Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lessons from FedEx

You know when people say something casually in conversation, but you never forget it? It's amazing the things that really can stick with you, and the speaker probably doesn't even remember saying it. It's a good reminder that our words have weight. So use them carefully. (I am working on this.) Well, when I was young, probably in middle school (which was 15 years ago -- yikes), my friend Allie pointed to a FedEx truck and told me about negative space. I'll never forget it. 

When looking at the FedEx logo, all you see at first is the words. But if you look between the E and the X, there's a white arrow (mind blowing!) This is negative space. It's using space for displaying meaning or beauty or just something that would otherwise be chalked up to nothing, just space. It's like those pictures when you think you are seeing one thing, like a flower vase, but then you take a step back and look at the vase with fresh eyes, and you realize that it's also two faces looking at each other (just Google "Negative Space" for tons of examples, and if you want to know more about how the FedEx logo came about, read this article.) 

I love seeing the FedEx logo (and I see it EVERYWHERE) because I always think of my friend Allie, and I now always see the arrow. I really can't not see it, truth be told.  I've been meaning to write about this for a good month or so, and when I see a FedEx truck at least five times a day rumbling through the streets of DC, it reminds me that I have literally no excuse for not getting my lazy butt in gear and getting these thoughts down on paper. 

So here's what I've been thinking about with the whole "negative space" concept -- Something out of nothing. "Something out of nothing" is what Michael and I say when we don't exactly have a dinner plan for the evening, but somehow, we create the greatest meal ever based solely on what we have in the pantry. It happens pretty often. "Something out of nothing!"we exclaim when we sit down to eat. And we are always surprised, regardless of how many times this wonder meal happens. Well, it's the same thing with how the Lord works. He uses what we don't think we have, or the "negative space" in our lives, and creates something beautiful out of it. When we see just a FedEx logo, God sees that hidden arrow in the negative space and delights in it! And he can't wait until we see it too. 

It says in Romans 4:17 that God "gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist." He's talking here about Abraham. Abraham -- the father of Israel. Abraham -- who was ancient old and whose wife Sarah was barren -- yet to whom God said would be the father of nations. God saw something out of what was apparently nothing in Abraham. God called into existence the things that did not exist for Abraham, namely a son, and therefore a lineage leading up to Christ. 

It's the same thing with me. I wait in long expectation for many things, and I really don't know how things are going to turn out so I immediately question God's faithfulness to me. I don't wait patiently for him to bring to life the things that do not exist in my life. More often than not, I forget that when things are hard and take forever and feel negative and annoying and sad, that this is actually when something new is being created. Something new is being formed that doesn't yet exist in my life -- whether it is literally something tangible (like knowing what medical specialty Michael will go into), or a character trait in me (like learning to be patient and still before the Lord.) It's just like the FedEx logo: I just see the regular words, but then God creates something altogether new that he then reveals to me when I'm ready -- the arrow. Whaaaat! And then I can't ever not see the arrow anymore. 

A bit further down in the Romans passage, it says that "No unbelief made [Abraham] waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he promised" (4:20-21). If you are waiting on something -- a new job, a new friend, a relationship, a sick friend to get better, a baby, a house, reconciliation in a friendship, you name it -- remember that God is creating something out of nothing. He is calling into existence things that right now do not exist. Be fully convinced that God can do what he says he can. It doesn't always mean that he will give you what you desire, but it does mean that he will nurture you and give you peace and give you a new heart and eyes to see how he is at work.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined what the Lord has prepared for those who love him. He is using whatever negative space you have and is creating meaning and beauty out of what you would have otherwise chalked up to nothing. I hope you will soon see this in your life if you haven't already. Lord knows that I need this lesson ALL THE TIME -- something out of nothing. Keep an eye out for those FedEx trucks rumbling through the streets. May it be a reminder of God giving life to things that do not yet exist.


  1. CB! I never knew about the arrow and my mind is blown! And I love the application. Thanks so much for sharing :)

  2. This is so true and so profound! Thank you for sharing!

    And now all of us will always think of YOU when we see the arrow. :-)

  3. Haha thanks Becca and Mimi! Pretty cool concept.

  4. Carey Beth, I think this is great imagery, and in my mind it touches upon the very foundation of the gospel message: that while we were still sinners, Christ came and died for us. It wasn't when we had done this or that or stepped up our game so as to warrant His grace and mercy. No, that would serve to elevate ourselves as men and women in a context that, when contrasted to the greatness of God working His sovereign will through His plan of salvation, not only borders on, but is, the very definition of absurd. It is in God's great mercy that we are saved and it is in that moment that He takes an empty vessel and fills it to overflowing. In this way, the very act of salvation is new life, and life more abundantly, out of what was nothing.

  5. David, wise words! Totally. What abundant life.