Tag Archives: conversation

Churched Christianity

24 Mar

This happened several days ago. She told me I was getting old. For certain things in life… Most of my friends in the workplace and at university were/are older than I. I am older than her by a year. Everyone in the course last year that I want to join next year was four years older than I, at least. I say these things not to defend myself. My first reaction – like yours – was to wince and nod. It was to accept the constraints. I do think I am getting old. And I know with another part of me that that is untrue. There is a difference between realism and this willingness to believe the least of yourself. But it hurt to hear it because most other people outside of church do not think so. Most of my friends don’t normally share this view either!

But I have a pretty convenient system of half-forgiving things and forgetting about them – I mean things interfere less with your to-do list that way. I don’t know if ‘forgiving’ is the right word or if there is such a thing as half-forgiveness either 😉 I mean, what I did was basically be ungracious in my own mind.

I simply decided to think this friend was perhaps not as mature as I was, had different definitions about culture and society than I did, had different constraints on what it was to be a woman and different ideas about “having life and having it to the full”. ← That’s all. All beautiful things to have, and all rather easy for me to think and not remember this little commandment.

Ah but look at the new NIV’s rendition of this, which sometimes – some very few times in my life – does make sense.

I think it does especially for people who are used to considering themselves below everyone else, less than average, less than ideal, not anyone’s idea of beautiful… So many women I know do this. I know some men do too, but I don’t know enough who will tell me to say ‘so many men’ 😉 We forget how much God has planned for us and we cut ourselves short. We imagine we’re incomplete without that house or that car or that husband.

We accept the constraints that people give us.

What is horrible about all this is that nowhere does it grow as much as it does in the church. We live in accordance with the church, not God.

We worry about how ‘churched’ we look and are. Our witness fails to be about God’s calling on our lives.

NO – I was not equating a husband, a car and a house but I am trying to point out that we do equate them. To often. As if everything in life is about planned acquisition, the next step, moving on, the natural stages.

Who gave us natural stages? Not God. Not really. Isaac was born well beyond natural, people laughed at Noah’s idea of building a home, Eli’s sons didn’t pick up on the whole dynastic paradigm of churches today… they went pretty wrong and God saw it, unlike our churches… Jonathan would rather have put his life in danger, let God’s purposes be fulfilled than be his father’s son. David chose to follow God out of the expected life of Jesse’s son, out of his sheep and his music, to building up a nation that needed it.

In my generally three-cornered conversations, this was one of the times I managed to stop and listen to God and to be honest with my friend. To be more gracious. Oh – that does not come naturally for yours truly as it does for her friends 🙂 ! Sigh. I told her we were only too old/frumpy/inadequate/whatever other excuse for some ‘Christians’ – it was the saddest thing I had to say. She agreed. Because, of course, it’s not ‘good’ to want more, it’s not ‘good’ to want to change the world, it’s not ‘good’ to be loud about poverty and homelessness and illiteracy and oppression, and it’s not ‘good’ to be discontent with wrong and injustice… Oh, discontent is sin… of course.

Think again. Pray. Again.

These ideas we have about a person’s possibility in the world – they come from a limited idea of what God can do.

You know that willingness to believe the least of yourself? It sounds to God like you’re believing the least of Him. And He’s fighting for you because he thinks

you

are

wonderful.

Stat.

Advertisements

Obedience

26 Feb

I found some kindred-spirit poetry today. This little treasure:  http://lucishaw.com/poetry_obedience.html. It is always such a delight to find soul that one can befriend in writing. I have had moments like Luci Shaw’s in that poem.

I have been thinking a lot about focusing on God, leaving behind distractions, seeking to hear His voice. It sometimes seems easier to come by on the mountaintops, than at your office desks or family homes.

In hearing God, we are free. We are liberated. Because it isn’t us any more. It is him. In my interactions, in my relationships, with the people I love, in the goals I pursue, into the sticky idea of being that has come about by my clumsiness, dark as treacle but bitter. He speaks. He speaks, and I cautiously expel a long-held breath because the weight of my inadequate words isn’t holding me up any more.

No, his words are, instead.

