Monday, October 20, 2014

May we ask to see

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

How deeply, Lord, must You affect a life for that person to exclaim, "the bush was burning!" or, "the sea parted in two!" or, "He walked on water!" It is not that I do not believe the natural miracle of these narratives, but it is more that I believe in the power of metaphor -- and I believe, I know, just how profound Your impact upon a life can be, so powerful, in fact, that our words fail to capture. Only metaphor can begin to describe it.

You piece us together, for example, when we have been torn apart. If we but walk beside You, You weave other people, other circumstances, in and out, cleansing, applying antiseptic, and bandaging. We know how desperate our situation was, and we look back and see how, over time, You have orchestrated a mighty healing, for some in years, for others in a moment. For both, only metaphor can describe what has happened, for we are staggered by Your response.

Lord, give our eyes the ability to see! So many times, we miss Your work in our lives. We miss the love that goes to such lengths to heal us, even when we do nothing but complain about our wounds. We don't see Your mercy. We don't see You.

May we ask to see You every day. May we humble ourselves and admit our not seeing is symptom only of our own blindness, not proof of Your absence! Like Bartimaeus, Lord, may we ask to see!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Discerning

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

I am afraid, Lord, afraid to begin this journey again ... discernment toward ordination. I want it, very much. I think it will work better for what I think is "our" purpose, drawing others to You, toward thinking about You, considering You, wanting You. But, Lord, Your thoughts are so high above my own thoughts, and I can want something, very much, that You just ... well ... don't.

And, Lord, I laid myself out there before ... and got bit. I got thrown away, really, trampled on. What am I doing, coming to this point again?! Thinking people will see, when what most people see is what they want to see, what their own intentions and motivations have formed them to see. Will they see what You see? Can they?

I don't like putting myself in anyone's hands but Yours. And I know these people, I trust these people are doing their best to see what You see and determine what is Your will. If it didn't go Your way before -- and my presenting myself again is my own testimony to that belief -- how can I believe the way it goes this time is, indeed, Your will?

Well, for one, I quit. I didn't let the process continue. Fear dragged me down, and I was made to see myself as unfit. Someone else put himself in the place of You (and I put that someone else into a place he never should have been).

I am much stronger now. I know how to depend upon You much more now. I know how to let You have the fear, that most vulnerable part of myself -- the part I should entrust to no one except You, for only You have the power to transform that into grace and strength. It is idolatry for me to present that part of me to anyone but You; I shouldn't expect that kind of love, fatherly love, from anyone in my life but You. It is not fair. I lost my chance to have a father; but, You will more than make up for that!

You have more than made up for it, and that is my purpose: to show others how You more than make up for what we lose due to others' sins (and even our own). You flow into the holes we make in ourselves, if only we let You. How blessed are we who have lots of holes!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Changing images of God

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

We all need to question the image we have of You. After all, this image was formed by human beings. Our parents, those in authority over us -- teachers, guardians, babysitters, all who exercised control in our lives early on. Each of these people had some say about our perception of You. They helped build it.

And it may not be right.

I still remember the feeling that washed over me the day I realized I had taken an aspect of my abusive father's personality and made it Yours. No wonder I was mad at You! No wonder I could not come to trust You! Removing that perception wasn't easy, but You did it, finally, after many months of analyzing just how deep that belief went, after many months of separating it from the images of You I found in the Bible, after many months of recording my own experiences of You. And, after many months of practicing that new belief, reminding myself what was old and ingrained just didn't apply.

Early teachings we received about You might need to be analyzed too. If something we think we know about You bugs us, it is usually -- I have found -- an invitation from You to stop and reconsider. Why does it bug us? We need to "have it out with You" so to speak. I have come to know You like that -- our having it out with You. After all, You saw to it that a whole book of the Bible was about just that, and Job did a fine job of it!

I have to. Nothing has blessed me more than having it out with You -- as long, that is, as I didn't walk away. Walking away is cowardly. You didn't go through what You went through so we could walk away from You, question Your ways without really hearing You out. Oh the gift we miss when we do that!

Our image of You needs reconditioning all the time. You can and will show us more of You. You can and will change us to become more and more the human beings we are meant to be. There are always new applications of You to be received and given to others who desperately need them, who desperately need You.

May we all be up to it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

False humility

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

It's sort of false humility when we stay away because of shame, isn't it? I used to think false humility was an act, an intentional taking on of a "oh, it's not me; I'm not good" type of attitude that turns my stomach. You can tell when adopters of this pose really do think they are good. Or, the ones who are so self-detrimental I want to smack them. "God doesn't make junk," I would scream, if that saying were not as over-used and trite as it has come to be.

But this new idea of false humility I've come to see -- this "I'll wait out here in the lobby," just outside Your presence because we think something we just did (or did a long time ago) is just too unacceptable, is just as bad. In fact, it's worse. It's more insidious, and I bet the devil uses the hell out of it, if You don't mind my saying.

Thanks to River of Hope for this image.
My sin is too bad, or even this idea of there's too much suffering in the world for there to be a God is just bull. It's false humility. It's a blatant, insulting refusal to consider Your Passion and Cross, and I bet You get a bit sick of it.

Where did we get the idea that the bomb shouldn't have exploded, or the fire shouldn't have happened, or the car shouldn't have crossed the center line right at that moment? What the Cross tells us is that the bomb will explode; the fire will happen; the car will cross the center line. But You will prevail. God will prevail. No matter what evil throws at us; no matter what we throw at ourselves, God --You -- will win.

I can get as angry as anyone -- 17 years of sexual abuse resulting in devastating things I'm still dealing with, but lay that Cross upon my shoulders and I'm more powerful than anyone who's been through less. This is how it works. We can get caught up -- and stalled -- in asking why, or we can take what comes, realize the power we have in You, and actually alter what comes after -- that kingdom-coming thing.

Sorry for letting that false stuff intrude again, Lord. Help me to keep my focus on You, O powerful Lord, O Crucified Christ, my Savior. You've got some muscle, Lord!