Saturday, July 24, 2010
Play or Fold?
Listening to Jars of Clay... “Frail”.... (really haven’t checked on what they have been up to lately... funny how that goes with music and seasons of life)- but i guess the comfort in that song is the acknowledgment of how frail we really are....
Thinking back today on some of the things my dad used to say... he was quite cheeky at times and often living in his own world. However, he used to say that “christians should be the happiest people in world, because they know they are “saved”.” I used to get annoyed about that, because i felt like he lived in a world of denial on many matters.. and those words just felt a bit hollow.
Then again, i knew there was some truth in it... “the Joy of the Lord is my strength” parts and all that. And yes, when we are living in His Joy there is strength, yet at the same time there is the Jeremiah like lament (weeping prophet)... that longed to see the wholeness.
I’m thinking about all those prophetic words that have been spoken over me in the past... some have been “shelved” and are a bit dusty. All the glimmers of revelation that HE has imparted in my heart... that due to my cynical nature, i’ve let go of ... or at least hold them out at arms length staring at with a bit of a raised eyebrow. It’s not complete disbelief on matters, more like what is manifested in the here and now, doesn’t seem to line up on what has been spoken or promised.
I’m also thinking of the words in revelation... 12:10
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.- Zechariah 3:1
Think of that for a minute..... Joshua is STANDING BEFORE the angel of the Lord... (the phrase Angel of the Lord - refers to Christ in this matter.... emphasis on “THEE Angel of the Lord”... and Satan is standing at his right side. ... (typically sword side) to accuse him.... if that ain’t balls, i don’t know what is.....)
It seems none of us are immune from the “lies of the enemy”, where the “Accuser” puts forth a case against us, that makes us question all of what we know as “truth in God”. Even pitting brother against brother per say, in that our shadows seem more real than flesh and bone. Then, there are the places i’ve agreed with my “accuser” on matters, taking on the persona of lies and acting them out, i guess because it seems easier than standing in and on the truth that i know. Knowing often seems elusive at best, some formlessness ether like in fragmented texture.
Some deal with that by staying in what i consider the “christian bubble”... and i guess that’s needed for seasons... place of protection is my sense. Conference junkies... (and i’ve been one too during times of high intensity where all i’ve really needed is a space where the Spirit seems to be flowing and the enemy’s darts don’t seem to be able to penetrate ... or at least if they hit, can be pulled out under Holy Spirit sedation where it’s not as painful).
But i can’t really stay in those spaces... as where i work is filled with harsh realities and heart breaking situations. I’m thinking of a 27 year old woman i met yesterday, who is diagnosed with end stage lymphoma and is paralyzed from the chest down, due to the tumor that is pressing on her spine. She’s got 5 children and a prognosis of 6 months to live. How’s that for a reality kicker. (while i was bitching this morning on the traffic in getting into work) I was working on her legs, which hasn’t moved in months, but her sensation is still intact ... so it was painful - yet necessary ... and through the tears, (her’s and mine)- by the end she was feeling a lot better, pain levels decreased by more than 70%, and she could sit up without back pain. Small portion of peace in the middle of confounding realities and fears.
So it got me thinking of the frailty of life and that in the end we are all dying from the moment we take our first breath. Sometimes for me ... it feels easier than living......... (and i’m saying that in the full acknowledgement that my heart can be as fickle and as drastically changing like the texas sky)
Yet, Jesus loved life... even knowing all that he would have to walk through... from cheering and praise riding a donkey into Jerusalem ... to the mocking while carrying a cross.
How do i let Jesus (cuz really that is an act of our will agreeing with His)- live through me - that i love life as much as He did and does... and where does it fit in that He came to give life Abundantly. Yes, it can all get rather theological and heady in spaces, but what i’m asking is on a visceral and kinetic level.
Neal T Anderson calls it “truth encounters” where we exchange those lies for truth.
"The major strategy of Satan is to distort the character of God and the truth of who we are. He can't change God and he can't do anything to change our identity and position in Christ. If, however, he can get us to believe a lie, we will live as though our identity in Christ isn't true."
I know my life has been a mixture of conundrums, conjectures and juxtapositions. I get told i’m a “leader”... and all those eloquent soliloquies that tend to stroke ego (and a couple other phrases i’ll leave out here)..... but i’m a reluctant one at best... knowing far too well my flaws and soulish leanings on matters.
I try to keep things real, and that means being honest on my “not so hot days”. ...
But culture (including “christian culture”)- doesn’t often allow for that much honesty-
"Humankind cannot bear very much reality."
T. S. Eliot
one of my fav quotes.... i often refer to “Eliot” as the “T.S”- meaning “tough shit”.
