Author Archive: PSOM

The God Spell

We love stories. Movies, radio, books, chatting with friends, eavesdropping at the hospital, sobbing to a priest, sharing with someone. Stories. We have to tell them. We want to hear them. It is what we do for each other, how love behaves. We want a witness to our lives. A pattern in the chaos. Closure. Meaning. As E. M. Forster famously described it: “The king died, and the queen died,” is just the facts. Not helpful; not healing. But, “The king died, and the queen died of grief,” is a story. Now the facts are relevant. Now they satisfy our hunger, maybe even heal our souls. How else can we cope with the mysteries of life?

Perverts prey on innocent little children.

Strangers shoot into crowds.

Children and mothers starve, clinging to each other, flies walking across hopeless eyes.

Scoffers hog the spotlight.

Followers of the gospel of love and forgiveness debate with fury and scorn.

Cartoonish people preach on TV.

Seekers soon prefer smiling agnostics to Bible waving zealots.

And yet…and yet….we want to know. We wonder.

We have questions, but think maybe there’s aren’t any answers.

There are.

Or think because we are so wounded, maybe God’s love isn’t for us.

It is.

So why didn’t He prevent the horror?

Why does God let children suffer abuse, starvation, abandonment?

Why doesn’t he take away addiction?

Heal all cancer?

How can he love us if He doesn’t help us?

We are not the first to question God.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? King David asked over 3000 years ago. (Psalm 22:1)

We blame God for evil, like blaming light for the darkness. Yet we hope. Outgrow our childish expectations that life would be easy. Begin to see dimly, straining, that those who hurt us or left us or disappointed us had to go around God to do it. See that He is using our suffering to bring us closer to Him and a glory we can barely fathom.

By words, whether mental or spoken, our prayers take flesh. Like artists’ ideas take flesh in their work. And God Himself took flesh to express Himself–.His love and character and will–in Jesus. He told us the only story that could heal the world. Enfleshed the story. Became the story.

That is the “gospel.” In old English, “the God spell.”

A story that explains everything.  And never ends.

Halleleujah.

 

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Birth of a Misfit

If we are misfits, we know it by now.

People hurt us. Or left us.

Dreams withered on the vine.

The crooked path has been nothing like the straight-forward dream.

Maybe tortured, maybe blessed.

We learn our story.

And God’s.

How we came to be wounded.

And what God did about it.

The real difference between us humans is rooted in the mists of childhood. Because everything that ever happened to us is still inside, dense and convoluted like a walnut in its shell.  The seedling we once were learned everything from the very beginning, flourishing in rich soil or barely surviving among stones.  Young brains lay down pathways that only an older soul will try to understand.  That the world is harsh, confusing, frightening.  Or steady as the waves of the sea.  That we are important, secure, loved.  Or nothing to anyone, afraid for our very lives, hungry as trapped dogs.

Maybe that’s when we decide about God, when we don’t even have words.  Later, when we do, they are colored by the blood or blessings of those first years.  Life is so unfair, how can there be a loving God?  Maybe we give a weak nod, afraid to rule Him out in case He is there.  But that first idea is set in concrete.  And you just can’t kill an idea once it’s made a home.  Why would God love me?  Nobody else did…

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It’s A Miracle!

We all want a miracle.  Healing or helping or something from God.  Because life is hard.  We all suffer.  The world is fallen and that’s a nice word for a messed up place.  We wish…even pray…things were different.  But not many miracles come.  Not like Jesus did them, raising people from the dead; and not like Moses did, getting water from a rock.  But O yes, fellow pilgrim, there are miracles.  Not big, showy surprises, but quiet little Holy Spirit chances to let God in, allow Him to work in our lives in spite of everybody’s bent Free Will.  Like:

Someone hurts you…and insead of huffing away sad or mad, you look into their eyes and see the hurt or shame or devil behind them and ask them “Is something bothering you? Is there anything I can help you with? It’s not like you to be so critical. Makes me wonder what else might be going on with you.”

Or…instead of telling a rebellious child what they are doing wrong, you pray the Spirit to put into your mind the thing you can tell them they are doing right. And how precious it is to you.

