Thursday, May 18, 2006

Practice Two

Practice Two: "Coming to believe that Jesus is God's appointed Way for healing the entire universe."

First, the theory: Depending on how you look at it, this version is significantly different from the original. First off, since I'm doing this for the express purpose of fully entering what God is doing in the world through Jesus, acknowledging him by name seemed appropriate. Further, coming to a conclusion that God is doing something very, very big uniquely through Jesus seems necessary to becoming his disciple (as opposed to someone else's).

Another change was "healing" rather than "sanity." I dig the 'sanity/insanity' language, but I thought 'healing' deals with insanity, as well as all kinds of other things, things that Jesus and his followers have been involved in 'healing' for some time. I want to embrace the full spectrum of God's healing work. This is linked to the final change: instead of talking about God restoring just "us", I expanded it to "the entire universe." I guess my biggest reason for this is that it's true. God is literally healing/recreating the entire universe ("heaven and earth", in biblical language) through Jesus! What began with the resurrection is spreading like a healing virus. And it's not just for humans (though we are the pinnacle of God's creation), even the trees can't wait for God to complete what he began (it's in the Book, really). I'd be happy to go into this further, but there are several very large books already written--email me if you want some elaboration from various informed sources. Additionally, I think it is helpful for me to remember that God is not just healing me. I am very glad that I am part of that universe that he is healing, but he is, in fact, at work in the whole thing. God said of Jesus in the prophets, "Saving Israel is too small a thing for you; you will be a light to the nations." Indeed.

So, anyway, that's the theory. The practice, so far, has been me thinking about God, specifically Jesus, being in control of all kinds of things that I'm not, having power to do things that I can't. It's actually pretty exciting. Admitting my powerlessness has given way to recognizing the extent of his power. I'll report more on this later. So far, so good.

PRACTICE One, cont'd.

A few quick things to report with practice one. That's actually the first thing to report. Part of the goal of doing these things at all is to give some staying power to what God is doing in my life. The stuff I wrote below about not being God (or his boss) isn't something I want to leave my consciousness. I want to have it with me at all times, bearing fruit in its season; but, I find that it is no sooner in my soul than I can feel it being assaulted by birds of the air, and crowded out by other concerns of life. My spirit replies, "No!! It's mine!! God gave it to me!!! I need this revelation to become like Jesus and really live!!!"

I am now more convinced than ever that I should get in the habit of calling them 'practices' instead of 'steps.' A step, in my mind, is something I approach, stand on for a second, and move beyond. That's not what I'm doing here; nor is it what I think God wants. (Incidentally, it's not how AA uses the 'steps' either.) I want my life to contain each of these practices ongoingly, to be shaped by them. And I actually need practice admitting my God-given limitations--I can do it now sporadically, not routinely.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Doing Step One

Alright. I've been 'working' step one of my revised steps. As I go through these, I want to share a little of what was behind the changes, if any, that were made to the AA version, as well as how working the step played out for me in practice. Since this is the first post, I'll also deal with the preamble a little: "In order to give ourselves fully to God's dream for us and others, we adopt the following practices:" Essentially, to me, this is about entering what Jesus called "the kingdom of God" which I take as operating here and now, and will never end. Jesus once chastised the Jewish leaders, saying "You have the keys of the kingdom, but you don't go in yourselves, and you prevent others from entering as well." I want my life to be about doing the opposite--entering the reign of God myself, and helping others do the same, to the extent possible. That's what the steps are about to me in a nutshell. See also, Philippians chapter 3. I want to lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of me. Now to step one:

Step One: "Admitting that something is wrong—in us and/or in the world at large, and that we are powerless to fix it." Since I'm not addicted to alcohol (I never acquired the taste), I obviously needed to drop that reference in the original version. Rather than mention the things I am addicted to, which would take a while, I opted to be generic at step one. The inventory is coming, anyway. Also, coming to God isn't just about our own issues. There is hurt and evil around us, outside of us that can also send us looking for someone more powerful than ourselves. I felt that admitting that something is wrong in the world is also a valid starting place in our lives toward Christ. Finally, admitting that our own resources were insufficient to the task at hand seemed like a key component in the original step and in our search for God, generally speaking. So that was the theory; now for the practice:

This one surprised me. Honestly, I expected to admit where I was personally off, where the 'world' was wrong as I knew it, and then move on to step two in pretty short order. It kind of started off that way, which was good in and of itself. I recalled a 'big' time with God in which I really got a good look at what God expected from me in terms of doing right by Kim, my wife, and in all the other areas of my life--and I was fully aware of my inability to do it. At the same time, I felt God agreeing with me (maybe I was agreeing with him), and offering to do it through me, if I would let him, which was scary all by itself. It was a great thing to remember and re-experience. Those thoughts have been ruminating now for a while with good fruit.

Then, a few days ago, while a few friends and I were praying for a friend of ours who deals with seizures, I was hit with: "I am powerless over God." I know, no duh. But it's not 'no duh' for me. I can't explain to you the peace that just flooded me when that thought filled my mind. I think I carry some pretty heavy crap. I think that I've been feeling bad/guilty for not being able to get God to do stuff that I or others think he should do. You may laugh--I did (not during the prayer). It literally tickled me that the truth "I can't control God" was somehow news to my soul, and extremely relieving and joyous news at that. I haven't felt something that strong as a result of a truth in a long time. It was nice. Really nice. And it was obviously correct, which was also nice.

Humility, it is said, is the proper estimate of one's self. I don't think that I've achieved the 'proper estimate' yet, but I think coming to grips with the fact that I can't control God is a step in the right direction. Sorry if you wanted something deep. What can I say; I'm not God. Apparently, I'm not his boss either.