Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A vision of those last living moments

EVEN amid a semi-migraine experience, flashes before the eyes, a loss of visual equilibrium, God gave me a paradoxical vision: my last living moments.
Suddenly what flashed before the eyes of my heart was the irredeemable fact: living, breathing, sensing, life was fading in the final seconds. Sorrow filled my soul’s gaze. Yet I was caught up in something myriads higher. A profound depth subsuming me. Being absorbed into the Eternal.
Sadness came for the fleeting glimpses of those Id not said goodbye to: my wife, my daughters, my son, my parents, my brothers and my friends.
Sadness yet wholeness for that Something Bigger. Somehow understanding filled me and my sight for the entirety of life was perfected but completely without ability to explain it.
As God took me into Himself I began to feel the absence of corners and sides and boundaries and of beginnings and endings. I was coming into what is, always as it has been and will ever be. And everything not of God ceased to exist.
Finally as I understood this simply as a vision, God caused me to be thankful. I was grateful in accepting the extension of His moments. More breaths ahead. Possibilities ahead to enjoy God and all of the things He blesses me with.
These final moments were not the end, but the beginning of the broadening  and burgeoning of awareness.
***
Ends inspire fresh beginnings while there is still life and hope. Be open to beginning again and hope for the stars. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

5 experiences of existential pain we must get used to

THE ABYSS. It’s where God wants to take us. Not for our harm, but for our good. Not for no reason, but for a purpose. And we only realise this when we stumble on it by accident having been forced to go there by the cruel circumstances of life.
One experience of going to the abyss will teach us more about the purpose of life than ten lifetimes without it.
Yet it is denial or flight or attack of myriad sorts — our fear of pain — that causes us to resist the sort of pain that has life as its core.
Yes, inside pain is the irrefutable core truth — don’t resist it or resent it and we come to the end of ourselves, and hence the beginning of God.
Only in the abyss do we learn how quickly we reach our creative limits. Only there do we ever begin to contemplate life lived as a possibility; that comfort and the absence of pain may not be the objects of life.
Sitting in that place of pain may not make us able to bear the pain any better, but it can teach us that life is not centrally about avoiding pain, but in the ability to hold it close without it making us bitter.
But inevitably we need to experience the sharpness of bitterness to experience the folly of it. It seems a viable response to pain, but it takes us away from contentment.
Five experiences of existential pain we must get used to are:
1.      Frustrations that are common to life that cause us to become overwhelmed cognitively, emotionally, spiritually. Learning to accept what we cannot change will help us to accept those experiences of being overwhelmed, and that pain is mastered.
2.      Grief outbound of loss. Life when it is analysed is a long series of grief events, but it’s only the major iterations of grief that promise to crush us sufficiently to cause us to surrender enough to learn by being humble enough to be taught.
3.      Anxiety that is common of a normal human’s experience presents us with a pain that estranges us from the bond of connection. When we learn to stop judging our everyday anxiety we bear it and suddenly it is no longer a problem for us, and we can explore the thinking behind it in order to challenge it from a healthy, productive creative space.
4.      Understanding that sadness and sorrow have their cherished place in the human experience. Nobody likes being depressed, but in our depression we master depths of understanding we never would otherwise. See how even depression can have a deeper life purpose?
5.      Time moves forward and onward, always, all the time. We lament the passing of time and seasons of past. It’s normal. Rather than simply staying in a place of despair, we have the opportunity to revisit those places and bear our understandings as real in our experience. And those times we cannot bear to think we ever had are gone. In this regard, time is inherently redemptive.
Pain has its purpose in teaching us the deeper matters of the realities of life.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Valuing of Awkward Listening Silence

