I think that there is some misunderstanding about what our role is in the relationship with God. Over time as we seek to draw closer to God we realize that we are not “doing” anything. God is leading us, God is transforming us, God is revealing us to ourselves. Our job is to more and more make ourselves available to these ministrations of God. So all the words that we follow in the Christian journey—the way, surrender, and more are about us putting ourselves in God’s hands than about us doing something.
I think this sounds so passive to us Americans; we think we have to always make something happen, but it is not passive at all. What happens as we move closer to God is that we become more and more engaged in life, more and more present to what or who is before us, more involved, more passionate, more alive.
So what is our role? You might ask. Our role is to invite God into our whole selves—into all the pain and trauma and indifference and anger and fear, into our guilt and shame, into all our mistakes and uncaring responses to people, into all the places where we have failed to love or care for another, into all of our very human selves. We are to offer up to God all of ourselves—the good, the bad and the ugly–so that he can heal us and bring us into his own arms of love, so that we can feel that love and finally relax into who we are and into who we were created to be, so that the love can flow into and out of us back out to the world.
I think we are so tied up in guilt and shame about our inconstancy in following God’s word and Jesus’s way. We worry about ourselves way too much—our lack of commitment and failures and try to distract ourselves from what God is seeking to do in us and with us. We seek punishment or self-flagellation if only in our own punishing thoughts. And this tendency, more than anything we have ever said and done keeps us from God’s mercy and love.
We are conflicted. Uncertain. Contrary. At odds with. Fickle. Inconstant. Inconsistent. Denying. This is the human condition. We have to get over ourselves as we are and relax. We have to realize and let in God’s love for us even as we struggle to follow his will.
So much of our inability to follow God and embrace his will for us is due to being so worried about ourselves that we push him away with our guilt and shame. Get over yourselves!!
We don’t have to be perfect to approach God and to let him into our lives. We don’t have to follow the rules perfectly to win his affection or approval. The only thing we are asked to do is to be available to him as we are! “As we are” means to bring the whole of who we are to him and lay all of who we are on his altar and say I am yours. Do with me what you will. Show me how to love you with all that I am—heart, mind, soul and body. Teach me how to love myself and my neighbor who is everyone else.
It is so startlingly simple and yet we make it into a huge big deal because we feel unworthy of his love. So here we are trying to worry our way into his arms, when all we have to do is to walk into them.
Forget the punishment you expect for who you are. Forget the perfection you think you have to achieve before you are his. Forget leading yourself anywhere. These are just our very human ways of holding God at arms’ length, so that he cannot enter into us and heal us. As Fr. Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque wrote in his daily email on 7.15.15: “the only thing keeping us from God and heaven is our false notion that we are separate from God.”
If we are not separate from God, all that needs to be done is to realize that we are a part of God and God is a part of us. We just need to let the “God” part of us, the divine potential within, come forward in our lives. When we do that, the oh-so-human parts of us including the ego take their natural place under or within the divine framework, no longer separate from God. So the ego becomes a necessary part of us that God uses to voice his love, to draw people to him through us, to act through in helping other people and so on. It’s not that we are to be passive in the arms of God, but that we are to cooperate fully, to be a co-creator with God of our lives with him leading us.
My image of how this works is this. I use the metaphor of an airplane for my life with God as the pilot and me the co-pilot. There’s a lot of back and forth(call it prayer of both the talking kind and the listening kind) between us, but I let God call the shots and I follow his lead. Then I can relax and just do and say whatever I am prompted to.
Then, I experience so much joy and tears, fulfillment and purpose, love and comfort, all because God is leading me. And I am going along for the wonderful ride.
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I letting my own low self-image come between me and God? Am I pushing him away from my past sufferings? Or do I invite him in to my deep, deep places of shame and guilt? Do I allow him free access to all that I am? What percentage of myself am I really able to give to him in love when he is asking for all of me?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people who give God total access to ourselves, especially the deeper, more painful parts. May we set aside any misunderstanding or confusion about our role in the relationship with God and just go for 100%. May we love and trust and walk hand in hand with the Lord wherever he takes us.
This week I expect my book, Thy Kingdom Come!, to be up for sale on Amazon as a paperback or e-book. Watch for the ad and link which will announce it on Facebook. I am using my whole name, Patricia Said Adams, just more formal than Pat Adams. There is a new video up on YouTube, What Jesus said about the kingdom at www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmtO2zw1Yfk. Over the next four months I’ll be posting one video a month on the kingdom as a complement to the book.