Sunday, October 21, 2012

Worshipping in the Dark

     At a conference in Traverse City, Robert Kellerman (author of God's Healing for Life's Losses) gave three definitions of worship:
  • Worship is wanting God more than we want relief.
  • Worship is finding God even when we don't find answers
  • Worship is walking with God in the dark and finding him to be the light of our souls.
    I’ll be honest: most of the time I go to God because I want to experience relief rather than because I want to experience God, irregardless of whether or not I gain respite from my temporary dilemmas.
     Most of the time I don’t feel like I’ve found God unless I have found answers, even though the book of Job reminds me that God can be thunderously near while remaining inexplicable and mysterious.
     Most of the time I don't feel like I've seen God unless I have seen my own life impacted, even though I am surrounded by so many people in whom the presence of God has been transformative.
     Most of the time, when walking in the dark, I expect God to bring daylight to the world around me rather than illumination within me.

    God, when you bring relief, and provide satisfying answers, and brighten the world, remind me to praise you as my only true Deliverer.
   When you allow my distress for a season, and you don’t answer my questions, and you don’t immediately push back the shadows, remind me to embrace you as my only true Hope.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A God of Holy Chaos

     At my family reunion a year and a half ago, I realized that I had the (dis)ability to see life as I wanted to see it, now how it really is.  That's not the kind of person I want to be. I want to be honest about life, no matter how uncomfortable or difficult that honesty is.  
    I read an article in Christianity Today called "Good News: Jesus is Not Nice." It struck a nerve.  The overall article was about how we have tamed Jesus to fit nicely into our notion of what He was like (and perhaps what he will call us to be).  At one point the article noted:
"We can stop pretending God is nice, as if it's his job to make our lives well-adjusted or religious or even spiritual. Jesus did not say he came to give us happiness, only blessedness. He did not promise an easy life, only an abundant one. He doesn't call us to be religious or spiritual, but to love God and love others. We can save ourselves a lot of grief if we recognize that up front. This means at least two things: (1) He's not going to spare us from heartache, suffering, and chaos. (2) He's actually going to bring heartache, suffering, and chaos into our lives sometimes."
     Ah.  I need to hear this message over and over.  I find that I so quickly want my life to manageable and predictable.  I want my wife to read my mind, my kids to always make me proud, my church to hang onto my every word, and my book to instantly click with millions.  I want to eat without consequence, work out without sweating, and sleep without my cat waking me up.  I just want my stupid smart phone to sync properly.  I want my deck roof to build itself, my van tires to not go bald, and my wireless internet to work instantly.
    But none of these things are going to happen. In fact, if the life of Jesus is any indication, I'm not sure He wants them to happen either.  The life that I want is a life in which I never grow up.  The life I want would pamper me, not strengthen me; coddle me, not mature me. It would keep me a child, not make me a man.
     But I don't want to be Peter Pan, stuck in perpetual adolescence, treating all of life as a game when the stakes are so much higher than that.  I want to grow up.  There is an abundant life awaiting me.