ONE of the key skills of listening is silence, allowing awkwardness its cherished place in relationships.
In the awkward silence is space where God works in liberating truth from guarded lips, as a person courageously trusts the caring moment.
ENTERING THE SILENCE
How few relational interactions feature the space of silence? Too few. Too many exchanges occur when both parties insist on having their say, neither listening to the intent, motive and message of the other.
But entering the silence is simply the art of one person agreeing to say nothing until the right time comes. This person may have a simple question to ask — that’s all.
There is power in that one question. Could be five words. Could simply be one.
As something is said in rigid simplicity power emanates from that word.
The opportunity to lay one pregnant sentence into the communication is only available when we listen sufficiently through silence, communicating through body language and gestures where at all possible.
TRUSTING THE SILENCE
If we ever wish to have a transformational interaction, to cause someone to think, to encourage someone to heal, to show empathy, we must trust the silence within which the ministry is to occur.
We put off the desire to give them our advice. We leave home the truths we believe will help. The words of distraction remain in the car or in another room. Focus and attention comes in the silence.
And in the silence, listen for the Spirit. He needs no words of our assistance. The Spirit will communicate something in the awkward listening silence. Remain there.
Listening has such value in communication, and many times more listening that trusts the awkwardness in silence.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Two Rare Expressions of Wisdom – Both and Neither

DIVISION is the way of the wise in a world where God is pushed far into the nether regions of thought. We hear so much these days about the Left and the Right, about Conservatives and Liberals; as if everyone must be painted into one or the other corner.
It is almost impossible to stay neutral. And it is rare indeed for people to opt for both or neither side — with diligent intention.
The wisdom of both is a proposition of taking appreciatively all views. It respects all views because partialities are a non-issue. The heart is at peace. And a person has no reason to bend their integrity into the shape of coercion.
When we employ the wisdom of both most people look at us as if we’re nuts. Fun, isn’t it?
Likewise, the wisdom of neither takes the option of bowing out as a conscientious objector, which is every bit as active as non-violent resistance. Neither enjoys the option of opting out in an age where the vocal minority seem everywhere (on social media at least).
But the wisdom of neither transcends merely staying quiet on social media. It actively seeks to be free of a view. It treats having a view as a distraction to other, more important matters of life.
What a masterstroke it is when we choose one of these two options in any and all situations, agreeing to support the ethic on both sides or to completely withdraw all mental and emotional investment.
If we’re given to the stress of arguing the point, or we hate being thwarted, the wisdom of both or neither can help us feel greatly empowered in a Kingdom way.
In a contentious world, what Kingdom wisdom there is in choosing neither or both sides. Try it and see God free you.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Overcoming anything through overcoming yourself

EVERY thorn in life can be overcome, literally or spiritually. We can learn to transcend it or acquire the patience to tolerate it.
Most changes we wish to initiate and attain take much more effort and work than we first realise. Until we get close to our goal, having smashed that glass ceiling. Then God shows us the fact; we are overcoming. Every step until that momentous point is one trudging, begrudging step up the hillside after the other.
Only by faith will we get to the top of the mountain to run down the other side.
God blesses nothing more emphatically than the hard work we put in toward reaching our goals. And the truth is we’ll need to fail several times at some big goals before we’ll succeed.
Can you see now how failure is integral to success; that without failure there can be no ultimate success?
God blesses us through the diligence we display for taking the ultimate responsibility for our lives. If we don’t, who will? We must be the ones who grasp the opportunities time allows. It’s all that matters in the long run. What we do and who we are.
Taking responsibility is the key to achieving all growth in the spiritual demographic.
We overcome by overcoming ourselves, by surrendering our plaintive power that makes us feel important to a power that overcomes through our weakness.
When we get out of our own way we begin to see that, all along, we have been the barrier, and then we understand the power of change. Change comes from within.
When a challenge comes ask, can I transcend this or must I learn to tolerate it?

