Psalm 139, What do I have to offer God?

I have lived my life in a great struggle against something I cannot see. It has been a burden to me since I was a little girl, a dark monster, an unforeseen force that haunted my days. I could never readily identify it, associated it mostly with some tragic experiences I had in my life. But even after I finished recovery for my sexual abuse, there were some things that simply lingered…

Becoming a Catholic became the single greatest event of my life. It was a true conversion of mind, body and soul, a true understanding of obedience and sacrifice, and a coming home party as big and as wide and as deep as heaven could offer. It was immediately apparent to me that it was the right decision, as “Christian” friends left my life and disappeared…

I’ve never been one to hold myself out as a theologian, that’s never been my purpose. God has plans and purposes for everything, and our calls and individual walks are as personal as the maker has made us. When I became a Catholic, I thought my days of darkness may be far behind me, but I did not recognize them for what they were…

As I often do, I began to scroll through my new favorite app “Flipboard” which I have found to be a great mix of so many of the topics I enjoy. If you haven’t used it, it’s like the tabernacle opening for information junkies, news aggregated in one place, and the ability to receive information based upon your specified areas of interest.

So I happen upon a story of a man whose greatest fear was death, so as he explains it, makes himself busy to distract himself from the thought of it, although this was not a conscious fear. He began to understand this fear after meeting with a “life” coach as he recounted the busyness of his lifestyle, his hyper competitiveness and his drive to “squeeze” in as much as possible in one day. After coming to the realization of this fear, he began reading numerous books related to people who lived life to its fullest on finding out they were terminally ill. This in turn led him to face his fear and realize that he needed to do something about it. Once he identified the monster, he was set free…

The story intrigued me in a unique way, I didn’t understand at the time why. He had related to Buddhist theories, hired a life coach and fear of death was not my problem. But as the story stirred in my soul, it was making its mark. What was I afraid of? What was my monster?

It was a verse in Sirach this morning that drew my attention, although I had no idea why.

Do not appear before the Lord empty handed, for all that you offer is in fulfillment of the precepts. Sirach 35:6

The question that came to mind after reading that passage was,

What do I have to offer God?

I meditated on it, researched it and could not get away from it. But it had a familiar darkness, a familiar fear. The question and the passage scared me. 

And in the midst of my ruminations and emptiness before the Lord, I asked Him that same question. And then the story of the man who was scared of death entered my mind. And that’s when I realized who and what my monster was.

I was deathly afraid I had no purpose…I had met my monster.

The thing that had haunted me, even chased me, the thing I just could not shake. The reason behind my faltering and depression. I wasn’t afraid to die, I was afraid to die without having a purpose. 

There was no human force who could have told me that, no sermon, no book. It was a cry from so deep inside my soul that I could not contain it. The hurt, the anguish of knowing that I had or maybe never would make a deep and lasting impression on this earth.

I didn’t consider the thousands of cases I handled on behalf of foster kids or indigent defendants or even my work as a police attorney. I didn’t consider the love I had for the homeless or the prostitute. It just wasn’t enough of a mark for me. And I paused to consider that although I know my purpose in Jesus, I still felt an overwhelming sense that I had not come into what God had for me, or maybe He had nothing at all…

I am sure that many of you will comment about how our purpose is in Jesus and that my wanting “more” and fearing there may be none is a sign that I don’t understand my purpose. I have read and considered all of the scriptures and have lived and continued to live a Christian life. I don’t believe this is a lack of trust in Jesus, it is a fear I have to face that I believe many of you have but have not yet identified.

I am not talking about being a missionary or call to the priesthood or some other very distinctive call. I am talking about a knowing that God has a specific place and purpose for your life that you know you have just not come into yet. I have been on the search all my life, I continue to be a pilgrim waiting for my Master…

Identifying the fear made my heart feel in a way that I never had before. Like slaughtering the beast, I understood David’s victory against Goliath. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. PRESENT darkness…

I pray that in identifying the fear, God will reassure me that He has a purpose for me. That at some stage in my life I am blessed to enter it and know that the struggle was not some figment of my imagination, but a very real one in the unseen spiritual realm. And I hope for the sake of this truth that has been exposed, that my experience and honesty can help someone overcome their fear too. That God made us for a purpose, that we are loved and that He will not let us leave this world without allowing us to leave our mark on it, for Him.

Psalm 139

My knee is God

There is a conversation happening right now. It’s about “munn-nee” – it’s about weird ideas – it’s about God. It’s about “why God” and “how God”. It’s about a concept that I have been pondering for a long time. It is about prayer, it is about worship, it is about church, it is about all these words we spray around in the misplaced confidence we are speaking clearly.