Or…me!  today!…instead of crying in my room with self pity, I turn it all over to God and trust His love to “turn it to good” just like He said He does.  Whether I see the results or not.  Just to exercise my faith instead of my disappointment.  Ask for someone to come to mind that I can help instead of whining.  In spite of my burden.

Or maybe because of it?  Hmmm….

Nobody has done it for us?  Maybe not.  But we can do it for them.

And that would be a miracle.

Cha ching.  One miracle.

Are there more?

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The Long Sad

In midlife I realized that “sad” was no longer an adjective in my life, but had become a noun. An immovable piece of furniture, right in the middle of my life. What had, in the vigor of youth, seemed like periodic blues, was now a constant state of too much grief over too small a reason. Why? What are you sad about? they asked. Nothing. And yet….

Then panic attacks became crippling.   Nothing to do but go to the hospital, get tests, counseling, medication. An EEG revealed a glitch in the brain. The type, one nurse told me, they usually see in patients who were adopted or sexually abused as a child.  How about both?

The iron door to the basement rattled, creaked a little, but held. I dabbled in revealing my “secrets,” along with other willing patients. But only a little. Better to limp as quickly as possible back to “normal,” pretend everything was alright now. Soldier on. Smile. As I had been raised to do.

I know I am not alone. Why doesn’t God fix us? Why aren’t we joyful all the time? The “fruit of the Spirit” not for us? What are we doing wrong? For Christians, there are taunts from our secular world all the time. Why praise God for not being hurt worse in a wreck? Why did He let it happen in the first place? Why praise God for His faithfulness when you are crippled by a birth defect or mental illness? The lost world loves to point and sneer: Where is your God now?

Well, He is the same place He was for Job as he suffered and lost everything, and Abraham as he led the clan from everything familiar out into the desert. The same place He was when His only son was nailed to a cross. Read the Gospel of Mark, chapter 15. The crowd insulted Him, jeered: “Where is your God now? Come down from the cross!”

But, of course, they would not have believed, even then. And He would not have come down, because it was what He came for.

And we would not be better, either, if we did not have the cross we have. Suffering, sadness, trials, circumstances are how we are being formed for eternity into a holy family. Our trials shape our souls every day. You’d almost think God wants us to learn diligence and patience ha ha.  Yeah.  Just like He says in His Word.

Now, when I feel the weight, the indignities, of my own crosses, I try to think of Him dragging His down the rough road clear out of town to His own certain agony, humiliation and death.  Put up high on a hill for all to see.

 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  and be found in Him….I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like Him…. Phillippians 3:7-10

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Our Secret Superpower

As a child, I couldn’t decide between invisibility and flying for my super power. Slipping around unseen or flying away at will seemed like the most power there could be.

Little did I know what my secret super power really is.  The super power God gave ALL of us, completely suited to our own personality, our true self:  Free Will. 

 Choose this day Who you will serve…”  Joshua 24:15

 Our FREE WILL–“Chooser,” if you like–is the ultimate secret super power.  Maybe weakened by the kryptonite in our childhoods and environments, our wounded flesh.  But still there.  Inviolable.  A gift from God.  We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can choose how we think about it.  We can!

 I still wish I had a cape of invisibility.  Sometimes dream I can fly.  But now I base my life on REALITY, not wishes and dreams.  I choose to follow God’s will, choose to memorize and soak in scripture so I can think more like Him all the time. “As a man thinks,” scripture tells us, “so is he.”  Proverbs 23:7 

 We act like free will is nothing, when it is everything.  So important to God that He didn’t even save His son from the rejection and torture they heaped on Him.  Jesus could have walked out of the Garden of Gethsemane, saved Himself from his bloody end.  But what He DID was say “Nevertheless not My will but Thine,” and go, willingly, to the cross.  We follow His example when we “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  II Corinthians 10:5

  Renewing our  minds to this same humility and surrender is the single most powerful way we can offer ourselves to Him, make of our lives a “living sacrifice.”  Plow up our minds with scripture truth to replace the old patterns, hold our very thoughts up to our Creator:

 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:1-2

 

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