Spiritual Gravity (#446)
Brad is back as Wayne invites him into some of the God Journey's recent interaction in blogs and emails about why God doesn't make learning to live in his love easier than it is? Couldn't he just overwhelm us with something that proves it so our heart can rest in him, and if he doesn't what does that say about him? Or, is there a spiritual reality akin to gravity in our temporal world that God is helping us navigate in a way that will best lead to our transformation and growing trust in him? What if suffering and loss are not proof that he is absent or uncaring? What if the very pain we use as an excuse to doubt his love, is actually our mentor to lead us closer to him?
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Thank you gents for another informative podcast.
Today in my email I received a link to an article entitled ‘Why I deleted my Facebook account’. The author talks about being one of the first people to embrace Facebook for its social aspects of the site, but he saw it has evolved into merely people becoming products. 90% of his ‘friends’, he no longer has contact with, and its has freed him up to enjoy the ‘real’ things of life.
Well in my curiousity, I had to Google ‘Spiritual Gravity’, and I found a, what at least I thought to be, fascinating article by a Jewish rabbi about not necessarily what was talked about in the podcast, but hits me where I live and what I posted about last week…here’s the link for anyone interested…
What God has done for me in coping with my spiritual gravity is expanded my focus to include the good things happening in and around my life, not just the bad things. As my physical health wanes, my spiritual health blossoms. As some relationships become or remain estranged, others become stronger. Call it transformation, reordering, or what have you, but as Brad said in the podcast, it is only momentary light affliction we are experiencing, although in our temporal state, it doesn’t seem or feel like it.
Abba speaks to me in my everyday life circumstances… two things came to mind as I listened today…
My youngest daughter for months was speaking of her 18th birthday… what a big celebration that should be… she went on and on… I wrestled with some feelings like… “ would I be feeding a sense of entitlement… none of my older kids had a party… finally God spoke to my heart… love her in the way she receives love… so we planned a nice surprise party… and at the same time God was continuing to set me free from managing someone’s heart…to refrain from helping the Holy Spirit by pointing out the danger of expectations…etc… As her birthday drew near, although she was trying to hide it…I could see she was disappointed. Oh, how my heart hurt for her… I did not want to wound her. The night before her birthday I went to bed and asked that the Lord would minister to her so she won’t be so wounded that she would not be able to receive the surprise gift. She woke up in the morning with a joy in her heart… with a very plain birthday ahead of her. She shared about her talk with God… wow, everything I had been wanting to say… but by His grace… I gave God the space and He came in a sweet, sweet way and spoke truth to her. ( He does that you know? )
So here is the picture of God… as I was looking in her disappointed eyes… as I saw her hurt… I so wanted to blurt out… ok you are having a party next week… just so I could ease the pain. But I could hold her pain in my heart… because I knew what was awaiting her… I endured her momentary pain so I could bless her beyond what she could imagine. I think this God with us… He holds us… He sees…but all through lens of love…because He knows what Love has in store for us. Delay isn’t punishment… what we see as delay could just be that God doesn’t just want good… He wants His best for us… the press down over flowing kind of best. The joy and love that my daughter experienced walking into the surprise… far out weighed me telling her about the party because I did not want her to be in pain… and she thanked me for not telling her.
Second is pain… my daughter in-law is pregnant for the first time and is starting contractions… I sent her a text …”remember pain is your friend”… when going through childbirth a momma has to embrace the pain… the pain is bringing forth new life… when a contraction is extremely strong… the pain if far worse if you fight it… but if you turn into the pain…and work with it… the process goes better… so it is in this life… pain is our mentor… pain takes us through the transitions of life to bring about new birth… and like childbirth… there is the miracle of new life and some how the pain if forgotten in the light of new life!!! Is there really any other way?
God is love, and he speaks to us through the language of love. The sensory organ for love is the heart. So, if he reveals himself to our hearts, why do our heads have trouble understanding his revelation? I think it is shame that gets in the way. Sin creates shame, and shame, just like love, inhabits the heart. Shame has a way of distorting love, and therefore, our minds can only see disfigured images of his love.
So, is there no hope? Is there a way to work around the shame that keeps us from seeing reality?
God’s love disintegrates shame. It is the flame that burns away the shame that distorts reality. His love recreates us into heart-based beings if we are open to allowing it to happen. If we continue to rely on the mental approach to knowing God, I believe we will continue to be frustrated in our knowledge of God, and we will continue in our blindness to his work in and around our lives.
So, what can we do? Maybe we need to stop pursuing God mentally for awhile. Maybe we just need to drop our expectations of who he is and how he works and just allow him to reveal himself to us through/in our daily circumstances. As Wayne once said, “he’s good at what he does; he’s been doing it a long time.” Maybe we need to stop pursuing him and let him come to us in his time and in his way all the while listening with our hearts instead of our heads.
