Spirituality

An Odd God

No one around me seems confused by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. But I am. I can’t put my finger on it, but there is this big SOMETHING that bothers me about it; or at least about the way we Christians interpret it. I’ve always attended traditional protestant churches. Every year we try to get in touch with the enormity of the sacrifice and subsequent miracle. Every year, we fail to feel the appropriate impact. I could segway into a post about desensitization here, but while that might be relevant, it isn’t what I’m getting at. Maybe the reason we can’t fully appreciate the death and resurrection is because we can’t fully understand it.

I really think that God is downright odd! I mean, he’s known our hearts from the very beginning, knew we would not choose him, knew we would require intervention and salvation. And yet, it had to be thousands of years after the fall, had to be complicated and involve things like prophesy and bloodlines… it seems so strange.

And in terms of sacrifice, well, God didn’t walk away empty-handed. I frequently hear people say that Jesus did what he did for our sakes. I think that is true, but not the whole story. Is God’s joy not affected by the joy of his creation? As a parent, I feel joy when my child feels joy and pain when she feels pain. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, but it does have an element of selfishness. I want to make her happy, in part because it makes me happy. I don’t want her to suffer, in part because I feel that, too. Is our idea of selflessness skewed? Maybe the focus should be on doing the will of God and focusing on the needs of others because that is the only way our own joy can be fully realized. And that is showing true gratitude to God. If he feels joy when I do, then I should do what I can to be genuinely happy. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is a commandment that is interesting in this context. We always emphasize the neighbor, but how many of us can say we love and value ourselves in a pure and right way?

I can’t tell you exactly why I believe (although I’m working on that) in the literal death and resurrection of Jesus, but I do. I believe that miracle is the reason humanity can have hope. I know people have tried to explain it metaphorically, but that really makes no sense to me at all. I used to think I had a brain that could handle abstract concepts, but lately they elude me. 🙂

So, I do think it’s possible our Lenten and Easter traditions miss the mark a bit. I also think that perhaps there is a big picture element here we can’t see; but I am still full of gratitude and awe. And the mystery only deepens my ever-present desire to know and understand my creator.

 

 

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Spirituality

Everywhichway

It has been quite a while since I last posted to the blog… too long. I know because my brain is swimming in idea snippets. I’ve been having some trouble deciding which one deserves my focus today, and confession: I still don’t know. I’m hoping that it will just magically come together. 🙂

Looking for a job has got me a little distracted and little stressed. It isn’t so much the thought of returning to work that bothers me, but the idea of leaving my daughter in daycare. It seems terribly unfair to me that my child should spend the vast majority of her waking hours with people other than her family. I know that lots of people can relate!

I’ve prayed for guidance, but not perhaps in the right way. I want God to reveal a clear path, neon arrows flashing. But I haven’t really been watching and listening for him.

Between illness and trying to corral my little girl during the service, this morning’s sermon was the first one I’ve heard in a while.  One of the members of our congregation delivered the message. He talked a little bit about his personal struggle to make God the focus of his life and ministry. It was very easy to relate. In my recent parenting and financial endeavors, my focus has been on the distractions at hand. I throw some prayers in there, but I’ve just realized that I’ve been praying with a closed mind. There are certain directions I don’t think I want to go, so even though those possibilities are on the edge of my consciousness, I’ve been refusing to really examine them. So… how to fix this?

I struggle a lot with the practical application of the adage “just give it to God.” It sounds really nice, but honestly, it never seems doable. The whole idea speaks to a certain undercurrent in Christianity; this notion that Jesus’ death somehow made things easier and absolved us of our responsibility. All you have to do is believe in Jesus. But what does that entail? Grace and forgiveness are very real, but Jesus asks a lot from us. Continual commitment of body, mind and soul is… well… the hardest thing ever.

So giving this decision up, saying that I’m willing to do whatever God asks of me, is NOT easy. The fact is, I still have to listen, decide and move in a certain direction. It isn’t like giving the decision about what we’re going to eat tonight to my husband, so that I can kick back and take a nap. No, giving something to God isn’t about making life easier, necessarily; it’s about a willingness to go where you’re led, and remain steadfast, working to accomplish what you think God wants from you because you know it’s the right thing.

Wish me luck.. and maybe throw in a prayer! 🙂 Happy Sunday!

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”