A few weeks ago, I was teaching my 13-year old daughter how to drive my little, weather-worn pick-up truck in a big empty parking lot (we’ll save Mom’s car for when she actually has her license), and after an hour or so of puttering around, she looked at me, and confidently said, “Well, that wasn’t as hard as I expected!” She continued, “It’s kind of like the word, Onomatopoeia. It’s the biggest word I know, and at first, it was unfamiliar and…well, big, but, now I like it because it’s big. But it’s not big just because I know it.” 

Those words hummed in my ears for a minute, and she laughed as I frantically rummaged around the truck to find a pen and something to write my child’s wisdom on. I looked at her and said, “That is so good! I just don’t exactly know what it means yet!” And then it hit me. My daughter’s explanation resounded with me because it reminded me of how I had to overcome my deeply Catholic way of describing God as merely, “Big and Angry.”  

And then, there was Jesus. 

Throughout the accounts of Jesus in the New Testament, my favorites are the stories where Jesus takes time to sit with people and remind them of their value, who they are, and, most importantly, WHOSE they are. Jesus loved people where they were, but he also challenged them to step into a new way of life, a fresh way of thinking. Any frustration that he ever showed was towards people who clung to their old way of thought.

It’s easy to imagine God as an old white-haired bearded judge just waiting to drop the hammer on us all. However, in John 5:16-30, Scripture tells us that Jesus took the judge’s gavel from his own father’s hand.

Say what!? Check out verse 22 specifically: “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.” 

So, what that tells me is over 2,000 years ago, Jesus chucks his Dad’s gavel out the window and picks up the wand of Grace. 

Why do I forget that so often? The answer is…Fear.

I’m reading a book by John Eldredge, called Ransomed Heart, and there is a chapter all about these wild horses. He talks about how horses are powerful but skittish animals, and no matter how powerful they are, they are essentially prey. Before reading this book, I didn’t know much about horses, but I would have never thought them to be prey. The bottom of the food chain is a scary place to live even if you weigh over a thousand pounds. So a horses’ best tactic of survival is to…run. This survival technique is repeated over and over in their little horse community, and throughout the young and old, fear is the constant undercurrent of the whole herd. 

Our religious life can be a bit of the same. How often do we know there is a different way to do something, but we stick to the way we have always done it because it’s comfortable, or it happens to be the perspective that we have always known?

Jesus asks us this: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (MSG)

What would change in your world if you exchanged fear for Love?

This week is your chance, Be a peddler of Hope and not Fear. I recognize that hope in the world may be bit tough right now, But choosing and showing hope that your BIG God is with us in this can be equally infectious.

Please write back if I can be praying for you this week.

In His service and at yours,


Published by Shawn McCarthy

While serving as the Weekend Experience Pastor at Seacoast Church, I felt God prompting me to share the moments when He would speak His truth into my life through scripture in a way that made sense to me, giving me tangible ways to learn, grow and lead. These promptings turned into weekly emails that I would send my small groups and volunteer teams. I found myself enjoying the process of digging deeper into God’s Word, being stretched by the writing process, and encouraging others in the faith. My lovely wife, Anna, challenged me to begin this blog, so these moments that I have come to call, my “Red-Letter Moments,” can find a home. My prayer is that you will find hope, comfort, and inspiration here, and above all, you will come to know that the God of the universe loves you and desires a personal relationship with you.”

4 thoughts on “Onomatopoeia

  1. Hey Shawn,

    Thanks for the RedLetter Moments each Friday. We hope all is well.

    As in my text, my nephew Lane Smith began chemo Wednesday for liver cancer. Please keep him in your prayers. A good friend Bob Hayes, athletic director at Wanda HS, is also battling multiple tumors throughout his body. He did not get a good diagnosis lately.

    I am thankful for my Seacoast family and miss everyone terribly. I hope this stuff finds its way out of here soon and we can all join together again.

    Thank you and we miss you,

    Ashley and Kim


  2. How wonderful to have a child that you can learn from, whilst teaching. We too are children who learn from Christ the paths to follow, and then walk through with praise for Him. Your weekly messages are so thought provoking, and I look forward to each Friday, when I can be enlightened by your message. I surely miss our face to face meetings, but praying that God will lighten the burdens of people around the world with a cure for this miserable virus. Hugs from a distance

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is your life,Shawn! You are God’s peddler of hope and grace but in a very practical way that makes you genuine and real.It points us to God’s message which is the goal of every Christian!

    Liked by 1 person

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