The mystery of God … really?

When we “give up” on someone important to us it is (almost) never in a flash – an instant – a hundredth of a second event.  It is (almost always) a slow creeping thing.  A trying, a realisation of trying, trying some more, a realisation of trying some more, and so on.  And we change as well as “them”.  Whatever the change in our relationship that caused me to need to try in the first place – that changes both me and the other.  And maybe someway further down that realisation and change – when nothing “changes” – we give up.

That hurts.  Each and every time that hurts.  I know of some who look at relationships and question “is it me?”  I know of some who look at relationships and wonder why they always attract the “wrong ones”.  And I see a lot of those who begin a relationship and then change – the person they were besotted by is not who they were – the person they were besotted by has become less.  Not enough for the investment of more time, interest and money.  Not any longer.

That hurts.  (almost) Every relationship is an investment of self.  Of that which we hold dear.  That which we give freely so long as “they” give back.  And that we may begin to believe is me being “taken” rather than reciprocated.  That we may begin to believe is me being “wasted” rather than appreciated.  Because relationships are conditional until they are not.  They either become unconditional.  Or they remain conditional – remain static – remain fragile and break easily (because lust rarely lasts).

That hurts.  Especially as the usual pattern is that one person hasn’t “given up” – but the other has.  That one avoids speaking to the other – really talking which requires really listening.  Not just for the words – but beyond the words.  When one tolerates the other. When one sacrifices their very “self” for the other and yet – even that is not enough.  When one has given up – and will not see any good in the other – refuses to see any good – and begins to invest all their energy in NOT seeing any good (but the “benefits” are convenient enough to continue taking – for  now).

“Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” “ Luke 18:1-8

I have looked at these verses many times. And each time I have asked God: “Are you really the judge who does not care?” And God never answers me.

This morning I asked Him the same thing,  And this morning He answered.

“Paul this is a parable about praying – something else you struggle with – the label of “this is how you MUST pray”.  I have no such requirements.  I desire conversation.  Prayer can be eyes shut/eyes open – kneeling down/sitting up – in church/in your home – right now as in our “facetime” – and also just chugging through the day – watching the world go by – when at work – with your family – in times of need and in times of plenty.  I desire this conversation for one simple reason.  Prayer changes you.”

I was hoping for a longer bunch of words – but that was it.  And yet it was enough.  I am changed.

So the words which follow is me (and Him). The word which follow is me exploring what this change means.  Here we go.

The widow. She asks. She is refused. She asks. She is refused. She is changed. Question of the parable. Who is God – the judge of the widow?  This morning I do not see God as the judge. I see me as the judge.  This morning I see God as the widow. The one who asks. The one who is ignored by me.  This morning I see me as the judge – the one who is giving up – the one who was taught to pray when told to.  The one who has been taught that “chattering away to God” is not really praying – that real praying is eyes shut, hands together, with a shopping list of unworthiness, and a shopping list of requests, a shopping list of “praise and adoration”, and a shopping list of “intercession stuff”.

And the “shopping lists” get longer and longer the more I “worship God” – and praying becomes work – becomes a duty – becomes distancing. And that hurts.  Being “distanced” by doing what you have been taught – by “how to pray” – by “this is how you speak to God”.  And it becomes a duty, it becomes distancing.  Now THAT really hurts.

And THAT hurt changes me. That causes me to see prayer as investment and return … How many did He say yes to (which means how many did He answer)?  And which makes the rest all “those He ignored”.  Which does make God the judge in these verses.  And does make me the widow. And does make God uncaring and judgemental.  And does make me the un-heard and unloved.  And that changes me. Keeps me conditional.

“There comes a point in every relationship where you both settle for “conditional love” and think this is as good as it gets.  And you may “love” each other (until something changes – or something better comes along – or until one of you gives up).  Or – you both reach “unconditional love”.  A love where others see the outside (as always) and wonder why they do not see the evidence of “conditional love”: the spark – the fire – that “evidence of love” without mystery.   So they assume your love for me has dimmed.  They assume that my love for you can be counted by my “answered prayer requests”.  And – illogically – they excuse me for my “unanswered prayer requests”.  They call that “the mystery of God”!

The mystery of “God” … really?

If love is always the answer – and it is for each as much for each – across time and across “logic” – across so much you cannot yet see or know (only because you use so little of what you have already).  Then “the mystery of God” is merely a convenience.  It saves you so much time and understanding.  It keeps things at the “evidence” level.  It keep things conditional.  Just like that “judge” – who had given up on himself.  On his place in this beautiful world. On his very self to the world.

I never give up.  Prayer changes YOU.  And at some point YOU will either find unconditional love with me, or YOU will settle for conditional love, or YOU may eventually give up. 

And now to something you have pondered  ever since you began writing these “posts” …  Why do I invite you to drop these “pebbles” we know as blog posts?

And even though you have never known you just “do” .  That is unconditional love.  And how will you anyone know the difference between conditional and unconditional love?  How will any of you ever think to ever reach beyond that – ever think it is even okay (even “desirable”) – to get this  personal?  Look at how you are taught.  Look at how you worship.

