God has given our friend Bill Thrall, a wonderful gift. He is able to articulate profound and complex truths into wonderful concise thoughts that clarify, simplify and express what our new hearts are discovering to be true. We, his friends, have witnessed it over and over in these years together. He will process and grapple with a theological truth in the context of community. He submits himself to those of us who do not even know how to think like him. But he trusts God is shaping an insight through his friends, strangers, even critics. Then, over time, he gets alone with God, usually in his garden, woodshop or fishing along a stream. Then sometime, long after you forgot the issue, he walks out with not just a salient insight, but something that reflects an entire way of seeing in grace. And it confirms what Scripture has been presenting all along. It is all very cool. We’ve had the privilege of watching this happen many times over these years together. The following is one of those.

“Our understanding of grace will eventually make us a servant. Our misunderstanding of grace will eventually make us a hypocrite.” 

You could leave me alone in a woodshop for three weeks and I’d come out with a couple of poorly rhyming limericks and a crudely made ashtray which would eventually catch fire from trying to finish it off with lacquer. 

It makes me so grateful for the power of Christ in us in community. 

And it reminds me to want to affirm a lot and often. Because what Bill has and what we all have works best submitted to each other, not in isolation. So we get the best of each other, while we protect each other from what would keep us from getting to offer our gifts. 

At Trueface, God brought a bunch of us together with talents, gifts and capacities that could stand alone by themselves, but are always stronger together with all of our gifts surrounding each other. 

I didn’t use to believe that. I thought others’ input would threaten the focus and clarity of my vision for a project, a script or a book. I’m learning it was my fear of trusting others with me and my stuff. My insecurity was afraid that I’d be saddled with a failure I didn’t have enough “creative control.” 

Ah, there’s the word. Control. 

But these last several decades have taught me that submitting to others in their areas of strength while allowing them to protect my weaknesses always creates a better end product. But to do that I would have to give up my “rights” to control. 

For decades, the three of us, Bill, Bruce and I have been writing together. Now others are joining us. We do it this way because we want to model the value of community. But we also do it because the books we write would not be nearly as good if any of us wrote them alone. Even when one of us is writing a book of our own experiences, it is still a team effort. It is still an exercise in letting others see us better than we can see ourselves. 

All of us, in one form or another, can have such community where weaknesses are protected and strengths are submitted to. It is not always easy to find, develop or maintain. But if we really want such a culture we will discover that there are others around us who want the same.  

I find myself especially grateful for all of this as I write this blog. 

Thanks friends. John, for a community called Trueface. 

 

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