So, I am sitting here at my computer which is definitely a beginning and is often farther than I get most days. I hope that what comes through my fingers as I type is something worth reading. If not, I will still be quite glad if I finish.
I figure that every once in awhile my post does not have to be well thought out, but, rather, more like a freewrite. The words that come and turn into a well formed thought after a bit of meandering.
This morning I heard two phrases that stayed with me. The first I will paraphrase because I don't remember the exact phrase but it was: sometimes we get caught up in what we think are the big things, the large efforts for change because we want to be remembered for that but, really, change starts with picking up a towel (in reference to Jesus washing his disciple's feet).
The second was "Bring me your whole heart even in 10,000 shards."
My mind has been so many places today but when I think about everywhere it has traveled, to this subject or that activity or this idea, I think it is actually a web of connectedness and I hope that as I write I begin to see it for all its gossamer beauty.
"Gossamer beauty" I had to say it aloud and enjoy the phrase again.
Four thoughts I jotted down today, in a very cryptic manner seeing as I only understand three of them now that time has passed.
Exactly as I jotted:
1) Parents and your knowledge of God.
2) Loving words (which is the one that I don't remember anything about! Yet.)
3) Owning our unbelief
4) C.S. Lewis dread
The last one may seem the most cryptic to you!
I have thought about the first since a small group probably four months ago. There was a lot of talk about how your relationship with your dad can especially affect your understanding of God. Negatively or positively. I don't agree with the "especially" but the one who came up with the question is of that bent and I think his father was the main person who affected his perspective in this case. In a bible study this morning we studied 1 Thessalonians and talked about allowing God to parent us. We examined those things necessary to be a secure child. One of them was to be "affectionately desired" this is to have the sense that someone wants to be with you and that you are not just tolerated. I smiled as I listened because if we are talking of dads and their impact on our view of God then I should contemplate God in this light. I always felt that my dad wanted us around. In fact, I felt that he really enjoyed us and our company. If he was working on the car, he wanted to talk to us. When he came home from work, I never felt like he would rather rest than play with us. He may have, but I never felt like that. If he brought work home he found little ways for us to be a part of it, I remember helping him with the simple calculations (when it got to more than adding, he would hold the calculator!) When I climbed too high he came to catch me if only I would trust to jump.
The second has still not come to me and may not until I post this.
The third, one of the most significant lessons I have learned is that the beginning of healing can be the expression of anger, unapologetic anger, truthful anger, unbelieving anger, to God. I could never get rid of God. I never could. There was a point that I tried, a few points, but He wouldn't leave. So, I said nothing. I do not remember the exact Psalm I read but it was something along this line:
Our heart has not turned back
Nor have our steps departed from your way;
Yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
And covered us with the shadow of death.
If we had forgotten the name of our God
Or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
Would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
We are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us for ever!
Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
Our belly clings to the ground.
Rise up; come to our help!”
And God told me that He wanted me to talk to Him and tell Him exactly how I felt, what I thought about Him. And you know what? I did. And you know what I felt afterward? I still felt angry. So, for days I told Him how I felt. I shook my fist and I didn’t apologize. I didn’t ever say something I didn’t actually feel or think. Slowly, very slowly, I began to heal. I don’t say this to say I was correct about how I thought, I do say that it was right and good for me to communicate. To own it, to not look for the healing, to not look for the right words. But healing came and then growth.
4) C.S Lewis dread. I have been reading Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis. These are a couple of passages from it:
“You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him who I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”
“The real issue was not, or not yet, there. The real terror was that if you seriously believed in even such a “God” or Spirit” as I admitted, a wholly new situation developed. As the dry bones shook and came together in that dreadful valley of Ezekiel’s, so now a philosophical theorem, cerebrally entertained, began to stir and heave and throw off its grave cloths, and stood upright and became a living presence. I was to be allowed to play at philosophy no longer. It might, as I say, still be true that my “Spirit” differed in some way from “the God of popular religion.” My Adversary waived the point. It sank into utter unimportance. He would not argue about it. He only said, “I am the Lord”; “I am that I am”; “I am.”
People who are naturally religious find difficulty in understanding the horror of such a revelation. Amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about “man’s search for God.” To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse’s search for the cat.”
Lewis admits that the one thing in life he hated was “interference” he would rather be left alone. Really, he dreaded God even as it began to be evident to him that there was a God. Only one God. That belief that there was a God would lead to consequences. Consequences such as “interference.” Lewis wrote honestly about God. I feel a bit like he was a David. A man after God’s own heart who wrote honestly, piercingly, and also had some shocking misconduct in his own life. When we hear “man after God’s own heart” it does not mean someone who is like God or nearest to being like God, I think. I think that it means someone who approaches their belief in God honestly, who really seeks God’s heart and not someone who tears apart scripture trying to find nuances and follow rules. Someone who dives into action and living. Not that Lewis or David or I would ever say that there are not things God asks us to do, that God who IS and WAS and always WILL BE does not require obedience. In fact, this dread and this anger, when realized, is because we know He must be obeyed and, yet, we are fully aware of our desire to be left alone. At the same time, we know that “His compulsion is our liberation.” But we struggle against it. I think God would rather us lift up our faces to him, whether in anger, dread, joy, or love, than look away as if He was not there.