Monday, August 28, 2017

50 Years Ago, When I Was 30

IMAGINE borrowing from the future to invest in your present to make your past better than it could have been.
Gifted a vision — two actually — and fifteen years apart — and joining them together. That’s what this is.
Living a carnal life at thirty-five, not truly walking with the Lord at all, I harboured some substance dependences. Little did I know at that point, but the following year my life as I knew it would end and a new life would begin; the literal turning of my world upside down.
Standing at the end of my driveway, inebriated and puffing on a stogie, God gave me a vision of myself as a near-eighty-year-old. It left me feeling well in my soul.
I got the distinct sense that God was saying “your 77-year-old self will thank your 30-something self for the decisions you’re making (or are about to make) now.” Wow. The problem was, though I was trying very hard to address the issues in my life, I was delaying the action I needed to take to realise the vision. I was getting nowhere. I was deluding myself and I knew it!
As history would reveal I never did take that action. So, God did something to get my attention. He changed my life. And the only hope I had of restoring what I had was to make a new life for myself, beginning with quitting alcohol.
The second vision occurred recently. At the eightieth birthday of a person esteemed by my wife and I, someone who received their PhD close to the time I was born — fifty years ago, when they were thirty — a person who has taken an interest in our family, us, me. The vision imagined the work forward — fifty years of service — of that momentous occasion. From age 80, much diligence and faithfulness, sees a rich legacy. A life very assiduously lived.
If only at age 30 we could receive the gift of our eighty-year-old’s thanks for taking the initiative to work hard at the purpose God’s given us?
It’s a long road, life. So wise to borrow insight from the length of years while we’re still young. Ask God that He might gift you with the ability to see forward so as to impact now.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Serenity via the Gratitude-Honesty Paradox

DAYS of spiritual torment where our soul screams ‘REST!’ yet we cannot attain it create motivation more than ever to find serenity — tomorrow. Here is one way; a practice for each day:
Find thirty minutes (or ten if you’re that pressed for time) of pure uninterrupted time with God praying contemplations of gratitude.
Simply breath thoughts in and out; the facts-of-state and the facts-of-being you’re grateful for.
Facts-of-state are possessions we have outside ourselves, whereas facts-of-being are possessions within. All these possessions are spiritual, i.e. nothing material in and of itself. Such prayers are pivotal to get our day underway in warding against frustration and complaint.
Then, on the opposite side of the spiritual equation, give yourself another thirty minutes (or ten if you’re that pressed for time) per day to just be honest — where you don’t need to be grateful.
You may find it good to voice these sonnets of truth to another person provided they simply listen. Or, being alone before God, voice them aloud so you can hear yourself saying these things.
The problem I’ve found with seasons of being grateful is that the bubble bursts at inopportune times and I’ve felt rotten that I couldn’t remain complaint free for any length of time. We have about one lengthy season in us, then God makes the sustainment of gratitude harder, because we would get conceited otherwise. Think of Paul’s theology in 2 Corinthians 12.
Balance in the spiritual life is key. Making time to be intentionally grateful is as important as making time to be ruthlessly honest. We need both. And how good is it when we can be grateful and honest at the same time.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Moving Forward into the Past

