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Saturday, August 28, 2010


I'm reading a biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. It's fascinating, deep, moving, disturbing, inspirational and more. I didn't know a whole lot about Bonhoeffer's life before reading this book. I had previously read a couple of things, including a book on his lectures on his Christology. If you don't really know who he was, briefly, he was a great leader of Christianity and theological thinking and understanding in Nazi times and was murdered by the Nazis. Apparently he became part of the Valkyrie plot; I'm not to that part of the book just yet.

Anyway, what I wanted to discuss today is a little statement on page 240. Bonhoeffer thought that anything less than obedience to God smacked of "cheap grace." Actions must follow what one believed, else one could not claim to believe it.

This seems to me to lead me to one of my problems with us humans, that is congruence or lack of it. If one believes something, but does not act in line with the supposed belief, can a person really claim to believe that thing?

Say someone says it is the most important thing in their life to be "green" and be environmentally careful. But, let's say, that someone has huge houses, huge cars, private jets, a glamorous life full of travel and use of tons and tons of fuel. Can that person really be said to be an environmentalist?

Or let's say that we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, working in our lives to live by his example. But we are not typically forgiving, loving, kind, inclusive, praying, meditative, healing children of God. Can we really be said to be followers of Jesus Christ? So, I think we could examine our actions and determine what beliefs they portray. Then we could examine the life of Jesus and determine what we would need to change to follow his example more fully.

Then there is Bonhoeffer's idea that we must be obedient to God. What would that mean in our lives? I think first it would be to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. One of the things he did was to pray and go into silence regularly, listen and then act as a result of the listening he did. I think we need to listen quietly to hear "the wee small voice" so that we can be more able to honor God's guidance by obedience. My experience has been that by regular quiet times in spiritual contemplation, I am more and more able to be guided during my daily life.

To be true to our guidance, we have to at times notice and ignore the opposition of others, not be swayed, but stay true to God. Others may doubt us and our motives, but God knows what is really going on in us and with our relationship to God. Bonhoeffer surely lived this as he stood up to the crazy Nazi nationalization of the church and its work of turning the church away from scripture and Christ.

The challenges I have at this point in my life are not so vast. There are a few, from time to time, who see me in a different light that I see myself, and in the light that God sees me, for God KNOWS. Of course, to be sane, I must consider all attacks and challenges to see what if any truth they might contain. I am only on a spiritual path. I am not an example of arriving at some mythical all-knowing place. I realize that because God is Infinite, I, as a finite person, can never know all. I can never be God. What I can do is look at the highest and best that I know to be my goal, and see how I'm doing living it. Perhaps, if I live this well, I will be able to move a few more steps along the path, see a bit more, learn to live a bit more spiritually attuned, and continue along the path.

I offer forgiveness to those who do not understand. I offer compassion for those who arrogantly believe they know all. I offer prayer for all.

My beloved Father, this day once again I come to You. Help me to hear, listen and act in accordance with Your Will. Give me guidance and courage and vision to live more closely as Christ lived. Lead me another step along the path, closer to You, closer to being who You created me to be. I give thanks to remember You hear me always. Your will be done. Amen

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Patterns and Themes in Life

I've not written for awhile. Life has been busy happening around me. I think I'm past the deepest pain of recent traumas and ready to move on, still with a twinge of pain in my heart though.

It seems to me that there are patterns or themes in a person's life that are possibly meant to strengthen the soul for its life's work. These themes have some commonality for all humans, but also are individualized for the person.

As I reflect particularly on some of my patterns/themes, I see that many of them have done their work. That is, they no longer seem to come up as themes to be dealt with. I've learned their lessons or have moved beyond them, or something. But there is one that keeps coming back and back and back ad nauseum.

For example, I once felt inadequate, unworthy and less than others. At some point that fell away, maybe it was resolved. Nowadays I think and feel that I am no better and no worse than the average person. I am unique and one of a kind because God made us each in a certain way, but the way and who of me is just me. It is not about comparison or competition.

The stickler of a theme I would cluster around the word "betrayal." It has stalked me from my earliest memories and remains yet today. There is the caution within that reserves a bit of me, for I do not know who or when will bring the betrayal. It has been a constant, with only slight moments of respite between events. Suddenly a person turns with vehemence and great energy and hatred and focuses on me. Of course, it was often members of my childhood family, who also continued their work until their passing. But there were almost strangers too. There was the man we didn't buy a car from, who became so hatefully obsessed with me, threatening me and other family members that we finally had to get a permanent federal restraining order put on him. It was a very strange time.

The details of the myriad of such events are not important enough to enumerate. However, it is the pattern that interests me. I have always looked for patterns in life, mine and also in the lives of those I've counseled over the years. So, this pattern is in my life. It must have a purpose for my soul's development, for I believe that Paul was right that "all things work together for good for those that are called..." I definitely have been called, loud and clear.
So what could possibly be the purpose of this lesson/theme? I don't know the full answer this day. Part is that God is the only reliable one in life. I am thinking also about the scripture that says something like, "man looks on the outer but God looks at the heart." God is looking at my real motives, my inner responses, my willingness to stay true to what I am called to be, and knows when I am not true. My allegiance has to be to God, no matter what or who is in my life.
But, I wonder why it still hurts so much when someone turns on me. I am still not able to rise above the emotional and physical pain I feel in such times. Should I not be getting stronger and more immune to the slings and arrows of others?

God, what do I need to learn, do, be in order to complete this lesson and become free of it? Please show me the way You would have me walk in these times, and in all times. I wish to be the person You envision that I could be. I listen Lord. Guide me.