who are you?

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup is overflowing.

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There was a time in my life when I thought that one day in the future I should be able to  describe and define God.  It was an element of my faith walk which led me to believe spiritual maturity could be captured and confined in a treasure box of heavenly secrets and knowledge.  When I had attained certitude in all things which previously were questioning and unknowing, I would then be a wise and ‘saved’ man of God.

Didn’t work that way, folks.  Today I know less than I did yesterday and there are many more questions than answers.  But, there is also comfort in knowing that the unknown is an integral part of the mystery which we call God.  The ancient writings of Judaism recorded in the book of Exodus tell us that when Moses had a personal encounter with God emanating from a burning bush, Moses asked, “What shall I say is your name?” and the answer was, “I AM Who I AM.”  (Exodus 3:14)

In my mind, that answer always seemed to be such an evasive response to a man as myself who wanted a definitive description or a name to use.  Essentially God said to Moses and to me, “You don’t need to get so familiar with me as to think you have unraveled the mystery which I AM.”  God, in Exodus 3, is a reassuring presence, not an identifiable entity.

I need to be satisfied with that.  That reassuring presence is all I need to know.  Maybe Jesus understood that presence in his life’s journey on earth.  He referred to God as Father while living a life motivated  by spiritual nobility more than absolute knowledge. He shared the essence of his faith in sayings and parables often confusing listeners who were not attuned to God as a spiritually reassuring Presence.   If I were to ask, contrary to contemporary theology, what if Jesus was not on earth to establish a divinity demanding worship and adoration upon his death?   Rather, what if he lived to present to humanity nothing more than an example of life dedicated to service and humility?

Fr. Richard Rohr in his daily blog commented,

“No one owns him (Jesus), and no one ever will.” cac.org

As an American, as a white man, as a Christian I need to be extremely careful what image I impose upon Jesus.  I need to eat some humble pie when thinking that I know everything there is to know.  I will never fully know the beauty of Jesus or the identity of God because I am still a broken vessel struggling to fathom the depths of God’s presence and Jesus’ soul.  All I can do is aspire to a fuller acceptance of and surrender to the universal mystery known as God, my reassuring Presence.

Jesus is attributed with the words of Matthew 7:7 that we should keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking and we will receive what we are asking and find what we are seeking.  The doors in front of us will open.  Beyond those doors will be more asking, more seeking and more doors to open.  If I should think that I have arrived, that I have the answers, that all the doors have been opened, then I, in my errant theological certitude, shall have strayed from the purpose of my own spiritual quest. Matthew 7:7open door

Puerto Rico

The news coming from the ruins in Puerto Rico is not encouraging.  Last report which I read says 50 % of the island continues without power, over 200,000 have moved to the mainland.  Hurricane Maria not only devastated the resources of the tropical United States territory, she also brought pain and misery to millions of citizens.  Whether our government’s response has been appropriate and adequate or an abject failure continues to be debated.  However, we do know with certainty that a large segment of humanity, American brothers and sisters, suffer through a long and tedious restoration.

Israel in 722 B.C.E. also suffered a national tragedy with the fall of its Northern Kingdom leading the psalmist to write:

“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” Psalm 80:3CANDLE

Throughout recorded history the world’s peoples have endured unfathomable misery either from natural disasters or man’s depravity.  The Israelites of King David’s time, whether praying to God for relief or cursing God for his anger, acknowledged that a power greater than themselves had the capacity to restore or punish.  We have that same choice today.  Do I pray to God for deliverance or curse God for hardships?  Do I honor God for mercy and goodness or blame God for pain and misery?

Therefore, when I say, “Restore me, God; let your face shine, that I may be saved,” I have chosen to embrace the power of a restorative, compassionate, saving God instead of a vindictive, harsh, wrathful God.  My choice, my free will, has enabled a power greater than myself to enter Larry’s world and perform the miracles of restoration upon a lost and wretched scrap of humanity rescued from the seas of addiction.  Certainly God was waiting in the wings for the opportunity to take center stage, but, Larry had to raise the curtain.

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.” AA, twelve and twelve

It all makes sense.  It is a choice; so, why would anyone choose an angry God over a loving God?   Ultimately, why would anyone choose to live without the comfort and grace of a Father who is readily available to whomever would ask?

“Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7smiley 3

 

blinded

CANDLE

In today’s OUR DAILY BREAD reading, verses 40-41 from the book of Luke, chapter 18 tells of the blind man waiting along the path Jesus was taking into Jerusalem when from  the crowds he called out, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”

As the narrative goes on, I am told that Jesus did indeed stop, asking of the blind man, “What do you want me to do?”

“Lord, I want to see,” to which Jesus replied, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”

Oh, if only it were that easy for me today.  Matters not whom I name as Lord of my life, would it not be wonderful to request a dose of faith, large as the universe or small as a mustard seed, to bring sight?  I know that I have made that appeal numerous times.  The faith was supplied, but then, the ego within and the world outside question that faith and again I find myself playing baseball by myself out there in left field.  Left field is a lonely place to spend eternity.

The ego within says, “How can you, a rational man of sound reasoning, believe all that gobblygoop?  It’s just a myth, writings from centuries ago by men who had nothing else to do but sit around writing fairy tales?”

Poof, the faith is gone.  But, at a later time, when my life becomes a pile of garbage, I reflect on the times past when faith was strong.  “Wasn’t it wonderful?  Wasn’t life simple and wasn’t my mind peaceful?  If only I could again find that faith.”

Suffering in spiritual blindness, I have a choice.  I can continue stumbling along in the darkness or I can ask the Lord of my life for a healthy dose of faith.  Faith that the Spirit within will guide me.  Knowledge that the Lord within has never deceived me nor will that higher power ever deceive me.  Belief that walking and working that faith will be an eternal path.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  Matthew 7:7

Even if I question the physical probability that the blind man’s eyesight was restored, the verses when viewed in a spiritual context speak volumes to a hurting world which includes a hurting me.

I am spiritually blinded by the world I live in.  Wars, violence, inhumane behavior, greed, and injustice overwhelm me if I am not covered with a simple prayer everyday:

“Lord, I want to see.”

smiley 3

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