Risk | Broken chains, thin gold threads of grace, and unchippable paint

I am teaching a literature class this year for three home schooling families—a family I just met, a family I grew up with (and my mom had early hopes of me marrying into), and my family (my first cousin).   We just finished four weeks on Fahrenheit 451 and we discussed the risk(s) that Guy Montag is willing to take for that which he believes is important for society.  We also looked at Faber, and his fear of taking risks.  The kids/students/young adults/young ‘ns (PC Fairy, please help me!) each wrote an essay on what they would risk for something they believe is important.  I LOVED their responses, reading their heart poured out on two pieces of black and white paper—we want to do THIS because THIS is worth it.

Last year as I saw God moving in crazy ways in my friends’ families, Jeff and I started asking God what are we supposed to be doing that we’re not.  Is it time for a change in any area of life?  We went piece by piece through our life—Jeff’s job, my job(s), our church, our finances, our house, our cars, our entertainment, our growing family.  And then obviously we moved from our complacency among Dutch tulips to struggle near highways lined with corn and billboards for carpet FROM THE COB (direct quote, friends).  As I sat in a session during the IF : Local Leaders Gathering a phrase kept ringing in my ears: The days of complacency are over.

So I say to you, friends and strangers, THE DAYS OF COMPLACENCY ARE OVER.

I prayed “Anything, God!” and now I must daily live in the repercussions of the risk we took.   And I struggle.  But I choose to believe that the risk is worth the fullness of life and liberty yet to come.  I have seen a beautiful vision of large chains wrapped around the barns of this community, breaking, no—shattering, down upon the earth, sending a dust storm that covers everything in grey.  But out wind these small, glimmering threads of grace green that grow into blossoming fields, and the implements shine with this paint so impeccable you know you could shoot it with bullets or kick it with steel-toed clodhoppers or write with your Grandma’s biggest diamond against it and it would. not. chip.  And so I cling to that promise when it would be easier to run from the knowledge of love, of the God in the doorway.   It would be easy to say I have risked enough.  I pray, “God, here is my family but please, ohpleaseohpleaseohplease, do not take them.”  For I fear the risk, for I am Faber, aware and convicted, but not sure how to step out into the hope that knowledge and revelation have given us.

I ask myself WHY? Today, I pushed a student, asking him over and over again, why, why, why? Why did you respond that way to the character?  Why do you think that impacted you so?   So, turn the tables, teach: Why are you responding this way?  Well, because I like comfort.  I would rather choose the Christians I like to live in community with then embrace any and all the people around me.  Because I would rather sip on wine with a safe best friend than set a table for new relationships.  Because I like that my checking account actually has more money in it than what is needed for one month’s living.

But you know what’s better than easy friends, wine and money?  Broken chains, thin gold threads of grace, and unchippable paint.     jhtrisk

I am burdened by this incredible vision of fullness and beauty that can come from God alone.  A friend reminded me today of Moses and his story with the Israelites: Can you images how frustrating it must have been to come down from the mountain after these unimaginable experiences with God to find that his friends, his family, his community had chosen something easier once again?  Because they didn’t understand the ways of God and were frustrated by it?  LET US NOT BE THAT WAY.  Let us not choose what looks to be the easy road and instead choose the road of fullness and intimacy and mystery.

So I ask you: what are you willing to risk to break the chains in your family, to nourish the sprouts of new life just itching to pop through the dust of your home, to embrace an outer layer that God has deemed so beautiful and FULL and shining that no earthly edge can penetrate?


Published by Magdalene A.R. Mastin

Magdalene is a pursuer of all things beautiful, inviting others into a life with steady integration of all they say, think, act, eat, love, and enjoy--hopeful for a more centered, peaceful existence, both inside and out. Today, she offers spiritual direction, movement and yoga classes, and women’s retreats, incorporating contemplative Christian spiritual practices, contemporary and authentic movement, and the ancient way of yoga (with a fun side job of lifestyle and commercial photography). Past students and directees have joked that there are few others in the world as dedicated to boundaries, intentionality, rest, and weird voices as Maggie. Magdalene grew up on a small organic sustainable farm in central Indiana, raised in a family of avid readers, generous doers, truth seekers, and good food lovers. Those early experiences laid a great foundation for further mind-body-soul integrative training at Hope College (BA in English and Arts Ministry), Fall Creek Abbey (Certified Spiritual Director), and BodyWorks Studio (200hr YTT). If she’s doing exactly what she wants, you will probably find her on a porch, patio, or beach, drink in hand, dancing away or chatting about life and love and happiness with all her people, especially her partner Jeff and their three kiddos.

One thought on “Risk | Broken chains, thin gold threads of grace, and unchippable paint

  1. Goose bumps. Thanks for asking others the hard questions. And even more so, thanks for setting the example by first asking yourself. Way to live by example, friend! So much love.


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