Saturday, April 16, 2011
I don't have anything deep to say this morning. Not anything from myself anyway. But I feel a torrent, a deep river of grace moving through me, and I must write. Perhaps it's the coffee and I'm simply experiencing a caffeine high. Perhaps it's literal as well, and with the best gospel singers I can sing along "I've got a river of life flowing out of me" as I run to the Starbucks bathroom to relieve my confused bladder (sorry, I've always been tickled by this sad joke).
But I feel so full this morning. Filled on the goodness of my God. I've heard testimonies of God's mysterious and amazing ways in my men's group. One man talked about real prayers, prayers asking for God to speak to him, prayers for him to be part of God's agenda, not for God to simply be a part of his. He's hearing from God. And this man, who months ago believed there was no God, read to us God's words to him from his journal. Grace overflowing to atheists. Good stuff.
I watched the movie "Hear after" last night. In it Matt Damon is finally playing a part which had Melissa and me thinking he didn't have to make himself look older or younger than he actually is. I don't know how old he is now, but with flecks of gray in his hair and some brow lines from all the facial expressions that mark the genius of his trade, he looks about as old as I feel: I'm in my mid-thirties and I think he's in his early forties, but he's a baby face.
Matt (may I simply call him Matt? He feels like a friend with all the great roles he's played.) plays a character that reaches deep into my yearnings. In fact, there is a triad of characters in this story, and they all are being driven towards something other, somewhere larger, somewhere more real: the "here-after."
Now I'm not going to go ruining the movie for you so don't worry. But this movie, which Clint Eastwood directs, like his "Gran Tarino," is obsessed with questions of substance. I believe CS Lewis would love Clint Eastwood for these two movies. For these two subtly whisper of a "far-off country," a place beyond this world and the yearnings and cravings for this reality that mark the human race. Characters in Eastwood's movies are in a process of transformation, having their walls of self-protection broken through by the invading forces of both pain and beauty.
My walls too are being pulled down. I'm in a process of seeing and revelling the big God in the small details. I'm writing and meditating on all the "little things" I'm thankful for. And it's taking me to places that are more real, more sure and more in-tune with my heart's yearning than my typical modes of escape, recreation and exercise. It's taking me from a place of brainlessly mouthing the big things in church and moving on with my life to a place of deep suspicion that I don't know much about the big things.
How and why is my men's group, "Here-after" and my gratitude affecting me? And why am I writing about it. I really don't know. I can't say. But I get hints. Hints like we serve a God more mysterious than my "Sunday-school parrot-talk" can describe. A God who reveals himself to those who are in the depths.
A God "who redeems your life from the pit, and crowns you with steadfast love and mercy."
"Bless, the LORD, Oh my soul, let all that is in me Bless his holy name." - Psalm 103
I fear I'm becoming a sentimental sop (but you already know I'm a sop). In fact I fear that this entry will be so mushy-gushy and dis-connected that you, the reader, will begin to feel critical and jaded. That's OK.
But these fears, onve laid on the table, seem simply irrelevant. They don't do justice to the difficulties of writing about a God who deserves full reverence and fear.
And isn't part of the deep mystery of God's grace, is that he keeps bringing us around to fear? Fear of man. Fear of God.
As I'm learning that fear of man gets me absolutely nowhere, God is really forcing my hand to fear him. In this fear, in dealing with the real "Fear" (as Frederich Beuchner calls God in one of his stories), I find substance and peace. Stuff that I can lay on my bed at night and ponder on. Stuff that I can sleep to. Stuff of Shalom and rest. God stuff. Good stuff.
So I guess that's about all I've got today. I've got a river running through me that's doing real stuff to me with it's real stuff. It's sometimes a torrent and sometimes a trickle, but always it's with me, moving, transforming and shaping. The breath of the LORD is blowing on me, and for this and for all of this stuff he's doing I'm grateful beyond words. Someday I'll write a little more coherently on it. But I pray never too coherently for then I might not be writing about God.