No problems or challenges All the stuff it wants Lots of good attention from others An easy life To be self-sufficient To be left alone, to be free to do whatever s/he wants when s/he wants to. To be in control of its life. Following the wants of the small self only leads to more wants. For whatever it wants cannot fulfill us. Each of us experiences problems and suffering. Each of us makes choices that bring unexpected consequences. Each of us can be blind-sided at every turn that our lives take. We want our expectations to be met, our assumptions to all be true and our preferences catered to. The world we live in cannot fulfill these wants. All the material stuff cannot fulfill our longing, it just creates more longing. All the attention in the world will not bring happiness. In fact, if all these desires were met, we still would be longing for more, because there is no end to the desiring. If we look at the lives of people on the planet today, who would you say is most at peace? The rich or the poor? How often do people come back from poorer countries, say Haiti or in Africa and are astounded at how little the people have and how happy they are? Is there a lesson to be learned here? If we live in the world, in the cultural paradigm, in what our family wants for us, we are living out the small self, the ego’s agenda. And so we live in a never ending circle of yearning and never fulfilling the yearning(s), of looking outside ourselves for solutions to our problems, of seeking fulfillment through how others see us, of resenting every problem, challenge or pain we suffer, of wanting total control of our lives. It is a recipe for disaster. If we have a lot of money, it is never enough. If we look good, there’s always someone who wears their clothes better. If we are working in a field we enjoy, there is something in the job or in us that greatly diminishes the satisfaction from it. There is no way that we even know who we are or what we were created to be, to do, if we’re living out the world’s agendas. There is no rest, no break, no satisfaction, because there is no connection to the soul who is connected to God. God who created us knows exactly what we need to bring us fulfillment and purpose. There is another, deeper, truer part of ourselves that has nothing to do with the world and its agendas. What the soul wants: To be connected totally to God To fulfill its purpose, to do what he/she was created to do. To have its needs meet so it is free to pursue its own destiny To be part of a community of God’s people To work in partnership with God To be always connected, always be true to itself. To have integrity and truth. To learn from its challenges and pain and to incorporate that learning into living in this life. To be healed, transformed. If we live in God’s world, in the kingdom, then our needs are being filled, our purpose is being defined, our very existence affirmed. Then we are living from the soul’s agenda for our lives. We are fine. We feel at home at last wherever we are. We are doing what we were created to do and being what we were created to be. It’s a stark choice between the world and the kingdom, but you can be sure that the world looks like a whole lot better choice. It is reinforced in every ad and TV program we see; everywhere we go, people have the same hopes and dreams using the same tired and useless means. Following our egos only leads to more ego-driven choices. Following our souls leads us to the deep satisfaction of our needs met and a life lived with meaning and purpose. How we take the suffering in our lives tells the tale in what choices we make. If we resent the suffering, resist its existence in our lives. If we refuse to accept what is happening greatly preferring another outcome. If we spend our time in resistance, then we are locking ourselves into a response that denies, that holds at arms length, that stops whatever process is taking place. We are stuck in a no-man’s-land and refusing to deal with what is happening. And yet this is affirmed in our culture, in the world. This kind of response greatly increases our suffering. If, on the other hand, we accept what is already in our lives, if we learn how to work with the circumstances as they are, if we decide to learn what we can from what has happened to us, we are greatly reducing the suffering by not fighting what already is there. Surrendering to what is already happening will mean that we don’t end up with an attachment to the way-things-used-to-be creating a burden in our lives—the dead weight of the past which we cannot change. It means we can still hear God’s voice even in the midst of pain. That we will get out of the circumstances with the least amount of trouble, just because we opted not to fuss. And we can live in the present, unburdened by the past, and not fearing the future. This second scenario, following the soul, will bring us peace and love and joy as we embrace our lives as they are. The first scenario often causes us to live in the past or the future, unable to be in the present where we find God, where we experience his providence, where we learn to trust him, where we only are burdened by what is ours—and he helps us carry it! Here are some references about not hanging onto the past from the Sermon on the Mount. 1)Don’t hang onto any anger: “Anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” [Matthew 5:22] 2)If someone else has something against you(again from the past) first be reconciled with them before you offer your gift at the altar. [Matt. 5:23-4] 3) “if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.” [Matt. 5: 30] Don’t in any way hang onto the past, even what caused the problem in the first place. 4)Be generous to one who slaps you on a cheek, turn to them the other one, too. “And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”[Matt. 5:38-40] 5)And this one, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” [Matt. 5:43-35] This is what Jesus taught us, so that we could live fully: regardless of the intent of the one who hurt us or wants to abuse us we are to be generous, not to harbor any resentment about the past. These truly remarkable passages reinforce what Jesus is telling us about not hanging on to anything from the past. They are so startling and confront us so directly about our normal way of being with others. They leave little wiggle room for ignoring Jesus’ way. Jesus is addressing our souls here, not the ego which would want to stay embroiled in any incidence from the past. But Jesus is calling us out of our worldly ways to a whole new paradigm which has only to do with the present, with God, with love, with generosity of spirit. The lesson for me is that we have to learn to love our lives exactly as they are, as they are given to us by God, in order to find peace, love, joy and much more. Questions to ponder through the week: Will I follow my ego, the easy path, or my soul? Will I dig deeper into my life to listen to God’s “still, small voice” of 1 Kings 19? Or will I take the easy way, surface way, the too-busy-way? What do I want anyway? Am I willing to let God take me to the most fulfilling, joyful, purposeful life? Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who follow the “still, small voice” of God’s Indwelling Spirit. May we find peace, joy, love, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control along the way. May we relax, rest in God’s arms, let him help us do anything and everything. I apologize for the formatting. I can’t do anything to change it, unfortunately.
Oct 10, 2016