I’ve fallen into the trap of writing to publish. Writing simply to communicate and be heard rather than to simply write. I’m not sure what I mean by this, but I know I’ve become too polished and stiff in my style, especially now that I’ve started a blog.
Writing is art. And to do it takes a lot of freedom and discipline. But much like art, we have to let go before we begin to learn. If I cling to closely to my writing my words become tired and worn. So I’m attempting to loosen up and really let stuff flow. I need to become passive in the process and see God’s hand at work as I process my deepest feelings, hurts and joys in print.
That said, I’m not sure what I’m going to write about today. But the world is open to me with all sorts of possibilities. With words I can go anywhere, create almost anything and I’m only limited by my lack of imagination.
Restlessness is a theme that’s been bouncing around my head. And it’s something that really rules my life. I’m restless when I work, when I play, when I love, when I serve, when I worship, when I rest, ha! There’s something in me that I can’t root out. Something that longs for a security that I can’t put my hands on, and say, “Aha, this is it. This is what I’ve been looking for.” I’m just not sure what it is.
Or I guess I do know what it is, it’s God. But I know so little about God really that I’m sure I head in all the wrong directions when I think about him. He’s too much like me in my mind, just meaner. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone quite as mean as my subconscious picture of God. Wrathful and quick-tempered, he’s holy in a detached and unfeeling way, condemning sinners and seeking out the righteous.
This is such a backward portrayal of God. A betrayal of God. What I guess Satan would love me to believe. In fact it’s got to be what most of the world believes. The kind of thinking that resulted in the fall and all the mess. Now it holds me bond and restless. Restless and wandering the world in search of something I can hold, or perhaps something that can simply hold me.
I long to be simply held and told that I am loved. The lack of this attention is the root of my restlessness. And that which I know is the only source, God, seems indifferent to me, distant, and even a bit hostile. It’s not consistent with the “big story” I find in scripture. But scripture doesn’t seem like the kind of stuff that enables me to get through the day. And let’s not even talk about my trust and faith, it is so entirely weak and insincere.
I’ve got to relax into the hands of a new God. A God who’s not the God of my imagining. The confusing God of Sunday morning rituals and nightly fears and anxieties. The God of multiple conversions, methods and attempts to find peace. The God that’s simply the gatekeeper of hell. The God who preys on my fear and anxiety and puts weights on my shoulders. The God who demands obedience and trust. The God who confuses me with tricky doctrines and exacts correct thought. The God who isn’t characterized by love but by strictness and discipline, namely perfection and holiness in human terms.
A picture of holiness that often pops into my brain is of a elderly woman (sorry women who are blessed with years) dressed in a bleak grey business suit, with hair pulled back tight, clipboard in hand, disdainfully peering over glasses perched on the end of a hawkish nose, mouth pinched in a derisive smile. She asks me quick questions with disappointment and disapproval written all over their demeanor. She’s the kind of person I think of when I think of holiness and righteousness. See why it’s hard for me to reconcile God to these sorts of pictures in my mind?
I know I’m not alone in this, trapped in my mind by misconceptions and lies. Everything that holds me in a state of restlessness stems from misperception of my God. When I think of all the books I’ve read, I feel like either I’m really thick or have serious short-term memory loss. I’ve read so much that debunks these lies that we believe about God, I guess that I’ve always thought that by now I should think of him as my great lover, as my heavenly father, and as my friend. But honestly, I don’t. I strain every day in an attempt not to believe what I seem destined to believe: that God is petty, harsh, even manipulative. That he really doesn’t have my best interests at heart.
Often when I’m confronted by the cross, my mind simply goes blank. Either I blow it off as an event that happened a long time ago or as something that shows that God is melodramatic. These thoughts lead me to a theology of practicality and productivity. I say productivity, for in minimalizing the cross I feel I’ve got to produce to please this God. And then, when I finally arrive, he will grant me the peace I so desire. But I’ve found that I don’t have the energy for that kind of production and if I even attempt that route the works of my hands leave my heart empty.
I need a God who’s different. A God who cares. The one who took shame and rejection on the cross, not for some detached plan, but simply to carry my shame, rejection and my restlessness. This is a good starting point in unraveling the lies that have me all tangled up in a mess. Believing in a God who not only cares but carries my restlessness but died for it.
And like my Dad says so often, this God wants me in the game. He wants me to live. He wants me to experience life without the crippling effects of lies, fear and suspicion. He wants not only child-like faith from me, but that I would simply recognize that I am his child and, as his child, everything is going to be all right.
That’s what we all want anyways isn’t it? To know without a shadow of a doubt that we’re loved and that all the hurt, pain, and sadness will come undone. That there is hope for this life and the next. That we’re not simply trapped. That there was and is a divine rescue plan in place, working for us and that we will finally find what we are searching for.
So what? Is all of this just words. Am I attempting to think deep thoughts to have something to write about? Or are these the wrestlings of my heart. A heart that wants to flee the responsibilities of raising a family, raising support for ministry and living a good Christian life.
I believe these are the reflections of my heart. And I do believe that somewhere in there, deep down in my thoughts/soul/heart is someone divine doing his thing. My greatest hope is that he – Jesus – will win the day by working his Holy Spirit within me. This hope is not so that I can live a good life, but that I can come up for his air, that I can simply surface out of the lies that threaten to drown, suffocate and leave me dead and bobbing.
I need an advocate, a personal cheerleader. Someone who is unequivocally for me. Maybe I’m just selfish. But the truth is. If Jesus doesn’t exist, I don’t have anything, but if he does there’s a promise that I might just have everything and more than I ever dreamed of.
Have you ever thought of heaven? Our minds are supposed to be constantly attentive to it aren’t they? It says that somewhere… But what do you think it will be like? I believe it will be like finally waking up. Waking up to promises and truths that we barely dared to think were possible while we lived on the earth. But I don’t want to wait to heaven to start believing in these realities.
That’s what all this has been about really. Not simply another way of viewing the world, but a reality that anchors my being, something that is imbedded deep in my soul/heart/mind. A reality that I am loved unconditionally, heard when I cry out, laughed with, played with, and in which I enabled to get in the game of life.
If you’re like me you may feel that you’ve stalled out in the game of life. But if Jesus is within you, doing something, or doing anything, you’ll never stall. I think this is the root of my struggle: I believe Jesus has long since gotten tired of my running and given up. If I were him I would have. But to go back to the fundamentals, I’m not God and he is. Jesus doesn’t give up, even if his projects are a wreck, and especially when his projects are a wreck.
“Let the little snotty-nosed kids come to me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”