Exploring Life (with God)

A struggler tired of living life by "expectations." Questioning, wondering, exploring how God is recreating my life to be more genuine.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Exploring Life (With God) Has Moved

As you notice this blog is not all that active. That is because I spend more time on my other blog, which incorporates the stuff here.

Check out my ongoing occasional thoughts at: sacred space

Friday, December 01, 2006

Being One Who is Called to Serve --

I am beginning to discover that my place in what God is doing in this world, is not a place of "hey look at me," but a place in which I am being called to be completely at the disposal of what God desires to do. In the movie, The Last Samurai, there is a scene in which ninja assassins try to assasinate the last samurai and after the attackers are defeated, the American soldier, played by Tom Cruise, who is siding with the last samurai asks if it was the emperor who is trying to kill him. The last samurai's response is telling: "No it is not the emperor, for all he has to do is ask for my life and I would give it." Such an attitude that states, my life is at the total disposal of my emperor (at the disposal of God) is not something we see much today.

We don't see it much today, because we live in a culture which states, "hey it is about me!" Everything is about me. But if God is doing something good in the world, even in the midst of all that is going so wrong, then I want to be a part of the good that God is doing -- then it becomes, not about me, but about what touches God's heart. What touches God's heart are the people who are suffering, who are struggling, who are on the periphery of society. Whenever I think life is about me, then I am dulled to seeing what God sees, the people that God sees.

I guess I want to see what God sees and make myself available to what God is doing in the world. For me to do this I need to learn more about what it means to live life in a way that is not about me, but making myself available to being one who serves the purposes of God in the world.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Making Space for People --

Over the past couple of weeks I have been in numerous conversations, situations with a number of people in which I am learning the grace of making space for people. What I mean is not only making space for them in my life, but also space for them in their lives. This creating of space comes through being present with them, listening, hearing, engaging them, not according to my agenda, but allowing their conversation, their experience to set the agenda.

I am beginning to see that much of my life has been lived trying to carve out a space in life for my own agenda, for me -- what I want to see happen, how I want to grow, what I want to experience -- and somehow through that thinking that I will experience freedom, joy, and life. It seems that we go through life trying to create a space for ourselves and we connect with those who "fit" into our space somehow, or we "fit" somehow into their space. But is this the way we are to live life, is this the way we are to be in community with one another?

Over the past few weeks as I have made myself available to people, I came to see that my being open to the space they were trying to create, the space they needed, and not trying to create a space for myself alongside their space, that I was invited into their space -- to hear their stories, to hear their dreams, to hear their struggles, to hear their pain. I discovered that I heard more clearly, experienced a little of what they were experiencing -- and in the midst of it I did not lose something of myself, but I was enriched by the community that was being shared. The stuff I contributed to the conversation, was also not so much stuff that came out of my need for space, but it came out of my joining in with them, in being with them, walking with them, coming alongside them. I found myself making myself available to them for their benefit and not for mine -- yet, in this giving, I received something I did not expect -- I experienced a whole new kind space.

The space I experienced was a shared space, it was not a space I selfishly tried creating for myself, but by being with someone in which we walked together -- there was a sense of community, a sense of sharing, a sense of trust, a sense of being in the same story -- in which a new kind of space was formed.

There is a certain joy to living life this way. Rather than life being aimless, in that we are not setting our own goals, striving to showcase our own egos -- so much of our culture expresses that we have to create our own lives, make our own space in this world if we are ever to amount to anything, I am discovering that maybe I am beginning to see that the real purpose of life is discovered, not when I try to take life, but when I receive it as a gift. This is no couch-potato way of living because it continually calls us to be open to the lives of others around us, making ourselves available as gifts in their lives so that they can experience life as a gift as well.

I can't help but think this is what happened when God became one of us, by taking on humanity in Jesus Christ. John's gospel says that he "set up his tent amongst us, to dwell among us and with us." As the author of life, he did not come crashing into human history creating space for his agenda -- but rather he walked with people, talked with people, ate with people, touched people who were considered untouchable -- not by invading their space, but by sharing the gift of life with them as they opened up the space of their lives and invited him in. Even though Jesus lived purposefully, he seemed to be open to the lives of others, allowing them to create a space in their lives where he could join them and be with them in ways that they received life as a gift, rather than something they grabbed, took. It was when people invited Jesus into their space, that they discovered life as they never could have.

