No Other Name

Just start moving the fingers over the keyboard… yes, there we go.  Sitting here a little tuckered out this a.m. from much cycling yesterday, I’m trying to pull my thoughts together in one place, and get them in print.  Always a little daunting despite my love of written words that come out ‘just right’.  I finished a good read this summer*, one I’ve been been ‘saving’ to savor ever since encountering its author in his first novel several summers ago.

It was entertaining and thought provoking at the same time–the kind of fiction I love best–and an ideal summer read really, set against a backdrop of fly-fishing.  Waiting at the ferry terminal last night for an overdue ferry I got to watch a fellow-waiter wade in and send his line whistling across the water–fly-fishing.  I was reading.  Peaceful backdrop.

Well, I finally got down to writing a review, really more of a critique, of the book this week which you can see here, if you’re interested, but I haven’t quite finished thinking about it.  Something was missing.  It wasn’t really a fishing tale, or an environmental plea, though these elements swam along beside the central theme.  It was the story of a spiritual journey. Young Gus, the avid fly-fisherman is growing up and coming to terms with the beliefs handed down to him—discarding some, adapting others, and sampling from the spiritual smorgasbord he discovers after leaving home.

The rest of my comments will be ‘spoilers’ I’m afraid.  While I loved that the storyline made a case for faith in an unseen God who created this great big beautiful world with all its pristine fishing streams, it also implied that any route to God will do.  We each must find our own way, what ‘fits’ for us.  Very accepting.  Very ‘nice’.  Politically correct, I suppose, (otherwise the Sierra Club would likely not have published it!) So I find myself in the afterglow of this brilliantly told tale fishing for words to supply what was missing, to give Gus a sure foundation not deflectable by every current of ‘spirituality’ that crosses his boots.

The missing factors are two: The Son of God and the Word of God.  While it’s true that all of creation proclaims there is a God and He is awesome, it does not connect the dots that bring us to know Him personally and live for His glory. Neither  the night-sky nor the rippling course of a trout stream can do this.  Nor is God found through mystical experiences induced by long walks alone without food or water, any more than in long moments spent soaking in ‘worship’ music till our minds are suspended and our soul’s pores are open wide.  Experiences that give a vague but reassuring impression that God is real and present do not equal ‘knowing God’.

The book’s author got this part right:

“I wanted to know my soul. I wanted to befriend Whoever it had been that walked with me on the road, yesterday dawn. But when I stuck my feet in the source-spring I could feel too well the limits of my own unguided yearnings. I would never make it. Not alone. I would never make it to the real source of things unless or until Ol’ Nameless chose to come and find me fishing….

“It’s a damned tough business sitting around trying to force yourself to force God to force feed you a revelation or vision or spiritual assistant or something.” p.246, The River Why, Duncan

True spirituality is not born in mysticism or based on warm feelings or nudges or visions or signs.  The knowledge of God is not a mystery hidden for the mystic few. It once was a mystery, but no more. (Rom.16:25,26).  The path to God is not a trail we each must blaze on our own hunches and haunches.  He is not one thing to me, another to my New Age friend, and something quite other to the fly-fishing, pot-smoking hippie across the street.  God Almighty does not come in user-friendly variations to suit the customer in need of love and purpose!  He is God and has revealed to us all that we need in order to know Him– in His Son and in His Word. Non-negotiables.  Unfortunately, neither of these mediums is politically correct.  Handing out Bibles in the town parade is not cool.  Using the name of Jesus in any meaningful way is offensive.  These are things belonging to those ‘churchy’ types.  Sad.

But how much have things changed?  In the Garden there was God, walking and talking with His ultimate Creations, Adam and his lovely soul-mate, Eve.  One basic instruction: Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  One basic temptation:  You’ll be as gods, knowing good and evil.  One hidden flaw:  They would indeed know evil, but not as God knows it.  He knows it as a cancer surgeon knows cancer.  They would know it as a cancer victim knows it.  Big difference.**  But that was the hidden consequence of taking and eating.  They took and ate with misguided self-confidence (‘We can chart our own destiny.  Who needs rules?!) and instead of finding a better life, something inside actually died. Relationship with God was severed. Sin does that.  Severs relationships.  Destroys life.  Look around you, in you, beside you.  You’ll see its effects. I do.

