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Heather Kopp is one of the most inspiring soul feeding writers I have read; she’s up there with Annie Lamott for Warrior Writers who HEAL. Check out her BLOG at Sober Boots.
Here is a reprint of one of her blogs that fed me, and still does, so I hope you enjoy it and support her.
A friend recently told me, “I keep praying under my breath, ‘Lord, your will not mine,’ but I don’t think I really mean it.”
Her honesty sparked a conversation about how we both come from Christian backgrounds where we got the wrong idea about God’s will—in short, that it is probably gonna suck. Or hurt. Or be way too hard.
In my case, I also learned that the only thing harder than doing God’s will is figuring out what it is. And woe to you if you miss it. Get one degree off track today and in a few years you’ll find yourself deep in the boonies where God can’t bless you.
This belief led to the kind of silliness wherein I ignored God’s clear will regarding the big stuff—like love, honesty, and compassion—while I treated random twitches of the universe like spiritual Morse code meant to help me decipher God’s will on important matters—like which car to buy.
But I’ve been learning a new approach. To my surprise, a lot of people in recovery talk a lot about doing God’s will, not ours, but minus the hand-wringing, confusion, and fear. Many of them operate on the radical assumption that God is good, wants our best, and if we just do the next right thing he puts in front of us, we’ll be fine.
Crazy stuff, huh?
Some time ago, Dave and I went for a hike in the Front Range near where we live in Colorado Springs. The trail followed a creek up a steep canyon. Mostly it did, anyway. Actually, the trail split, disappeared, reappeared, and crisscrossed the creek so often that it was impossible to tell if we were following the “right” trail.
It also didn’t really matter. The entire hike followed the creek. Follow the water and we’d be fine.
Later this week, I have a big decision to make regarding a project that’s close to my heart. And it’s got me wondering: What if God’s will for me—or for any of us—is as wide and deep and roomy as that canyon?
It would mean that regardless of which rock I step on, or which path I follow, if I stay near the creek, I’m still in the middle of God’s will. It would also mean that to miss God’s will, I’d have to leave the creek and start huffing it up the side of the canyon—and I couldn’t accomplish that without noticing what I was doing.
I find this metaphor deeply comforting. It also matches up pretty well with what I believe about God today. I think he wants me to seek his will for me, but not because he’s hiding it. I think he asks me to want what he wants—not so I can suffer, but so others and I won’t.
So this week, I’m praying for guidance. And yes I’m telling God, “Your will not mine,” and meaning it. But I also feel like I’m rambling through a wide-open space with God’s Spirit running through it, and there’s no place I’d rather be.
And if I spot an appealing rock ahead—one that looks friendly, put there just for me, and steady enough to hold my dreams—I’m free to leap.
Either way, how much you wanna bet I land smack dab in the center of God’s will?
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
Hebrews 13:3 (NIV)
Moses committed murder and was never brought to (human) “justice.” And Moses was still called by God after his crime to lead one of the greatest liberation/freedom movements the world has ever recorded.
King David set up a plan to ensure the death of one of his closest, beloved, and most faithful generals because he, David, had had an extramarital affair with the generals’ wife, even impregnating her. He did all that premeditated to cover his own arse from getting caught. And even after all that God called David the “apple of His eye.”
Jesus spent time in prison during his trial for sedition and was crucified between 2 thieves.
The Apostles served time in prison. John the Baptist was incarcerated. Joseph did time at a juvenile detention facility.
The Book of Acts is often celebrated for being the book that introduced us to the early Church and what the earliest followers of Jesus lived like BUT did you know it’s also the Book of the Bible that mentions the word prisoner more than any other Book in the Bible?
Though most ‘Christians’ and followers of Jesus take a “lock them up and throw away the key” mentality and also support capital punishment, it would do us well to reflect upon this truth: that God has used prisoners and criminals time and again to bring “salvation” and healing to various communities. And this God also mandates that we remember and care for the prisoner (saying nothing about doing so based on acceptable and unacceptable crimes).
God only states that when we visit the imprisoned we are visiting the Lord Jesus.
Not a sermon, just a challenging thought.
For more on this check out the Gospel of Matthew 25: 34-46 and www.captivefaith.org.
“God’s call is mysterious; it comes in the darkness of faith. It is so fine, so subtle, that it is only with the deepest silence within us that we can hear it. And yet nothing is so decisive and overpowering for a human on this earth, nothing surer or stronger. This call is uninterrupted: God is always calling us.”
– Carlo Carretto, Letters From the Desert
“The mystics invite us to remember what we all too often forget: God is everywhere present in the world, suffusing creation with the being of God. Once in a while, if we keep our eyes open, if we look closely enough, something amid the familiar reveals itself, offers itself to us in a new way. What we know, what we have learned, is taken apart. Is remade. Remakes us.”
– Jan Richardson, In the Sanctuary of Women
How is God calling us to love this day?
Most likely it is to and through something wounded and pained, something in need of God’s love and mercy. And it will certainly be something that is more than we can handle on our own.
The Good News is that we don’t have to. God’s love will see us through our acts of divine love if we will just say “yes” to the sacred invitation to serve.
Gratitude is a doorway to Grace. Gratitude takes me from being closed to being open, and opening up leads me to see just how blessed I am and how much I have been given so that I can be a blessing to others. Gratitude leads me away from resentment, arrogance and judgment into a place of forgiveness, acceptance and tenderness. The attitude I must have is one of gratitude for in every circumstance, every encounter, and every person is an opportunity for me to see God and share God. Every opposition, taken with gratitude, becomes an opportunity to meet God and give his love away.
Grace is a moment when we learn (sometimes painfully) that anyone can be used by God as a messenger. Anyone. It is not my place to judge the ‘quality’ of the messenger; it is my place only to listen, discern, and receive the grace given.
I am learning that the people God has placed around me do not need me to correct or validate their feelings; they need me to love, listen and accept them.
More and more each day, I am understanding that God’s grace is like an ever-flowing river and all I need do is come to that river and drink to my fill. I need to understand that is the Reality for others as well: God’s grace is always available to them as well. I cannot block, dam or clog up this river nor can I drink it for them. They must drink from the River themselves and I must never block passage to this ever-flowing river.
I love grace. I need grace; and desperately so. But most of all, I rarely understand grace. So permit some random musings on it.
One explanation I try and use for grace is that it is the place and space where the tenacious madness of God and the seemingly never-ending woundedness of human beings meet. Frederick Buechner says that this meeting place between us and God is almost “always a matter of life or death and usually both.”
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Grace is the reality that God meets us where we (wherever that is), as we are, and begins the transformation process at that precise spot. Grace is NOT “I’ll get a bit better, more whole, wiser, holier, etc., and then God begins to transform us.”
Not at all. That is the letter of the law kind of thinking, not the Spirit of Grace.
That still involves me doing the work, and God does the work. I ask for help, surrender, become open and wait upon the Spirit to breathe new life into these old bones.
That is grace.
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Grace is not just talking about God, or admiring Jesus, or even trying to follow his way. Grace is being down on the floor, all curled up, sobbing over the pain and confusion of it all, and knowing, experiencing the Truth that God is down on the floor with us, sobbing, being present to all of us, with us.
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Grace is God’s complete and total love and acceptance of us as we are NOW, the whole kit and caboodle, and not at some distant point in the future when we arrive or get to some heavenly place.
Grace is almost always a NOW thing, a movement of God that removes the stain of the past and the fear of the future and brings radical acceptance in the here and now.