Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Time out to tune in

Last night I found myself with an evening all to myself. Joe had been mumbling about watching a football match and I assumed that he would just take over the TV for the night. He decided he would rather see the game on a big screen in one of the pubs in town.

At this point I would have a good flick through the TV magazine and find a good movie to watch and perhaps even raid the wardrobe for a pile of coat hangers and make a dent in the ironing pile. What came to my heart was spending the time with God. Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions have been almost haunting me – not specifically for any one resolution, but just the idea of being much more pro-active in his pursuit of God, and in his resolution to deal with the things that got in the way of his relationship with God. I thought it might be a good time to get serious with God, sort myself out and get back on track.

I thought about soaking as an option. I didn’t really enjoy the last episode of soaking – I drifted rather aimlessly. I wanted something more structured, something that got you somewhere. I am not saying that soaking is bad, but last night I was looking for something else. I didn’t particularly know what it was I wanted – I didn’t want to get sidetracked down in interesting alley in a Bible study. Sometimes, like in the physical we can overeat – I think that also applies to the spiritual too. I have been disciplined about reading the Bible and setting aside time to prayfully take on board principles and truths that I uncover.

I was looking for some kind of guided meditation and downloaded something from the internet. It was something about renewal, about confession and surrendering to God anew. My life with God is not off the rails, but it does need tweaking. In the gospels, when Jesus wants to wash Peter’s feet, Peter demands that Jesus wash him from top to bottom. Jesus says that it has already been done and doesn’t need to be repeated – it’s only his feet that need a clean. The feet, the bits that walk though all the dust and the dung of daily living, that is what needs to be refreshed.

The meditation took the form of lots of questions, much like stocktaking. Some questions were easier to answer than others. There were times when I did not trust my judgement on an answer and asked God what he thought – always a dangerous option. There were too many answers that should have been a clear “Yes” or a confident “No”, but I squirmed rather.

One question – “Have I neglected the Word of God?” – I could give a clear “No.” to, but then had to do a double take. I read the word of God, but I don’t always put it into practice, so there is a sense of neglect there.

Another question had me thinking – “Is all resentment out of my heart?” I had to answer “No” to that. I think I resent the quality of the walk with Christ that some people have. Their lives shine a light on my own life that shows up the flaws in my own walk. I am not sure that I resent them having that life. Maybe resentment isn’t the right word. All I am aware of is that the feeling inside of me isn’t always gladness that they are doing so well!

“Do I have anything in my possession which does not rightly belong to me?” Immediately what came to mind there was a friend’s copy of the complete works of Shakespeare I borrowed years ago! On today’s to do list is a visit to return it!

“Do I really believe in the power of God to cleanse any sinner? Change my life? Take care of any situation? Guide me in my decisions?” I loved the confidence with which I could boldly shout “YES!” I have no doubt that God is the only source of help that I have to change.

It took an hour and a half to complete the meditation. One thing that struck me, that also to some extent bothered me, was that I didn’t cry. I felt that there were so many areas of my life that were out of order. I had every reason to mourn, but remained dried eyed. I thought that perhaps I was just too hard hearted, or failing to see the extent of my failings. Part of it was to do with what I prayed at the beginning – I didn’t want to be torn apart by what I discovered as I read through the meditation. The world does a good job of tearing people apart. I needed a cool look, not being over emotional, but being sober. Sometimes tears can be a defence mechanism. If someone cries, you instantly go into comfort mode, and perhaps leave addressing serious issues to another time. Tears are just one indication that something is having an effect – it is not the only indication, and in some situations not the best indication.

Am I any different? Have I changed? There is a definite sense of responsibility and that I am accountable for how my Christian life turns out. There is a line in one of my favourite films, The Scarlett Pimpernel, where the hero declares his love for the heroine. Her answer is “You move too fast.” His reply is “My heart dictates the pace.” I want my heart to beat a little faster when I come into contact with God, and when I am involved in His business.

1 comment:

Mark H said...

Sounds like a fantastic thing to do. I was reading Genesis 3 the other day, and it occurred to me that seeking God is infact the act of identifying and stripping away the things that hide us from Him. Adam and Eve hid from God in the garden after they sinned. God came looking for them.

God is looking for us, searching for us, yearning for deeper relationship with us. But our lives have erected things that hide Him from us, most of them completely unintentionally. Even when I was saved he found me, not vice-versa. He showed me the things that hid me from Him and then He waited for my permission to take them to the cross to remove them.

If I were to try to coin a single phrase for the current time I think it might be "Give God permission ...". Taking stock as you are doing is a fantastic step in this direction. Your reward will be God finding you in places where He couldn't find you before.

I want the same for me. I'm seeking God at the moment with "Lord, show me and strip away from me all that hides me from You" and "Lord, I give you permission ..."

His love is so gracious and patient. His presence is such an awesome reward. Go for it!

together, Mark.