Action Figures

Stick Figure Spirituality

Volume One, Number Two


God loves you better than you love yourself.

But the action figures are interchangeable.

I am blessed with a wise friend or two and some weeks ago, one of them observed, “You know, God loves us, but the action figures are interchangeable.”  I’ve been thinking about that observation a lot of late and I think he’s right.


The question is, how can God love us and seemingly care so little about the particular circumstances of our life and work?


An explanation is beginning to emerge that addresses that question — and the particulars are on their way in book-form.  But in outline, I’d explain it this way:


One, God’s work is bigger than our piece of it.  Any undertaking that is bigger than our assignment is going to bump up against our desire for our piece of it to matter more than it probably does. 

The work of God, stretched out across millions of lives and millenia of history cannot help but leave us feeling smaller than we’d like to think we are…..because, in fact, we are smaller than we think we are.  The value of what we do, have done, or will do lies entirely in living at God’s disposal.

Two, there are bound to be events along the way that seem to unsaddle our efforts, because things intervene….illness, random events, the choices made by others. 

There is nothing to suggest that a genuinely christian spirituality is lived out in a well-ordered vacuum.  In fact, from start to finish the biblical narrative is about chaos in motion….re-read Genesis, the Book of Judges, the Psalms, or the Gospels.

Three, important moments and choices loom larger than they probably are in the grand scheme of things. 

It’s our mortal task to treat individual choices with seriousness — making faithful, careful, informed decisions.  But those events and choices matter more as laboratories for learning how to live faithfully than they do in and of themselves.

Exploring that dimension of our lives leads us ever more deeply into the one thing that matters: Our relationship with God.

About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an Episcopal priest), live in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and five grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, Sophie, and Drew, with a sixth on the way.