Tuesday, September 28, 2004

One Hour...

"Do not exchange one bondage for another and mistake it for freedom." That was a phrase that rang through my head at the end of my hour-long walk home from school today.

I like walking, especially when the sun is shining, the breeze gently blowing across my path, and I know there is an ice cold Diet Dr. Pepper waiting for me in the refrigerator when I get home. But mostly I like to walk because it is when I dialogue with God. I start things off with a question or comment, and away we go...we discuss issues, we argue about why things are not as they should be, or rather, not as I want them to be, I ask a lot of questions and wonder about a lot of situations, and sometimes I just listen. Often I talk out loud. I have even been known to weep, wail, and groan on occasion when words just did not seem adequate. So today I was asking why something I did that seemed like a good idea at the time with the most noble motivation, turned into an unhealthy obsession. And this phrase came into my mind, "Do not exchange one bondage for another and mistake it for freedom." Now somebody famous probably said that somewhere, sometime, so I am sorry if I am not giving anyone credit here, but all I know is that it applied to me.

There are a few things that are very precious to me, and clutching onto them tightly seems so much more secure than letting them go free; being surrounded by a small, familiar, predictable environment seems so much safer than the wide open field of boundless liberty; trying to manage (control) my circumstances seems like a wise move in order to ensure my well-being and ultimate happiness. Wrong! My most valuable treasures can in fact become idols blocking and distorting my view of truth and limiting my experience of the white-hot holy, jealous presence of God. What am I so afraid of that I will clutch onto anything BUT God? Or perhaps I will convince myself that I am clinging to God AND the precious, so that makes it okay. I have had to unclench my hands of some big things. Painful. All the more so because I saw how much I had relied on them to sustain me. There is only one source of life - Jesus said "I am the Life." Oh God, don't let me settle for any shiny substitutes.

I am glad I did not ask for a quick ride home after class, but instead, chose to take the long way home, for today I came an hour closer to freedom.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Things I want to learn from my cats...

1. Sometimes I get waaaay too serious about things. Enjoy the moment, be it the bug in the window or the ray of sunshine on the chair.
2. If you are hungry or in need, meow, and meow again, and don't stop meowing until the person who has the power to do something about it actually does something about it.
3. Cuddle, get close, lean against, sit on top of, lie stretched out on, and purr for the one you love.
4. Sitting next to someone for an hour just listening is a good way to spend an afternoon.
5. The dark is not a scary place. All you need is a tiny bit of light to see ahead of you.
6. Some things are worth getting up from a nap from, some are not. The secret is to be able to tell the difference.
7. Even though the dish is empty now, there will be food in it at supper time. There always is.
8. Don't get too comfortable in one position, change your perspective often.
9. There is a definite advantage to seeing things from above, get as high as you can.
10. You are responsible for your own cleanliness. Bathe often.
11. Never forget where the front door is.
12. Jump. Leap. Run. Tumble. Explore. There are an infinite number of hiding/sleeping/playing places in 1200 square feet.
13. Use your claws only if necessary.
14. Shedding is a part of life.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

playing with fire...

I started a small fire in my toaster oven this afternoon. It was no big deal. The flames soon subsided when they ran out of breadcrumbs and the only harm done was that my toast had that outdoorsy flame-broiled smoky taste which I didn't mind at all. It was a contained fire and caused no panic or fear in my life whatsoever.

How can the sight of such a powerful force only squeeze a bemused smirk from my face? Because it has not been unleashed. It is safely restricted to a small box and turned on and off at my convenience. It is tame. But fire, real raging fire! Now that's different! When I see that, I grab all my valuables, the two cats, and run!

Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12), yet I find myself too often not impressed by his presence. Perhaps this is because I have relegated him to a nice safe distance. He serves a certain purpose, but I do not fall on my face in awe and fear everytime I sense him. Perhaps that is because his nearness is in reality, rather distant, and I feel more at ease without his hot breath on my neck. Yes, he is comforting; yes, he is loving; yes, he is a friend to sinners; yes, he is compassionate. But let us never forget he is holy. The very nature of fire is to consume everything it touches. We cannot suppose that we can come close to a holy God and not be affected: our frail humanity will be singed and any part of us that harbours evil will be totally obliterated. It is the mercy of God that we are not all consumed. I have become so accustomed to being clothed in mercy that I forget that underneath it all I am poor and naked and wretched. And afraid to come close.

They say that those who play with fire will get burned. I suppose if no one had ever played with fire, I would not be enjoying my toaster oven or my gas grill or my heating system today. Someone dared to come close, and changed the world. Why not me?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

S*FFERING

Yes. It is a bit of a b*d word in our politically correct but spiritually stupid world. A sure conversation-staller or worse yet, due to a lack of understanding, a topic that can sometimes bring alienatation between good friends or cause even the most hopeful of us to succumb to the sigh and slump of a defeatist attitude. Even in religious circles where we all claim to adhere to the undeniable value inherent in that very thing, I find that we do our best to avoid it at every turn. We want to be successful, comfortable, happy, a wonderful and shining example of how Jesus can make your life so much better, so much fuller. Full of what??!?

I will venture to say that anything you have in your life right now that is of any real value came with some measure of s*ffering attached ot it. Think about it for a minute. I am. Marriage. Friendship. Children. Contentment. Healing. Joy. Love. Patience. Progress. Long Hair. Playing music. Writing a book. Peace. Winning a medal. Building a home. Abolishing slavery. Learning confidence. Walking. Strength. Authority. Faith. All these things do not come cheap! So I am determined to put the word back in my vocabulary and not flinch when I say it. Come on, you try it, too...s*ff-...ssuf-...suffe- (help me, Jesus!)...suffering!!

"Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want." from 1 Peter 4 (The Message)