February 7, 2008
Father, I’m sorry for worrying – about how I feel about school, for not just resting in You.
I think I am trying to “walk with You,” to “hear Your voice,” … but also to do what I think others think I should do (like trying to impress ___ with my up-to-dateness in relation to the whole “church” thing… After all, it was me – at least somewhat – that got at least some of them thinking about the whole thing… but here I am still attending church more or less – though maybe no longer “burdened” with the “program” and the requirement “to serve” even when that service does not seem to be what You require (but even there I find myself wondering if it’s “just me.”)
I loved being with Your church, Your family, at ___’s yesterday, only I wanted to pray so bad… maybe I should have just led out.
“You really don’t know me,” is what You said to Mack – and I am beginning to understand that more and more about myself – that while I can spout all kinds of facts – and even tell stories – about You, I feel that, really, I haven’t even “scratched the surface” of knowing You. (Which is why I am relieved I don’t have to “teach” at ___’s …. I just feel like sitting there and “soaking up” Your Presence, and hearing others experiences… and wanting to include You directly in the conversation…
I wonder, what would happen if someone, in the middle of saying something, just, without any introduction, or formality (“Let us pray…”) just suddenly said, “Papa, what do You think about that?” And then just sat quietly and waited till You speak, however You choose? Even if it meant a long “silence” … in which Your still, small voice could be heard (or maybe You’d answer through a scripture, or a story, or a word of knowledge or wisdom You spoke through someone, or a ray of sunshine (or sudden thunder!) outside the window…. Or childlike words from a little child!
I think this is a huge problem I have… I just don’t know how to listen to Your voice or even really include You in the conversation, when others are around… and oddly enough, I find it most difficult in places where “Your people” have chosen to gather “with You in our midst” … and yet we find it so difficult, it seems, to really include You… we still talk about You, but we don’t somehow find it easy to include You… maybe because we’re so used to having little formal “boxes” of “prayer,” and maybe we sense You want out of those boxes, but we don’t know how (or are afraid or something) to really let the Almighty God and Judge of the Universe just sit among us and join in the community….
Funny, isn’t it, to have a “community” or “family” in which the Father and the Elder Brother and their Spirit are set on a pedestal to be “worshiped” and “prayed to” … like the children of Israel in the wilderness telling Moses, “You go up the mountain and talk to God, and then come back and tell us what He says, and we’ll do it..” so that’s what they did… and they couldn’t obey God because they didn’t have His Spirit and they didn’t have personal relationships with Him (not to mention that, Jesus, You had not yet re-opened the door to Life and Light and Father!)….
But God, why do we continue to do that, putting You on top of the mountain (or in the Holy of Holies, separated by the curtain… ignoring the fact that it’s torn and the way in is wide open! And You are standing there among us, arms outstretched… And yet we still somehow want someone else to do the approaching for us… and we still try to “obey the judge” in our own strength….
I keep thinking of all these different ways we could reorganize our seating or whatever at “church” so that we’d be more “family,” more “community” … but as hubby said to me, without heart change in attitudes toward You, without willingness to move into true personal – and family/ community/ church - Your church! Your bride! – relationship with You, it would all just be another “system” …
And oh dear God, I am getting so sick of “systems” … institutions, organizations… especially the ones that claim to be “Christian” and yet wrap themselves in the “organizational patterns, power structures, laws and judges, independence from You and personal self-seeking and self-sufficiency” of the world… I can handle it (pretty much) from systems that are world systems, because they are only doing what the “natural” (human striving to be independent from You, God) man does…
but if we say we are Christians, if we are really in relationship with You, if we are really walking every moment in sweet communion and relationship with You, if Your gentle Spirit really is our Comforter and Guide, if You really are our Papa and Savior and Lord… then why do we continue to operate with the world’s systems, wrapping them around us, and by choosing to do so, effectively becoming “of the world” and not just traveling in/ through the world as strangers who in reality live in Your Kingdom and look forward to the fulfillment of Your Kingdom?
Can so many “wonderful Christians” be “wrong?” Can the “pastors” of great mega-churches who write dozens of “wonderful, inspirational, heart-warming (ummm… often self-help?) books be “wrong?” Can the “institutional church” and “denominations” and “parachurch groups” and “missions organizations” and “Christian schools” and “Christian bookstores” and “Christian businesses” and “Sunday Schools” and “Youth groups” and… well, all these organizations that “do wonderful things for God” have somehow missed the point, Your desires, Your purposes?
What about the Bible Schools and Seminaries and Christian Colleges? The great theologians? Don’t we “need” them in order to “be good Christians” and “reach the world for Christ?” Aren’t they organized and built and directed and blessed by You? Isn’t their size, and their architectural grandeur, and their good works, and their success, and the numerous members and amount of income and their recognition by others, indicators of Your blessing? How could so many “good Christians” possibly be “off track?”
Lord, You know that deep in my heart these are more than just rhetorical questions – Lord, I believe You have been asking these questions (ha! writing me a note- through my pen!) to wake me up to my own fears, my own worries, my own what if’s … - what if I’m wrong, what if “The Shack” and “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore” and our get-together time at __’s .. etc, etc, etc… is what is wrong, and we’re just being rebellious?
Lord, it’s hard to overcome the habits of a lifetime, habits of thought, action… even belief! And habits of wanting to be “right” … right for my self, number one… then right in the eyes of others, number two.. and frankly, not too much concern about “right” in Your sight – either because A. I already have fire insurance, or B. I just don’t want to get too close to a God that I kind of fear (in a negative “spirit of fear” way) and am pretty sure I can’t please… which of course “I” can’t do anyway and maybe deep down in my “old man” don’t even want to please (well there are other reasons too, but You – I, too – get the picture)….
Lord, I have thought I was a pretty “good Christian” … and frankly, in “The Shack” where Jesus tells Mack, “I’m not a Christian” – well, that shook me. I mean, obviously, Jesus, You can’t be a “Christian” – a “Christ follower” – because You are the Christ … but oh dear, You didn’t follow Yourself anyway (well, You could have … we try to follow ourselves all the time…) but You always followed Father – You didn’t do, say, think a single thing that wasn’t from Him! - You really abided in and allowed – no, more, totally submitted to – Him abiding in You. You couldn’t bear to be independent for a moment… Even when the Father’s will “felt” unbearable and Your human body and emotions cried out for release from the will of the Father, it always came down to, “Not my will, but thine be done.”
Oh dear Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit… I thought I knew so much about You. I thought I was “qualified” to teach about You. But it seems like maybe I’m just going to have to shelf everything I “know” – toss it in the fire! And let You teach me all over again… oh dear God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, please abide in me, please help me submit totally to Your will and totally abide in You.
I love You, Lord God! Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit Sarayu! Thank You for loving me! Thank You, Jesus, for Your great salvation! Wow! You are holy and wonderful! I want to know You more… so much, much, much, much more! Please throw the old me with all my “worldly wisdom” in the fire and burn out the dross, the garbage, the filth, and free the Truth to shine in You! You are the Truth! Shine, Spirit, Jesus, Father, shine!
In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.