Monday, October 18, 2004


What's Wrong?

A week ago yesterday I went to church. It was my third time at this place. I find it rather odd that no one there has made any attempt to find out who I am; I come and go without anyone asking who I am. At Mosaic, when I showed up there the first time, I hadn't been there two minutes before the woman behind a table came out and introduced herself and invited me to tell her why I was there.

The teaching there is good, and that's why I went back. That there are questions about the relational aspect is inevitable; I'm having a bad case of the shys anyway, and just can't push myself over the hump to introduce myself. At Mosaic, I got partway up and then someone reached a hand out to help me the rest of the way.

Then at the end of the service there was an impassioned altar call. For anyone who wanted prayer. They could come forward, and various church members would pray with them, or they could pray alone. Then the pastor asked for more experienced volunteers to stand by. Finally he invited those too shy to go up front to simply stay in their seats but raise a hand, whereupon one of the others would come to lay a hand on them.

This was too much for me. I don't know why. Self-protection is an ingrained habit; safety is up to me. The circuit breakers tripped out and I sat there in a daze, no one home, until the service was over a few minutes later. Then I walked out with the rest, animated meat, down the stairs and across the lawn.

God pushed the breakers back in as I walked home. I still didn't understand what happened. As the week went on I came no closer to understanding. A mountain bike ride, a sand sculpture, working on projects in my garage, that all went well. Spiritually I was mostly on autopilot; there was this one big area I didn't want to think about.

Anything involving love makes me very nervous. Was what happened in church an expression of love, or was it something fake? Or something else? I suspected it was love of a kind.

If I'd seen a demonstration like that at Mosaic when I first went there, would I have been drawn in? Probably not. The alarms would have sounded, the breakers would have tripped, and I'd have walked out and stayed out. What held me there was God's obvious presence.

It wasn't until Sunday evening a week after this event that I came to a couple of understandings. One was that I was hurting myself by not discussing it with God. Keeping him out of my life is like standing by the table and refusing to eat. Life goes dead.

The other issue was more of a surprise. I'm a well-taught troubleshooter and problem solver. I never ask for help because the help has too high a price. I trust my troubleshooting skills more than I trust anything else... maybe even more than I trust God. But here I was, trying to find the problem, and I couldn't! What actually went wrong? What is the real problem? A week's worth of desultory thought, and I still had only a couple of small clues.

This situation obviously connects to something very deep in me. I'm frightened badly even thinking about thinking about it. The limits of a troubleshooter.

This is rather like a year ago. Running into my own limits and asking God for help. Then it was easy: ask God or die. Now it's more complex; life is going better. I don't have to trust God for everything.

That's superficial understanding. The truth is that the farther I go into God's life, the more I need his constant care and help. I need him. Even to be a troubleshooter. I can't do anything worth doing without Him.

---->This situation obviously connects to something very deep in me. I'm frightened badly even thinking about thinking about it.

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." -- Exekiel 36:26

The problem with a heart of flesh is that is feels all the emotions that were walled away by your old stone heart.

God and I have had quite a few conversations about this very issue... and my own flight from emotions and pain my mind says are too terrible and scary for me to handle...

But is it really my mind? Or is it the enemy, the devil, whispering lies in my ears?

This is the question I'm grappling with. If I stop hiding and face the thing I fear the most right now, a Beast of a Monster of raging emotions pent up and held at bay for too long, if I stop hiding and face the Beast, will I be devoured whole? Or will God rescue me, hold me and help me "embrace" this pain? Will embracing it make me stronger, as God has been whispering to me it will?

I guess that's a lot more than one question... :)

In response to my questions, last night God led me to Matthew 10:28-31

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."Here's the good part...

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."PS -- Why have you left Mosaic? Did God tell you to go?
--->"...I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." -- Exekiel 36:26

I've had similar thoughts for the last several months. Once I realized where God was leading me I got very scared, and then figured he'd be able to manage it. If only because he said he would.

One very handy characteristic of that stone heart was an ability to force myself forward. That's what got me through the door at Mosaic. I no longer have that; the ability disappeared with the reconstruction. Now, instead of being shy overlaid with forceful, I'm just shy.

--->PS -- Why have you left Mosaic? Did God tell you to go?

No. It's more as if Mosaic left me. I'd still be going if doing so didn't involve going to downtown L.A. 0600 call time for Temple Slaves.

Looking for an alternative church has, however, been instructive. Some have been good, some bad. At one they spent more time plugging books and asking for money than they did teaching the Word.
Mosaic didn't leave you, bro. It just shifted locations. ... I know, I know... you said "it's more as if" Mosaic left you. I know it feels that way. I know the pain you feel. I went through it too. I felt the blast; banged hard on the floor as the rug was pulled from under us all.

But it wasn't done in malice. And it wasn't pointed at you. Even though it probably sometimes feels that way. It's just the way things go sometimes, in this fallen world we live in. Sometimes, often times, we pay the price for, and bear the scars from, other people's actions -- just as they do from us.

I challenge and encourage you: go back. Commit to being at TS1 once again. I know its a sacrifice. I know its a challenge. I know its a bummer to have to be near your office on your day off and you don't want to be anywhere near it.

But think about the last year. Think about all that God did while you were part of our community.... God led you there, that is clear. If He's not leading you away, who in the world is??
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