Saturday, September 28, 2013
Toward Freedom XXI
The falling man doesn't look closely at the rope of rescue. If the thing breaks after he grabs on, he's no worse off. If it doesn't break... well, deal with that later because, until that situation prevails, there's no such concept as "later."
Now, ten years "later," I've become fairly confident that God's rope will neither break nor be withdrawn. Trust builds upon "later," derived from that first act of desperation when God did not turn away nor close his ears to one who'd spent so much time denying his existence. God creates reality at the rate of one day per day and invites me to share, and to stay with him.
"Later" implies "before," and "after." God inhabits all of time but I live within sequence, where events and concepts build on top of each other. Trust means I can look at Jesus and not feel judged; I can walk with him, weakly or strongly, and keep my eyes open. Ideally. Being mostly of a "person to whom things are done" kind of mentality, I tend to walk backward with my eyes closed. I fear where I'm being led, yet life itself comes from God so I must stay with him.
Some days, I do trust and open my eyes. What I see then scares me even more, yet we do make progress. Fits and starts. This is freedom, freedom from my walls and mazes, freedom to see truth that brings life rather than the truth that is dropped like a rock onto tender understanding, crushing even the attempt to see.
I stand on a low hill with Jesus, looking around. The country I see is lovely until fear overlays it with memories of past events. "Peace," he whispers to me. "Those events are over with. This is a new day." How can he be so positive? He smiles, he dances, yet he's the one whose life includes many examples of people's brutality, culminating in crucifixion. He looks through that, somehow, whereas I my sight stops at the screen of mistreatment.
"See the end of love," I tell myself. "That's where it gets you."
"Don't quit," God says.
Trust led to peace. Peace wove itself with freedom; I think you can't have one without the other. In God's world nothing stops growing, so this isn't the end point of the path, the retirement rocker on a sunny porch. "Forward" is a concept of value only to those of us who live bound in time's cause and effect. God deals elegantly with sequence and consequence; his plan circumscribes all of time and yet knows each little forward-trending thread within.
So, what comes "after" freedom and peace? I think it's love, which is why I run away. Nothing scares me like love; it's one of those words very often used as a rock to control any nascent freedom. I chose freedom years ago, and that included freedom from love's iron tentacles.
God says to me, "Are you sure?" He's a better teacher, allowing time for the scarred soul to heal and become strong enough, confident enough, to explore new ideas. Love makes all things possible. It's woven into the fabric of life, along with freedom and peace... and trust. Lines of life often seem circular--I must be lost, because I think I've been here before--but actually spiral. We pass through the same neighborhood but a few houses farther along.
Subtle guidance. All is grace. I step because God invites.
2013 September 28
Monday, September 16, 2013
Toward Freedom XX
The Holy Spirit is also known as the Comforter. I started thinking about this a few weeks back. Why is there so little comfort in my life? The question was more dangerous than expected; the roof fell in and I hunkered down in survival mode.
This wasn't the first time we'd talked about comfort. The subject has come up a few times through the years since 2003, with never a conclusion. Easier to leave that sleeping dog to lie.
And yet, things change. What, really, in practical everyday terms, is faith? I've been a Christian for over 40 years and it wasn't until a week or so ago that I found a kind of handle on the subject. Perhaps faith is a confidence that God is working, leading me toward life, even when I feel no movement and see no change. Faith may be the belief in God's hands shaping, when the shaping is imperceptible.
What kind of change are we talking about? This is where things get strange. There are many advisors, ready to tell me what to do, how to do it, and where to go. Step by step. One extreme is to make all the decisions myself. The other is to let God make them all. The first is limited in perspective and decried in the Christian community. The second is foiled by God's creative silence when the question "What should I do?" comes up between us.
Ever since the 2003 restart I've felt the pressure of God's presence. Don't make a mistake. He's watching, ready to call out the smallest fault. Over the following years the ideas have changed a bit but I still feel the pressure. Very, very far from being comforted.
And yet... God gave me his Son. Will he stint at anything else?
Where does the pressure really come from? To live with God is to have light filling the garden, at least those parts left open long enough. Light brings growth. Growth is change. I expect my life to remain on an even keel because anything else calls to much attention to me, but change pretty much means venturing into unknown areas. There's no even keel out there, as we bump into things. How do I think about myself? I"m not who I've thought I was.
This is very bad. It's also very good. If nothing changes I will forever be stuck within the self-description circumscribed limit. God's light shines into a larger world.
"OK, God, take me there."
We stand still. All of me needs to take the step, and self-judgment means most of me is hiding. I have pressed myself to change, at times, so it's no wonder the more gentle parts of me hide under rocks and whatever else they can find. God's light, however, is an invitation rather than a whip.
Still, I have to live with the effects. Constant upset. How does comfort work? I don't know, but last night I got to thinking about walking together. Neither God dragging me, nor me forcing myself, but somehow sharing the responsibility. Or sharing the work. I'm not sure how this will work. It's a new idea. It's also an old idea running through most of my life. I did many things when I was younger, based on no more than a belief that things would work out.
The God of the Universe walking with one tired man. All is still grace.
2013 September 16