Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Life, Service and Freedom

Paul called himself a slave of Christ. He writes in many other places that the Holy Spirit is to guide our lives. I've read elsewhere, and had confirmed in my own life, that every aspect of life is a gift from God. I can't do anything for myself.

Why am I here? I come from a highly independent family; no one asked for help unless they were in extremis. I got used to doing things for myself because if I asked for help I spent more time fixing the problems that the other person caused than actually solving the problem. One time I had some help with a sand sculpture and it took three hours to make the pile. By myself I could have done it in two.

I learned to trust only myself. This wasn't exactly ideal, but at least I know my own pattern of mistakes and can work around that. This is good for process.

It's not very good for getting up in the morning. Life... was pretty much something done because I was here.

God has different ideas, but what are they? He has to give me the faith it takes to live his life. He has to give me the mental clarity it takes to understand. He pretty much has to give me the air I breathe and the impetus to get out of bed.

This is getting worse, too. It seems the farther I go along his path, the more I need him. At the outset I thought that eventually I'd learn enough that God would become more of a distant supervisor. This is the course of human helping relationships: you get better, you're on your own. God seems to work differently.

I guess I have good company. David says the same thing in many psalms. I still don't understand. Am I just an empty shell for the Holy Spirit to move around in?

But that can't be. Jesus didn't die for an empty shell. God doesn't love machinery; he wouldn't have put all of this effort into just animating automatic meat.

This must be a call for some of that faith that God has given me. Believe that my life is worthwhile because He says it is.

Maybe it's because I'm so process oriented. I am what I do. God sees me for who I am. What a very, very strange concept. I see myself and other people as functions fulfilled, or potential for fulfilling a function. God sees... something else. I don't understand.

Naturally. God's ways are not my ways. I was a slave to sin for many years so that's my worldview. It takes time to root out all those old ideas and see things from God's point of view. Read Galatians. There Paul talks a lot about being a slave to old processes given us by the ruler of this world. Hint: they're not given us for our health, and they're not given by someone who cares. But they're familiar, and they're superficially attractive and addictive. I grew up with these ideas, so naturally they're part of me, and something that I trust.

Paul also mentions in his letter to the Galatians that we who believe in Jesus have been made free to serve others. I can't get my mind around that idea. Free to serve? Free to be a slave? It takes freedom to do that?

And yet, look where living in accordance with my ideas of freedom landed me. Barely able to get out of bed, and rapidly devolving into someone who didn't care about anything. It's a good thing God cares because otherwise I'd have terminated the experiment. Only by His grace do I go on, hoping one day to understand, but in the interim I'll have to make use of the Holy Spirit's very strange gift. Faith.

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