MEMORIES hold the key to identity. What we cannot forget seems tied to how we see ourselves. Then, there is acceptance; healing wounds and thankfulness for joys of past.
I cannot explain it (though I would like to) but when I look at photographs of past I cannot help wanting to go back there. The past is a gift. I recognise the past was pivotal in making me the person I am today.
The photograph above, courtesy of the City of Karratha, reminds me of times spent. At this pub. Driving through the bottle shop, purchasing much liquor. (Drinking and sport were central to the [non-Christian] culture of this town and area in that day.) And though I don’t drink these days, I’m thankful for the experiences I had back then. It’s by no means an endorsement for alcohol, but it reminds me about one addiction (of a few over my lifetime) I have overcome.
I think of this town I was brought up in; the same town my eldest two children began life from. Locals who were there then tell me so much has changed, and in some ways that’s a pity, but the ground does not change.
Standing upon ground of our formation is sacred. One day I will return to walk the areas of my formative years. And I will want a week or two to really reflect and pray.
I’m so fond of those memories of old that seem to swell when we revisit old friends and their memories join with ours, as we all remember different details. Memories of old make for reminiscences of a full life.
***
Isn’t it glorious that God gives us each the opportunity to revisit the past? Some parts of our pasts, of course, could be horrendous. I’m personally unaware of anything I could not return to, but I know others can be affected. If it’s at all possible, we can return to those times of past that were pivotal in making us or revealing us as the people we are today.
I’m wondering whether it’s possible to move forward freely into a hope-filled future without having first reconciled aspects of our past that might continue to goad us. And how do we actually reconcile them?
We bear them, consciously. With help if necessary. We bear our memories and build them based in the truth of what we can remember. We learn to accept them. We accept those past versions of ourselves, for better, for worse. We accept others, for better, for worse. We reach acceptance, which is peace, for now. We conjoin peace with thankfulness.
I’ve discovered the past is pregnant with opportunity for healing, which birthed me into new life for the present.
First, I move forward into my past. I reconcile it. I take the journey forward into it. Leaving no stone unturned. Accepting difficult reminiscences. Knowing God holds me safely whilst there. Before returning to the present.
Moving forward into the past is pivotal if we’re to look back positively from the future.
When we’ve dealt with our past — neither denying it nor angry or depressed about it — hope, peace and joy fills our lives.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Life’s purpose lived through the eternal perspective

IMAGINE this. You see no point to life. Imperiled by pain and stress and fear, finding it difficult to go on, but for the thought tomorrow will be different, you decide not to give up. Somehow, deeper down, you know that faith tells you there’s reward for never giving in.
Little do we realise in these moments of torment that we’re alive, walking the earth, as eternal beings, imprinting ourselves upon the history of life. A bigger purpose fills our reality.
We cannot see. But what if we did see just a little beyond our present constraint? What if we could see the echo of our being throughout the realm that is yet coming; that what we do in this life, our responses to all the terrible things that occur to us, has an abundance of significance.
Faith speaks forth from the age of the ancients and it reaches further into the future telling us what we’re becoming. Our task is to connect with that which God has spoken.
We know nothing of what is to come, in the glory of its reality, and yet science (of simply one set of explanations) speaks of God’s majesty woven all through life.
Why then do we doubt the resounding goodness of the Lord our God?
What possible loss do we incur by believing upon the goodness of God; that we’ll be handsomely rewarded for the crosses we bear in this life; for the stresses, the struggles, the tumults, and the haranguing we’re required to endure?
No, there is no loss incurred at all.
What if every bad thing we bear in this life has a direct reward in eternity? Makes every pain and stress and fear worth bearing. Such faith transforms our thinking and peace is ours. And we have significant help.
My son is in the picture above, but he’s not seen because the foreground dominates. I know he’s there and that fact makes a world of difference to how I view the photograph.
We need to view life in the same way, and not be encumbered by the visible foreground of our struggles. We need to see God in the background; a view that isn’t possibly visible unless by faith.
But we may choose to see it.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Thankfulness when life is Disbelief

WHEN you’re overwhelmed of feeling, you don’t have enough minutes in the day, be thankful you have no shortage of purpose.
When life has you cornered, every which way defying sense and rationale, be thankful you have the mental capacity to attempt its comprehension.
When loss wreaks havoc amid a life you’re learned to say goodbye to, be thankful for the new life coming which one day you’ll be thankful for.
When cords of lament break over the bow of your typically rock-hard constitution, be thankful that God has His ways for getting your attention.
When relationships disappoint and people ghost you, be thankful that you’d not learn the depths in forgiveness otherwise.
When you bear the baggage of a life riddled with regret, be thankful that the best can truly be yet to come.
When decisions cast you yet again into the path of danger, be thankful that God is so gracious that today is a fresh chance at comfort.
When finances are low or non-existent and you worry for the coming hour, be thankful for the resources you have, and God’s provision, to get through.
When mental illness plagues you like nobody would bother to imagine or conceive, be thankful God has shown you how hard life is for many people.
When work is hard and you don’t know how you’ll survive it, be thankful that God is with you, especially in this.
When pain abounds and overflows in dilapidations of despair, be thankful that others that you love don’t suffer like you do.
When life seems impossibly hard, be thankful God asks not more of you than the godly who have gone before you.
When disbelief overwhelms for what you’re currently facing, be thankful you can keep walking through it.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

How can we be FREE when we cannot SEE?

