I finished Yaa Gyasi’s incredible novel Homegoing last night. It is a riveting tale of a family over seven generations that begins with two half sisters in 18th century West Africa. From the slave dungeons under Cape Coast Castle, through the Great Migration, to a doctoral program at Stanford University we witness the tragic, terrible, and beautiful cultural transitions that historian Ira Berlin would describe as the “making of African Americans.”
I’m not going to spoil it for you. Yet there is a scene that caught my attention. James, the grandson of a white British official and a Asante woman Effia, does not want to become the leader of his tribe. He chooses love over war. He opts for a simple life over being a “Big Man.” In pursuit of his passions, he visits Aunty Mampanyin, a local tribal doctor.
“Aunty,” James says, “they say that you make impossible things possible.”
She replies, “I can only make the possible attainable. Do you see the difference?”
I think this is an important way to think about our faith. Too often we appeal to faith in hopes of something “miraculous” or otherwise impossible. We spend our time praying for the divine intervention and for God to “turn our situation all the way around.” I get it. This is important and sometimes necessary.
Yet when we think of faith as making “the possible attainable,” we are doing something different, but just as necessary. Faith becomes the source of our focus. Faith becomes the fuel that catalyzes our dedication and determination. Faith fosters our ability to develop healthy, positive habits. As a result, we may find that our next miracle is already in reach. We may discover that we actually have the power to turn our situation all the way around.
Keep the Faith! Keep your Focus!
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:12-13
I lost a dear friend last week. It was not a surprise, as I’ve known it was imminent for the past couple of months. This did not temper the hurt. Nor did it keep feelings of anger at bay.
If I am honest with myself, however, much of my pain has to do with my own shame. I thought of all of the times that I was too busy. I recalled the moments that I bailed on lunch, and the circumstances when I was less than a friend. So here I am now both mourning loss and full of regrets.
It’s been said that we don’t earn our friends, but rather God gives them to us. This is a point that I shall not soon forget. Because if it is true, and I believe it is, then we should embrace and celebrate those whom God places in our lives. We honor God by honoring our friends. We show our appreciation to God by cherishing those whom we walk beside each day.
So that’s my key takeaway from the week. Let’s not wait until the end to send flowers. Send them now. Let’s not wait until the end to say, “I’ll be there.” Be there now. And let’s not have any regrets when the bell tolls. For it’s never a bad time to tell a friend that they are a gift from God.