Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Small Things . Walking . God . Temptation . Pixel or Picture?

Not too long ago I was talking to the Horse. We were discussing my new regime. I told him I was feeling strong – and really happy with the direction my life was moving in currently, except for one small thing. I told him my devotional time with God had been all but abandoned and I didn’t know where I was going to fit it back in. Early mornings are now occupied with exercise – evenings with homework. I’m trying to meet my self-imposed early bedtime. Everything off by 9:30 – lights out by 10:00. So where’s my time to talk with God and listen to Him?

Then, the other week I noticed there was a jar of brightly colored pieces of paper on the counter in front of the changing rooms. I looked at the folded pieces of paper, not knowing what they really were and grabbed one on my way to the Shifting-Sands-of-Time Walking Machine. Opening it up, I discovered it was a Bible verse. Unfortunately not the full scripture, just the verse citation. But it got me to thinking … although I can’t read while I’m on that machine, I can certainly meditate with my head bowed as I watch my feet walk to nowhere. And then inspiration struck. What a perfect place to work on my prayer list. I am coordinated enough I can look briefly at the list – look back down, and spend time talking to God about me and that person.

So, I was giving myself a pat on the back – but a day or two into this I realized something. My prayers feel so hollow. It’s clearly a one sided conversation, me yakking at God. And half the time I don’t know what to say to Him. I mean … “Dear God. Please help my brother continue to be a good father. Please make his job go well. Thank you for his family. Help him to understand Mermaid-girl. Please let Mermaid-girl see you in her life, etc.” I mean – does God really NEED me to point those things out to Him? Or is it more about me being aware of others – and thinking of someone beyond myself. Of course in the back of my mind the words of Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love keep rolling around. “If you can’t be specific in your prayers, why should God be specific in your life?”

Then Sunday rolled around. In Sunday School we watched a 15 minute video aimed at High Schoolers by Rob Bell. He has a series of lectures call Nooma. The one we watched was Dust. The message was – you’ll be known by the little things you do. And it should be the little things that you focus doing that allow others to see God in your life. It also talked about God believing in ME – the flip side of what we normal hear, US believing in God. What I really focused on was the message about “small things” being the key when others evaluate us and how successful our walk with God is. And I thought to myself, “Mit, you’re not being too successful here. I don’t think other people looking at your life, can see that it’s any different because God is in it.” And that makes me sad. I don’t want to TELL people what God means to me. I want them to SEE God in my life.

Then in Big People’s Church the sermon was on Temptation. How temptation is an attempt at distraction. At allowing ourselves to believe WE should be at the center of things instead of placing God at that center. Again I was convicted. I have thoughts of tempting things that run through my mind. And instead of trying to turn them off, I feed them. A few of them, I even share with others. And how can I be a successful Christian if I’m discussing things that don’t glorify God – or His plans – or His way?

And then I had another discussion – an on-going discussion about “Does your life or interaction with others influenced them? Should it? Why or why not? Does it matter?”

The person I was having this discussion with said, “I know the reason you get so much out of church. It’s because of the social aspect.” I admitted to myself at that point, that if I were to see a report card for my life, I’d have a failing grade. I think the way I’m leading my life, it looks like one little burnt out pixel, instead of contributing to the whole picture glorious picture.

Tomorrow is another day. Another chance. What else can I ask for? Maybe some grace?


mamie said...

There is a wealth of information out there about walking meditations. When I'm on my treadmill, although I can't be conscious of the woods and trees and birds, I can do as Gail Godwin said: Pray the prayer that is simply, "I'm listening." You are making so many positive changes in your life. Keep up the good work.

tp said...

Mamie has a very good point - you are making sooo many positive changes in your life - you can't do it all at once - and succeed. Keep up the things you've started ( How I admire you!!!!) and keep listening. One thing that separates you from being seen as godly (if I may) is some of your language. *~* You truly have a stong desire to do right, think right, and be a good person - but the garment you "wear" shows more than the inside thoughts. Love you wwith much pride.

Woodstock said...

It's hard in the face of organized religions, and yes I do mean all of them, that tell us that our connection with the divine has to be something spectacular (parting waters, turning water into wine, feeding multitudes off a pitiful amount of food, blowing yourself up for the greater glory) to see the truth: our connection with the divine is found in the smallest things.

It sounds reductionist but it's not: everything around us that we see as evidence of divinity is made up of smaller parts - flowers are made up of petals, true charity is made up of a million small kindnesses.

Be good to yourself; you are making a lot of changes and they will eventually get you where you want to be.

tp said...

Good response, Woodstock !