CONSTRUCTION projects will inevitably prove one thing: no matter how good the instructions are, there will always be re-work. This I found out afresh as I assembled a basketball goal set recently.
I quickly got to thinking there’s so much complexity in a set of technical plans, that even someone with a trade ticket like myself is bound to miss details. And several times I did — only to pull apart and fix what I’d put together.
This specific illustration is real to life.
Our minds and hearts and souls cannot absorb the wisdom that God has set into motion in our individual contexts. We don’t have a chance of absorbing all the truth before us, because we simply do not see.
We do not see why our dreams falter and why our losses are meant to define us. We can only see with our eyes, and we do not like discomfort of any kind — we cannot see its use unless we believe it’s beneficial, i.e. by faith.
We do not see the reasons why there are roadblocks ahead — whether literal or figurative. We yell at the drivers ahead of us (or if we’re more refined we fume) without having the foresight that there’s a delineable cause of the delay ahead. It’s not just their ‘poor’ driving!
We do not see the life experiences, the hurts, the reasons for others’ dysfunctions, and we’re so quick to judge and criticise. The dualistic (either/or, win/lose) mind is our perpetual nemesis. Because we do not see. We do not hold opposite tensions well. We don’t see how our influence impacts on others negatively, because we cannot see the effect it has on them.
We do not see the faults of those we favour, and we downplay our own faults, proving once again that we do not see. And yes, everyone plays favourites. Because we do not see.
We do not see how much we do not see in communication; we’re laden with assumptions. The outcome is conflict, and conflicts are more likely to confuse our relationships into irreconcilable differences because we just do not (or too rarely) see the purpose, process or goal of conciliation.
We do not see the problems of others we would otherwise envy. Everyone has problems no matter how much we deny them. Comparison and curation of image are two sides of an insidious cycle in our social-media-dominated world.
We do not see how important it is to invest in some lives and not in others or in activities that reap little reward whatsoever. Because we do not see we lean on our own understanding.
And we do not see how technical plans actually translate into a finished machine. We’re destined to ‘have a go’ only to find out we got it wrong… again!
We do not see God. We cannot see Him in His entirety in life. We try to see Him, but we do not see Him in life, or in our lives, anywhere nearly enough as He is there.
Because we do not see, we’re destined to need to learn. And that fact has its purpose. God has designed life full of learning opportunities — humility producing moments.
If we wish to be free
we need to first acknowledge we cannot see.
That compels us to trust God
for the insight and foresight we do not yet have.
Bible verse for reflection:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
— Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Humankind’s commonest handicaps – #1 we CANNOT see

