I decided to read today. Not just for a bit, or for a break, but to seriously read. It didn’t go quite as I planned, but plans formed at three in the morning are often flexible. I did read, and found myself better for it. I read In the Shadow of the Temple by Oskar Skarsaune, which is a discussion of the Jewish influences on the early church, and thus is also a discussion of 1st century Judaism(s).
I write for a while and forget to swim in the world of which I write, and so lose sight of both purpose and instinct, and thus have less to say and lessening enthusiasm to say it. Of course the same is true for spirituality. I try to live apart from prayer and without immersing myself in Spiritual things I get dry, and my hope withers.
Immersing oneself means reading the right books, Bible and otherwise. It also means leaping out in other ways, finding wisdom to curious problems, confronting one’s own foibles, saying things or doing things which may seem quite silly if in fact the Spirit is not leading, trusting all the while that there is a purpose, a purpose which may or may not be the one assumed, but will certainly lead to greater light and maturity.
For that is Christ. That is the baptism of Christ, to take us from these little lumps in need of forgiveness and transform our entire being towards something wonderful, something wonderful interacting with other wonderful beings in an intricate dance which marvels the world. The baptism of Christ and the Spirit is not simply putting a band aid on past wounds or making sure we are adequate once more. It is a restoration to be that which is possible, and so it is extraordinary.
Guilt and repentance are the beginning, a beginning beyond which the Church has little to say nowadays. But there is more, there is always more, it is deeper and richer and fuller and brighter continually. But the journey is made of the continual steps to embrace all of this and to leap out and face possible disaster or simply disappointment.
A friend wrote something in response to my own leaping out of faith which is wise and appreciated, so I repeat it here:
You know? After all, we are only pilgrims on this Earth. It’s all temporary. I wish I was
in some peaceful place right now, relaxed and not worried about a thing. But I am
where I am supposed to be. Sometimes life is a hard labor, but I think when we take
the risk to pursue our gifts, even (or especially) in spite of our fears, insecurities, and
doubts, and when we truly surrender to God’s will, remembering that our awards
are eternal and these lives are not so all our desires will be met and satisfied, then
God can truly shine through us. He takes ordinary people, gives them supernatural
hope/faith that’s way beyond them, call them to do extravagant things and people
can see His glory.
Whether in difficult circumstances or in the absence of any perceivable circumstance God asks us to stay where we are supposed to be. To have faith in too much or too little is obedience, and that is our calling. For in being there we hear God, and he works as he will in the way he will to do those extraordinary things.
Then one day we will turn around and realize extraordinary things have happened around us and without any pride we will offer thanks that we too were able to run the race well. That is the hope and the glory.
It’s that being where we are supposed to be that is sometimes tricky, because often it is not necessarily where we want to be. Because she’s right, the ultimate place we want to be is in heaven.
Keeping this in mind is both the secret and the trick to it all. It is a struggle, a daily struggle. There is no doubt about that. Because we trust what we see not what we don’t see. So there is only to press on, to leap out, to take risks and let loose our life.
I try to do all of this so that ot the end of the day I can say I showed faith even when everything was dark, and in doing so touch lives beyond my natural reach, and please the God who loves me.