July 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

There once was a storybook that was my life. I was the main character and God was the author–the ultimate plot-master who had my best interests always in the forefront of His mind.

So I convinced myself (actually mainstream Christianity convinced me–I just listened) that God had it all worked out in the end; that we might not understand everything that happened in life, but it was all for the best.

In that storyline, pain and suffering was nothing more than a twist in the plot…something to be endured for the purpose of either character development or somehow the amusement of the author.

I even learned the word “Omniscience”, and took some comfort in the knowledge that even though I couldn’t understand cancer or early death or natural disasters, God had some higher purpose to which I was blind. After all I was just the character, not the author.

Armed with that worldview, I could rest in the fact that life had meaning–that everything that happened was somehow part of this thing called “God’s plan”.

It’s kind of a comforting thought, that God is in control and knows what I’ll have for breakfast tomorrow morning and whether or not it will give me gas.

But it just doesn’t hold up when a baby dies.  It just doesn’t matter when a young, defenseless life is denied its chance.

It just doesn’t help in times of crisis.  So I have to wonder…

Maybe this whole big ball of creation that God set in motion–maybe it’s just some kind of stage for a cosmic dance between life and death…or hope and fear…darkness and light.

Maybe all of this that we experience on the surface every day is really some kind of deeper conspiracy that we can’t understand.

Maybe the real actors in God’s creation story that is still unfolding–maybe the real actors are unseen. Maybe there is a very real and present thing called ‘evil’–and maybe it takes life where God never intended life to be taken.

Maybe God weeps even more than we do when that child dies–because maybe God’s grief is an entire creation’s worth bigger than ours. He has to cope with all the children who die in war–children He knows by name and has crafted by hand in that intimate place.

He has to cope with all those children who die because they can’t eat enough, or drink clean water…all those children He loves as His own–all those children who have children and grandchildren and even great-grandchildren; for we are all children, no matter how grown-up our mistakes might seem.

So instead of a storybook, maybe life is more like a stage for this beautiful and often horrifying, cosmic dance that is deeper than we are.

And maybe God is weeping with us.


Cosmic Now

July 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

I just read somewhere that (according to Einstein) time is relative to motion.

That means the faster you travel, the slower time passes… right?  The thing I was reading taught me that if I could travel at the speed of light, that time would essentially be standing still (of course it also taught me that my mass would expand exponentially and I’d die before I’d ever get to that point).

But if that’s true–if at the speed of light time stands still…doesn’t it mean that on some metaphysical level we’re all caught up in one gigantic, cosmic “now”?  Better yet, if God is Light and that Light pervades all we know as time itself, then are we not swept along in God’s current of love every moment of every day?

God has spoken Jesus into our time–into this cosmic “now” which encompasses both our future and our past.  This is salvation–that Jesus is.  Eternally.

From the Shallows to the Deep

July 7, 2010 § 1 Comment

I am convinced that most of us wade through our lives in the shallows of existence.

Like moms at the beach—the ones who wear shorts and T-shirts instead of swimming suits; the ones who roll their shorts up and walk like they’re on eggshells in about 6 inches of water.

Most people are those moms (including me).

We like the ocean and we know there’s a lot of fun to be had; but maybe we’re not convinced it’s fun for us.

So we wade out, rolling up our shorts so as not to sacrifice our comfort.

Gingerly we step around, oblivious to the greater world; all wrapped up in that shallow place.

With eyes intent on the shifting sands we plod along, content to feel the water lapping against our legs and the sand swirling around our feet.  Then we shriek and run for the hot, dry sand when the water hits higher than our knees, flinching our shoulders like we heard a gunshot.

But in real life it looks a little bit different.

In real life, the shallows are our jobs, our families, even our churches.

It’s there we build security, there on the beach.

We surround ourselves with others like us, with careers, with children.  We create our own reality complete with a god in our own image, we study it with eyes turned down to the shifting sands around our feet, to see all that we have made and proclaim to those who listen “it is good”.

In this way we convince ourselves that the world belongs to those who wade.

And in the end we wonder why we are not satisfied.

We are not satisfied because we are not created to be satisified…at least not with shallow places.

Not with self-created isolation and the continuation of worlds built of sand.

The God of Israel created His people not to dwell on the beach; but rather to own the ocean!

I am not satisfied.

Not with shallow religion; the perpetuation of practices that cease to amaze and inspire fresh expressions of a radical life built not of sand—but of water; of fire; of earth and wind.

We call them crazy—those who swim or dance or try to fly.

But if that was what they were created to do—then who is it that’s crazy?

We comfort ourselves by saying they obviously don’t understand what’s at stake.

We call them Dreamers.  Idealists.  Hippies.

We console ourselves with the thought that one day, they’ll wake up.  One day they’ll learn their lesson.

They should be here—closer to shore—closer to home, finding jobs, buying homes, making families…building sandcastles.

After all, don’t they know that deep water is dangerous?

Paul talks about learning contentment—an important teaching to hear in an age when the first rule of marketing is to make people discontent.

But I fear we have contented ourselves with everything but the resurrection that calls us into deeper and deeper mystery; into more profound disruption.

The kind of contentment I wish for everyone is contentment that is learned, not earned.

Learning implies change, and a certain kind of flexibility in ones character.  It’s my contention that Paul learned to be content in jail, through shipwrecks, and in circumstances he had no control over.

On the other hand, earning contentment (like earning anything else) implies a certain single-mindedness, a willingness to achieve something against all odds (which allows oneself to be the only unchangable reality in play).

God is a good teacher—but a horrible taskmaster.  He calls us to change; to take the plunge into the deep; to risk our sandcastles and shallow safety on the promises of One who is not safe; but deep.

Where Am I?

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