Tag Archives: faith

Titanic and the Security of a Woman

Early in my marriage, maybe even before I was married, I heard a speaker say that one of the main things a woman seeks in marriage is security. I think the teaching came from James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. If it was someone else, I am sorry; I try to give credit to the right person whenever I can.

It was a good lesson to learn early on. It has served us well over time. I continue to learn the significant nuances of what this means.

As I was thinking of how to communicate this, the movie TITANIC came to mind. On the surface TITAINIC looks like a movie about a tragic accident at sea. That is not the case. The story is about Rose DeWitt Bukater who is speeding on a crash course to disaster. She is engaged Cal Hockley, a rich, handsome young man, that can provide financial security for Rose and her mother. The problem is that Rose doesn’t love him and he views Rose as another one of his possessions. Although she will have financial security she is at her wits’ end. There is something missing, something much more important. She becomes suicidal and is ready to jump off the back of the ship. Jack Dawson sees her and comes to the rescue.

Rose is intrigued by the daring young man who would apparently risk his own life to save hers. Jack is the antithesis of Cal. Jack has no money, no home and no solid plan for the future. Jack is an artistic free-spirit, spontaneously moving from one adventure to another.

Why would Rose be interested in Jack rather than Cal? What does he have to offer?

As a father, when I see a movie like this I cringe. I am afraid that my daughters will see a movie like this and decide that they want to run off with some flighty, irresponsible, free-spirit, adventure seeking artist and ruin their lives. A young man will lead her on an adventure and then tire of her and move on to someone else. Jack has a lot of those qualities and it is a little scary to watch. Part of the story is Rose rejecting being forced into a mold and choosing her own way. There is this element of youthful, rebellious adventure.

So Jack could offer rebellious adventure, but was that the whole story? Is that really what Rose was looking for? I don’t think so. Cal could give Rose financial security but he destroyed her emotional security. Jack on the other hand valued her. He came to her rescue more than once. He stood up for her. He valued her opinions and encouraged her to express herself. He wanted to share experiences with her. As the Titanic began to sink Jack was strong. He never gave up in trying to save Rose and himself. He was innovative and courageous. Even in the most hopeless of situation Rose felt secure as long as she was with Jack. To the very last moment Jack worked to make Rose secure; to make her believe that she could survive, and she did.

It is important for a man to provide security for his woman. Often we see this in terms of financial security, and that is very important, but it doesn’t end there. I learned some of these lessons early in marriage. A couple of times Beckie had come to me with some things that she was sure would shake up our relationship. I suppose they could have, but they didn’t. I assured her that they didn’t matter and that nothing was going to challenge my love for her. Someone has said that love is a choice and at those points I made a choice to love Beckie.

Early in our marriage we had some points of adjustment. Okay they were arguments, as much as Beckie argues (we really don’t argue and I can thank Beckie for that). The first few times it happened I saw fear in Beckie’s eyes. It suddenly dawned on me that the way I was reacting to her was shaking her security. I backed off and have tried to be sensitive ever since.

Much later in our marriage I went through a long period of unemployment. We were secure in our relationship so we weathered it rather well to begin with. I learned some important things during that time. One was that I could not find my security in a job or my ability to earn money. I needed to shift my confidence from myself to God. God is my provider and protector. He is the one in whom I should place my faith. It was an important lesson to learn. Since that time I have worried much less about money. Whether I have it or not really doesn’t matter much because my security is in the Lord.

Emotional security became much more important than financial security. If we were secure in our relationship with each other then we would we able to handle the financial stress. Our faith contributed to our emotional security. I heard a quote once that I really like, “An atheist is a person with no invisible means of support.”

I relate that like it was an easy lesson, it was not. I was without work, picking up odd jobs here and there, for almost a full year. As time went on Beckie felt more and more of the responsibility for the family. She was under a lot of stress but she tried not to show it. It was not right for me to let that burden fall on her. As we neared the one year mark, my confidence began to fail. When you have been without work for a few months, you can prop yourself up with, ‘It is just temporary. Something will come along soon.’ But when it has gone on for almost a year you question yourself. You begin to wonder if there is something wrong with you. You wonder if you will ever work again. Maybe you will become one of those families that live forever on public assistance. By then we were reaching a point that Beckie would have the additional stress of trying to support me emotionally as I was giving up. God in His mercy provided me with a job and we did not fall into total despair.

That year was 1990. It is now 2015 and I experienced another layoff. We have learned the lessons of the past and our confidence is in God as our provider and protector. But there were still lessons to learn. I knew that if I would place my full confidence in God that my faith would be contagious and that Beckie could feel confident in God also. We would be secure even though we were on a sinking ship. She would look to me to lead in faith. What I didn’t realize was how that works. We decided to spend some time seeking the Lord’s direction. I told Beckie that even though I often pray for God’s direction, I often don’t feel like I receive a clear indication from God as to what I should do. This seemed pretty normal for me so it didn’t really bother me. I have often seen people overstate their “Leading from the Lord”, and I don’t want to be one of those people.

When I shared this with Beckie, I saw that look in her eyes again. It was fear. I realized what was happening. We were seeking God for direction. She was looking to me to receive that direction from God and I was telling her not to trust my ability to discern God’s leading. Once again I could see that her security was shaken. I could see that I was placing responsibilities on her that clearly should belong to me.

The burden was on me to do a better job of seeking the Lord, discerning His leading and providing leadership in taking action. As it worked out I still did not hear a voice from heaven but I do think that God clearly led. I don’t think this is the last time we will be in a learning situation like this. Each time l learned a little bit more about myself a little bit more about faith and my amazing God, and a little bit more about Beckie and the emotional security of a women.

