Friday, June 03, 2005

The size of the task...

Then David continued, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the LORD is finished correctly. (1 Chronicles 28:20, NLT)
This quote was the "theme" of the 2003 "junior" class at LSTC as I came to Chicago two years ago. In fact, all my preparations to leave Kansas for Chicago "Do not be afraid or discouraged...for the Lord God is with you" woven through them.

In retrospect, I have to admit that over the last year and a half (since the first shock-wave hit about my ineligibility for ordination) that I stopped listening to that phrase. As I've mentioned here (a time or two) one recurring idea that I keep struggling with is that God has not failed me - nor really forsaken me - but it does feel like S/He's off tending to other folks. As an AA wife of an Alanon husband once said, "He learned detachment and release - but it sure felt like amputation and disinterest to me."

But now that I know I have to find new employment and a new place to live in the next 60 days, I'm trying to bring this particular piece of scripture back home again. "Be strong and do the work" and "do not be discouraged" both sound like impossibilities to me, at times. An evening of Stargate SG-1 sounds much more entertaining than boxing up books or washing, sorting and packing away clothes. Most of the time, to be honest, a sci-fi video even sounds better than blogging - because at times it just seems like too much effort to be even fractionally open, honest, or vulnerable. I'd much rather pull the covers over my head, go to bed, and stay there - for, oh, a year or so.

The only problem is, it's just a slower form of self-destruction. The one lesson I learned from my friend Skip's suicide is that it solved nothing for him - it didn't fix any of his problems. It only took him out of the solution to those problems. In the same way, turning on The Bourne Identity would be just a more-exciting version of saying "La-la-la-I-can't-hear-you" - it solves nothing. It just burns up the hours I could spend getting closer to solutions.

Honestly, I'd rather have a gasoline enema than move. I hate the prospect that much.

But the uncomfortable fact is that I will either move or be moved. The remaining question is, "How much of a part do I want to play in the decisions?"

Fourteen years ago, a man said to me, "Why don't you choose your own conception of God? Perpahs you could come up with a conception of God that is big enough to help you in your problems, and loving, caring, accepting, and forgiving enough to take you exactly where and how you are, right now." I think that's still good advice.

So I'm going to try to reconnect with a God that will "will not fail me or forsake me," a God that is bigger than the size of the task before me, and a God who will take the broken pillar of my self-image and self-worth and pour the Holy Spirit around me and through me. I'm going to try to trust that the God of my misunderstanding is bigger than I can imagine, and more loving and accepting than any image I can come up with. I'm trusting that this will be a God that will be more than equal to "the size of the task."

Reveal yourself to me, mighty God. I need you now, more than ever. Amen.

8 comments:

Michael said...

I know you know this passage, but I thought of it when I read your post today. Permit me to adjust it slightly. After all, it is God's word to you today:
Isaiah 43
But now, this is what the LORD says— who created you, O Steve,
who formed you, O Blooming One:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name into my presence; you are mine and I am everywhere -- Kansas, Toledo, Hyde Park and beyond.
When you pass through tearful waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the fearfilled rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire of uncertainty, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze, for my Spirit will burn in your heart as my gift.
What is still mystery to you is in my hands as a gift to be revealed.
For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give the eternal Son for your ransom,
my Incarnate Word in your stead.
What good, then, could I withhold?
You, Steve, as you are, are precious and honored in my sight,
because I love you.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
You are called by my name, Child of my Grace,you whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."

At least, that is what I hear God saying to you. I suspect God says it better...

Tom Scharbach said...

Fourteen years ago, a man said to me, "Why don't you choose your own conception of God? Perpahs you could come up with a conception of God that is big enough to help you in your problems, and loving, caring, accepting, and forgiving enough to take you exactly where and how you are, right now." I think that's still good advice.

