Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May 8th

I'm trying to adjust to this way in which I've been blogging lately.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I go through this sort of adjustment from time to time. This happens because my blog so closely follows my inner life and of course, like all of us, I'm growing in understanding, and so my writing begins naturally to reflect that change.

In general, my life is going on in a very ordinary way. Our adoption video is finished, we are active at the agency now.

It took us a year, so already many of our back ground checks must be redone. Other than staying on top of this, we need only wait for the call.

The cement foundation of our new house has been poured. Keith will be heading out there often, to check on things- once a staff sergeant, always a staff sergeant.

We've been grilling outside on the patio and playing games of darts in the garage- which I have won three times in a row! I should mention that I was allowed to stand closer to the board and that this privilege has now been withdrawn...

It's my inner life that has opened up so unexpectedly. My relationship with God is a mystery to me. I can't explain it. I certainly have not earned it. I can barely describe it.

When I think about why I write and how to write, I'm often drawn back to this particular passage:

"Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16, The Message)

I read it early on in this particular phase of my life- two years ago- and it stood out to me. The Message is the only version that has it this way, but I was and still am particularly drawn to this idea that being open handed about one's life with God encourages others to go deeper into their own relationship with Him.

Or, like this quote:

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So that is always my hope- that somehow, through my sharing my own relationship with this mysterious, present and personal Divine Love, others will be filled with longing to open up to Love in their own way, whatever their particular boat looks like, as it were.

And sometimes, I just need to write about it, to write it out, to try and understand it better myself, that way.

So, a few days ago, I was thinking about authority.

I was thinking about it as I was resting in the quietness of that inner place, and I was realizing that I don't understand authority or how it works.

"I don't speak that language," I confessed to Him.

I speak it, He replied, with His quiet certainty.

This simple statement went over my spirit in a strong way. Immediately, I knew and remembered that all authority is given to Him, that He speaks it fluently, that the government rests on His shoulders.

I looked at Him in wonder, thinking about all these things. His face was so beautifully and quietly composed. Knowing the stillness of His presence and how quietly He contained all this authority was like standing at the edge of an ocean and knowing that you will never see the other side of it because it is too vast for comprehension.

I kept thinking back to all of these terrifying passages in the scriptures and trying to understand them in the light of His quiet, compassionate presence.

"What does that look like?" I asked Him, finally.

You just saw it, He replied, and as He spoke, He drew to my mind something I had been thinking about earlier:

How He had taken off His outer clothing, wrapped a towel around His waist, knelt down, and washed the disciple's feet.

Waves of awe simply washed over my spirit as I took this in. It was like having my feet knocked out from under me. It was so completely not what I was expecting Him to say about authority and yet it was so completely true to Himself.

He had said:

“Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you."

(John 13:12-15, The Message)

And I remembered Him saying:

"But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the heathen lord it over them and that their great ones have absolute power? But it must not be so among you. No, whoever among you wants to be great must become the servant of you all, and if he wants to be first among you he must be your slave—just as the Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life to set many others free.”

(Matthew 20:25-28, Phillips)

But most of all, I thought of His death on the cross, which He freely submitted to- He laid His life down. That was the most loving and humbling service of all and the deepest reversal. Out of the death and suffering came greater life- life overflowing. Out of His submission to that death came His authority over everything, including death itself.

I had a hard time adjusting my mind to this idea that the language of authority is expressed through loving and humble service, especially in the light of all those passages about wrath, which formed a central part of the teachings in the religious environment that I grew up in.

I had a hard time putting my wondering into words. It took me a little while to figure out what I wanted to ask. I let myself be quiet and still. I realized that I had a very skewed idea of what authority looked like.

"I want You to heal my concept of authority," I said, at last.

When I figured this out, that this was my question, I looked up at Him. His face was full of patient, steady and tender love. I saw that He understood exactly what I was asking and that He had already begun to answer it.