Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Who is God? (A Homiletic Reflection)

A week ago, I was given the exercise of answering the question "Who is God?" in only about 100 words. Written for the ear and not for the eye, this was my answer:

From the beginning,
I like to imagine God joyfully singing Creation into being.
Full of love.

He is not the inflictor of pain.
He is the only One
who truly understands
what pain
He is the only one
who can hold our broken pieces.
And put us back together when we are shattered.

Because of love,
Jesus came.

This marvellous God-man
lived a perfect life,
died for our sins,
and then resurrected
to defeat sin
and death
and our separation from God.
The old ache
of our souls

as Holy Spirit
makes our souls breathe.
An energy
that moves like wind
so that
we inhale and exhale
in mystery.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dehydrated, Drunk, and the Spirit

I think this is worth writing about. Because the working of God is worth sharing:

Eyes closed, I held up my cupped hands, filled with the hurt, shame, wounding, grime, brokenness, and dirt - piled like a mass of blood-soaked dirt and asphalt.

"Pray after me: 'Jesus, take it.'"

My mouth wouldn't let me fully repeat, but I think Christ understood. And he gave grace and mercy when I struggled out: "Take it."

And like water and light, a blue spirit poured down into my cupped hands, lapping at them like a dog's tongue which drinks water - washing over and over again like a wave because the stuff was sticky - stuck to my hands like it was stuck to my spirit.

"Now, ask Jesus give you what He wants you to have."

This time, it was easier: "Jesus, please give me what you want me to have."

Eyes still shut, I saw and felt love pour into my hands. Like red wine, it pooled into my hands and filled them; it kept pouring, but never over-flowing - like the burning bush that burned but was not consumed. It seeped into my hands, through my arms, and into my body - warming my soul. And I broke down and cried again because that was all I could do at feeling such love and at feeling so whole.

"What did you see?"

"Love...pour down into my hands like red wine. It kept pouring and filling, but never overflowed."

"New wine for new wine skins. I saw a dove over you."

There's something about being filled with the Spirit... Thank God, for the gift of friends - for prophetic healers.

I am realizing how dehydrated my soul has been.

 * * *

Some events this weekend have again brought the concept of forgiveness to a forefront in my mind and heart. More deep wounding coupled this time with what I was able to identify as spiritual attacks. What I came away with was this:

~ Wounded people often hurt others.

~ I am not perfect - it is in my nature to mess up, fail, and hurt others. My tendency is to want to see myself as blameless. Once seeing that I am flawed, my tendency is then to beat myself up for not being perfect. Neither of these are accurate views of myself.

~ The only way I will be able to forgive others is to see myself as God sees me: not perfect, but perfectly loved and accepted because of what Christ has done on the Cross on my behalf. 

Forgiveness will always be hard work until I am filled with the love of Christ. I'm not talking about intellectually knowing it, or feeling some sort of obligation to love others because God loved me so much that He would forgive and die for my sins.

I'm talking about being overwhelmed with the love of Christ. Of feeling it to my core. Of being steeped in it, soaked with it, drenched to the point where I start dripping that sort of love, like wet footprints, wherever I go. I think that is what the biblical writers and the mothers and fathers of the Christian faith are talking about when talking about the transforming love of Christ.

This is not even about feeling happy, excited, or blessed because I see the good things that God has put into my life (although that fits in). It's about simply being and being made aware of the love that God has for me.

Only in the safety of the love guaranteed by God can I allow myself to trust and love others. Because people are not particularly safe. Even with the best of intentions, we fail.

Only when I am saturated with the love of God can that flow out of me to others.

Only when I experientially realize and am empowered with the love of God will loving others, forgiving others, and walking in the footsteps of Christ in sacrificial obedience not feel like "work."

And, at this point, I refuse to move without feeling God's love filling my being. Because, at this point, to do any of that good stuff which makes me a "good person" or a "good Christian"* is out of my own strength - my own pride - and is empty in meaning, and draining to my being.

So, my prayer has become this and I refuse to move without it: "Lord, show me how much you love me. Let me feel it that I may see myself properly before You and out of that love others."

I know I've been on this journey for a while, but I think I'm about to intentionally start a long process (expected further Dark Nights of the Soul included)...and I think it's going to be good.

LORD, may it be.

*Really, what does it even mean to be a "good" Christian? It's a useless, empty qualifier because only God is good. Our behavior does not make us good: only the redemptive work of Christ and the filling of the Holy Spirit within us makes us "good" before God.