Embracing the Opposites

Aug 22, 2011

One of the interesting things about living a surrendered life is that on the one hand we develop a deep and unshakable faith in God and on the other hand we are still human beings, expressing that faith in the world. Unshakable and human. Constant and inconstant. God’s love and a lesser ability to love. Enjoying the presence of God and the desire to be present to God.

Each of these seeming opposites are contained within us. Normally if we looked at these poles with us, we would want to choose one side and reject the other. Part of the learning of a surrendered life is to embrace both, to not condemn our humanness in favor of the divine givens, because they are both true. So we take both poles within to each moment.

Being faithful, expressing God’s love in the world, means remaining open to what God is asking of us in this moment and the next, not to choose in advance what we are supposed to do or say. We bring our deep trust into each moment and await the Spirit’s inspiration for that time. So we live with the sense of running blind, of not knowing, of real dependency when we allow God to direct our words and actions. There is a freshness about our lives; we no longer rest in expectations and planning ahead.

This not knowing can be difficult for us Americans who are so identified with doing. In a very real way in our culture we are nobody if we are not “doing” something. The surrendered life requires vesting our identity in being, in the sum total of who we are, not just in what we do.

There is no resting on our laurels, either, in the surrendered life, depending on our past actions and thinking. There is only the present moment and what the Spirit is asking of us in it. You could say that with the Holy Spirit, we’re on a need-to-know basis, and what we need is delivered to us just in time. Everything we have learned up to that time prepares us for what is before us, but God seldom says to us beforehand: “this is what I want you to do and say when you get there.”

It is me or you—the beingness of me or you —that is needed in each encounter, chance or otherwise, that will be used for God’s own purposes. We can choose 1)to show up and 2)to be open to what is happening and to the Spirit’s suggestions at the time. That willingness to show up and do what is suggested is the essence of the surrendered life.

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