Thursday, November 15, 2012
I've been thinking a lot about God lately (a common occurence), pondering my relationship with Her: Is it sort of like double-dating? Is it more like having a fabulous life coach? Perhaps I could call God my BBF? I tried to zero in on how I envision God, and what about the fact that I am not a terribly worthy person, being full of odd sins, dark corners, musty revenge, and sour remorse. What about that stuff? Doesn't that impact this all important relationship?
A few Sundays back, Pastor Andrea gave another of her brilliant sermons about making room for God in our hearts. She spoke of "clearing out the junk" to make more space for Jesus. This "junk" might include: current addictions, bad habits, attachments that draw us away from God, and more. At the end of the sermon I remember feeling--Wow, will God not come to me unless and until I clean out the trash in my heart? There's so much of it! I'd need to rent one of those expensive dumpsters and I could fill it up in about a day. Or an hour.
Here's my take on it, after being a Christian and person of faith since I was 20 and got snatched up by God and shaken by the neck, rather like a beloved but lost puppy. Which I was. Like all of us, I've experienced ecstasy, joyful times, and some seriously dark times when I wasn't quite sure I would come out the other end or even in what shape I might be in when I emerged. If I ever did come out on the other side.
One day in prayer I was loving God, feeling the warmth within that seemed to fly out of my heart to God. I was yearning to be with him. As sometimes happens, the CNN newsfeed from God entered my brain with these words: I want to be with you as much as you want to be with me. Say what? God wants to be with ME with my strange, undisciplined heart, my need for revenge, my devotion to always being right, my lack of reaching out to the poor and marginalized, and my tendency to be too attached to crisp Chardonnay at the end of the day? Really, God?
But if it's true for me then it's true for you, because one of the more glorious parts of our faith is the idea of the Body of Christ. When we open ourselves to God, we become larger than ourselves, more connected, part of the vast cloud of witnesses to Jesus. We become part of the divine and each other.
Here are a few other insights that I have learned to trust. The way these "knowings," as I call them, come in is different from my own thoughts. The knowings seem to have a weight to them, to be in a voice that is not mine, and they also tend to be way wiser than anything I could invent.
This morning in prayer I was loving God, thanking her for my life, for health, for family, for church, and for surviving the hurricane. The CNN newsfeed kicked in and the words came, "Loving God is enough." Really? You mean I don't have to go down and make home made pizza for the homeless man on the corner of State Street? (That would be a good idea, though.) I don't have to knit tents for the homeless? "Loving me is enough," came again, with a certainty that rocked me.
Now I suspect that when we love God, we are transformed. Perhaps my need for revenge and my inability to forgive certain people in my life will be changed. Probably when I read of all the people whose lives have been devastated by the hurricane, I'll fire off a check to help them rebuild, or help send some supplies. Because we are all beloved by God--no matter our addictions or our brokenness--and there is no "them" or "us." It's all us. Many things could happen and probably will. But the crucial thing is that we first love God and believe that God loves us back, with all our weird imperfections. It is hard to believe. Then the words were followed by an image.
Remember when your kid started getting really independent, and she didn't like to hug you too much or snuggle on your lap anymore? But then some magical moment came (perhaps you bribed her with M & Ms) and your daughter or son sidled up to you and plopped onto your lap. With a sigh of gratitude, you put your arms around that warm bundle of beloved flesh. I think that's how God feels when we love her, as if we had suddenly sidled onto her lap and she could now let out the breath she was holding to say, "Finally, sweeetie, I've been waiting for you a long time." And we will whisper, "Thank you," because, as Meister Eckart has said, "If the only prayer you say in your whole life is 'Thank you,' it will be enough."
So don't--at this moment--worry about the trash in your heart. God loves you anyway, no matter how many dumpsters you could fill up. First love and let yourself be loved, then you can focus on the cleanup job.