I hope you have learned some things through my sharing.

Bee Sting

Does True Faith have a Plan B?

I grew up in suburbia twenty miles east of Los Angeles. The community was built in the mid-1950s, a pretty typical suburban development of the time. The neighborhood was cookie cutter houses, chosen from about five different floor plans. All of the houses used the same group of plants in the landscaping but they were arranged a little differently at each house. The kids all played together in the street a little like “Leave it to Beaver”.

When I was about eight years old one of the favorite activities was to catch bees. Now, as a parent, I call this type of activity, “childhood stupidity”. So, write it off to childhood stupidity, but catching bees was what we did. The neighborhood was filled with shrubs called, wax-leaf privets. They have dark green waxy leaves about an inch wide and two inches long. In the spring they produce dense clusters of very small white blossoms and the bees loved them. The neighbor across the street had a hedge made of wax-leaf privets; the perfect place to catch bees.

To catch bees you would take a milk bottle, yes milk came in glass bottles at the time. You would hold the bottle upside down and lower it over a bee humming about the blossom cluster. Once the bee realized that something was wrong, he would try to escape by flying up into the bottle. Then you quickly place the cardboard bottle cap over the opening to trap your prize.

The first bee is the easy one. We would repeat this process of opening the bottle and trapping a second bee without letting the first, rather angry bee, out. If you were good you could trap four or five bees in the same bottle.

Normally there were about three boys involved in this activity. We would egg each other on, or encourage one another, depending on your perspective. There was an element of competition and pride over who would push the envelope and do the dangerous thing of catching one more bee.

One day a couple of the neighbor boys came knocking on the door. They were all excited. As I came outside they said, ‘Mike caught a bee with his bare hands.” Okay, that had to be the ultimate accomplishment in bee catching. That was boyhood bravery.

As we were walking across the street I was overcome by a sudden wave of childhood stupidity. Was it bravery, courage, naivety, pride, or misplaced faith? I don’t know for sure but the boys assured me that Mike had accomplished this extreme act of bravery and he had not been stung. I believed them and I wasn’t about to be out done, so I confidently said, “I can do that.”

As the other boys watched in nervous anticipation, I boldly walked up to the hedge. I looked at them again and asked for reassurance, “Mike really caught a bee with his bare hands and was not stung?“ Mike said “yes”, and the other boys said, “Yes, I saw him.” So based on that testimony, I stepped up, cupped my hands and caught a bee WITH MY BARE HANDS. For a brief moment I could feel his wings buzz against the palms of my hands and his body bounce from side to side. The other boys looked on in amazement. Then it happened, the bee stung me. I jumped back and let go of the bee. My hand hurt, and tears began to roll down my face. I can’t remember for sure, but I think I went home for a while.

I was hurt and confused. How did Mike catch a bee with his bare hands and not get stung? Was he just lucky? My friends wouldn’t have lied to me. What really happened out there?

A few minutes later I went back outside and questioned my friends. “I thought you said that Mike caught a bee with his bare hands?” They all said that he had and that they had seen it with their own eyes. So I challenged Mike, “Do it again. Show me.” So Mike turned to the hedge, pulled the sleeves of his heavy sweater over his hands and nervously cupped a bee in his hands. He held it for about one second, then let it go and ran about ten feet away.

The childhood debate ensued. “That’s not bare hands.” “Yes, it is.” “No it isn’t, you pulled your sleeves over your hands.” “That’s sill bare hands. “ No, it isn’t.” “Yes, it is.” “I never said you couldn’t use your sleeves.” “That’s cheating!” “No, it isn’t.” “Yes, it is.” And on and on it went.

My friends had made a claim that I took to be true at face value. I believed that what was true for them could be true for me. I had faith, as misguided as it was, it was childhood faith. Based on their statements, I stepped out in faith (or pride), and I got stung. On closer examination, they didn’t believe their own claims. They said you could catch a bee with your bare hands, but they were unwilling to truly risk it. They hedged their bet. They covered themselves.

Last night I was giving a couple of young men a ride home. As we were driving I made a statement that sounded so good. It was one of those quotable statements that someone would post on Facebook. I said, “Real faith doesn’t have a back-up plan.” It was so easy to say, but as soon as the words cleared my lips I was struck by how good and noble it sounds, but how hard it is to do. Pastors and other Christians talk boldly about living by faith, but when it comes down to it we are formulating back-up plans. We are pulling the sleeves of our sweaters down over our hands. We say that we believe but we are going to protect ourselves so we don’t get stung.

In Matthew 6, Jesus says to not layup for yourself treasures on earth. Do we believe that enough to actually practice it, or do we not lay-up a lot of treasures. Or do we lay-up treasures but then claim that we really aren’t placing our confidence in them.

In the same passage Jesus said, 25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Elsewhere Jesus says, “pick-up your cross and follow me.” That is not just a willingness to die for Jesus. It is a following Jesus with no plan B. There is no turning back. No hedging your bets. No pulling down your sleeves to cover yourself.

The question is not what other people are doing. The questions are for me. Am I willing to risk it all and follow Him? Am I willing to move forward without a plan B, a safety net? I have seen how others do it. Theirs is limited faith, but what is mine? Am I willing to believe Jesus for what He said, the way He said it? Am I going to reach out in faith, and risk being stung? Risk the ridicule of those around me.

Can you really catch a bee with your bare hands? It is hard to do when you have been stung once; but this time the challenge doesn’t come from childhood friends, it comes from the Son of God. Do I believe Him? Is it child-like faith or childish stupidity? I think I will risk it again and go with faith.