CONSTRUCTION projects will inevitably prove one thing: no matter how good the instructions are, there will always be re-work. This I found out afresh as I assembled a basketball goal set recently.
I quickly got to thinking there’s so much complexity in a set of technical plans, that even someone with a trade ticket like myself is bound to miss details. And several times I did — only to pull apart and fix what I’d put together.
This specific illustration is real to life.
Our minds and hearts and souls cannot absorb the wisdom that God has set into motion in our individual contexts. We don’t have a chance of absorbing all the truth before us, because we simply do not see.
We do not see why our dreams falter and why our losses are meant to define us. We can only see with our eyes, and we do not like discomfort of any kind — we cannot see its use unless we believe it’s beneficial, i.e. by faith.
We do not see the reasons why there are roadblocks ahead — whether literal or figurative. We yell at the drivers ahead of us (or if we’re more refined we fume) without having the foresight that there’s a delineable cause of the delay ahead. It’s not just their ‘poor’ driving!
We do not see the life experiences, the hurts, the reasons for others’ dysfunctions, and we’re so quick to judge and criticise. The dualistic mind is our perpetual nemesis. Because we do not see. We don’t see how our influence impacts on others negatively, because we cannot see the effect it has on them.
We do not see the faults of those we favour, and we downplay our own faults, proving once again that we do not see. And yes, everyone plays favourites. Because we do not see.
We do not see how much we do not see in communication; we’re laden with assumptions. The outcome is conflict, and conflicts are more likely to confuse our relationships into irreconcilable differences because we just do not (or too rarely) see the purpose, process or goal of conciliation.
We do not see the problems of others we would otherwise envy. Everyone has problems no matter how much we deny them. Comparison and curation of image are two sides of an insidious cycle in our social-media-dominated world.
We do not see how important it is to invest in some lives and not in others or in activities that reap little reward whatsoever. Because we do not see we lean on our own understanding.
And we do not see how technical plans actually translate into a finished machine. We’re destined to ‘have a go’ only to find out we got it wrong… again!
Because we do not see, we’re destined to need to learn. And that fact has its purpose. God has designed life full of learning opportunities — humility producing moments.
We do not see God. We cannot see Him in His entirety in life. We try to see Him, but we do not see Him in life, or in our lives, as He is there.
Bible verse for reflection:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
— Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Why our thoughts are the most dangerous thing about us

I THINK, therefore I am, said enlightenment thinker RenĂ© Descartes. In at least one sense that’s profoundly true. Our unconscious thoughts and our unguarded conscious thinking are attributable for the mental maladies we possess, rippling out into our feeling states that can send our emotional wellbeing into a world of turmoil.
Proverbs 4:23 says we ought to guard our hearts, for it’s from there that our lives spring.
Everything we are, all we do, and everything we become seems to stem from our thinking. It is the absolute source of who we are. Our thinking drives our feelings. A circular pattern develops.
Some of the dangerous patterns of thought we enter into include; either/or thinking (if one is right, the other must be wrong); destructive thinking (“I’m useless, no-good, idiotic, worthless, helpless…”); narcissistic thinking (“I’m too good, look at me, and worth more than anyone…”); and, conspiracy thinking (“I don’t trust anyone…”)
Thinking is powerful because it leads us to take actions in accordance with how we feel. There are dangers in acting out of thoughts that are untrue. The fact is we’re bombarded by unhelpful thoughts all the time. Thinking is only an ally for us where it leads us to act according to the truth.
A good response to dangerous thought patterns is become aware of them, and then, with intent, decide to change our minds, or to literally repent, or turn from that thinking.
So, the AA plan kicks in. First, we must become aware of our thoughts, auditing them to determine if they’re destructive or not. Second, we can then choose to act on our awareness to conform not to the patterns of worldly thinking, but to renew our minds.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Jesus Key to Wholeness and Healing

