My Spiritual Eyes are Stinging

From listening to a QIdeas talk with Eugene Peterson on the Sabbath.

I must stop trying to be God.  

Which means also stop trying to prove myself.  Stop with the interminable, frantic burden of finding my place in the world.  Yes, there is a dignity to work – any kind of work—even house work.  But when we inflate our worth by acting like what we do is everything  — it’s something, then we put ourselves above God.

When our “moral sweat” brings our sense of value, it blinds us to God at work and our spiritual eyes are left stinging.

“We want to be like God.” said Eugene Peterson.

Sabbath living is … to show up.  Then, shut up.

Knowing  that God is doing something, we are to live in response it.  Otherwise, it’s only an oppressive ritual.  Religious devotion deprived of meaning.  Eugene Peterson even asserts that programs sometimes can keep us from finding community in churches.

I’ve reflected for a long time on what it means to be Christian community to one another.  Unabashedly knowing that I’ve lived most of my life feeling as if there’s a giant, lonely even gaping hole inside me that I cannot seem to fill up.  Family didn’t do it.  Work didn’t do it.  Creating doesn’t do it.  Motherhood didn’t do it.  Being married didn’t do it.  Drinking really didn’t do it.  Being a part of things doesn’t do it.  Serving doesn’t do it.  There will never be enough friends — the right sort of friends.  Work.  Hobbies.

Nothing fills it that gaping, God sized hole.

Shutting up and showing up is how God fills that gaping hole inside us.  It is the most repeated commandment in the Bible.  And ironically Jesus was accused, of all the radical things he did which were many, of not keeping Sabbath well.

“God is working when we are sleeping.” said Eugene Peterson. “We live in a toxic culture that doesn’t understand the need for Sabbath – our world is full of compulsively and insecurity.”

Rarely do we sit, play, see, breathe  in slowly, and just be. 

Creating active space for nothing,

knowing that when you pray you are not accomplishing.

Learning an awareness that God is doing something and you don’t have a clue what it is—

it is a constant surrendering.

I keep being struck reading the Torah (the first five books of the OT) by when Moses and Aaron are confronted by the failings of the people of Israel – the abject poverty of soul, their errors, constant rebellion and the sinful nature of the people, they fall face down.  Moses and Aaron, that is — over and over again.  (I wonder how many times it is repeated?)

They fell, face down.

How do we fall face down—letting go—surrendering ourselves?  Literally.  Figuratively.  Moses and Aaron did it over and over again.

I’m starting to think,  just possibly,  that I’m meant to live with that hole in my heart.  Perhaps even, I am supposed to acknowledge it and

let God do the filling up.

Just maybe, he made me that way for a reason, so that I would never okay without him— never totally content — never fully joyful— never imagine that I’m in control—living always humbled by my need for the Holy encounters with him.

It’s living in constant surrender.  Face down, a kairos surrender to the Holy One.

“Take my tired body, my confused mind, and my restless soul into your arms, and give me rest, simple quiet rest.” — Henri Nouwen


Lent: My Agenda or God’s?

I am looking to Lent as a way to make space. In our cluttered congested lives we have no space for God. Then we act almost indignant that he won’t speak (I’m talking to myself here.)  So often I have an agenda with God and even in the practicing of Lent.  I can’t hear what he wants to say.

What if Lent was a way of creating more space for God?  While knowing he is preparing us for his death and for his resurrection.

Instead of being ruled by social media.  I could read all the day long the blogs and whatnot of people I like and respect.  But what if I could make space for God?

Because at the end of the day, if I don’t make space for the Holy One, I will be empty. Bereft.  Spiritually limp and disbelieving. I will not have done the simple profound work of inquiring of God what he wants to say. Can it be that simple?  That so often I don’t pray.  I don’t ask.  I stay too busy.

And it feels then, like he’s silent.

But I have a feeling it is simply that I was too distracted to be still enough to listen.  To recognize him.

So the giving up of things is good if we allow the Holy One to fill our spaces of fear, regret, pain, selfishness, anger, pride, shame.  He wants to take them.  He is leading us, to the cross.

There is no room for his Voice. The way I create space is likely giving things up.

Stop looking to others to fill me, inspire me, motivate me.

I want to hear from my maker, so I should let go of all the other voices. If I can bravely crack open that space in my day.

Let the things of this world fall away so the soul can fall in love with God. God only comes to fill the empty places and kenosis is necessary – to empty the soul to know the filling of God.”   ––  Ann Voskamp

It isn’t really anything I do, or don’t do, that matters.  Not really.

It’s making space for the Holy One.   Waiting for his filling up.  Asking for his agenda with me.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”  — Ephesians 2:8,9