So we’re descended from this garden pair, wanting to define our gods, to be our own gods,  to live how we want to live and still know love and purpose like we had in the Garden.  This messy stew is called by the tidy name of  ‘moral relativity’. What’s good for you may not be good for me.  Let’s each find our own gods.  Don’t push your truth on me.  So spiritual journeyers surround us on pilgrimage each to his own mecca while the Word of God is relegated to some out of the way shelf or drawer and the Son of God is just too narrow, to controversial, too radical to talk about. 

Such behavior is understandable for those who do not have the Word of God and have not been introduced to the Word Incarnate.  But strangely it has become common practice among those who would identify themselves as ‘believers’.  Strange indeed.  Or maybe not.  If like Adam and Eve we prefer to live by our own wisdom, not any hard and fast limitations, I suppose it makes sense.  How could such an archaic bunch of words as contained in the Bible pertain to me today in my modern lifestyle?  Too restrictive.  Too ‘old school’.  Nevermind, I’ll make my own choices.  Somehow it’ll all work out.  And we forget the lesson Adam and Eve learned the hard way.  There is a way that seems good, but it’s not.  Sin, by definition, destroys what it promises to deliver.

And when we neglect to study well the Word of God, we fail to perceive the true character of God. He is love and He is holy.  He is grace and He is truth. We may choose to ignore the ‘harshness’ of God toward sin in the Old Testament preferring to focus on the Jesus of the New Testament who went about doing good and healing everybody and loving sinners.  We may sidestep the issues of sin and holiness and  see in Jesus only a lifestyle to try to emulate.  If so, we have missed the Gospel, the message that liberates us from forever trying to find a way back to the garden on our own.

Love and Justice, Grace and Truth are inseparably linked even in Jesus.  Sin is forever the impediment to finding God.  His love does not negate His Justice.  We deserve death, whether He loves us or not. Therefore, He provided Jesus.

Jesus was not tolerant of sin either, though He loved the sinner. He railed against self-made paths to being right with God!  Then  He suffered the horrors of crucifixion, an undeniable testament to the seriousness of man’s sinful state! He made Himself the way back to the Garden. ‘Take and eat, this my body, given for you.’  (Lk.22:19) Here at last, the solution for the rebellious ‘taking and eating’ of forbidden fruit in Eden.  Jesus’ own body,** His blood shed, (Jn.6:53,54) our only chance at finding life, love and  purpose that will last an immortal lifetime.

And that’s what I want Gus to know.  Now that he has come to believe there is a God who makes all things beautiful and longs to be known, a God who is drawing Him to this knowledge…it’s imperative that he open God’s book, God’s autobiography, and find out who this God truly is and what He most wants Gus to know.  Otherwise, he may miss Jesus.  He may miss the Gospel.  He may spend a lot of years feeling good about being so spiritually attuned to nature only to arrive at this deathbed short of that one-of-a-kind Life that is only found  in trading my sin for Jesus’ blood, my impertinent longing for god-ship for the worship of the Only One who is worthy. 

Peter’s Spirit-inspired words put it best: “Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men  by which we must be saved. Acts 4:10-12

It’s a pretty narrow viewpoint alright, a narrow path. But the destination is Life as it was intended to be! Life beyond our wildest imaginings.  And a freedom we had not imagined at the end of such a narrow way. “If the Son shall set you free,  you shall be free indeed!” Jn.8:36

There’s an orchard of trees out there– all sorts of alternate roads to ‘spirituality’ and ‘experiencing God’, but only one Tree of Life, one Cross, one Word of God.  And that’s I guess what I wanted to say to Gus and affirm to myself here today.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Pursuing the knowledge of Him through the revelation given in the Word is the only surefire way to really live!

