Inklings of God...

Here are some things that have happened recently…

- I have been thinking a lot about the difference between life happening to you and you happening to life. I don’t know what it is about that simple distinction that makes sense to me, but it really triggers some good inner dialogue between my spirit, my mind and my body. Waking up and hoping for the best doesn’t seem to cut it now, does it? Letting go and letting God isn’t the answer either. Saying things like, “Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.” Or “You win some, you lose some.” Or “Don’t worry about it.” Or “Live and let live.” Or “Let’s see what happens.” are in my humble opinion mantras that have been passed down to normalize mediocrity. They are simplistic refrains that have echoed through the ages for too long, and their effects are far reaching and cataclysmic to be sure. I wonder what it would look like if people happened to life, if they woke with a missional mindset and a purposed heart. If they approached life intentionally, initiated the change they hope for instead of just wishing upon a star. What if I surprised life for a change and broke the mold of the margins? What if I asked one more question or listened for 4 more minutes? What if I turned right instead of left and took the long way to work, what would I see, what difference would it make? What if I read between the lines of people’s communication and dug deeper into what they were trying to say but lacked words to express? What if the day was never made to happen to me, what if it’s been waiting for me to take the lead all my life? What if growth was to be less serendipitous than we make it, less accidental and happenstantial (not a word, I know.)? What if I really do have a choice right now and it’s not scripted like I think it is? What if much of life depends on my engagement, my involvement and that some things won’t happen if I don’t act? What if it’s not so much, “Life goes on with or without you.” and more “Much is at stake, don’t waste this next decision whatever you do.”? You see it’s really weird to think about life in those terms, because it quickens parts of us that have fallen asleep, taken a sabbatical from active participation in the “Circle of Life”. We simply have a hard time believing that “if you don’t act, something will not happen.” I don’t hear people saying “I won’t let that happen” much any more, and if I do, it’s usually over something that doesn’t matter like chewing gum in the sanctuary or something silly like that. It’s quite compelling to think of life in these terms, terms that place boundless value on free will and the potential of the human spirit when it’s alive and well. Will I happen today? Will I live or be preyed upon? Will I make something happen or continue hoping against all odds that my ship will come in. I want to happen to life today…I want to, but will I will to?…that is the question.

- I wonder sometimes at our motivation in teaching values and principles, doctrines and duties. Am I teaching people how to think or what to think? A simple word picture came to me today that illustrates my question. Sometimes I feel that Christians especially are so paranoid over being right and doing things right that they don’t trust the truth. They function more often than not as individuals who are teaching us to sail by giving us masterful lessons on the dock. The wood used to make the dock, the length and breadth of the dock, the physical integrity of the dock, the footers and foundations of the dock, the depth of the dock, the surety of the docks position, the thickness of the ropes to dock your vessel, the trustworthiness of those ropes in times past, and the options of even dry-docking your vessel during the dicey seasons. If there is talk about actually sailing abroad, there seems to be an inordinate concentration on the anchor when I think what deserves the most dialogue is the COMPASS. Talk that centers on the compass excites me, because it allows for sailing in deep and shallow waters, in the tempest and the stillness, in the lake or the ocean. The assumption is that you will sail freeing and push off the shore into uncharted waters. How silly it would be to always be wondering where to anchor next and miss to wonders of the whisking through the water. It seems to me that it behooves us to focus more on the compass and how to stay the course as we’re sailing. Boats aren’t made for docks. Just like lives weren’t made for the classroom. They were made to sail.

I sometimes wonder if our teaching is overly preventive. We are trying to keep the recipients of our message from exercising the ability to take risks and to come to personal conclusions, which also keeps them from coming to personal convictions. We are telling them what to think and believe and do, without training them to think through what they are believing and doing. We expend so much time on the dock when we were meant to be on the sea. We drop anchor too often out of fear of capsizing that we miss out on the rush of risk. What we need to be teaching people is how to read the compass while sailing. To know the direction even if we aren’t so sure about destination. To enjoy the quest and the questions. To navigate through tumultuous times with an eye on the compass and an eye on the sea. You don’t need a compass if you’re landlocked. Compasses assume that you’re moving, going somewhere unfamiliar, and pushing off the shore into the dicey deep. This is the difference between teaching someone what to think and how to think. The one kills, the others thrills.

- Something almost miraculous happened within the last 24 hours. I say almost miraculous, because that which occurred, though improbable is not impossible. Either way, to me it was a move of God found in an unlikely place. I was talking to a young gentleman who was in somewhat of a place of confusion. He has been tossed about like any young man who is caught up in the middle of a divorce, stretched between parents waging war over violated rights and responsibilities. It’s just torn him to pieces on the inside, though his exterior remains quite clean and disinfected by the whole ordeal. We were in the middle of a deep conversation about the goings on of his heart when I told him that his life reminded me of the movie, “Good Will Hunting”, especially the scene where Robin Williams was telling Matt Damon that it was not his fault. He looked at me and said, “I just went out and rented that movie last night.” I thought that was kinda cool and chalked it up as a God moment. We talked about the movie and the truth hidden in Hollywood of all places.

This morning, I was out with a buddy for coffee and we were talking about the potential of the human spirit and the importance of living life for that which matters most. I told him that where he was at in his life reminded me of the line in the movie Gladiator where Maximus encourages his army with the famous line, “what we doing today echoes into eternity.” He looked at me and said, “I just watched that movie, I love that story.” Two movies, two people, two bulls eye’s…that is something of a divine occurrence if you ask me. Of all the movies and all the people, how is it possible that this sort of unlikely conversation could have been so “spot on” without human manipulation or spiritual adulteration? I think what befuddles me most is the idea that God can use movies to get to the human heart and that he was guiding me in conversation to bring up the Big Screen to lead them to His heart. I came away from each of those encounters with a fresh commitment to keep my eyes open for the voice and move of God, even if it’s in places that you wouldn’t typically think of looking to find Him. God is in movies and bars as much as he is in churches and Bibles. We really miss out when we leash God to the pulpit or a pew, he roams about in the most dubious places. Don’t rule out anything when asking where God might be hiding...it’s usually unorthodox.

Comments

NY23CLIFF said…
J,

Thanks for your post...it reminds me that, "Aslan is on the move..."

Love you,
Ang
pianoman said…
life happening to you and you happening to life...


i just read this in Blue Like Jazz...

what a meaty thought to chew on...

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