Monday, 31 July 2017

Devotions or Not or Just Different or?

(originally journaled June 29, 2017)

Since the beginning of January this year I have pretty faithfully been doing "devotions" every day, reading 6 chapters of Scripture (one each from the Pentateuch, historical books, poetic books, prophets, gospels, and epistles), plus a long list of prayers, and even some coloring in the "Inspire...Creative Journaling" Bible I was given for Christmas.

I really loved this hour (plus) daily for a long time, but lately, I've been getting less enthusiastic. Wishing for a change, but feeling kind of guilty since I kind of committed myself to this for the year (or at least until I finished reading the Bible through, which still has a way to go, especially through all those prophets--some sections I'm well into a second go-through).

And I feel kind of committed to praying for a lot of people, yet at the same time, I sometimes wonder if this is really what God wants. At one time, I would have even said "expects" or "requires." But lately, I've been wondering (again) what is the "right way" to pray and spend time with God.

So many books I've read and sermons I've heard in the past about the "right way to pray" and "the right way to have devotions"--and yet none of them really agree. I've tried lots of different ways, and all of them (or at least most of them) seemed to "work" for a while ... but I don't seem to have the "discipline" or whatever it takes to stick with one method for the rest of my days, though apparently, some people do.

But then that "one thing for the rest of my days" isn't really my nature, is it? I tend to move on from one thing to another in terms of jobs and hobbies and interests, though I have overarching things I stick with, like loving to learn, teach, write
--and seek God! It's just that I like to explore new ways to do things, and different emphases, and I don't think that really is a problem (though I'd probably have a better pension coming up if I'd had more "stick-to-it-iveness" in my teaching career, LOL)!

I've been reading an e-book called "Flee, Be Silent, Pray" about the kind of meditative practices of the early church fathers and in monasteries--and which continue to the present in some Christian traditions. Reading it has made me really relax about my devotion worries--so much so, in fact, that I've "gone without" since I started reading the book 6 days ago. I feel "relieved"--if a bit "guilty." And I don't intend to do "catch-up"--and even plan to "take a break" at least for the next 2 or 3 weeks or so while I have a lot of company coming. So there.

Though I may start again after that, and/or change my "process" ... Lord, I need Your guidance here.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Reflections on Blessings, Cursing, Nature, Fairness, and You

(originally journaled June 19, 2017)

I'm wondering ... we've been finding our Okanagan Lake (and rivers) unusual flooding this year to be quite astonishing--but it really is nothing compared to other parts of the world where floods are so much more massive and destructive, and they take or harm so many more lives.

Is it bad to pray for these local flood needs (nb. And, a month later, wildfire threats, with a number of homes in our region destroyed and many people under evacuation) when in reality, compared to other places our problems are quite small? Especially if we fail to pray even more so for "unknown" people far away?

And how much DO You interfere with nature's course? This does raise that prickly (to me, anyway) question about "fairness." It's true--You do bless both the good and the bad with sufficient rain and sun to provide good crops. But it also seems that both good and bad are "unblessed" (cursed...) by too much or too little. So I suppose that's "fair" in a way, too, isn't it--even if we don't particularly like "unblessings."

This reminds me of wildfires in our region in 2003 when whole neighbourhoods (about 250 homes) on the edges of our largest city were burned to the ground, and yet here and there remained lone houses, seemingly untouched.

And I remember that a group of Christians had been praying for one family--whose house indeed escaped the flames. And the Christian group chalked it up to God answering their prayers because the family in question were Christians. Maybe so. But then what about other Christians who lose their homes? And what about how those pronouncements made those others--and those in the community listening to these proclamations--feel about how You supposedly were selectively caring for special people and--what? punishing? warning? (and even, if they were also Christians, ignoring?) others. What about that? What, indeed, about all the good who have suffered along with the bad (often suffered more than the bad) all through time, all over the world?

We so happily jump to conclusions about Your "blessing" when we're not the ones suffering at the moment. Does it make You sad? And are You even in the "fairness" business? So many wonderings...

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Dancing Time!

(originally journaled June 10, 2017)

I have been having so much fun the past few days with those Quora questions. At first, it was the research and upvotes that attracted me. But then I started to toss in humorous bits--trying to do it at least once every day--and while people are responding very positively to my "witty" answers (as someone described them), I am actually really enjoying the feeling that my inner child, the real me, is being loosed, freed at long last from strictures imposed by rules about "good writing" and "good behaviour and belief" -- and by that period of depression I've never quite been able to OR (startling thought!) allowed myself to escape.

Ah! See! It could be partly--even a big part--MY fault, not just the cages imposed by others. Something freeing about that, too. Admitting to my own fears and self-imposed imprisonings.

Dancing time!

(including the freedom to dance!)

Monday, 3 July 2017


(originally journaled May 24, 2017)

Dear God,

How can I know when it's Your voice and direction I'm "hearing"? I feel so tangled up in all the different perspectives and traditions and worldviews and dogmas (and "heresies") I've been taught through the years.

Am I really not to have "fun" and "humour" and "adventure?" If not, if I'm supposed to be "serious," then what about the "joy" You promise?

What about how I feel about Your Presence and Your direction when I read Your word and pray and ask for Your guidance--and then I get "whacked" by people who apparently think I'm way off from Your way? Yes, I feel like they are "weed-whacking" me, trying to destroy all the "weeds" they perceive in my thinking. If necessary, mowing me totally down to the ground.

And yet here I've thought You've been guiding me, and even hoping maybe I was hearing Your voice at least a little. Yet right now I'm feeling totally lost instead and maybe even that You have "cast me out," like I've "committed the unpardonable sin" or something.

Yes, I know I've failed You and denied You even, over and over. But You know my heart and You know my longing to truly do better, to love and follow and obey You.

So what's up?

Is this all a part of the process of changing me, remaking me, moulding me to Your will and way (rather than to the will and way of other people, no matter how well-meaning and sure of their rightness they may be). I don't mind You doing that, either--as long as it is truly You and not just some person's perception and interpretation of You.

Because there are so many different perceptions and interpretations of You, and I'm totally sure that not a single one of us (individual believers or groups/denominations of believers) have You all figured out. Only You are Truth, right?

Though You have decided to use us weak human beings to bring Your Truth to the world. But how can we, how can I do that, when I can't seem to find out what truth is, beyond its being You... You who are more than I could ever really know or comprehend!