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith… Phil.3:8,9

If you’re looking for some summer reading that will point you to the supremacy of Jesus Christ over all other options, consider Paul’s letter to the Colossians.  Dwell long with me on these good words.  Here’s the real thing; accept no substitutes. “Therefore…as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Col.2:6,7)

‘for in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him, who it the head of all rule and authority.’ (Col.2:9)


And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. Jn.17:3

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. I Jn.5:11,12

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Mt.7:13,14


*The River Why by James David Duncan, Bantam/Sierra Club, 1983.

**I’m indebted for this idea to James Nicodem, author of a nifty brand-new four-some of books designed to increase “Bible Savvy’ among laypersons.  They are an excellent little set.  Reviews coming soon to a blog near you!  This picture of the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin was in the first in the series:  Epic:The Storyline of the Bible. (I recommend it! See review here.)

“I’d be Delighted!”

North Dakota, summer 1983

Once-upon-a-humid North Dakota afternoon on a gently sloping coulee bank two young lovers exchanged words that ushered in a whole new life for both of them.  Their destinies were joined that day when the young girl responded to the eager young man’s proposal of marriage with the words: “I’d be delighted”.

That was thirty years ago.  Just months afterward there would be a formal exchange of vows and the two would drive off into the sunset with all their earthly goods tucked into a quaint hand built ‘doghouse’ on the back of an antique VW truck. They had hopes and plans tucked in too, but really they were blissfully unaware and unconcerned with all that awaited them down the road. It was enough that they were together.

Blizzards, Babies, Births and Deaths, Homes hither and yon, Miles and miles of travel, Years and years of growing up, for them and their brood ensued…then with a flip of the calendar on another humid summer’s day thirty years hence they sat staring at the last month of life as they had known it. The last child was leaving home shortly and what would be next they could only wonder.  There was no real game plan this time.  Their destinies to date had exceeded their hopes and dreams.  They were in need of fresh vision for the remaining years… Where does one go to get  vision?  How do dreams hatch?

I’ve been pondering these things lately.  What is it that gives the day-to-day a sense of purpose?  We will make meals and eat and do dishes, sleep and get up, clean house and ride bikes, work and get paid.  This is survival.  But what is our vision for the future? Why are we doing all this?

I read again this week Paul’s testimony before King Agrippa (Acts 26). His life was winding down.  The book of Acts is now nearly complete.  Paul was on trial, he said,  for his hope in God’s promise of resurrection.  He had lived to attain this Resurrection from the dead himself—forgetting what was behind, pressing ever forward, as he puts it, ‘for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’ (Phil.3:11-14)

He was telling his story to the king. There had been a time when he was convinced  he ought to do things that were actually quite contrary to what God had in mind.  He was on the road toward doing them when KAZAM! God intervened.  A blinding light from heaven.  A voice of introduction: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Instructions.  A brief job resume.  And Saul became Paul, a changed man with a vision that would last his whole life through.  A vision that would carry him through “hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger” (II Cor.6:4,5) and much more!  A vision so strong that he could say “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24) He never took credit for his work, or boasted of the great job he was doing.  He considered it a stewardship which he carried out in the strength that God provided (Eph.3:7) “For necessity is laid upon me.  Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (I Cor.9:16)

But this purposeful life began with a callingGod had interrupted Paul’s misdirected zeal with a revelation of Himself and a declaration of His purposes for Paul’s lifeI have appeared to you for a purpose: to appoint you as a servant and witness of what I’ve done and will do for you.  I am sending you to open the Gentiles’ eyes that they may turn from darkness to light, from Satan’s power to God, and be forgiven, and join the company of the redeemed by faith. (Acts 26:15-18 paraphrased)

This purposeful life necessitated a willingness on Paul’s part.  He had to respond in obedience to God’s call:  “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.This ‘I’d- be- delighted’ sort of response kicked off a whole new destiny for Paul. God’s enabling followed on the heels of Paul’s acceptance of his mission, “To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great…” and the result was the life and teachings of Paul that continue to enrich and encourage believers down through history.  All because he was ‘obedient to the heavenly vision.’ 

