Sunday, May 8, 2011

Musings Part 3 and the Garden

So I began this disclosure by stating I was struggling with my conceptions.  I continued it by stating that I stumbled upon the idea, yet again, that God is a person.  You see, I was trying to measure my way to closeness to God.  Asking myself intellectual questions, like what does the mature Christian look like? how will I know if I am one (After all, I only know about knowing that I am not.  LOL!)?  It was here among the mess I was making that I realized that relationships don't get measured that way.

I cannot tell you the last time I asked myself how will I know if Mark and I are close to each other.  How will I know if we love each other?  Why?  Because that is not how relationships are developed.  There is no checklist.

So among all my silly, disorganized thoughts I stumbled upon one coherent idea.  It was this idea that in the garden, before the fall, man could just be with God, like with a friend.  You know the type I am talking about, the friend who you can sit with in silence and just enjoy the pleasure of their presence.  There is no striving.  There is no measuring yourself against others, wondering if you are the favorite.  There is no wondering if you might be rejected.  There is no reaching or grasping toward the unknown there is just the pleasure of being.

In the garden, I am sure there were times of questions, of learning, of joy and searching.  Yet, when God came to walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, I am sure there was that easy comfortable just being.  The basking in the joy of being with one you love.  The joy of being fully known, fully accepted and fully loved.

Before the fear came in.

The truth is that God still rejoices over us.  He still fully knows us.  He still fully loves us.  If we will but accept His amazing gift we can know what it is to be His.

I am learning the tentative steps of faith.  I am learning, slowly to trust the goodness of His heart.  I am learning to make my way to the foot of that tree that demonstrates God's goodness and His love.

"What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on."
~Alexander Mean 

God is urging us forward on this journey, back to the place of no fear.

Musings Part 2

...God lost His personhood somewhere when I fell upon the realization that God isn't safe.  Sometime back in my experience I had an unconscious fallacy slip into my experience with God.  I guess it is a version of the Santa Claus god or the lotto god, but all I know for sure is that it is not The God, the Almighty Creator God, the Maker of heaven and earth.  I had thought I could be obedient to ensure certain "safe" results.  

Now, I am not trying to suggest that serving sin doesn't have its consequences, yet sometimes they are delayed.  

Nor, am I suggesting that serving God is not full to the tip top with benefits, for surely my life is a living tapestry of the truth of God's mercy and goodness on the undeserving.  

Yet, it is also true that just because you have faith, and obey does not necessarily mean that God will protect you from the evil that lives in the land.  If you don't believe me ask Job, who God Himself said was blameless.  Now it is illogical to jump from the land of faith to the land of fear on the basis of a "so what if", but that is where I have found myself.  


Fear has a strange way of taking over your life.  

It rises up at the most in-opportune times.  It swallows your would be faith and leaves its cold claws around an emotionless shrinking heart.  In its tracks it leaves a cold emotionless shrinking life.

The answer to the fear is Truth.  Not some theory about truth but the person of Truth, Jesus Christ.  The answer to fear is the cross.  

With Paul's words I find myself taking tentative steps back toward faith, back toward the possibility of this dichotomy being able to survive my brain's attempt to make sense out of the experience of pain and sorrow and a loving God co-existing.  In his words I find my hope, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).  Surely God will give us all the small gifts we need, after all He gave His best gift to us, willingly, without coercion.   He gave His Son.

Surely He is good, how amazingly good I cannot begin to plumb the depths.  "But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)  And these "things" that Paul is talking about are good things.  These are the experience of taking the "taste and see that the Lord is good"(Psalm 34:8) path.

The answer to the fear is to accept Perfect Love in.  This is not an academic understanding of love nor a warm gushy mushy love, this is the Personhood of Love embodied in the truth that God Himself is love.  

The truth is, God is love.  The truth is that Jesus is the Truth.  So we are not talking about the answer being a theological truth, we are talking about a person.

Yes, I will not deny that there is need for intellectual understanding, but there is a greater need.  The need is to know and love the Truth.  The need is to know the One who is Love, not about Him, but to know Him...

Musings Part 1

I have been struggling with my conceptions.  This morning I was reading through the Psalms.  This is where I got stuck about a month ago.  I was reading my way through the Bible when I realized one morning that I was skipping to the names of God or the descriptive names and marking them without really reading the passage.

Perhaps, I am the only one who often struggles to really read without thinking about what I am making for lunch or the to-do list that I need to write.  As for the marking the names of God, I have been trying to do an exhaustive study on God throughout the entire Bible.  It was going pretty well until I found myself making those lists as I read.  I was feeling spiritually devoid, unable to focus, unable to have clear thoughts, distracted.

So I took a hiatus and had spent some time studying what I felt was my need.  I studied about the God of all peace, Who is Himself our peace.  One morning as I was studying last week I caught myself having these thoughts about what it meant to be a mature Christian.  I was laying out a measuring rod when it struck me that God is a person.  I know, I know this is not some novel idea.  Yet for me, in that moment, it was revolutionary.

Follow my thinking, disagree if you would like, but God being a person struck to the root of my experiential problems.  I know there are times in my Christian experience where this has been a living reality.  Lately though, God is the One who is in charge of the Universe, and Who I am a bit afraid of.  It sounds bad in my head and sounds worse on paper, but it is the reality of my current experience.  Don't get me wrong I could give you the study on how God is good, and quote you scripture upon scripture to back up my position, but I find myself here amongst the narrative of a book.  I hear myself in Lucy's questions. “Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy. “Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion, the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” “Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe."  ( C.S. Lewis~ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe).  I find myself getting caught up in the "Course he isn't safe."  But the he in my version is capitalized.  Of course the dialog didn't really end there with Mr. Beaver saying that He isn't safe.  It is followed by this phrase, it is the phrase that makes all the difference..."But he is good."  

So in my daily experience I am digesting this idea, trying to move from the place with the disciples in the boat, it is my own voice that I hear speaking,  "What kind of a man is this, that 
even the winds and the sea obey Him?" (Matthew 8:27).  What kind of man indeed.  Yet the disciples didn't know the rest of the story... They had walked with Jesus but didn't know who He was.  Perhaps this is me also.