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Now, believe it or not, we are threatened by such a free God because it takes away all of our ability to control or engineer the process. It leaves us powerless, and changes the language from any language of performance or achievement to that of surrender, trust and vulnerability….That is the so-called “wildness” of God. We cannot control God by any means whatsoever, not even by our good behavior, which tends to be our first and natural instinct…. That utter and absolute freedom of God is fortunately used totally in our favor, even though we are still afraid of it. It is called providence, forgiveness, free election or mercy…. But to us, it feels like wildness — precisely because we cannot control it, manipulate it, direct it, earn it or lose it. Anyone into controlling God by his or her actions will feel very useless, impotent and ineffective.

Richard Rohr, From Wild Man to Wise Man: Reflections on Male Spirituality

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Everyone who draws breath “takes the lead” many times a day. We lead with actions that range from a smile to a frown; with words that range from blessing to curse; with decisions that range from faithful to fearful…When I resist thinking of myself as a leader, it is neither because of modesty nor a clear-eyed look at the reality of my life. It is because I have an unconscious desire to avoid responsibility. That is magical thinking, of course. I am responsible for my impact on the world whether I acknowledge it or not.

So, what does it take to qualify as a leader? Being human and being here. As long as I am here, doing whatever I am doing, I am leading, for better or for worse. And, if I may say so, so are you.

Parker Palmer, Leading From Within: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Lead

If we want to read and to pray the prayers of the Bible and especially the Psalms, therefore, we must not ask first what they have to do with us, but what they have to do with Jesus Christ. We must ask how we can understand the Psalms as God’s Word, and then we shall be able to pray them. It does not depend, therefore, on whether the Psalms express adequately that which we feel at a given moment in our heart. If we are to pray aright, perhaps it is quite necessary that we pray contrary to our own heart. Not what we want to pray is important, but what God wants us to pray. If we were dependent entirely on ourselves, we would probably pray only the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer. But God wants it otherwise. The richness of the Word of God ought to determine our prayer, not the poverty of our heart.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: the Prayerbook of the Bible

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The twitter sphere (and much of the figure skating world) has been ablaze with fiery comments over South Korean figure skater Yuna Kim, who despite giving a flawless performance at this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, fell short of winning the gold to 17-year-old Adelina Sotnikova from Russia.

Four years ago in Vancouver, a 19-year-old Yuna Kim won the gold medal by shattering records and giving arguably one of the greatest figure skating performances of all time. And even after sitting out the entire 2011-2012 season, Yuna Kim defied all odds and returned from her hiatus better than ever, medaling in every competition and eventually claiming her second World Championship title in 2013. So, “disappointment” over the judges’ scoring in Sochi is an understatement.  “Outrage” is probably more like it, and I don’t think claims of a judging scandal (and here) are unfounded either.

But nothing I can say will add to the facts there are already there, and as scandalous as it is, I didn’t really want to talk about that today.

No, I think somewhere in here is a valuable life lesson. Among other things, it was a sobering reminder that you can be the best at something, but still not win all the time. We are outraged because the judges’ score didn’t validate something the rest of us already knew to be true: that Yuna Kim was the best even before she stepped on the ice in Sochi. Maybe she’s the best because she is already a gold medal winner, a record breaker, and a two-time World Champion. Or maybe she is the best because she captured hearts with her grace and elegance on the ice, because of her love of country and the opportunities she opened up for Olympians in Korea and the figure skaters she inspired around the world, because of her relentless sportsmanship and class, or because of the performances she gave her entire career despite the enormity of the burden she carried. She poured out her heart, body, and soul into her craft, and I really don’t think a second gold medal (as gratifying as that would have been) could have adequately motivated the performance she gave. What makes her a true legend is not the number of medals around her neck, but her devotion to things that matter — and it really showed in the way she skated.

The reminder for me is this. Some of us devote ourselves to fleeting, worldly things like money, recognition, or fame, while some of us are still “saving ourselves” until we find that most worthwhile thing worthy of our devotion. But when you find that one thing which is truly worthwhile, the one thing you are convinced is everlasting — which I think I have — how much joy and fulfillment awaits for those who devote their body, heart, and soul to it?

P.S. did anyone try googling Yuna Kim Sochi? 🙂

googlequeen

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

내가 확신하노니 사망이나 생명이나 천사들이나 권세자들이나 현재 일이나 장래 일이나 능력이나 높음이나 기픔이나 다른 어떤 피조물이라도 우리를 우리 주 그리스도 예수 안에 있는 하나님의 사랑에서 끊을수 없으리라.

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)