It’s about when I say “Money is good” and you hear “My knee is God.”

Many years ago before money was invented (but way after my knee was looking good), how did one “buy” anything? Were there any shops? Would there have been any “customers”? Would the very concept of “paying for things” been more than a joke? Would “Black Friday” have been more than an odd weather forecast?

“Munn-nee” – what’s that all about – we don’t need that – we are all doing very nicely thank you – keep your weird ideas to yourself, thank you!”

What is munn-nee – or my knee – or money? It’s not gold any longer. It‘s not necessarily piles of paper and coinage any more. It’s not anything really. And yet I can count numbers and know we are going broke. I can count numbers and know we are solvent.

“Solve ant” – what’s that all about … “

Before money was invented how would I explain that “money” is not really “anything” at all – but it is! And how would I illustrate that I was rich? How would I explain to someone that I was rich when all I have is a few grubby coins in my pocket – and a piece of plastic?

Would I show them my computer?

“Come put her” …. Where?  And … why would you want to … ?”

Would I show them my bank account online, all the transactions in and out – and the surplus left over? Would I take them “shopping” and “buy things” and watch their confusion grow as this “piece of plastic” is handed across and back again? Would they think this piece of plastic was God? That I carried God in my pocket and didn’t even worship Him? Just took God out when I wanted something? And then shoved God back in my pocket with all the other tat? Would they be convinced I was totally sane? Would they think I was God – oh crap … now there is a thought! What if they worshipped me and not my plastic? What would I do then?

You see Paul, when you are “unconditional love” and always have been – you kind of take it for granted. So I understand when you get all hung-up on the trivia. I can see why you might worship the “wrong things” in the “wrong way”. I understand that “unconditional” is a weird “munn-nee” concept.

So what would you do if you were Me? “Exterminate them” for getting “it wrong”? Run in the other direction as fast as you could? What would you do – what do YOU do?

If they and Me connect, if they and Me relate, if they and Me talk … they might just allow. They might allow Me – or they might allow darkness. Because once you “connect” – you always allow something. And that is where you come in. That is where all of you come in. That’ what this “make disciples” malarkey is all about. It’s about connecting.

But you are no more able to “convince” than I am. You are no more able to “close the deal” than I am. And I will NOT “close the deal”. Nor should you. Because you have here a small glimpse of “munn-nee” as money. But you have such a smaller glimpse of love as “LOVE”.

So when you try and explain LOVE … how do you explain what it is, why it is, what it can do, how it can do, where it can do, why it can do? Love is just like your “munn-nee”: Where is it? How do I touch it? How do I know it is Love?”

Thanks, God.

I wonder … story-time …

A bunch of us are completing some fundraising for a friend. This fellow has over 300 Facebook friends! This fellow has met all his Facebook friends personally. That makes him “celebrity” in my book!

And this fellow is the friend with whom we stay in Turkey. And he was in need. And his “friends” were thousands of miles away not in Turkey. And we offered our best wishes on Facebook as you do.  But He whispered: “Fundraising … crowd-funding … JustGiving … Paul.”

So I did. A page of words with a number. A page on a computer screen. Press a button and by magic it is on your computer screen. Those same words and that same number. And all the people who were offered those words chose to pass by or to respond. My friend has over 300 Facebook Friends. Those words and that number were read by many (many!) more.

So far 85 have responded with munn-nee. And it is enough. The number has been met (and exceeded). And that number is munn-nee. Money that will make a massive difference – it already has and they (he and his family) have not yet seen a penny. The words and the number and the response of so few (or so many?) has already made a difference. It has connected something deep in each of us with something deep in each of us.

And what was important throughout was to offer a journey.  To embrace those who joined this small journey.  To allow all to join the walking together.  And to celebrate community.

But what about those who “passed by”? Are they not wrong?

Let me ask you this …  in a world full of need, in a global community all asking for help for someone or something … how many times do you pass by?  I know I do.  I pass by many times.  And sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes I connect.  This occasion it was “CONNECTION” for me.  But not for all.  Does that make “them” wrong? I don’t think so.

So this morning I wonder – does my story make any sense in this confusion we call “God” … ?

“When you try and explain LOVE … how do you explain what it is, why it is, what it can do, how it can do, where it can do, why it can do?”

Let’s allow – not disallow. Let’s connect – not insulate. Let’s be gentle with each other. Because when we do – we might just see what is deep within each of us.

