Monday, November 14, 2005


One Size Does Not Fit All

Some friends bribed me yesterday. "Come with us to church, and we'll go to Dinah's first." They know I can't resist a Dinah's apple pancake, so I went.

It was Mosaic's last meeting in Culver City. Things have gone around the circle, and now they'll meet in Beverly Hills High School, where the West Side adventure began.

You might wonder why I have to be bribed to go to church. It's because, while I like to tell stories, I have a hard time telling my oddball disorganized story to an organized, fired-up group. And Erwin certainly was fired up.

His theme was contentment, taken from the last chapter of Philippians. Paul talks about being content with anything because he knows God. Erwin took this a step farther, saying that we can even be happy. Extraordinarily content.

I've known times of happiness. Brief and infrequent. It's a dream that always dangles out of reach no matter how I move, so I've given up on it.

I've pretty much given up on emotions, in fact. Which is kind of odd considering how hard I fought for most of my life to retain the ability to feel in the face of a square-edged world whose main product is pain. God Himself has put a lot of effort into designing emotions into human beings generally, and was always behind the scenes in my life helping me hold to the course I'd set. Why is that falling apart now?

I'd guess that it's due to the internal imbalance. I see the conflict between the peace and quiet that I want, the inconvenience that any change promises, and the church's demands to fit in with their way of thinking. Three-way crosschop in a heavy wind, and I go to cyst mode, a little self-contained lifeboat just trying to stay on top.

God invites me to live large, but the path to get there requires going back through the things that prevent me feeling any contentment. That leads to great discontentment. I'd rather not feel. Cyst time. But God insists on bringing me out, and I just have to hold his hand and trust that, as I open up, I won't be sunk.

Butterflies are helpless when they come out of the cocoon. Cocoons look similar but the butterfly that comes out is much different. Each of God's people has a path that can't be summed up by any one-paragraph story, nor directed by a remote authority. Only God knows what each person needs, and only he can bring that about.

We live in a world that thrives on convenience. If a store is two blocks away, that's too far to walk. If someone requires individual attention, that's too much. They just need to learn to fit in with the rest of the group so they can be processed efficiently and quickly.

I don't think God is interested in quick so much as good. He himself can do things instantly, but changing people takes time or else they just break. And we do need to change. I see only the bad parts of the world, having been trained to see Murphy's Law everywhere. Good things never last.

God promised never to leave nor forsake us. He gave his life for that idea. I have intellectual confidence in that, but emotion is different. Deeper roots, harder to take out. This takes patience... and individual attention.

Comments: amazes me that McChurches and mega-churches thrive so heartily with so many....except that they do put on the show for everyone and cater to human convenience, as you say. Quick fix ministry and all that.
There are more of "your size" out here than you may ever imagine...lately it takes more than an apple pancake to get me through a church door! ;-)We have a small house church...going back to NT church....
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