So I'm going to try to reconnect with a God that will "will not fail me or forsake me," a God that is bigger than the size of the task before me, and a God who will take the broken pillar of my self-image and self-worth and pour the Holy Spirit around me and through me. I'm going to try to trust that the God of my misunderstanding is bigger than I can imagine, and more loving and accepting than any image I can come up with. I'm trusting that this will be a God that will be more than equal to "the size of the task."

Reveal yourself to me, mighty God. I need you now, more than ever. Amen.

Steve, as I read this and the post immediately before it, I am called to a passage from my youth:

[11] The Lord said, "Come out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. [12] After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. [13] When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

I wonder if you have not already seen the Lord revealing himself in the soft murmuring you brought home from your conversation with Damien. I wonder, too, if for you, as seems to be the case with so many Christians I know, the incarnation as much a trap as a gift, because the incarnation may be misleading you that you need to understand God, and specifically understand God to be bigger than your problems before you can deal with them. I wonder, in short, if your sense that you need to understand of God -- or what God might or might not be up to in your life right now -- is a roadblock in doing what you need to be doing right now, trudging along, one next right step after the other, into your future.

As a mutual friend of ours asks on Saturday nights, "Did you drink or drug today? If not, then what is your problem?" God has kept you sober for many years and is keeping you sober today. If God can do that, then he is equal to the challenges you are tossing at him now. Why not do what you can do and are called to do, and let God worry about what "I am the I am"?

Atticus said...

Steve - I stumbled onto your blog today and just want you to know that you are not alone in your struggles. You are not alone.

-Jack

Monk-in-Training said...

Hey Steve,

But the uncomfortable fact is that I will either move or be moved. The remaining question is, "How much of a part do I want to play in the decisions?"

I really am connecting with this phrase right now. Thank you for saying it.

[rhymes with kerouac] said...

"I'm going to try to trust that the God of my misunderstanding is bigger than I can imagine, and more loving and accepting than any image I can come up with..."

I've learned that great faith is in fact an incredibly stoopit faith; a faith that defies all logic, rationalization or plain common sense. Great faith dares, wishes, hopes for ridiculous things and yet, there they are, waiting at the bottom of the stairs where you drop your sock on the way to the laundramat.

I wouldn't know you from Adam if I met you on the street but it seems to me like you've been running away for a long time, fleeing headlong through the landscape of your heart, ever running from it, ever still within it.

It's time to pack some boxes. It's time to decide what to take with you and what to leave behind. It's time to move.

Rick said...

Hey brother,

I am praying for you. I got up fom my computer for a minute and it just hit me that God is taking you someplace. This is more God than it is Steve. I imagine it doesn't feel that way, but I get a strong sense that wherever you land is going to be something profoundly good. I know, I am sounding like the Amazing Kreskin, that's not my intention.

Thanks for keeping it real for us. Thanks for being an example of raw, twisted, strong, weak, bold, afraid, happy, and sad faith.

God is holding you.

Poor Mad Peter said...

I go with Rick and the others all the way, here, Steve. I'll throw this in, too, although as Bogey said in Casablanca, it may not make any difference to you now, but someday it will, and for the rest of your life: Sobriety is supposed to be a gift.

I don't have direct experience in all that informs this, but I listen closely to people like yourself who do. This little phrase was told to me by a friend of Bill W's in Subdury, Ontario nearly 20 years ago, as he described another friend who was miserable, unhappy, "trapped", in sobriety.

"I told him, 'Hey man, sobriety's supposed to be a gift. If it isn't, what's wrong?'"

I do not throw this out as possibly another reason to be hard on yourself--you've been very candid about how you give yourself reasons all the time. Rather, i hold it out as a realistic, eminently possible hope. It will not always be like this, Steve. My experience of God tells me this.

As our church's creed has it,

We are not alone.

"We" includes "thee", my man.

TK said...

Steve,

I actually spent a long time trying to write something encouraging and motivational and just deleted it all.

Nothing that can be said will be make sucky circumstances suck any less.

I pray that God meets you in the midst of it and comes through bigger than you ever could have hoped or imagined

TK