Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I do a lot more thinking about God and my relationship with God than I do actually living in God. Van Morrison's song (which I've written about before):

When will I ever learn,
To live in God.
When will I ever learn?
God gives me everything I need, and more.
When will I ever learn?

speaks to my condition but I phrase the question more as "how will I ever learn to live in God" than "when".

I've written about how I understand sin to be anything that I allow to come between me and God. Over the last few days what I have come to see that I am my biggest obstacle to Truth. No, duh. But what I mean is that I'm totally in love with myself, with my uniqueness and individuality. I'm so quirky and funny and curious and interesting. I plan things, learn, organize; I lead people. I'm so wonderful. Yeah, God made me, and thanks, God, but now, watch me go! I worship at the alter of my own self.

I am so enthralled with me that I have been unable and, if I am honest, unwilling to let go of myself to let God be the true center of my life; my center and my purpose. I am so clearly, so well defined. Each facet of my me-ness has been nurtured and tended to with much affection.

God is real to be but also a vaguely defined concept. I mean, I have felt God in me. I feel God in me, moving in my life. God is an energy, a power; peace. God moves through me. But what is God?

I'm not asking this rhetorically. How can I learn to place God in front of me in my life when I don't know or understand? How can I let Spirit "break" me open when I'm so busy with my good intentions?

I wrote this on Susanne Kromberg's blog, yesterday. I don't even know if I spoke to what she was asking but this is what came out:
"Early Quakerism (Religious Society of Friends of Truth) was more socially diverse and was full of miracles. From what I've read and learned, it seems to me that early Friends experienced an immediacy with Spirit, a Divine Fire, that seems to have cooled to a comfortably warm ember for us. We expect miracles, but only modest, quiet ones, not the big, messy, loud kind. They also suffered under tremendous persecution while many of us rest on the laurels of our history, not putting ourselves on any kind of line. There’s not much strong emotion in our Meetings for Worship, no danger. Our Spirit given messages are subtle (sometimes prefaced with, “I heard an article on NPR…”). How can new folks know God is moving among us when our messages are given so politely? A newcomer, one completely unfamiliar with the Quaker practice of waiting, may not be able to overcome their initial discomfort with the strangeness of our method of worship to feel the WORSHIP or the still/movement of Spirit."

Is this what I'm needing? Danger in Meeting? I think, yes, if by danger I mean Spirit shaking me out of my sense of complacency and comfort. I want to open myself to God's will for me. I hide behind my own self; my day-to-day life based on my will and my desires. I want to learn to be trustworthy for God, to be faithful, to mind the Light, to submit. I feel the need to be challenged, either directly by God, or through my spiritual community.

But am I ready to fear God? Am I prepared to deny my own self, to "live in the Cross"? Am I truly prepared to let God live through me, to use me and all my quirks and gifts for God? I want to turn myself over to God but I still don't know how. I mean, I want to, but spend most of my time forgetting. For me, my spiritual awareness seems to be two-steps-forward, one-and-a-half steps back. I say I want for God to change me, to "call" me so I can be baptized in Spirit. I think I do. But am I really ready to give myself over? I have to trust that God will call me when I am ready. My work now is to, perhaps, think less and listen more. I need to climb down off my alter. I need to learn to appreciate my gifts for what they are: Gifts from God, not of my own design, to be used humbly in the service of God. Oh, boy. That's the crux here: humility before God.


Jeanne said...

Thanks for this post. It speaks to my condition today.

I grew up working class and learned well how to obey, how to deny what I wanted and do what I had to do. But the more I've taken on middle and owning class culture, the less easy I am with obeying.

The thing I want to hold on to from my upbringing is not the drudgery, but the exhausted pleasure I feel when I've done a good job, exactly as I've been told to do it.

It's the same pleasure I've felt when I've been obedient to God.


Thanks again for your post. And thanks for not quoting NPR. ;-)


Friendly Mama said...

Would you email me privately at
Mary Linda

Allison said...

Hmm. Danger is my middle name. Haha!