Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What Do You Want? - Being Like Bartimaeus

Hi Friends,

This coming Sunday Bryan and I will be preaching on the story of blind Bartimaeus from Mark 4. Bartimaeus may just be my favorite character in the Bible. There’s something about his tenacity, his audacity, and his fierce vivacity that inspire me. He lived in darkness, and yet he saw more clearly than any of his seeing contemporaries. He saw more clearly than I. A blind beggar sitting in the dirt alongside the road to Jerusalem knew what he wanted, and he couldn’t be dissuaded from it. 

What if I had his vision? What if, in my own darkness, I had his tenacity, audacity, and vivacity? What if all I wanted was to see?

Here's a excerpt from Reaching for Wonder to encourage you ...

What Do You Want?

Bartimaeus leaves behind everything he had counted on when he comes to Jesus. He comes to Jesus with nothing but his need. Nothing. Not his good name, not his good deeds, not  his good thoughts. Nothing but his need, and his faith. His tenacious, audacious faith.
            And Jesus asks him one simple question: “What do you want me to do for you?” (v. 51) A few verse prior, Jesus had just asked this question of James and John, two of his closest disciples. The answered by telling him they wanted to sit at his right and left hand in glory. They wanted position. They wanted prestige. 
            But what blind Bartimaeus wants is the very thing God longs to give. Bartimaeus wants mercy, and mercy is sight.
            In one of the most beautiful, simplistic answers in the Bible, Bartimaeus says, “Rabbi, I want to see.” (v. 51)
            I want to see.
            For every person sitting in their own personal darkness, or every one of us who feels blind and cut off, for all of us who are sitting in the dirt beside the road to Jerusalem, those four simple words should be our prayer.
            I want to see.
            I want to see Jesus.
            Nothing else we are asking for, hoping for, praying for, matters so much as seeing him. Seeing him on the road, seeing him on his way to the place where he will die and rise again, seeing him as he looks into our face and tells us “Go!” 
            And like Bartimaeus, once we see him, once we really see him, we will follow him anywhere, even to the cross.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Reaching for Wonder When Life Hurts

Hi Friends,

Here are some thoughts from the interviews I've been doing about finding God's wonder when life's at its hardest. I've been encouraged by this message this week (what a tough week!). I hope you'll find encouragement too!

Q: What compelled you to write Reaching for Wonder?

A:       When I first started to really grapple with this idea of reaching for wonder when life is at its worst, my family was in the midst of some of the most difficult and painful times we’ve ever had to face. We were going through betrayal, inside and outside of the family, we were being threatened by a stalker so we were dealing with the difficult and scary process of getting and enforcing a restraining order, business took a turn for the worse. And the stress was causing health problems on top of marital conflicts, and everything else. Life hurt.

Q: So how did the message of Reaching for Wondergrow from there?

A:       I had discovered when we had faced infertility and miscarriage in the past, that the idea of “just have faith” and “God won’t give you more than you can bear” is, well, a bunch of hooey. 

Life is HARD. Heartbreaking, soul-choking things happen to us. This life is not a walk in the park with daisies. It’s a journey that has peaks and beautiful vistas, but it also has dark valleys where we can barely remember what the sun looks like. And sometimes it seems as if those valleys will never end. This life is a battle for our souls. 

So, in my latest valleys I started looking more carefully and deeply at the Jesus we see in the New Testament. I looked at how he interacts with those who are facing things that were more than they could bear. And I found that the real Jesus is not a “just have faith and it will be okay” type of God. He is a breath-taking, vivid God who meets us in the times of trouble and encounters us in ways I didn’t expect. In ways that shake me from my “just have faith” mentality. He’s not after a shallow-band-aid faith. He’s after a life-changing, shock-my-soul relationship with the living God.  And that matters.

Q: Reaching for Wonderlooks at these one-time encounters with Christ in the Bible. A lot of us have heard these stories before.  How is your focus different?

A:       The things that I saw in these stories, and share in the book, changed the way I encounter Christ in my pain. For example, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well. Usually when we read that story we focus on how Jesus talks about living water or how we are to worship in spirit and in truth. But that’s not really what that story is about. It’s about how Jesus confronts and completely transforms a woman’s deepest shame into the very thing she uses to get a whole town to come and see Jesus. 

I am the woman at the well. You are the woman at the well. And God is waiting there to take the very things we most want to hide, the things that cause us the most pain and shame, and make them into the things that bring him glory. 

That’s who God is. And that’s what Reaching for Wonderis about – seeing God in our deepest pain in ways that do more than heal, they urge us to reach out for the wonder of what God offers, even, especially, when life hurts the most.

Q: Explain more about this idea of reaching for wonder when life hurts.

A:       The radical idea that I’m saying is true is that we can find the wonder of God in the place we least expect it to be: in the very places of our deepest pain and shame. And we find that wonder not by trying to do an end-around our pain, not by skirting the darkest parts of it, but by encountering Christ in it and through it. I’m saying that in the darkest, most hopeless-seeming times of our is precisely when God is offering us his most breath-taking wonder, and he’s calling us to hope one more time and reach for him.