On the basis of this obedience he invited believers of his day: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (I Cor.11:1)  We may not have a heavenly vision.  But we do have a calling.  This is it.  This is the big picture when I lose my bearings and wonder what life will yet hold for us now that there is no brood under our roof to nurture.  I am invited to follow Christ’s example—who laid down His rights in order to carry out the Father’s will, obedient to death, faithful to the one who appointed him, glad to do the Father’s bidding, always. “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” Jn.4:34 This attitude of willingness to do whatever God puts before me seems key to following my true destiny, with or without a ‘heavenly vision’.

It wasn’t so much about the vision anyway, but about meeting Jesus! Long ago at many times and in many ways God spoke to his messengers, the prophets, in visions, through donkeys, in dreams in the night, thundering from mountain tops, in burning bushes. (Heb.1:1) It was terrifying. For all but the prophet who heard it, it was a second-hand way of hearing from God. Some still seek these dramatic exchanges.  But in reality we have been entrusted with something more sure than any vision in the night. We have the living and abiding words of Scripture, a sure and unerring revelation of God’s nature and purposes, a sufficient guide for life and godliness, and yes, for understanding his purposes for our lives at every juncture. (see: II Pet.1:19-21;  II Tim.3:14-17) I am thankful.  I am not left without compass or guidebook.

But more than that, I am not left in need of a prophet, a dramatic vision, or an utterance from Heaven in order to perceive my destiny. Hebrews reminds us God has spoken ultimately to us ‘in these last days’  by His Son (Heb.1:1), the Word made flesh,  sent on our behalf to represent God to us and to offer Himself a sacrifice for us.  Because of Him we can approach God, be indwelt by His Spirit, hear His voice internally and know His will, all without being destroyed!

The whole book of Hebrews is a declaration of the supremacy of the Son, the apostle (sent one) and high priest (our go-between) of our confession. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.  Knowing Him is our calling.  Looking to Him is all the vision that we need (Heb.12:1,2).  Yes, He is still the Way, the Truth and the Life.  To do His will is still my delight and my destiny.  And He is fully capable of intervening, as per Paul’s testimony (Acts 26:9) ,  if I should be convinced of ‘many things I ought to do’ which aren’t in keeping with His mission for my life.

Yes, I’d be delighted to journey with this Jesus for the rest of my life, even if I can’t see ‘round the next bend in the road.  Since when should I care, as long as we’re together.


Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him…Heb.3:1

“I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” Ps.40:8

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure. Phil.2:12,13

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Heb.13:20,21

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…  Heb.10:19-24

We get to do the watering!


Hot weather is wonderful for a garden as long as the gardener keeps up the watering.  I was out in the garden before breakfast this morning making sure the tomatoes got their water, and peeking through the zucchini jungle for more offspring.  Oh no!  2 going on 4 more!  Watering is one of those unrelenting chores.  It’s kind of a peaceful operation, if you’re not in a hurry to do anything but watch water be absorbed into thirsty dirt!  Soaker hoses and drip systems are great inventions.  Unfortunately I did not make sufficient use of these this year so… there is watering to be done, unendingly.

I could give it up I suppose, but what’s sadder than the sight of a dead plant, especially when you know it was due to your own neglect.  I have a couple planters even now the sight of which is a reproach; they got forgotten while we were away enjoying our carefree cycling holiday with nary a thought of home, or parched plants…My last minute watering instructions did not include the window box full of  once thriving thyme and oregano plants…nor the carefree purple alyssum blooming their hearts out on the front steps.  Sigh.  Watering is important, non-negotiable.

But watering is not the glory of gardening—it’s just the brainless part that seems to make it work.  The  real wonder is the way things grow.  Nasturtiums rise from forgotten seeds and tumble all about in vivid yellows and oranges.  Zucchini kick in high gear when the sun shines hot.  Tomatoes that grew from teensy weensy seedlings coddled indoors when summer was yet a dream now reforest the greenhouse in great green sprawling masses… Well might the nonsensical Mother Goose Rhyme ask: “How does your garden grow?”.  Can you explain it?  I can plant seeds. I can apply water.  But I cannot bring out the sun and I cannot cause a plant to instinctively rise up toward it and put forth leaves and flower and fruit.  This is the wonder that keeps me in the garden prowling about to inspect the latest bit of growth.  This is the wonder that keeps me watering.

