Me: “Yes. What do you think about that?”
Friend: “Read an article and some Christians think it’s a sign of the second coming.”
This was part of a text conversation that I had yesterday with my friend Joy. She is at “home” in our town and at our church while I am “away” this Holy Week.
Me: “Well, I do think that we are in the last days…Whether it is 10 or 100 or 1000 only God knows. There is A LOT left to do here though…I think that is why God is enlightening us who are seeking so graciously and quickly. He wants us to be ready.”
For me “being ready” doesn’t mean hunkering down in a bomb shelter with bottled water and cans of beans. And it doesn’t mean that I am spending all of my time at church or in Bible studies or proselytizing to everyone I meet.
Quiet the opposite is the case. I am not going to hide from the world…nor am I going to pounce on top of anyone. My idea of “being ready” is to be ready for who or what comes my way… and be open to let God do whatever needs doing through me. Do they need practical help…a word of encouragement…a hug? Do I need to take care of some business…or just be open to the moment and the possibility that there is something in it that I need to see or learn or understand.
My text continues:
“I’ve been thinking about a blog post to write about…it’s not my typical. I feel like I have been told to step back…That my vision is too narrow. God is gigantic and abundant and he wants for us to acknowledge that the path to God might be narrow…but like streams that lead to an ocean there might be many
“When I think of the purity and beauty of the spirituality of Native Americans…or others…I can’t but compare what religion is today. What are the True beliefs of others? Ones not perverted…but sincere and heart and soul connected…How is that not somehow more pleasing to God than what the world collective religions are doing now?
“And isn’t it about love anyway? Aren’t we supposed to love like Jesus? And if we don’t know Jesus personally but by some other grace of God know God and love, isn’t that the important thing?
“I am feeling like I need to deconstruct my beliefs and build them back with what God gives me to build with and nothing else.”
That is how I have been feeling for a while now. Months ago I said that I wanted to empty everything out on the floor and then put back into the box only what was actually meaningful…or essential. I don’t want my life or feelings or beliefs to be cluttered with anything that doesn’t genuinely matter.
Why are people so afraid to question and grow?
And since I am a Christian and see through that lens I have to ask: Why do Christians want to keep Jesus forever hanging on the cross? Do we keep him there to remind us of the pain that we caused and the shame we should feel that we are so bad and sinful…and then after we try to fathom how intense it must have been to be innocent and yet betrayed and beaten and crucified…with the weight of the world crushing him… we are thankful beyond measure for the love it took to take our place of punishment and to be our sacrifice and to offer us forgiveness. It is an amazing thing that God did for us to ensure that we are his.
But then we fail to take him down from the cross and let him do what he needs to do next.
To keep him forever on the cross is to prevent him from moving on to the next place where he had to go. The next stop for Jesus is when he goes and tells Death that Life has conquered Death. Death has been defeated Once and FOR ALL. Then Jesus came back to us to let us know this good news…and even more. God is not just a Father in Heaven. God is not just Jesus on the Cross but God is in our heart through the power of the Spirit of God. We can Understanding more and Love more…and it is available to us every minute of every day if we will tap into this power.
But we are still dead if Jesus is still on the cross. And we are not Understanding or full of Love if Jesus is still on the cross.
He has to move…and keep going to reach the fullness of who he is and why he came…and so do we.
Go back with me to two weeks ago…
A friend Angie is gearing up for another trip to a “Sweat Lodge”. Her first experience was so powerful that she wants her other friends to know…and possibly go.
My friend Joy from the text conversation of today asked me if I would want to go.
“No WAY!” I said without even a half-second thought.
I don’t like to be hot. I don’t like to sweat. I don’t want to “rough it” and sleep in a tent or a lodge out in the woods with strangers. I don’t want to drive to Missouri. I am not that open to new…especially if it seems not Christian. What if I hallucinate? What if I have a vision? What in the world would I do with that? Would it change my beliefs? I don’t want to change my beliefs. I understand my place in this world and with God…don’t I?
A few days later I went to see my friend Rebecca who out of the blue told me that one of the most powerful and life changing events ever was when she went to… a sweat lodge.
That is a sign. I take signs seriously. This was not random…this was a message that I needed to consider opening my mind and my experiences.
Rebecca went on to say that she felt so connected to nature when she went that she felt like she could feel the heart beat and the breathing of the earth.
That perked up my ears! That is something that I would like. I want that experience.
I had gone by Rebecca’s house to drop off a book for her…and she gave me one as well called, What God Said.
The first page tells the story of the author being interviewed by a world-famous early morning talk show host. The author was being interviewed because he claimed that he talked to God. The talk show host wanted to know, in a couple of sentences, God’s message to the world. The author surprised the host and himself when he announced what God wanted to say… was 5 words.
The words that God gave him to say were, “You’ve got me all wrong.”
I believe that. I believe that most if not almost all of the world has God all wrong. We want to fit Him into some categories that are finite and understandable…but He is Infinite and beyond our understanding. We cannot make Him less than who He is…but we try.
When I read more into Rebecca’s book I began to struggle. Chapter 2 starts, “Here, in one thousand words, is all that the human race needs to know….carry these messages to your world:”
And it lists 25 important messages that the author says that he has gotten from God. Number 25 says, “Let there be a New Gospel for all the people of Earth: ‘We are all one. Ours is not a better way, ours is merely another way.'”
That seems right to me too. There are as many ways as there are people…it has to be the case because no one has the exact same life or experiences or understanding as a single other person.
Am I open-minded? At all? I am not sure. I know what I know…but I also know that there is WAY more that I don’t know than that I do.
The author continues “…A New Truth about God would be – for agnostics, atheists, and adherents alike – the Great Apple Cart Upsetter of all time. Since most people want to leave their religious beliefs alone, we find ourselves insisting on building a life in the first quarter of the 21st century with first century spiritual tools.”
That is true. Everything else progresses and builds on what is discovered to be true…Science, medicine, education…everything is free to be explored and questioned. But not religion. We hold our beliefs so tightly…vehemently…ready to die for or kill for them. Why are we so afraid to take a thorough look at our own beliefs…and everyone else’s? Are we afraid that we will be swayed? Are our beliefs so fragile that considering other ideas could knock us over…
Challenging one’s beliefs can be a scary thing! I don’t want to be swayed or persuaded or led down a dark dead-end road that causes me to have to back-track or struggle to regain ground or precious time. I don’t want to fail to be someone solid and steady for others who need that…but who am I to say what they need from me? What they need to see in me? They don’t need me anyway.They need God in me…and I need to get out of the way. The bottom line is anyone who comes to me needs love. And will they find that?
My path lately has seemed pretty simple and straight-forward to me. I love God. I believe in Jesus and the Holy Spirit…and I not only know of them, but I Know them. And that is all that I really need, right?
It is all I need maybe for my own self…But don’t I want to understand other people too? Isn’t that part of what I am supposed to be doing? And what if their path is not like mine? Honestly, there is a VERY good chance that it isn’t/ And don’t I WANT to know about other people’s paths? Maybe it will enlighten some things of my own! Maybe I have a lot left to learn about God that they can teach me.
A couple of days ago I saw something that I had to have…it spoke to me. So, I bought it. It is a refrigerator magnet that says, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Immediately the magnet made me think “Sweat Lodge”?
… I just looked at the magnet to make certain that I copied the quote down correctly and give credit to the author… And guess who the quote is by? The guy who wrote the book that my friend Rebecca gave me, What God Said ~ Neale Donald Walsch. Haha! That is a sign too.
So, here we go. I am determined to take Rebecca’s advice and trust what resonates with me as truth…trust God to guide me…and put the rest aside.