And then we won’t need words.

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NB:
Where is the conversation taking place? My little chatter today is prompted by the wonderful comments below this post: Secret Santa Worship Day II

What is the fundraising all about? If you are interested in the details, here is the link with an explanation
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I didn’t want to do this

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English for dummies: “I have one sheep. I have many sheep. You have one ship. You have many ship. We have one sleep. We have many sleep.”

You are now proficient in English. Please go and teach all those johnny-foreigners how to speak it as well!

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Pastor Roland Ledoux wrote a stonking post yesterday. I was in complete, ecstatic, orgasmic spiritual lust with Roland yesterday (and if that’s not okay – don’t care)!

One letter. Just one letter! Vessel. Vassal. The difference in one letter is MASSIVE!! The Lord has been doing a jig around my heart and desk and keyboard and head ever since I read Roland’s words.

Last night as I slept, God Soft Hands Jesus didn’t. He was dancing all night long in one paragraph of Roland’s post.  This one:

“Being obligated to someone does not equate to unconditional “agape” love! Unconditional means just that; NOT expecting anything in return. You can know that Heaven is involved, but even if it wasn’t, unconditional love says you would love anyway! You love someone for who they are, not for what you can get. A vassal will always expect something in return and a vassal’s lord will always expect to give something in return for that loyalty!”
(read the full version here: Vessels or Vassals: Pastor Roland Ledoux)

Last night as I slept, God Soft Hands Jesus didn’t. He was embroidering just one bit, in that one paragraph, of Roland’s post.

Paul: (snoring lightly – but ever so elegantly)

God Soft Hands Jesus: (dancing lightly – but ever so enthusiastically) So imagine this dear “snoring Paul”: There is no heaven. There is no God, Jesus or Holy Spirit. There is no Church. There is no Institution, denomination or dogma. There are none of the trappings you all join or love or resist and/or criticise. There is nothing – and no one – to blame. There is nothing – and no one – to applaud. There is no eternal living. There is no living happily after. Being saved does not mean a ticket through the Pearly Gates. There are no Pearly Gates.  So you have nothing to look forward to after you breathe your last breath. What you see here is all you get. What you have now is all you have. What you are is down to you – and no one else. Your relationships are Your Relationships. So where do you go when you die? You don’t go anywhere. You stop. You are no more. You end.  Unconditional love says you would love anyway.

Unconditional love says you would love anyway.

This morning I didn’t want to do this.  I have a list of things to clear today.  I have commitments right through to bedtime.  I don’t want to be here writing a post – not today.  But when I sat here with today’s lectionary verses, GSHJ pulled me on to the dance floor.  He wrapped that sentence around us – and …

Here I am.

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Untitled

Discipling for dummies: “I have been saved. I have been many saved. You have one saved. You have many saved. We have one save. We have many save.”

You are now proficient in discipling. Please go and teach all those sinners to be disciples as well!

:-/ :-/ :-/ :-/ :-/ :-/

Vessel. Vassal. One letter. Just one letter! The difference in one letter is MASSIVE!!

If there is no heaven, no reward, no eternal life … just what is it you will be saving them from and for? Just what is your foundation of “discipling” and “making disciples”? If you have really and truly “got it” with all this God stuff – then why not try taking God out of your sales pitch.

Have you heard the Good News?
No – what’s that all about?
Unconditional Love, my brother! That’s the Good News! I can save love you!!
How does that work?
Easy! You become a vassal vessel, you empty yourself of everything, and allow God Unconditional Love to fill you up and guide you!
To do what?
To love everybody!
Who is everybody?
“Everybody” is “Everybody”!
What’s in it for me?
Everlasting life for eternity …. ah crap! I can’t use that anymore …
Can’t use what?
Nothing. I was just having a senior moment!
So what is in it for me? What do I get out of it?
???
You will be save … ah crap again!
???
You can come and join us in chur … ah Nuts!
???
The bible says so …. Doh! And Doh again!!
???

Try taking God out of YOUR sales pitch and what are YOU left with – and just WHO are you left with?  That – for me – is why HE was dancing all night.

Discipling is NOT a sales pitch.  God is NOT an investment portfolio.   Love is NOT conditional.  That is “vassal love”.

“Vessel Love” is unconditional love is – because Unconditional Love says you would love anyway.

(Now is it okay to be in complete spiritual LOVE with Roland? Because lust is not enough – lust doesn’t do it for me – but unconditional love does)