And no wonder I Corinthians 3:7 caught my eye this week: “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”  The statement is made to quell the clamoring competition over which prestigious personage one should follow.  ( I follow Paul.  Well, I follow Apollos. Oh yeah, well I follow Christ…) Paul goes on to say that both the planter and waterer will be rewarded for their work– in this particular case, Paul and Apollos, the church planters in Corinth,  but that they are not the main honchos.  However, get this, they are God’s fellow workers!  Isn’t that a neat picture?! What a privilege.  So what if we only get to plant seeds or do some mundane watering, God considers us his fellow gardeners!  He’s at work giving life to those seeds and making those watered shoots spring up and produce fruit, he only tasks us with the simple stuff:  plant the seed I have provided and water it well….

I wonder what that looks like?  In this context it would seem the seed is the Word of God and particularly, the Gospel. Paul’s mission was to take the Gospel where it had not yet been heard.  The watering, at least in Apollos’ case was about teaching and defending the truth against naysayers and in so doing bringing great encouragement to the believers (see: Acts 18:24-28).  In both cases these were tasks for which these men were gifted and to which they were called.  My planting and watering may look different than theirs.  I’m no skilled orator.  Nor am I a church planter.  But each of us is gifted with something to be used in God’s garden as we work alongside Him making His garden grow.  This is a wonder and a privilege.  I will gladly hold the hose if it lets me be up close to see things growing in that wonderful way only God can bring about.  I’m reminded too that holding hoses and watching water sink into dry dirt may not be glamorous and the results may not be seen straightway, but even in the mundane, I am called God’s fellow worker and that’s amazing!

Blessings on you as you ‘garden’ with Him.  Keep the water flowing and watch what God will do!


“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,  that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—  even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—  so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,  who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  I Cor. 1:4-9

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Gal.6:9

He leadeth me, still.

It’s like I’ve come to a fork in the road. There’s no going straight ahead, no going on just like always. Life is changing, whether I like it or not, and demands that I get my bearings!

Rachel turned 18 this week and took off on a camping trip to celebrate.  How empty the house seemed.  How full of minutes to spend doing something, anything! It’s not that there aren’t projects to do. I spent hours fabricating a custom Kindle cover  Smile.  And there are books to read, and gardens to water and meals to fix but I’m not yet accustomed to the freedom to do anything whenever without interruption.  I’ve got to get re-oriented here.  Make some decisions.  Formulate a plan of action.  Set some goals.  Figure out my purpose in life!

But it’s more than that, this fork in the road has everything to do with attitude.  Will I embrace the next stage of life with joy and with gratitude or with mully-grubbing reluctance, dragging my feet as if it would help time go backwards– back to the ‘good old days’ when we were young, and busy, and so surrounded by family that there was little question of our purpose in life!

Yes, there are perceived losses.  My eyes strain easily.  My body creaks more than it did at twenty.  My ‘children’ are nowhere to be seen—they’ve morphed into independent adults. My days are uncharted. Yes, I feel a little lost some days, especially when I scan the horizon in an effort to imagine what’s up ahead. But I have a choice how I proceed.  Whining or trusting.  One way leads to life, of the eternal sort. The other just to crotchety old age.

I sat one morning reflecting on these things and I thought of Jim’s mom, now experiencing Glory.  She was very skilled and talented with her hands. She sewed Jim’s wedding suit, complete with pin-tucked shirt.  She created endlessly—knitting, crocheting, making memory albums, crafting with whatever resources were at hand.  Their house was full of the raw materials of her arts—books, machines, yarn and fabric…And then she began developing macular degeneration. And she was diagnosed with a terminal illness that drained her energy and often caused her pain.  One by one, all the things she loved best to do were taken from her.  But as her eyesight dimmed and so many of her possessions became useless to her, her spirit grew strong.  She consciously and conspicuously trusted her Creator with her incapacities and with her days.  She trusted that God’s purposes for her were good.

