spend considerable time putting off the things we should be doing or we would like to do or we want to do–but are afraid to do. We are afraid of failure. We don’t like it, we shun it, we avoid it because of our inordinate desire to be thought well of by others. So we come up with a thousand brilliant excuses for doing nothing. We put things off, waste the energies of life and love that are within us. . . .”
“Each of us pays a heavy price for our fear of falling flat on our face. It assures the progressive narrowing of our personalities and prevents exploration and experimentation. As we get older we do only the things we do well. There is no growth in Christ Jesus without some difficulty and fumbling. If we are going to keep growing, we must keep on risking failure throughout our lives.”
-Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 169
We are petrified by our fear of failure.
Manning’s words are relevant to those of us who still try to derive our value through our merit badges, awards and degrees rather than the abiding love and grace of God. Continue reading
I was recently introduced to the “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate” an old Irish hymn whose lyrics are attributed to Patrick though the words likely weren’t his own. Translated and set to music in 1898, the hymn took on a new life and reached a new audience.
In my legal work, I often struggle to “practice the presence” of God, getting lost in my busyness without taking time to invite Christ in. I’ve found the Breastplate to be a wonderful invocation for protection against the slings and arrows of life in the trenches of providing legal aid, but also as a way to acknowledge God’s presence and work within me and in the world around me, from my cluttered office to the harried streets of Philadelphia and beyond.
The hymn’s most famous lines, which I’ve highlighted below, are often recited for this very purpose, to acknowledge the Lord’s presence and offer him his rightful invitation into our lives. I hope it speaks to your life today.
I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three. Continue reading
This is a powerful prayer I wanted to share with you that has spoken to my heart in deep ways over the last several years. I hope praying it this Monday morning can help clear out some of the cobwebs in your mind and prepare us for the difficult work of sowing seeds of justice and peace in a harsh world, remembering the beatitudes and Christ’s call to move away from the comfort, complacency and happiness our world tells us to pursue at all costs.
May God bless us with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that we may live from deep within our hearts.
May God bless us with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of God’s creations
So that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless us with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless us with just enough foolishness
To believe that we can make a difference in the world,
So that we can do what others claim cannot be done:
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and all our neighbors who are poor.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
-Romans 8:11 (NIV)
Last week I posed the questions “What Would Jesus Practice?” and “How Would Jesus Practice?” In this post I first wanted to address another vital one:
What kind of lawyer does God living-in-me lead me to be?
For a long time I thought the best approach to life was trying to model Christ’s life exactly. Many positive things can come from doing so. But this view of incarnational ministry led me to legalism and self-righteousness when left unchecked.
A friend, another lawyer, helped provide that check. She reminded me of something vital, worth remembering year-round and especially around Easter:
God lives in us. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. And he is moving and changing us and the world around us. Continue reading