Just some thoughts about transformation as a journey versus instant fix (zap). I grewup in a church-going home, basically kept my nose clean all my life outwardly (now over 50) while continually living with a deep feeling of not being normal, unforgiven, abandoned, always tested, frequently disciplined and never measuring up. God held out a carrot on a stick and in His Holiness, delighted in hanging me out to dry when life hurt deeply for close to two decades. I wanted God (get to heaven) but did not want Him to look at me – imagine me in the temple hiding in the corner. Why? One word, shame … okay, 2 words, shame disconnects. Shame being that state where I am bad – not the state of guilt where I have done something bad. Shame had hid behind the face of a belief that I felt this way because I was rebellious or the hypocritical sense of falsely induced guilt. As a child of God, I am not bad though capable of making unwise choices. The day where He “crashed” into a typical flood of shame and labeled it, is the day I now view as the beginning of spring in my life. It was a moment of choosing to trust He could transform this “broken-me” not instantly but in a process. Living under shame is like routinely taking/allowing a knife, a lie to cut into shreds the internal me. Gradually, with the help of Him pointing it out, I am no longer tied to that shame-infusing scenario where I use my external situation to measure my relationship with Him. I had become dependent upon Him healing my outward circumstances as a way to heal me. Instead, in a journey, He is healing me inside trying circumstances. (CS Lewis’s “megaphone of pain”). I am so thankful to be living in a space where for once I can look into an uncertain future knowing God is with me and his love connects me far more than my love of him. That is a miracle I could not have imagined three years ago.
Thank you for this latest podcast and especially for sharing the raw pain of what you walking through right now with your parents. Your father’s words (of never having felt closer to God) resonated with my own journey right now. What beautiful, wise, life-giving words to share with you. After the sudden loss of my husband, I too have never felt so dependent on Abba. He has become my very breath, my intimate source of courage, wisdom, provision, hope and daily companion. So yes, while life has never felt as difficult and especially for this long of a time, my total dependency on him is creating an intimacy with him like no other season I’ve known.
I was grateful too that you and Brad addressed the lie that if life is going well and one is experiencing blessings, then God is pleased. That lie is only a set-up to disappointment and distancing from the only one who can keep hope alive in the darkest of life’s circumstances.
So thank you again for being willing to be vulnerable and real with us. I listened to this podcast twice already, back to back, just to allow its truths to sink in deeper.
Nearly all of the language of Christianity I hear, emanates from the perspective that God is not completely present, or at best, is very close. It is an extremely subtle switch to make but, if we stand in the position that God is NOT a separate entity from us. God with us. The kingdom of God IN us. Everything about the religious view of God starts with the problem of us being disconnected from God. Our prayers begin to feel like we are trying to get Gods attention, or that it is possible that God doesn’t participate in our life and isn’t feeling exactly what we are feeling. None of this can be true. Is it possible to accept everything that is happening in our lives as the joint experience of God AND us? That we are completely safe in any circumstances BECAUSE we are experiencing what God is experiencing in us?
Christian language is misleading in suggesting or implying that God is somewhere other than _ right here_
Enjoyed the podcast and the comments posted. I agree so much with the reminder that we just have to accept His love. It takes time, for whatever reason, but is very much worth it. For me, it was 14 years until I recently really began to understand and live in His love. I am in my mid 50’s and had disengaged from institutional church back then and always enjoyed the Lifestream/God Journey content, but it never was a reality in my life. Looking back, there always seemed to be something else I wanted. The accumulation of God’s working in my heart finally led me to a point just recently where I am beginning to live in His love for the first time. For me, the phrase, “There is no one who has ever lived whom God loves more than me (you)”, really captures how I see His of love in my heart and seeing this same working in the lives of others. I have a joyful hope as look forward to this continuing God Journey.
Your comment really strikes me. With all of this (accurate) talk about being loved and loving, I really don’t think any of us have achieved the ability to ‘be loved’ to the degree we absolutely need it. I don’t know where it is but inside of us, there is certainly a space that was build to contain love and affection poured in to it. Its like a raised garden bed designed to hold rich soil out of which our physical expressions and ALL of our confidence to walk out into the world comes from. If our confidence is not rooted in this ‘place’ where love is to be contained, our confidence will root in other things. It may be in our performance giving us confidence to assert ourselves in the world or it may root itself in our shame giving us confidence NOT to assert ourselves.
I really don’t have an answer to how to stop resisting the love and affection people may try and give us or the resistance to completely believe that we are totally worthy of the complete love God is ready to pour into us, but it seems to simply be somewhere in our confidence to simply presume we are entirely and completely loved. It’s a mysterious thing why we will not eat the food that is placed before us, perhaps the best place to start is to pick up our fork and feed it to the person next to us and see how it goes from there.
I find your comment is interesting. I have found that my capacity to hold love is not functioning well. In the same way I do not know how to love, I also do not know how to receive love, nor contain the love that does come in. Its like a cup with holes in it and when you pour into it, it hold the water briefly and then it leaks out and we are just as empty as before. There are many reasons for those holes the root of which is original sin. Healing, if you want to call it that, would seem to me to be plugging the holes – the Holy Spirit’s work over time. Some of my holes are plugged, others not, and so I ams till “needy”.
I wonder if that is even fully attainable? I am not sure it is. At least not in these vessels of clay in this decaying world. I think we can have increasing degrees of it. I think we can move closer to it. But in our present condition, we will always see through a glass darkly, never completely.