JESUS’ foundational teaching, underpinning everything of the character of God in Him, pivoted around reconciliation — bundled in myriad forms of the Hebrew shalom. Completeness, sanctity, forgiveness, acceptance, inclusivity, not least formational and foundational, the reconciling of humanity back to God.
Let’s focus on the concrete term of forgiveness to ground the concept of reconciliation:
“Forgiveness comes as a struggle for a way of life.”
What on earth can this concept mean? Forgiveness is the hardest thing we will encounter on this earth. This is because life binds us within relationships. Bitterness is a common human temptation and experience. It is a challenge for every human being to overcome. Hence the Saviour’s message. What Jesus came to preach we have to take to heart and apply. It works.
Forgiveness is the struggle we enter when we want Jesus’ way of life. And Jesus will complete us through the struggle, in the learning and application of surrender.
The truly broken people I meet have the same story — rejection early in their lives they couldn’t seem to ever reconcile. It seems a cataclysm they cannot resolve. And they stay broken. They cannot surrender it to Jesus. It’s the opposite for those who have wrestled with and overcome their brokenness. Theirs is the dimension of wholeness and healing, to every corner of their lives, because they forgave. Because they made an ongoing practice out of reconciliation in every part of their lives. And yet, the paradox is this: we, you and I, are at times broken as we are at times whole. Forgiveness comes as we struggle for a whole way of life.
Jesus is the key. The Man. His teaching. The topic of forgiveness. The concept of casting away the world’s faulty and broken logic, of ‘justice’, for a bigger dream. A dream only God can found and ground within us. And now is the time. Now, while blood pumps through your arteries, whilst oxygen courses through your body to nourish your cells so those neural pathways might make those connections. Now, whilst familial brokenness wreaks its cancer through our and others’ lives. Before death takes a person beyond the reach of our reaching out.
Now.
A person. A situation. A bitterness unreconciled. Identify it now as God’s Spirit puts His finger on it.
Transcend it.
Ditch the fallacy that it’s your right to hold them to the wrong. Embrace the fact that forgiving their wrong is your key to making it right.
If forgiveness comes as a struggle for a way of life of wholeness, we could agree we want that way of life whatever the cost. And we know in faith that God’s blessed shalom stands as the reward for giving up every shred of resentment; that the person and situation be utterly unshackled from the moorings of our antipathy.
The vision we may have is one of us blessing them with a love we have never previously given to anyone. For, this love is the love of God giving to this person what they can only imagine is God-inspired. We see in this vision the actual melting away of grief even in the action of giving our love away.
Forgiveness is a daily process, a practice never to be mastered, only appreciated for the value it tips back into our lives.
Jesus came to teach us to forgive in order that He could heal us.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The 50-Year God Deposit received in full

RECENTLY, a dear friend of mine prayed that there might be a rich deposit made by God in me to mark my turning 50. It was a prayer that coalesced with God’s own voice which I’ve been hearing for some time. And it just may be you, too, have been hearing Him speak this thing, all-be-it unconsciously.
God has been showing me two different things over the past few years — my gift and my shadow. That gift He has given me is a compensation for what I’ve been through. But the shadow is the dark, human, sinful side of that gift that protrudes when I take my eyes off Jesus.
My gift is this: God gave me a passion and equipped me for joining others on their journey — “to rejoice with those who rejoice, and to mourn with those who mourn,” as Romans 12:15 puts it. I know my gift is to be used to unlock or facilitate victories of connection, where the Divine Presence is felt in human experience, where there is the discovery of deeper truths, where encounters of contemplative and transformational spirituality take place. And reconciliation is usually the purpose for which people come to be served by me. It’s a ministry that is seamless and involves me just being me.
My shadow is this: my flesh (my ego) gives me a similar passion, but the passion, when it’s directed awry, is skewed back toward myself; where my shadow protrudes into my life I need to be loved, accepted, understood, appreciated, praised, respected. I look outward to leaders and peers for these things, instead of upward to God and inward for reflection. I don’t typically seek these things from those I serve, but validation is sought from those whose influence (I perceive) is typically greater than mine. God certainly knows I need these victories of connection. But I can go about them the wrong way, looking to humans to do what only God can do.
That’s the difference between the gift and the shadow; the gift prevails effortlessly, because God is in it and being used by God as gift is always a pleasure. It doesn’t seem like work at all. But just like humans would be cursed to labour at and after the Fall, the shadow toils relentlessly to get what it can never have. The shadow enters futility, but the Divine embodies the gift.
The first fifty years has been about receiving the nucleus of the message. The next portion is about acquisition, more and more; piquing the awareness of the shadow’s protrusion as it becomes the mastery of poise. But I will never fully be there.
I thank God for the awareness of, and increasing mastery over, the shadow that will always be there. I thank God because I need God.
Thank God for your gift, and be open to your shadow.