Tag Archives: #God

To Pilgrim in 2018

pilgrim2

Our world screams hyper-activity, uber-productivity, high energy, stress induced anxiety necessitating record breaking amounts of mood altering meds and magic pills.  This world screams the values of wealth, comfort, convenience and excess as the recipe for happiness and fulfillment.  The consumer-slavery model convinces you to create bills and debts to things you don’t need (but feel entitled to) so that every waking minute and second of your days exists to push coins in the direction of your creditors in the pursuit of this American Dream.

Here’s my problem with the American Dream:  it’s not old enough.  It might be the historian or the theologian in me, but I marvel at the primal connections of our forefathers/mothers who lived lives of deep community, deep meaning and deep mystery of old.  I’m not interested in a life w/out air-conditioning, a cold space to keep my meat and proteins so they don’t spoil or without my Jeep but there are some simplicities I am interested in that I can learn from the past.  Mostly that my life is not defined on things I produce which in turn give me value, but my life has value because of who I am and who I belong to.  Primal community, I am who I belong to.  I have value because the One who made me bestowed upon me value as his son before I ever ‘did’ anything in this world.  I have value not by what I add to my community, but because of their deep love and affection for me.

I  have a conversational relationship with the One I call ‘God’.  I perceive him to be the God of the Ancient Scriptures, I access him through a divine connection with Jesus the Christ and his Spirit, I experience him to be the very Son of God having resurrected from the dead.  By definition that puts his words and prompts in another category.   I’ve been asking for a ‘word’ for 2018 and the one I hear back in my spirit is ‘Pilgrim’.  I think the Spirit wants to lead me on a pilgrimage and wants me to perceive my circumstances as a pilgrim.  This life, this world, is something I am just passing through.  It doesn’t define me.  If I don’t ‘crush it’ in 2018, it doesn’t take away from my primal identity and connection as a Pilgrim passing through.  I am defined by who I belong to and what He is teaching me, not by anything that I am accomplishing.

Takes the pressure off and turns the joy up.  Cheers to your Pilgrimage!

“But your loss brought you here to walk under one name and one name only, and to find the guise under which all loss can live; remember, you were given that name every day along the way, remember, you were greeted as such, and treated as such and you needed no other name, other people seemed to know you even before you gave up being a shadow on the road and came into the light, even before you sat down, broke bread and drank wine, wiped the wind-tears from your eyes; pilgrim they called you, pilgrim they called you again and again.  Pilgrim.”  – ‘Camino’, poem by David Whyte

 

Advent 2017: I was lied to growing up in church

sad_love-heartbreak“Today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation. He longs for our presence. And he is inviting you and me to come home, to come home to where we belong, to come home to that for which we were created.” – Richard Foster

I was lied to growing up in the church.  Can you relate?  Most of the sermons and teaching I remember hearing agreed with the same themes I heard  in side conversations around the pews and the whispers in the hallways.  The theme that dominated my early construct of who this mysterious God was and what he was like was that he was mad at me.  He was disappointed in my lack of ‘having it together’, he was ashamed of my worldly ways, he condemned my thoughts and my questions as rebellion against his holiness.  If and when I got my act together, then I could have a seat at the table if I behaved.  God was the judge and he wasn’t pleased with me.

This was a God who was distant, far away, untouchable by the untouchables.  Religion is a box of shame.

This construct simply was a lie meant to control and keep God at a distance. This is not at all the God I have come to know and be known by.  The reality of Christmas, the theme of Advent, is an aching of God to overcome all barriers and connect with His creation again.   Here is the Gospel of Advent . . . Here is the good news of Christmas . . . Here is the Truth . . . God is not mad at us, He just misses us!  He literally does not want to live without us.  THIS is the theme of Immanuel, ‘God with us’ because he doesn’t want to be without us.

He aches over our distance and HE closed the distance.  He’s not asking us to meet him halfway, He went the whole way.  He’s asking us to stop running, to stop and turn into His love.  His love is like the warmth of a crackling fire with your stocking on his mantle with YOUR name on it.  You are welcome at His table, You quite simply belong to Him and He can’t and won’t live without you, THAT is why He came.

He’s not mad, He just misses you.  He aches for you.  Stop and notice Him today.  Be embraced, stop running, find your home there.  This is not religion, this is Kingdom Come.

I’m going to be writing on this theme for the season of Advent this 2017, come along for the journey.

 

 

Ruthless Trust

“The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of the pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise.”
Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God

I shared in my last post about the gift of being in this unemployed place of uncertainty and vulnerability.  There is certainly a lot to learn and enjoy in it.  But I’m not going to sugar-coat that it’s always what my perspective or attitude is.  Other times it can just be really hard and unsettling.  I’m not unlike you, I want to be in control of my surroundings, my future and my options.  But I am in a season presently in life where all of what I used to rely upon as security is no longer secure.  My wife and I are holding tight to simple and core truths about who we are, who our God is and that the future is secure in him and his provision over us.  We are challenged and cross-pressured to believe in things we can’t see and not lose hope. We are not the first people to find ourselves here, it’s just our story today.

I lost some faith this week, I got discouraged.  Met with our accountant last week to do our 2016 taxes for us personally and the businesses we are trying to get off the ground.  I had the figures stare back at me on paper like a bully on the playground.  How little income I had in 2016 and how much of our personal investment I put in the coffee business that is 100% loss at the moment (of course most businesses lose $ in their first couple years).  All my identity of being a provider for my family for 23 years was being challenged.  The accusing voices started of what a failure I must be, how much I’ve let everyone down and the helplessness of not being able to correct the ship immediately.   Defeated, discouraged, disappointed . . . what do we with these emotions?  Where do we take these lies that bounce around in our head and seek to intimidate us into total surrender?

Today I went for a walk in the woods to listen.  I spent several hours walking and sitting.  I listened, I listened to the babbling brook, I listened to the waving branches of the trees over me, I listened to the cracking of broken sticks under my boots, I listened to the hawks overhead and I listened for the voice of the One who made me and marks my days.  I started out somewhat lost, feeling disconnected and anxious.  And then He spoke and it was hard to compose myself.  He said:  “stop trusting in bank statements and financial tables, learn to ruthlessly trust me.”  The voice went on, told me to look around, look at the eco-systems of life and complexities all around me.  They don’t worry, they don’t fret, they are taken care of.  How much more will I be taken care of.

I was reminded that we are at the dawn of the Lenten season of the Church, where we are to be stripped away of all our preoccupations and distractions to find ourselves in Him.  We can locate ourselves in his suffering and thus share with him our deepest longings and shortcomings.  We don’t have to wear our fears like a cloak, we can put it on him and hide ourselves in him.  In his creation, in his ever presence, in the Spirit that broods over the earth and bubbles up in the brooks and streams.  If we ruthlessly trust him, we can find our confidence in him.  This is a place of surrender, vulnerability and exposed nakedness.  But we came into this life naked, and naked sometimes we still find ourselves.  We ruthlessly trust not because we are masochists, but because we believe foundational aspects of his nature:  goodness, faithfulness, sustenance, mercy and eternal love.

We are being asked to ruthlessly trust . . . we are ALL being asked to ruthlessly trust.  What’s on the other side of that door?  Let’s open it and find out, but it starts with trust. #Gulp