It also amazing me that we are being offered life and yet we so often do not choose it. How is that possible. Self reliance, self protection and fear dies a slow death. But then we don’t know what we are missing, do we? We have limited or no experience with real love. Do we even know what we are aiming for?
I look at my marriage. My wife and I have concluded that our only clear picture of marriage was our parents, and in both cases they were far from perfect. We end up living out our lives based on what we know and it ends up being somewhat similar to our parents. We hear about people deeply in love, but we do not know what that looks like or how to attain it. So it becomes one day at a time, learning and testing, and trying to figure it out how to “love” one another. And we are still trying to figure it out almost 35 years later. Perhaps we will never get there, but we are learning to relax and be thankful for what we do have even in its imperfection.
John, I can relate to a lot of what you wrote. I am cursed/blessed with a mind that needs to see things in pictures to understand them. Your description of holes in the place people pour love into our lives brings a couple of interpretations to mind. It may be true about original sin being the cause but frankly, I have allowed myself to bludgeoned by that curse for to long. My life is what it is, sin or no sin, original or – I don’t know… not so original. (There is a very good joke in there somewhere but I will pass it up for now).
Another mental image (and a pretty obvious one I suppose) is that we may have never been intended to keep the love that is poured on us anyway. Maybe it leaks out (if I am not reading too much into your analogy) on purpose and like food, is digested in the normal course of life, requiring us to have more each day. But regardless of interpretation, having deep memories, and lots of them, of being loved, implies that we have value. No one pours love into someone they don’t value. But, if we look into that ‘place’ inside and it feels or is empty, the inference may well become that we are in fact, rejected. THIS is, I think, THE human problem. We tend to feel far more vulnerable to being rejected than we feel confident of being loved and accepted. We can talk all about “Living life loved” and while it is very true, it very simply is not a skill that everyone has, particularly as you have described, we see others who seem to live in a lot more of it that we see ourselves living in.
Good morning guys! I was just enjoying your conversation about the cup and holes in it . Very interesting to say the least I realy enjoyed it …. What if The cup which is our lives was simply meant to be submerged at the top of an artesian well and the holes are where God / Love enters our lives at ? What if the very places we have tried to plug and patch is where Father wants enter and fill to overflowing from?
Could it be the very fountain was always meant to flow from the bottom up? I am finding The deepest Darkest place I have been in is where He enters the most at and actualy hangs out with me there. What if only when this cup overflows do others get a sample of it? Of course I tend to look at things backwards .. Thanks for sharing guys!
Harvey, That is also a very good application of the analogy as well. Its an analogy and as such, will sail along as long as it has the buoyancy to do so, and then it will pop. In the meantime you have reminded me not to overlook the unseen process of life, poured in below my radar.
I think the value of looking at this defect of human nature, the defect of our resistance to being the recipient of the love we absolutely need for survival, is that when we can put it into words, we expose whatever unseen power it has to do its damage. We are such faith based beings. We only have the power to “believe” in the existence things we need. Love is very difficult to prove. It is far too easy and natural to overlook the proof, of the existence in our world, of the spiritual things we need for emotional survival. We don’t have the scientific instruments needed to measure being loved, being significant, and mattering . We look up at the sky at night and see clear evidence that, statistically we are insignificant in this universe, so we just don’t look. On the other hand, we look out of these eyes and see the world surrounding us, everything else from our own perspective, seeming to radiate out around us.We reference everything in our world, relative to our own lives. Its so hard to believe that while we are scientifically and statistically zero in the universe, we are also, infinitely significant in the presence of God who is in us, looking out our own eyes with us, feeling what we feel, living in our joy, fear and pain, suffering and rejoicing in us, just like Jesus demonstrated him to be: God with us. This is a very hard thing to believe in the face of such an unrelenting torrent of fear and anxiety washing around us in this world.
Yo Ro. Spoken like a true man. About the pain thing. Just pull your lower lip over your forehead and you’ll have a slight idea what childbirth is like……..
Brad I think you’re on to something with the line of thought of the old/new creation, in regards to helping those with the god why don’t you throw me a bone mentality.
The god why don’t you throw me a bone mentality you guys are talking about is the old creation. Unless someone is merely looking for the honest answer from god, what’s going on god or what are you doing in my life? So I can partner with you god in allowing me to be further transformed into your image.
The new creation thinking says I know I can trust you papa with anything. You can do whatever you want father, I give you permission because I know you love me and no matter what it is it will be for the best.
The difference between livings in the old/new creation comes from the beliefs we live out of. Those living in the old creation believe they must strive to win god’s approval and favour. Those living in the new creation believe they need to simple rest in the knowledge and comfort they already have gods favour. They know that even though favour won’t always appear the way that they think it should, that gods favour is always there, and looks more like what father thinks. And that god’s favour/love might not always be understood at first, but can always be trusted.
It seems to me Wayne that how to help people with the god why don’t you throw me a bone mentality is to do what you’ve been doing for a long time, and that is to continue helping people live/ be transformed more into the new creation mind set.
You’ve got some great honest and hard questions Wayne