Posted by: Don Linnen | 30 June 2017

Tim and Tish

Tim and Tish. Just two of many who’ve affected me.  Tim’s East Coast; Tish is somewhere in the Middle East. I rarely get to see them, but their words mean the world to me

The Tim is Tim Keller. He’s spoken to me on podcasts and in his books that make me think – and squirm. I follow him on Twitter. He and I have never met.

Tish doesn’t tweet. The day after we met a couple of years ago, she was sitting in the back of our company SUV when Jim and I came upon a checkpoint in a remote, oppressive part of the world. We moved on quickly when the guards waved us through.

We drove away and relaxed until – too late – we realized that Tish was no longer with us. We’d left her behind.

While we were distracted and kept in the vehicle to answer questions, Tish was quietly removed to answer other questions. Her loss was devastating.

This was a security exercise that simulated worse-case scenarios in a country many time zones away. Though just a mock situation in a pretend country with volunteer actors, our neglect was the kind of thing that deeply plants a knot in the pit of your stomach.

The exercise ended. Our recovery of Tish was rapid. My recovery from being negligent was not rapid. It continues. I ask Tish for forgiveness each  time I see her. I’m half kidding. But only half.

This story is a reminder of my intent to be totally self sufficient since the days of my first survival training in the Northern Rockies. My insufficiency, demonstrated by leaving a comrade behind, ate at me ferociously.

Self sufficiency is a worthy goal for many. But when that goal becomes a prideful god, something is really out of place in your heart.

Keller recently wrote: “Never do we find God’s grace unless something has shown our weakness, insufficiency, sin, and neediness.”

My failure to be perfect in an exercise that was designed for me to fail – and more significantly – my reaction to my failure exposed my old, mistaken conviction that I really can do it all myself.

Ogilvie’s prayer for me yesterday was: “Gracious God, show me enough of my real self to expose my false pride and enough of Your grace to overcome my self sufficiency.”

Tish forgave me. God forgives me.

This story is written for Zadie, Sabine, and Maggie. Someday they may read it. But it’s written for me today.

It’s time for me to accept forgiveness and accept that I really cannot do it all myself.

More about Tish and her story next time.

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