Skip to main content

He Is Not Passive

I haven't really found my spiritual home in New Haven yet.  There hasn't been a church or a group that meets me on my home turf and provides the sort of spiritual comfort I've known well before.  I have ample excellent influences that are stretching and growing my knowledge of and ways of believing in God, but there's something a little cold about that when the other part is missing.  I live alone, and I've just started to have my first few moments of loneliness in my apartment.  Especially when I wake up from a nap and I know nobody ever knew I was sleeping, or that I was now awake.  

I am asking a lot of questions about the things I've learned in my religious education - both the conclusions I've drawn by myself, the thoughts I've developed with friends, the ideas I accepted at Pepperdine, and the maxims I've learned in church.  This is where it's important to distinguish questioning from doubting.  I am not doubting - I am not trying to choose between belief and unbelief, but rather to look at the facts and see what needs to grow or shrink or be replaced by better belief.  

But it takes a toll, I will say.  I spend a massive amount of time reading the Bible, but it's all my Old Testament reading for class.  When I'm done with it, I never have the stamina to flip into the Pauline letters for a little spiritual food.  There is much to get out of the Hebrew Scriptures, but I really miss Jesus. It is beginning to hurt.  

Tonight I said a long prayer of the sort I haven't said in a long time.  It opened a flood of tears that combined the fear of everything I'm facing this week academically, the relational challenges of feeling a little lonely, and the slow decline of my former spiritual devotions until they've almost been extinguished. My iPod soon shuffled onto a song that draws its lyrics from Romans 8: 35, 37- 39:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing will separate me from the love of Christ. I immediately realized that he is not a passive figure in my experience here. He isn't sitting still and silent, waiting to see if I remember to turn to him when I am sad, or think to praise him when his goodness becomes apparent. He isn't a desperate and anxious figure longing for my attention. He is actively seeking me. He is on my heels, he is two steps in front of me. He arranges my safety, my thought life, my friends, my conversations, my classes, my readings, my questions, my tears. He poses my hands in the attitudes that render praise to himself and plead prayers at his feet.

Psalm 27:5 says, "In the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock." He isn't waiting in his tabernacle to see if I find him there. He's bringing me there of his own might, for it is his desire that I be safe with him there. He seeks after me. He pursues my love by giving me his own. It may be that I am passive sometimes, but never he. Sometimes we call him the "Prime Mover" in my Aquinas class. He "moves" with a kind of motion that sets the planets moving.  It is in him that we move and think and have our being.  Exodus 14:14 reminds me, simply, "You have only to keep still."

Amen.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Cocktail Party

I had drinks with a friend after a long seminar tonight, and for the first time in a while, I didn't stagger to my car exhausted and then sit in traffic for 90 minutes (that's right, it takes me 90 minutes to go 11 miles #LosAngeles) and then collapse for an hour and then go back to work for another 3 hours before crawling into bed (I am taking too many classes this quarter).  Instead, I had two glasses of wine and a little dinner, and I got to talk to a great person who is willing to share a lot of knowledge with me as well as some genuine pleasantness.  It reminded me of the olden days when my social life and my academic life were centered around the same place and task, and it lightened the load quite a bit.

That moment of levity at the end of the day.  Ah.  We need it.  No reading.  No striving.  No obligations.  The wine or cocktail is key.  You're always pausing when you have a drink.  You're being a little bad.  You're working against your evening productiv…

I Don't Know

I've noticed a phenomenon in many areas of my verbal life wherein the phrase "I don't know" opens, closes, or rests in the middle of a phrase.  The more I listen for it, the more I am struck by its ubiquity, yet these phrases have nothing to do with the parameters of the speaker's knowledge.

In a seminar:  "I don't know, but I think he's saying..."

Among friends discussing the news: "Um, I don't know, but I feel like this could have been avoided..."

Two girls shopping:  "Is this cute?  Right?  I don't know."

Some guys on a walk: "I mean, I don't know, but was that the best choice..."

High school students in class: "I don't know, but don't you kind of feel like..."

Are we really so tentative?  Is our own knowledge so slippery that we cannot be certain of our opinions?  Do we doubt our own knowledge, we who may spend about 15-20 years of our lives in full-time, formal education or many ho…

Life Craft

Finals weeks are misery for me.  Sometimes I catch a wave of inspiration and weep into my keyboard, but those moments are rare.  I am not having one yet this time around.  I took too many classes this quarter and thus couldn't start my papers until it was too late to wait around for Muses.  And when I say I took too many classes that is not a request for applause at my ambition.  It was a mistake.  A mistake that reflects how desperate I am to be finished with my coursework so I can move on to Dante and do some real thinking that is not geared toward a 3AM slapdash 25 page paper.  And hopefully then this program will become enjoyable for me and not a daily reminder of the huge mistake I made deciding to go here.

As I have been trying to piece together a Boccaccio paper over the past three days, I've spent way more time on the internet than I normally do.  Especially Vogue, a publication I used to read regularly and haven't honestly read in several years.  I watched a bunch…