My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going,
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Even the best Christian that ever lived is not acting on his own steam – he (sic) is only protecting or nourishing a life he could never have acquired by his own efforts. And that has practical consequences. As long as the natural life is in your body, it will do a lot toward repairing that body. Cut it, and up to a point, it will heal, as a dead body would not. A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can, to some extent repair itself. In the same way, a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is able to repent and pick himself up and begin over again with each stumble – because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out.
That is why the Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good. They hope, by being good, to please God, if there is one; or – if they think there is not – at least they hope to deserve approval from good men. But the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it – from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Kelli: “He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us;” When did we get that so horribly backward that our lives are stunted by guilt and shame and endless, useless trying #???? How much better the world would be, our lives would be, if we could get that right: God loves us because of who we already are not for what we think we can do. Once we know Whose we are, then we can go about the business of doing.
Thomas Merton: Judgment is really a patient, organic, long-suffering understanding of the man’s whole life, of everything in it, all in contact. November 17, 1961, Journal IV, 179.
Kelli: Merton’s view of judgment is very different from our mainline, traditional view of what our soul’s ultimate end must be like. We usually think of our immediate after-death experience as standing at the foot of God’s throne, having to listen to a long and painful list of all the bad things we’ve ever done as if we were naughty children caught with our hands in the cookie jar.
What if the element of divine judgment that we are missing is that it is mediated through relationship? A long and deep relationship with Holy Love (God expressed in the Trinity) doesn’t mean we incur God’s wrath as a supernatural trip to a frightening principal’s office. Our lives are meant to be lives as a lifetime of discipline and discipleship, gentle nudges and closed gates that block our way into forbidden fields. In some ways, the nature of divine judgment depends on us. Our intentionality in the practice of prayer as a two-sided conversation is the place where our relationship with Holy Love happens. Those who choose to have little or no connection to Holy Love by their own choice will experience judgment according to their own fear-based assumptions. Those who learn to ‘love God and enjoy Him forever’, as the Westminster Catechism says, will have nothing to fear. Life after life after death is simply the continuation of a well-established and highly valued relationship between our souls and Holy Love.
When we assume that we fundamentally and completely know anyone and anything other than ourselves we are doomed to rely on labels and scare-mongering as paths to understanding. When we live lives based in eager anticipation of the unfolding of relationships, then even the tragedies of our existence are somehow bearable.
The question boils down to trust. Who is at the center of our lives? Are we frantically trying to look out for and preserve ourselves? Or have we intentionally put our relationship with Holy Love at the center of our lives, trusting our future and our hope to be in Someone who loves us even more than we love ourselves?
Thanks be to God for all He has done, for all He is doing and all He is just about to do.
Breathing In – Inspiration – May 21, 2014
No matter how old we are, how long we’ve lived or how much or little we’ve experienced, sometimes we all need a fresh start. What better way to think about that fresh start than as a “Genesis week”. In that first Genesis week the world was new and unspoiled and so was human’s relationship with Holy Love. …read more here…
Prayer for the world(and my little corner of it)
The 2014 Sochi Olympics have reminded us once again that the world is much bigger than we thought. The endless, forested mountains of Russia and the Erector-set-like quality of the city built for these Olympic Games seem to emphasize the enormity and self-contained power of the country that spans the other side of the world from where I sit and write these words.
The notion of the planet being so huge and its inhabitants being essentially disconnected is a pre-modern one. That idea belongs to a generation that has little or no concept of reading a blog on the internet or even a newspaper that is available worldwide. Because of that historic disconnection, autocrats and barbarians could do as they pleased without the interruption of foreign moral watchdogs or media approval ratings. For better or worse, empires and tribes could rise and fall from power in isolation. Pain and terror and injustice could reign in places unexplored by other people or defended by geography or weaponry.
Even in our time of being über-connected, nothing has really changed. There are still autocrats and terrorists but they no longer wage their reigns of terror in geographical spaces. They wage them in each of our minds and hearts. For all our ‘social’ media and our progressive belief in what’s right those who are power-hungry fear mongers have struck to the core of our beings. As a result, what is best in each of us has gone further underground. The place where we authentically live and love, work and play is covered by layers of emotions and rationalizations that we put up in self-defense. Our creativity, natural optimism and intelligence and our ability to hope have been locked deep within the forested hills of our hearts. Our lives are lived in shakily built construction of what other people think, how other people react and in the fog of fundamental attribution error (what we think other people think and that’s an accident waiting to happen).
There is a place and Person beyond the muddled, herky-jerky world of our pre-modern, modern, postmodern and post-postmodern existence. There is a hand that set the earth on its perfectly titled axis and gently set it spinning. Not content with that simple, mechanical action, that person who is Holy Love came to infuse each of us with the simple breathing of prayer for the whole world and our little corner of it. At its best, that breath of prayer is our breath of life shared with other people in connection and hope and creativity. When we breathe that Air, our lives become places of authenticity, safety and reason. God is acting in and through our lives and we don’t even realize it. When we finally do we can work and play and pray with God and each other to live, as the Velveteen Rabbit said, for real.
This is my prayer this morning for the world and my little corner of it – that Holy Love will give us eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to beat, hands and feet to move all in the midst of that Holy Love so that every breath we take and the lives we live with and for each other can be ‘for real’.