So maybe one of the secrets of living life, experiencing life is not to find ways of taking it, but to be open to receive it as a gift, from others, through others -- who may be vessels through whom the author of life pours out his gift of life to each of us. That seems to take the stress out of life and the heartache I cause myself as I try to create a space for myself in life.

Maybe we live our lives more on purpose when we are open to others who are all around us.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What "Holds" My Life Together? --

There seem to be so many things that I "hold" onto to make life work. This week I came up against one of them. I'm an adjunct professor at Trinity International University and I enjoy being in the classroom. All my teaching notes, all my presentations, I keep on my laptop.

Well, the night before my class this past Monday, my computer crashed. I had no way to get to my notes, or to my PowerPoints. My computer was exhibiting the "blue screen of death" -- some kind of "stop error" crash that kept my computer restarting all the time without being able to get passed the Windows screen.

Well, I finally took a text book from class, and highlighted the points I wanted to cover, and more or less went into class and tried to engage them with what I remembered of my preparations prompted from the highlighted passages in the class text. I was nervous, felt flustered, etc.

At the end of class, I was somewhat miserable -- I talked the whole time, little student interaction, etc. A student let me know that I seemed to be more flustered by this than they were -- and they still had a pretty good learning experience.

What I began to discover is that my dependency on things such as technology are things that have a "hold" on me. They hold me, rather than me holding them. And so it stifles me, it inhibits my creativity, it causes me to focus inward and on what I am going through, rather than seeing this as an opportunity for adventure, for experiencing life, for going with the flow.

Going with the flow, requires, I think a different kind of dependency. Not on the things that we try to hold onto -- because most of them are petty. Rather, I think it is in finding that which takes a hold of us in a way that enables our creativity and engaging in adventure.

What makes me free? What is able to set me free? I have a strong hunch its in being held by the One who created me and reaches out to be in relationship with me. St. Paul in writing to the church in Colosse wrote, talking about Jesus Christ, that "he is before all things and in him all things hold together." I am discovering that there are a lot of things that do a pretty lousy job of holding me together - -because they may fail at critical times of my relying upon them -- be it computer technology or even relationships. But what if relying on Jesus Christ to hold me together is the way to go? If indeed he does hold all things together -- including me -- then the life I live in connection with him frees me up to go beyond the things I have hoarded to help "hold" me together. If I am going to experience life fully, then I need to be held by the One who is able to hold all of life together and fill it with significance and adventure.

So I do I go about being held by Jesus Christ? Perhaps it is as simple of making a conscious confession every morning -- "Jesus, take a hold of me today, so that the only thing I depend upon is you" I have a feeling that I will get less flustered as stuff happens in my life that is unable to really "hold" my life together.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Life -- The Ultimate Adventure --

When my daughters were younger we'd often watch the movie Hook, starring Robin Williams as Peter Pan who had grown up and become a business "pirate" named Peter Banning. Peter's kids were kidnapped by Captain Hook and so to rescue them Peter Banning had to discover what he had once been -- Peter Pan.

Near the end, in sword duel between Hook and Peter, Hook states that the ultimate adventure is death, to which Peter Pan retorts, "No, the ultimate adventure is life!"

Jesus in John's Gospel tells why he has come. He declares "I have come that people may have life, and have it to the full."

I am beginning to see that the more we try to control our lives, make it move in the directions we want it to, to secure this, to secure that, to ensure certain outcomes that life isn't full, that life is far from adventurous.

As I see it, life is adventurous when we are not in control of it. Adventure is discovering what is around the next turn in the road, the next bend in the river, the next development in our lives. Life is an adventure, not when we try to shape and control it by some "plan" we try to fashion, but when we are shaped by the rhythms of life to be who we never thought we could be.

