Tuesday, May 19, 2020


Two of my roommates- Mark and David- spending time with God and each other in a tree in our front yard. David is over six feet tall, so he's basically a tree already.

"Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers."
Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

Trying to decide what to write my blog about today was very difficult. In some ways, the last month has felt like forever, and in other ways, the last two months have felt like one day that's overstaying its welcome. 

Do I write about the many phone calls with students, some of whom are thriving, some of whom are struggling? Do I write about the staff book club I'm in, and what we've learned about spiritual leadership and the letters of John? Do I write about trusting God in difficult times? How about emotional health? Or why not a whole blog on loving our neighbor? 

I couldn't decide, so I've made a buffet for you. Read everything, or just try what you're curious about. 

Nature / Trees

A creek near my house that I go to sometimes to make phone calls

The combination of being stuck at home and having beautiful weather has meant that I spend much more time outside than usual. While I'm not really into camping, and couldn't name a single tree or plant in the picture above, I find that I connect with God best in nature (something I inherited largely from my mother). Lately, I've listened to a Bible Project podcast series on trees (they are astonishingly important to the themes and metaphors of Scripture) and an audiobook called The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, and have loved getting to learn more about the oak in my front yard and his friends. What's been especially cool is that I've gotten to see how much we can learn from trees in our walk with God. Here are a couple of examples! I think you'll find them really helpful, especially if you often think in analogies. Either way, they just show that God is always much more creative than we give Him credit for. 

  • Trees are much, much more connected than they seem. They communicate through chemicals released to the wind and electrical impulses (also some studies suggest through SOUND somehow), and they share nutrients with one another. If one tree in a forest is struggling (maybe it's getting less sunlight than its counterparts), the other trees will often send water and glucose through their root systems to their hungry neighbor. Often, the same tree will be in need one year, and then decades later be the one helping another tree out. This has made the Biblical idea of the Church being simultaneously many and one, as well as the commands to help the needy resonate on a different level.
  • Trees are meant to grow slowly. Mature adult trees purposely grow their branches near one another to create a canopy that often allows only 3% of the sunlight available to reach the ground. This "forces" younger saplings to grow slowly. This might seem like a counter-intuitive approach, but it actually makes the young trees grow more a more dense structure, which allows them to withstand things like intense wind more easily. It reminds me of the parable of the seed and the sower from the Gospels, which warns against growing quickly without having good roots in place. We often want to seem more externally mature to people, and it feels like God is teaching us the same lessons over and over again. But maybe He knows exactly what He's doing in this, and Biblical writers knew what they were doing when they urged their readers to be patient and steadfast. 

Contentment and Thankfulness
You'll see what this is in a sec!

I've had a couple of conversations with my friend / mentor / boss Brandon Worsham in which he has pointed out to me the vitality of being grateful and content in what God is doing in my life right now, rather than just wishing I were in a different season. In response to this, I bought one of the cheapest voice recorders I could find on Amazon, and have made it a discipline to use it to record the things I'm thankful to God for at the end of the day. It's hard to count all of the blessings that God gives me each day, and it's crazy that I forget them so easily!

Speaking of thankfulness, I just wanted to say how amazingly grateful I am for all of my donors who have chosen to continue supporting me in a time of uncertainty. You all mean a lot to me. 

Livestreaming Lots of Stuff
Brandon interviews Darby about waiting in the Lord at a summer FOCUS service.
I'm so grateful to know these two people!
Adam Chaibainou (an incoming apprentice and a friend of mine!) shares about what he's seen God doing this year in FOCUS

 I've had the privilege of being on the team that handles the tech side of our live-streamed services. We use two platforms, which allows our students to see a sermon and participate in worship with slides and lyrics while also seeing each other's faces and discussing the topic in a video call. It's been so cool to see that God isn't limited by our distance from one another. Go to twitch.tv/utdfocus to see the services! They're live at 7:30pm on Thursdays :)