We all have those dark spaces where we only allow few to know.. often times those spaces are needed to hash out and even flesh out... when we are coming out of our skin and need to be reminded through touch... that we actually do have a frame and the ache is real.
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.
yet... i remember Steve Thompson (awesome teacher at Morningstar/ though not quite yer “pastoral type” if you know what i mean....) saying....
“honest is awesome, but don’t go up to your brother and tell him you have been harboring hatred towards him and think he’s an ass, cuz the fruit of that wouldn’t be good... some things... just confess to the Heavenly Father and leave it at the Cross.. knowing that God knows the confession of your heart and trusting He will work out the flesh parts in it”.
I guess that goes back to the “life giving parts”..... what’s not life giving really does need to be laid at the cross, yet also being honest with my own heart.. that people wound... and friends wound deeper due to heart approximation.
How can i bring life... even when i feel my life ebbs away on matters? When hopes and dreams feel like they’ve fallen on rocky soil, where the birds of the air seem to feast on them. Where wormwood (ps... wormwood is a hallucinogenic -medical tid bit there) eats holes in the fabric of things.
Part of the reason i hold to the “Mystics” is because they were really transparent on matters. They spent enough time in the desert of their own hearts that they know they are empty with the exception of HIM.... they chose some of the isolation in order to be fully present on other matters.
I’ve had incredible encounters with HIM... so astounding and breath taking, that the thought of moving beyond them - back into the painful reality of the day to day, mundane tent making parts of things, made me wish to die in that moment to hold to it...
I’ve often asked the Lord on matters.......... “why not know your salvation, be delivered and you just take me home?” It seems a lot easier than transversing this terrain of human fickle emotions and being tossed and plundered by the waves of circumstance... where even the simplest of annoyances rock my mood to the point of saying *&@* it.
He’s pretty faithful to remind that part of us being the Body of Christ ... in the here and now..... and in the HEAR and now... means walking with HIM in it.... that Healing isn’t the main goal... but growing closer to HIM in the painful places is the point. - and reminds me of Graham Cooke’s point when he approached Abba on that matter.. where God quickly quipped back..... “what part of ME can you know, NOW,...that in another other situation ... you could not have?”
I’ve challenged that in many places... letting my soulish parts dare God to love me.... even that unspoken but screaming cry from my heart that says......... “Can you love me NOW.... even in THIS MESS???”
I’ve even trusted people with the crevices of my heart... daring them on some matters..... “can you love me now?” Even taken well meaning “gifts” - just to squander .... with a hidden part of my heart that is questioning their motives .... just to see if they were really real.......
Bottom line........ i really TEST everything on matters.... (oh, i’m a bit of a gambler- did i say)... but holding some cards really close to my chest.
Yet, if i’m really honest, it’s fear that dictates that....
I used to be a performer ... i was shit at doing “cover songs”... only thing i was really good at was doing my own stuff.... funny thing is... even on my shit days on being in front of an audience... i never really got any negative response... more like..... “wow... that was really raw, i felt that... “
Perhaps that was and is more my writing style... more “well felt than well written”... and that’s a quote that i got on one of my many english papers... (funny thing was the Prof. that commented on that, was a bit of a twat on matters.... Nothing could be good enough for him, and he was really harsh with his responses- quite the critical spirit... and i knew what he was looking for in the paper, but purposed NOT to go there... and just wrote from a heart space... )book response “virginia Wolf” actually,) - got an A on it for whatever that is worth, but the part that made me giggle was i knew i was taking him out of his critical element and saying... “ok, what are you gonna do with this ... grade it?”
sorry for the tangental moment, but it’s more to do with where i’m at in the looking at the grand picture of things and why i question so much.... even to the point of questioning LIFE IN HIM.
I guess, some of that is my Spirit is more alive than my flesh on things.... I can feel things in the Spirit in an instant... yet in my soulish parts ... i can remain numb to action on what i actually KNOW in my spirit.
The Irish call these “Thin Places”... where the veil is made permeable from one plane to the next, specifically the the veil that parts the heavenly from the earthly plane; but i think there are “other” - “thin places” ... between soul and spirit .. internally. Where we vacillate ... even vibrate... shake.... and shimmy between. Where we know one thing and do another (paul’s lament there)....... things i want to do, i don’t, - the things i don’t want to do ... i do.......... parts.
Living and Dying is a thin space....... the more we live for Him, the more we die to self... and that’s a painful one, because that means trusting ........ in Him..... and HIM...in each other........
I guess, since i am a gambler on matters... that means putting my hand in for another round.... even if my cards are a bit crap.... i’m willing to risk life....... since death is an easy fold.