In the past few months I have come to discover that God is active in the world like I have never noticed before. I don't think its because God is finally doing something, rather it is because I am finally beginning to see more clearly that God is present and active in even the most common things in life -- and that makes life adventurous. When I saw life through the filters of what I wanted it to be, I was so closed to all that God is doing. Now as I begin to see the activity of God in the world, I begin to sense how I am a part of the rhythm of life that God creates. God is moving all of life to a purpose where all creation will be restored. Being a part of that purpose, in participating in God's activity, in God's mission in the world give shape, direction, purpose, and a deeper rhythm to my life which is free from my frenzied attempts at control, my dead-end attempts to find pleasure and peace. Rather, in getting in line with God keeps me wondering what is ahead, and what people and circumstances I will encounter -- life in this way, with God is indeed an adventure that I want to continually be embraced by.

The reality of this kind of life is fully manifest in the person of Jesus Christ for me. He is God, who became a human to be amongst us, to show us what an adventure life is in the midst of a struggling world, and to invite us into this life, which he created for us to experience. He came to give this life that we might experience it fully -- that only happens when we let go of our own controlling attempts at regulating life and enter into the adventure of life with God that we are called to live out each and every day.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

100 Years --

I am going to live until I am 100 years old. I have got 50 years to go. Actually, who knows how long I have to live, but the point is that life is too precious not to live it in a way that drinks in all that we journey into. As I reflect back over my past 50 there have been tremendous experiences of the gift of life -- marrying and embarking on life with my wife, receiving the gift of two daughters, who continually fill my life with joy (and heartache at times too), the numerous relationships I have been privileged to participate in, even some of my accomplishments. But there also has been much of my own doing -- perhaps my undoing -- struggling with my own limitations, my own attempts to control the direction of my life, giving to much credence to the "shoulds" and "oughts" in my life, somehow wanting to "fit" into the expectations of others.

In many ways as I have struggled with these things of my own doing, I have grown, especially as I have come to realize that these have been my attempts at making a life for myself. It is in coming to realization that I don't do a very good job of shaping my life, but that the life that God daily pours into us, is a gift. Life is a gift and we have the opportunity to live into it with fullness if we have the ears to hear and eyes to see what life is all about.

There are always others who want not only to control their own lives, but also the lives of others. The more we buy into "fitting into" the control schemes of others, or even our own, the more we will miss the abundance that life has to offer.

There are a few things I have come to realize. One is that to live a life that is full, a life that embraces what it is to be fully human, is a life that can only be lived in connection with God. Why? Because I, we are "theo (God) logical" beings. I believe the Story that we are created by God and this earth is the gift we have received for us to live out the life we have been given.

There are tons of other stories out there, trying to make sense of life, but I have found that this Story makes sense out of me and opens me up to all that God is and all that God is doing in the world. Therefore, to explore life with God, in context of God's continuing creative activity, is becoming the way for me to discover how I am being continually re-created in living life in connection with the God of Life. So whether I live another 50 years, or only a piece of it -- I choose to listen less to the limits others try to place on me, and to be more open to the rhythms of God in my life.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Some Learnings on a Journey --

It has been about 3 months now since I left my teaching and administrative position at Northern Seminary to discern the next phase of my life and ministry. On this "sabbatical" I am developing ears to hear and eyes to see things about myself and God that were somewhat hidden from me due to the business and "boxed in" times of my life over the past 5 or so years.

Something I am realizing is that most of the more fruitful times in my spiritual journey have involved being and dialoguing with others. Putting my thoughts out there in a blog can be a solitary thing, and yet it becomes community-oriented when others begin to join in the dialogue by reading and commenting. However, this can be a random approach to community because it is dependent upon whoever stumbles onto my site to read and comment -- which is a good way to meet new people. However, I also realize that over the years I have been in relationships with people who have contributed to discovery in my journeying with Jesus Christ, and hopefully I have contributed to their journeys as well. I think it is important, then to reconnect with my community, extended over time and space -- perhaps through a blog such as this, so that we can remain in conversation with one another.

There is a certain discipline to writing regularly, one in which I still have a long way to go to master, but I think may come easier for me if I can be in regular dialogue with a community. I am planning on inviting those who have been my conversation partners over the years -- from long ago to recent -- to read and to comment on these musings (or ramblings) so that we can be in conversation together.

I am sure I will get more out of this discipline than those who join me, but I hope I am able to share in others' journeys as well. For those of you who join me in this - -thanks in advance.