Sunday, November 06, 2005


Spirit Bravery

I wrote a story a few years back about a motorcycle ride in what passes for winter in southern California. Forty degrees is cold at 60 miles per hour, and I called the story "Electric Bravery" because the heated handgrips on the bike were all that allowed me to go forward. Turn 'em up to high and will the heat to flow into my chilled arms. They made the ride possible.

Now I'm on a different kind of ride, following Jesus into strange terrain. Not cold, but still there is the potential for things to become intolerable.

Where does bravery come from? What heat keeps me moving on this path?

I spent most of yesterday on the verge of tears. At times I had a hard time seeing the computer screen as I wrote an Email to a friend I'd never seen but had spent a lot of time talking with. She said she was leaving the on-line world due to complications in relationships with some others.

I didn't expect to hurt, but it seems that she has become an important thread in the tapestry of my life. It happened slowly, imperceptibly, Saturday nights with music and others, Sunday afternoons with more music, the two of us chatting. We have a lot in common and we draw each other out.

It's all an experiment. Relationships don't happen by accident, contrary to modern belief. They have to be built and that's what we'd been doing, brick by brick, not really paying attention to the construction.

And now I'd lost it. The thread got pulled and it was in there deep.

In the old days I'd have just ditched everything and clammed up. But I guess some of God's bravery has rubbed off on me, and I've grown into that warrior heart that Lu says I have.

This was preceded by another incident. Some co-workers and I started a study of the Gospel of John at work. I'm rarely able to attend, though, because it meets during lunch time and that's when people start calling me. So I forgot about it for a time.

Then last week I got the thought to look at the study Blog and see where they were. Chapter 19: Jesus being crucified. Well, I might not be able to attend the study, but I got an idea for a little story, which I wrote and posted. Then I realized there was another story in there, so I posted it, too. And then the day got quiet, so I was able to attend the study. I was walking down the hall back to the office when Ray called me.

There are several things I don't get about modern Christianity. One is the distance from which Christians look at God. They're saved, yet they're afraid to approach him. Hey, folks, if God wanted, you'd be smoke right now so you might as well enter into his presence with noise, confusion and confidence. That's what Jesus' life and death are about: there is no longer separation from God for those who believe. Walk up to the table and eat your fill. There's plenty.

And yet what we get is timid teaching with an emphasis on words and precise definitions. Bones with no flesh.

I've always been an outcast, a bottom-feeder, an eel through life, forgotten. I'm used to this position, used to knowing that what I say really doesn't matter because no one is listening anyway. Well, if no one cares, why not do something wild? When God brought me back to Himself, I just chucked the Christian rulebook out the window because looking around will show you that it doesn't work. The Pharisees proved that rules don't work. What we have is life, given by the Holy Spirit. I had nothing to lose so I bet my life--which was worth nothing--that God wouldn't just ash me on the spot and I might learn something.

God saw the opening and moved right in. Why me? I asked one day. "Because you asked." I felt as if I'd rebelled my way into exactly the path God wanted me on... and he was laughing. I laughed for a time, too, and then began to see that while there was some humor in it, He was deadly serious. He was fighting for my life. This wasn't a game. I got very scared and ran.

Running doesn't help. Life comes from God's touch. I'd felt his touch. Life without His hand on mine was grey.

For a time I didn't talk to anyone. Who'd believe this story? Who'd believe that I had any remaining connection with God? I didn't follow the rules. Well, neither did God. He promised never to leave nor forsake me, and he didn't. This was by his choice. Frightening, that is. One way forward and it requires holding the hand of a wild God who has my best interests at heart, deep in his heart, but doesn't see the world as I do.

Other people have other things to live for. I have only God's hand on mine, leading me on into something I hope will be better than today. I'd rather have died, but death isn't on God's mind. Jesus died so I could have life abundantly. Abundant life doesn't fit (new wine in old wineskins, as Jesus said) in an old psyche. Rebuilding psyches is what Jesus does best. Love is the glue that holds the bits together.

All of that changed me. Add those changes to the basic idea that nothing I say matters, and you get the sort of do-or-die response to boredom I have to normal Christianity. God really wants to get through to people. I'm not the best person to do this because I tend to use any tool, no matter how crude. I said a bad word in the study, and got called on it. Usually I'd just back down, but this time I explained why I did what I did.

I still don't know what's right... and if anyone was truly offended by what I said. It was brought up to me in theoretical way, which is exactly what I'm trying to get away from. You can sit around and worry about offending people, guiding your doings so that no one can possibly take exception, but then the whole thing is so devoid of life that no one gets any nourishment from it. The juice is all gone. Maybe I put too much juice in what I said, but better that than getting stuck and dehydrated.

And then this thing comes up with my friends in Until Uru. Yes, they are friends. Our words carry enough meaning for us to learn to know one another. Key to the whole thing is that we choose to spend time with each other, which folks in so-called "real life" are too damned busy to do. Regular contact is required.

The upset hurts. Instead of rolling over the thought on my mind is how to heal the wounds. One part of that is to admit that I've been wounded, that the actions of another person have hurt me. Yes, they did. There's no communication without honesty. I don't know how this will turn out. We're learning from each other in this experiment, and they're putting more effort into it than the people I see talking about Community.

Bravery. I wonder where this leads.

Hi Larry --

First I am not sure I understand everything in this post... I'm sorry you were hurt. I'm sorry that the way someone chose to leave or approach you about something hurt. It's got to feel terrible.

I love your thought about Bravery.... and facing the hurt... and moving from there. It's wild how easy it is to just run and allow something that is not so big to BECOME huge because we run. ;)

Another thought I have is about what God is teaching me in my life right now... I am not about rules either Larry... In fact my spirit just wants to break up agaisnt them sometimes... especially when it comes from a person that is "legalistic" per se. BUT you know I've been working on my term paper? Well I found that I short -cut there as well... I take short cuts. I have found that I have had to spend a considerable amount of time going back to the small rules about APA format, referencing, giving credit... that I wouldn't have had to if I had just started with it and kept it as a part of my doing papers.

In the same way... I think God takes us back... when we try to short cut! He reminds us that when we are faithful in the small things (even yes communicating through hurt and frustrations) that we find peace in the BIG stuff! No short cuts... but HIS way... he is pretty logical in the way that he works... even though I would like to skip all of that at times...

You'll have to tell me what you think! I pray that you get this worked out Larry! In a way that brings you peace... and brings God glory!
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