Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Reaching for Wonder When Life is Hard

Hi Friends,

Here are some responses to a recent interview about Reaching for Wonder. May they encourage you when life is difficult and you need more than "just have faith."


1.    Why Reaching for Wonder? Why is this theme important to you?
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, from both 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. Our business also took a turn for the worse. The stress was causing health problems on top of marital conflicts, and everything else. Life hurt.

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. Sometimes it seems as if those valleys will never end. This life is a battle for our souls. 

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. I found 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. It matters to me. 

To me, that changes everything.

2.    What is something that surprised you the most while researching Reaching for Wonder?   

The miracle stories in the New Testament are not miracle stories at all. In fact, the miracles, the healings, even the resurrections, are written almost as an afterthought to the heart of the story. It’s the encounter with Christ, the internal transformation that comes from that encounter, that is front and center in these stories. It is this unexpected and out-of-the-box Messiah who takes center-stage. The changes of circumstance, the healings, are told in a “oh, by the way, the person was healed” sort of manner. And that changes everything. When I come to God when life hurts, when I’m praying and hoping that He will just “fix it,” God’s interest isn’t focused on my circumstances (like mine is), rather, it’s on me. His goal is that I encounter him face-to-face and see him for who he really is.

3.    What do you most want readers to take away from Reaching for Wonder?

I want readers to have encountered Christ in the their own difficulties. I want them to have discovered him a new, deeper, richer, more vibrant and more wonder-filled way … even if their circumstances haven’t changed. I want them to take away a new and vivid Hope.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

When All Seems Lost - Finding Hope on the Road

Hi Friends,

I've been thinking about the Road to Emmaus and how Jesus meets us when everything seems lost. I wrote a little about it in my last book, Reaching for Wonder. (And I have this picture in my home - it's one of my favorites!)

So, if you're in that place where hope seems lost, consider this:

Imagine . . .

Imagine that everything you’ve ever hoped for is gone. Imagine that your dreams for the future were stolen and crushed. There is nothing you can do to make it better. There is no song you can sing, no prayer you can pray, no hope you can cling to.
It is all dead. Gone. 
And you are leaving it all behind you as you simply walk away. 
You’ve been told there’s reason to hope. There are rumors, there are stories. But you don’t hope. Not anymore. 
Imagine that you’ve read through an entire book that beckons you to believe again, to trust again, to look for a God you saw die. And now you are reading the last chapter and the pain remains, no healing has come, no change at all in the circumstances that surround you.
And you are ready to close the book and simply walk away.
You head down the road, you argue with a friend. You discuss why hope is foolish and life simply is what it is and nothing will ever change.
But a third man joins you. You don’t recognize him at all. He asks you what you’re talking about and you shake your head. How could he not know, how could he not see?
So you explain your hope and what became of it. You lay out your dreams and how they died. You fight the tears because you’ve already cried too much, struggled too much, hurt too much.
You fling your story in his face, daring him to deny your pain, your hopelessness, the deadness of your despair. You tell him again. It is all dead. Gone. Done.
But then something unexpected happens. The stranger begins to explain everything to you, not just the circumstances that caused your pain. He goes back to the beginning. He shows you how it all fits together. How every single thing in your life comes together for good because you love God and you — you! — are called according to his purposes. It all fits together. It all makes sense. Nothing that has happened, no pain, no suffering, no disappointment, no failure, no death is left purposeless. It is all woven together like a beautiful tapestry, with dark threads and light.
So you ask the stranger to stay with you as the day turns to night. 
Imagine sitting with him at the table. He lifts his arms. He breaks the bread. And only then do you recognize this stranger from the road. It is Jesus who died for you, rose for you, and has come to encounter you when all you wanted to do was get away. 
You recognize him in the breaking of the bread.
And you realize that your heart is on fire within you.
Suddenly, you dare to hope again. And you turn right back around and head the way you came. You trudged on your way out but you run on your way back. 
You run back to hope, back to joy, back to faith.
All because Jesus met you when you were running away.
All because you encountered him on the road to Emmaus.