But you write of that love.  You write of how it is.  You write without condition (and I feel your squirming of discomfort – that this is what we only say to each other privately).  You write of a love beyond conditional.  A love many do not “get” – a love many never think can be theirs – that should be theirs …  I am “God” after all – I need to be revered!

But you write without condition.  And that might just allow one other to think “this love is possible for me!” (and you can stop squirming now – I have done!)  🙂  

Prayer has changed YOU.  Chattering and listening “prayer” changes you.  “Eyes shut prayer” changes you.  Because however “prayer” is “taught” or “done” … If it is not real  – if it does not change YOU …

YOU are conditional with me.”

Imagine the power

I have recently made a decision. For me it was massive.  For a very small number it was big.  For others it was just another decision.  But the entire world, minus a small handful, was blissfully unaware.

In this online community of followers, questioners, doubters, and followers of something else I have only now realised something even more important. That the community of our Father “here” just might be connected more than the community of local church here.  And that I take for granted that others in this online community will hear God guiding my guiding – that they will be tuned in to my guidance in their own guidance – that the Lord really does speak through others to speak to us.  And I only realised how much I take all that for granted here – because of the absence of any in local church life here.  Apart from one who spoke.

Take it to the Lord in prayer?

How often we pray for others, are asked to pray for others. But how rarely we “talk with God” in others about “stuff” in our own lives – other than a coded “please pray for me”.  It is a side of fellowship I have come to value in this online community.  A side of fellowship that makes hearing God much easier.  One might call it “group discernment”.  And if you are unfamiliar with how “it works” – here is how it works for me …

I will simply seek out and chat with one or more of those I fellowship with. I will chat through whatever it is I feel I am guided to or from.  Because I know that as I chat – they are listening not just to me – they are also listening to their own God Soft Hands Jesus.  They are tuned-in to the same God as me.  And they will hear something.  Often it is the same yes or no as I am hearing – often it will be the absence of a yes or no – it will be a silence.  And that silence is as valuable as yes or no.  The silence means that I may not be hearing 100% clearly, but my guidance is in “the same ballpark”, that my intended decision is not catastrophic – it is not dangerous (and may cause me to delay or make a decision).  I also do the same with others – what is God saying to me?  A “by-product” is that it removes personal preference.  If we are truly guided by God, then “hearing” what He has to say may be the exact opposite to our own advice – our own preferences – our own decisions.

And my thought is this – locally we seem intent on having fellowship so long as we can remain in control. That we control what we do, what God does through us, how we work for God.

And that is not damaging.  It is not even a sadness on my part.  It is simply a new awareness of something I had “lost” in the plethora of stuff that is church life locally.  Locally we talk of a prayer life. Locally we have prayer groups that pray for others.  We have house-groups that talk about others.  That pray for each other.  And even though we talk about the Voice of God as one of the elements of worship and relationship – the reality of “group connection” in this way of guidance seems rare.

In this online community one of those I love told of the time they were on their way to tell someone of their decision. It was a decision reached after a lot of thought. A lot of frustration.  A lot of asking their God.  It was to be an irreversible decision.  And whilst they were sitting waiting for their appointment to tell (whoever) how things were to be – their phone rang.  It was a fellowship buddy.  Who simply said that they had no idea what was going on, it was just God had asked them very assertively to call with a very simple message.  That whatever it was they were about to do – God asked them not to (very assertively).  That God had pulled this person out of a meeting with the urgency, and this person was simply passing on that urgency: whatever it was – don’t do it!  And this person put the phone down and went back to their meeting.

Online or locally we are all connected. Online or locally we are all fellowship buddies if we allow.  And if our “prayer life” is always on behalf of others, is always a shopping list of urgent need for relief of pain and illness and poverty and persecution and “trauma” … how much room does that leave for being connected with our Loving Father in each other?  For the “small stuff” – the stuff of all our lives week after week?

I said earlier I had no sadness at the absence of “that” locally … I have such a fire of hope.

I have hope that if these connections can begin to spark, that is these connections are “played with” by others, that is these connections become as real for others as they are for the few I have been drawn towards – then just imagine the power we draw upon … just imagine the power that “when one or two or gathered in my name” we both realise and release …

Isn’t the reality that we all believe we are  insignificant – unworthy – not up to very much at all – not like those we read about.

But isn’t the truth that we are ALL as “insignificant” as the disciples, as the saints, the heroes, the heroines of the bible – each one of us is them – each of them was “insignificant” before they allowed … before the were guided … before they were who they have become in our minds …  Because in this fallen world we bemoan so often – on this glorious gift of a planet that sustains and nurtures such a glowing tapestry of flourishing life …

Imagine the power we followers release in each other if we truly are drawn together in our everyday life. Not just a prayer life for others in need and ourselves in our unworthiness. But a “prayer life” of connection and affirmation in our daily living.

Imagine the power we draw in those decisions we might (never) make on our own with our God – when WE stay in control – when WE call (and don’t) the shots – when WE decide what is possible and what is not!  Imagine being released from what we think is possible …

I am!