She got an audio version of the Bible.  She phoned and asked about the kids so she would know how to pray…and she found she had extra time to pray.  She aged gracefully, gratefully, self-effacingly.  She took the fork that leads to eternal life, this way that shines brighter as the physical grows feebler.  I thought of her, a witness gone before and knew the fork in the road I want to be on.

It will necessitate embracing a new normal, stepping confidently into change without a constant looking back at perceived loss. (Is anything really loss in view of God’s eternal purposes? Phil.3:8) It is a walk by faith, willing to believe that God’s purposes override my self serving ones.  He crafts all the days of my life to shape me into a reflection of Himself. This is His purpose for me.  His glory is the end in view, not my sense of temporal comfort or significance. 

And what a relief to know that Jesus will shepherd me through the changes.  The Lord is my shepherd still.  The antiquated words of that old hymn ring in my mind:  “He leadeth me, O blessed thought, O words with heav’nly comfort fraught…”.  [Do click here for a stirring acapella version of this good hymn]  He leads me.  I am not standing here at this junction on my own.  I don’t have to chart my course, or figure out my purpose; He’s got it laid out.  I need only to hang close to Him and He will guide me in the execution of this fork in the road, for His glory.  This is such a relief.

After all, though my life may seem to be undergoing change at an alarming rate, His purpose hasn’t changed from the beginning of time. It still stands—to bring all things together in Christ,and to conform each of us to Jesus’ image!  And His mercy and His grace have not grown thin.  Nor has the modus operandi for me changed.  It’s still by faith I must proceed.  Still walking with Him into a future I cannot see.   Hasn’t this always been the case? 

He leadeth me, O blessèd thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.  —Jo­seph H. Gil­more, 1862.


In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. Eph.1:11,12

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Col.2:6,7

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Heb.12:12,13

All the way my Saviour leads me, what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy who through life has been my Guide?
–Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn writer

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…Heb.12:1,2

Untrammeled Womanhood

This intriguing quote in a book review caught my eye this week as our tandem trip was winding down and we were relaxing on the ferry…

“I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world, it gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”
–Susan B. Anthony, 1896

My first thought, after chuckling at the notion of riding a bicycle being a display of ‘untrammeled womanhood’, was how sad Ms. Anthony never found a strong and trustworthy captain to take her touring on a tandem!  There are far greater things than having to rely on oneself.  Is the self-reliance she touts really freedom?

And my goodness, how naïve.  Did she really believe one could come to no harm on a bike?  Just this evening on our first ride since getting home from 300 miles of accident-free riding, we were very nearly wiped out by a little red sports car that lost control while passing us on the steep switchback hill we ride so very often to get ourselves home to Wildwood.  He squealed his tires and fish-tailed dramatically as he careened onward and upward past us, veering into oncoming traffic momentarily before disappearing around the bend, leaving us (me at least) breathing hard for more than just the incline!  And spontaneously uttering thanks to God for His protection. Our lives are not in our own hands.  Self-reliance is no guarantee of anything.  I would far rather rely on Someone bigger and stronger than I, and trust that our times are very truly in His hands!

Committing my life to the One who knows me best and loves me most is my idea of untrammelled womanhood.  And just in case you, like me, are not quite clear on the meaning of that very cool word, untrammelled.  It means: Not deprived of freedom of action or expression; not restricted or hampered.  We were designed for freedom, but what Ms. Anthony failed to recognize is that true freedom comes by submitting to design.  We were designed to bow to Jesus’ Lordship. His commands reflect the principles that will free us to really live.  In Him, forgiven and accepted by the Father, we are truly set free—from fear of death, from bondage to sin and  from the dictates of our selfish misguided notions and impulses which inevitably lead us where we did not intend to go. 

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Pr.16:25

By faith we are freed to trust that God’s designs for us are always good, that in submission to a mate we are truly free, and that riding tandem in this world with Jesus in the captain’s seat is the only way we will be genuinely liberated from all that can harm us to be all that we were meant to be!  This is true emancipation.  This is ‘untrammelled womanhood’ at its best.  For this, I will pedal bravely on, the wind in my face, glad not to be relying on me!


‘…and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the LORD.’ Jer.31:14

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery….For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” Gal.5:1,6

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Gal.5:13