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So why do I give my power away? Why do I feel I need to justify myself to someone who ignored requests to sit down and discuss our frustration with each other earlier, but as I leave this church, she sends a letter explaining herself and her actions to me? She couldn’t be bothered to hear my side or work through the issues when we were going to still have time together. And yet I feel like I want to write back and explain myself now.

But I won’t. I am going to let her have the last word. She has felt the need to justify herself to me. She has gotten the weight of a broken relationship off her chest. 

And I will bear the weight of that broken relationship without infringing on her any more. 

But I wonder why I want to write back. Why do I want the last word? What inside me feels it needs to justify itself? Why am I giving her power over me?

Do I need to be right?

Do I need to fix things and people?

I don’t know. All I do know is that I am feeling a little broken today. 

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Escapism. In my culture, faith almost seems like a ticket for escape. Your “get out of jail free” card. We escape the Wrath of God and Hell. Those who believe in a rapture believe Christians escape the Tribulation. And when we face problems and hardships, we pray for escape. “God get me out of this”

I have prayed for God to remove the people who were causing me problems. I have prayed for a miracle to get m .e out of the present problem. Praying for escape. We are like Houdini trying to escape our current situation.

The problem with that is we miss a lot in our journey always looking for an escape route. Now I believe God delivers but if we are only looking for God in the escape route–in the act of deliverance, I fear we are missing Emmanuel in the midst of the problem and situation we are already in.

That person who is the thorn in my side may be there to help perfect love in me. If I can learn to love and forgive them, I am one step closer to how Christ loves me. And I am able to understand Christ’s love for me better when I love like He loves.

I have learned to embrace grief instead of looking for the out or snapping out of it. I don’t want to wallow in grief but there is a Divine Beauty in the midst of loss. The severity of our pain is met with the severity of God’s mercy. I would miss that if I simply looked for the way out.

God is the Great I AM. The Present Tense God! How often have I missed God in the present because I was wallowing in my past or focused on the future for deliverance?

I don’t want my prayers to be prayers of escape any more. As Amy Grant’s new song says–O How Mercy Looks from Here!  God is present to me–now in the midst of the pain, the mundane, the joy. I want to be present to God as well so I can see how mercy looks from here

In seminary, I served as an adult leader in the local UM youth group. This past week, one of the students from that group was killed in a car accident. She was 19.

The news spread by Facebook. People asked for prayers to be said. People promised prayers for the family. As I messaged with friends from the church, the pain they were feeling in Kentucky was tangible here in New York. And so I promised prayer as well.

And then apologetically, I confessed to one of my friends, “I know prayer is powerful but I still feel helpless.”

In some of the Christian circles I have been in that statement would have caused chaos as people tried to fix my faith. Thankfully with these friends, it was accepted, acknowledged and left open ended.

We are taught prayer changes things. It is repeated time after time how prayer works. And these are not just cliches for I have heard wonderful testimonies of prayers being answered. Perhaps it is the mixture of teachings of faith minus doubt and the power of prayer which made me feel treacherous when I admitted feeling helpless when all I could do was pray.

But perhaps it is when our prayers leave us helpless, we find the true power of prayer. When we cannot manipulate the circumstances and work out the issue on our own, we have come to the end of ourselves. When there is no conversation we can imagine and re-work in our head that will make things better, we have come face to face with how small we actually are. When prayer is all we have and we still feel helpless, perhaps then, we begin to catch a glimpse of the greatness of a Grace which takes the time to hear prayers from very fragile creatures and walks through this mess with us.

I still feel helpless. But somehow being present to this vulnerable, uncontrollable, unfixable moment filled with pain and anger, we find the Great I AM is also present. 

 

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