Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Good News! Reaching for Wonder ...

Hi Friends,

Some good news today ... I'm signing a contract for my next book, REACHING FOR WONDER, Encountering Christ When Life Hurts (that's the working title so far). I'm very excited to delve deeply into the one-time encounters with Christ in the New Testament and see what it really means to come face to face with Jesus in the hardest, most painful moments of our lives.

Here's a little excerpt from the beginning of chapter one, about one leper and his big "if."  So, for anyone who has ever said "if" to God, you aren't alone ...


“If you want, you can make me clean.”
Mark 1:40-45
(also Matthew 8:1-4, Luke 5:12-16)

         If. A tiny word. And yet it holds the world in its hands. If you want. If you are willing. You can make me clean. If ... that single word echoes in my soul, and I know we must start the journey here at if. Not if you can. Not if you have the power. Not even if I do it all right. If you are willing. Lord, are you willing to make me whole?
         I look at the question spoken by this man with a skin disease, a disease that ostracized him from his community, that made him an outcast. I gaze at it long and hard and find there a mirror to my own doubts, my own fears.
         I know God has the strength.
         I know he can do anything.
         But is he willing? Does he want to?
         That’s the question that steals my breath, scratches at my faith.
         So with trembling I begin this journey of encounter. I whisper, “Are you willing, Jesus, to heal me too? Even me, even now. Is your love enough?” Is it enough to conquer my “if”?
         And the leper’s story calls out to me, beckons me closer, whispers of a hope in the storm of doubts, of despair, of disappointments.

         I take one step toward the leper. I take a step toward his fear. In his healing, can I find my own? Will I see that the question is not so much if Christ is willing, but if I am…

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Beauty of Good Friday

Hi Friends,

As I ponder the beauty and wonder of the horror of the God of all the universe hanging on a cross to die for me, I am reminded of something I shared in Wrestling with Wonder ...


Can you imagine it? Watching your son arrested, beaten, spat upon, and then nailed to a cross to die? The son you loved, the one you nursed and tickled, the one you cuddled, whose boo-boos you kissed. The one who you gave up all your plans and your former dreams to bear and to raise. The one who was supposed to make all things right again.
            Can you imagine it? What it was like to watch him die?
            Where is mercy? Where is favor? Where is blessedness? Where are all these promises now?
            They are fulfilled.
            In ways Mary never could have dreamed, never would have expected.
            That is the strange dichotomy of the cross, and of our lives. Here, at the cross, in his death, it all comes true. Here, when she is shattered, crushed, broken, is the moment when God is doing something so amazing, so incredible, so wondrous, that she could have never imagined it.  
            In the moment that encapsulates the very epitome of what it means for plans and hopes to go awry, to diein that moment we find the most incredible, wondrous, breathtaking act of God of all time. It is the moment of redemption, of glory, of splendor, of the answer to all the prayers and hopes from the beginning of time until now. It is at that moment that we find the salvation of humankind. The moment that all our dreams came true.
            Jesus cries, “It is finished!” In the Greek, John uses the perfect tense to show that it is completed, for all time, forever, perfectly whole and finished. Christ had finished the work he was sent to do. He had, in that moment, redeemed us all. Forever.
            In the worst moment of her life, when God seemed absent, when all hope had died, God did his most glorious work.
            Commentator R. Kent Hughes relates this story: “A small boy was turning the pages of a book of religious art. When he came to a picture of the Crucifixion he looked at it for a long time, and a sad look came to his face. Finally he said, ‘If God had been there, he wouldn’t have let them do it.’ So the Crucifixion seems—until we understand what it really meant. Then we learn that God was there on the cross. We learn that he willed it. We learn that because of the cross, grace flashed in the lives of Simon the Cyrenian, the daughters of Jerusalem, the crucifying soldiers, the thief, the centurion—and thousands upon thousands since that day.”[1] Because of the cross, grace flashed into the life of Mary herself. Yes, the precise moment when all Mary’s hopes died, when all her plans came to nothing, became the moment of answer. Because of the cross, all generations have called her blessed. At the cross, the Mighty One did the greatest thing he could have done for us. He died for us. Through the cross, his mercy extended to all generations. It was his mighty deed that scattered the proud, lifted the humble, filled the hungry, helped Israel and all the world. In the cross alone do we find ultimate mercy. Just as he promised ... Just as he always promised.
            I think it may often be that way for us as well. That there, at the very place where our dreams don’t come true, where our hopes are shattered, where all we see is deaththat is where God is standing in the greatest power. Those are the moments, the places that change the world, where we find a depth and wonder deeper than we ever dared to dream.

[1] R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word, Luke, Volume 2, That You May Know the Truth (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998),.395.