And I am free.

To me, where I am at now – words form the substance of this morass of all my to-do lists, and of course, my conversations. Conversation is central to living, I think. And the most beautiful conversations are those with this God we serve, however they happen.

Recently, I’ve also been having several conversations about what I believe and why. A part of me is very glad about this. Yes, it hurts when you find you must explain yourself so fundamentally to a friend who must know you well… and yet, for that same reason, I am reminded of the beauty of God’s own word. And hold fast to the hope he brings through it into our hearts! And I am glad to have this friend close enough to talk about it 🙂

It also reminds me that God never tires of our words and our tears. He is infinite enough even for the introvert in me. And the joy of finding his understanding is my special token of peace. That is why I am glad about obedience. I think that is Luci Shaw’s reason too. Among others.

My to-do lists are filled with applications. I am gladder still about obedience and I pray I remember that!

And I am so blessed that he has promised this.

Book Talk

13 Feb

I found this interesting article http://harvardmagazine.com/breaking-news/orhan-pamuk-norton-lectures-report

The writer concludes by saying a book can become a part of one’s soul. I agree.

But I have another proposition. Academics, like me on Sundays 😉 , are taught to read and re-read, to write and revise – and revise and revise and revise. To deconstruct, to compare, to contrast, to parallel, to liken. Still, I think – yes, even with the sentimentalisch side of me – that it is possible to ‘recognise’ a book. That even before a book becomes a part of one’s soul, one recognises a part of one’s soul in the book.

The first time I read an excellent work, it is to me just as if I gained a new friend; and when I read over a book I have perused before, it resembles the meeting of an old one…

That’s Oliver Goldsmith on books. When I was in school, I decided to write about reading as my favourite thing to do, for a composition. I remember writing then of what I still enjoy experiencing now in my reading rambles, of the joy in

… recognising the germ of your idea, having taken root and grown in someone else’s mind.

And there is that almost kinesthetic subsumption of the reading material. Like you have done that before, and you know the perceptions, the senses, the feelings that correspond to that thing you encounter in the book. More present than déjà vu.

Most often, for me, this is an idea, a worldview, a framework of analysis of a certain action, emotion, interaction – and I instinctively recognise where the author is coming from. I am tempted to say it is a comfortable feeling – but it isn’t, always. Sometimes it is distinctly uncomfortable. C.S. Lewis, for instance, can have that effect on me. An old, familiar ideal that I have forgotten to uphold. Or a new, yet-strangely-familiar ideal that I wonder why I have not thus far espoused. So I cannot relinquish this feeling to familiarity merely.

Bible study, Bible, the word of God, soul-searching, conversation, friendship, books, literary criticism, book, books, reading, read, favourite books, favorite books, God, Bible reading,

But in fact, C.S. Lewis acknowledged this hankering in us for books ‘on our side’. This kindred spirit process in our reading choice. He wrote that

We read to know we are not alone.

For in this ‘inside’ interaction that some books manage to have with you, there is that essence of true conversation. It is almost hard to pretend that the book with which you are having the conversation in your head is not present in the room. Some novels do this to me. I found this fantastic – and telling – quote that Anne Frank scribbled, in her diary:

If I read a book that impresses me, I have to take myself firmly in hand before I mix with other people; otherwise they would think my mind rather queer.

It makes me laugh :D. It is so true… But then again, there are some books you do not want to ‘take yourself in hand’ about. You know the product of your conversation is not only a better you, but a more real you… a you that is more yourself, than any other. In that light, as books go, the Bible is my biggest source of ‘conversation’. I want it to be, and I wouldn’t change that. That is the best conversation I’ve had and it isn’t over yet. But hey, I think that book was designed to be.

Bible, quiet time, Bible reading, Bible study, conversation with God, conversation, God, hearing, faith, the word of God, the Word, Rhema, logos, Word, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, Spirit, listening to God, taking time off,

I love this moment

Now – before you begin to think my mind is rather queer 😀 – go ahead! Go have some fantastic ‘conversations’ yourself 😉 – and I would be honoured if, some day, you tell me about them.

%d bloggers like this: