Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mules...and their "Subjective" Doubts



Today is Mother's Day. In celebration, the whole family went out to the cabin to get it opened up for the season. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas. It was nice when I left town this morning, and nice when I got back to the Twin Cities. However, it rained on us the entire time we were at the cabin.

Even if it had been decent, I'm not sure how much work we could have done on the dock and boat launch. The ground was so soaked that even the grass was like walking on a squishy sponge.
Such is life.

Actually, for my family, that seems to be the way life is a lot. We get close, but then someone moves the goal posts a little farther away. (Long stories in that statement. Maybe for another time.)

I have a saying about my family; "We make lousy thoroughbreds, but excellent mules." For some reason, we just keeping going and never quit. Perhaps our collective DNA is simpley not very bright.


On the way out to the cabin I listened to one of my favorite podcasts over & over at least 4 times. I've titled it "Congratulations," and it is Rick McKinley preaching on the first four Beatitudes from a sermon he did last summer.

I've been fixated on the Sermon on the Mount for over two years now, and the Beatitudes in particular. Normally, I gravitate towards the Poor in Spirit portion. But for some reason, this morning I began to meditate on the aspect of hungering & thirsting for righteousness. I'm STARVING for a taste & sip of that.


I often think that "Belief" is an easy thing, but "Faith" is very hard. I'm full of doubts most of the time. I doubt everything, but mostly myself. I even doubt my faith quite often. It's easy to have an "Objective" concept & understanding of scripture. I can explain logically plenty of stuff. I can write it all out for anyone to see and nod their heads to. However, feeling & understanding it all on a "Subjective" level is another matter. I think that anyone who is honest with themselves would agree with that.

Sometimes God feels so close to me that I can feel his breath on my neck. More often then not, it feels like he is just around the corner hiding and waiting for me to catch up. As soon as I round the corner, he runs off to the next one.

I don't understand it. I don't get it. I can't grasp him.


I was born with a chemical imbalance in my brain. It causes depression from time to time. Also, the older I get, the more I realize how affected & effected I am by the weather. Apparently I'm pretty high on the scale of that whole "Seasonal Affected Disorder" thing. (Makes me question why I stay in Minnesota.) So, I have to take into consideration how that impacts my relationship with God. Maybe many of my doubts, issues and frustrations stem from my weird brain.


Then there is the other matter of when God draws so close to you that you can barely take it. It's not a matter of doubting at that point. It's more a matter of being overwhelmed. A little over a year ago I wrote this post about something that actually DID happen to me...


Yeah, that's right...I heard the God of the Bible actually speak to me. "See," is all he said. What I've learned over time is that it wasn't merely the invitation for a moment in time to see things the way he does, it actually became a command to my spirit.

I've always tried to be a good observer of the people & things around me. But what I have noticed is that ever since that day, I am seeing people in a way that I never knew before. Lucky me, I get to see people's pain. (Which, I think, is our existence at our deepest level...and also what God tends to see when he looks at people stuck in their own sin.) I can assure you that this is as much a curse as it is a blessing. It's not much fun to be talking to someone and be able to see their agonies, fears and torments...especially when they are in full-scale rebellion against God.

Let's not forget, if I see others that way, then I also see the same sins in me.

"For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out...So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me...What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."
Romans 7:18-25

Where I teach at the moment, there is a great deal of poverty, broken homes, and all the other joys that so often come with the inner-city. There are kids there who you can look right through. You know how their movie will most likely end, and it wont be a happy one.

I don't like seeing that every day. It takes it's toll. But then again, if your eyes are open, you can see that sadness everywhere. Like I said, it takes it's toll.

I have learned that I have four prayers that I repeat more than any others. The first two are the most common for everyone: "HELP ME!" and "Thank you." But I have two more. The first is in response to my own UN-understanding of how God goes about his business of interacting with people. I just say, "Father, do what ever it is that you do..." (I kinda like that a lot because it really takes the pressure off of me, and puts a little more faith in the mystery of God.) But the last common prayer for me is one that I say probably more than any other; "Jesus, please come back soon. We need you right now, because I can't stand seeing this anymore." (Or some variation on that theme.)


I don't know when Jesus will return and set everything to rights. I hope it's sooner rather than later. Until then, I say that "Help me" prayer a lot. I need his help. I don't have the strength to make it everyday in myself.

Still, for some reason, I seem to muddle through. Maybe I do have a level of faith deep down that sustains me. I really don't understand most of what comes my way when it first confronts me. However, I can honestly say that when I look behind me, I can see the clear hand of God having worked his will for his good purpose in all of the mess that is my life. That goes a long way in keeping me going every day.


"...and he began to teach them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they WILL be filled.""
Matthew 5:2-6


Thoroughbreds are beautiful horses. They are flashy and great for a show. They can ride like the wind and win races worth a lot of money. However, they are not very good at pulling a plow or doing messy jobs that need doing. For the dirty jobs, the yucky work, the task of hauling crabby campers and their whiney children up and down the walls of the canyon on tiny trails in the blazing hot sun...for that kind of job you need a mule.


My family? "We make lousy thoroughbreds, but excellent mules."


Keep the faith...even when it's not subjective.


Joe

P.S. The church in America has a lot of thoroughbreds...especially on the T.V. & radio.
The early church was full of mules.

Jesus wants more mules. They know how to follow.




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