Tuesday, September 15, 2015

In, Up, Out

This is Day 2 of my Faith Challenge at work...


Sept 15
Look In, Up, and Out
1. Look in to prepare your heart
2. Look up to God for strength and guidance
3. Look out with the help of others and you can achieve more

1. Look in. I think I’m actually pretty good about looking in my heart to prepare. This is due to my stepping into Anglicanism almost a decade ago. This expression of the church helps us with preparation by walking us through the seasons of the church and things like prayer as a community, confession, and receiving Eucharist on a weekly basis. It has instilled a rhythm of preparation. This is not to say that my heart isn’t hard on a daily, weekly, or seasonal basis. It’s just that the liturgy walks us through worship with our whole life and whole body, whether we are ready for God or not. And we do it together as a community. It’s not only a preparation for myself.

2. Look up. The concept of looking up is a bit hard because I usually picture God with me, beside me. But I get the idea is a posture of humility before a great, powerful, and awesome God. It’s a little like kneeling in prayer. It’s an expression of worship and reverence. I admit I find myself looking to the sky when I’m frustrated with God when He and I are “having words” (that’s usually me having words while He patiently listens). I actually wonder if I only look up in those times because I picture Him far away? But when all is well in my life, I picture Him there with me? Something to think about….perhaps I need to go back to Step 1…?

I will say this about the posture of looking “up” to God for guidance. It comes with the idea of the fear of God. For many years, the Fear of God was instilled into me like God is a monster. As in, I should be scared of Him because He could squash me like a bug and He’s ready to do so with just one misstep. Remember how God promised to bless the Israelites for obedience and cursing would come to them for disobedience? Well, just imagine that running in your head every time the “fear of God” is mentioned in the Bible? Not exactly a pretty picture. And why would we want to serve and worship this God anyway? Simply out of being scared of Him? Well, that invites worry, which is what God tell us not to do because He is with us. It’s a pretty vicious cycle…. Until….

As I was writing children’s curriculum a few years ago, I had to wrestle with this concept. You guys, sometimes I would wrestle with these concepts (especially some Old Testament ones) to the point of tears. (I cried for two weeks when I wrote a lesson on the Ten Commandments….just ask my husband.) This was one of those times. How in the world do you I teach the fear of the Lord to six year olds without inciting worry, the kind of worry that kept me up at night when I was that age?

Then, I thought about those moments when I see the power and wonder of God in full glory, the kind that brings me to my knees without being able to stop myself. I thought about crackling thunder during a rolling storm, and when I’m face to face with a lion at the zoo, who is only inches from my face with only glass as a separation. Those are the moments that make me shake with wonder and fear. Who is this God? Then I remembered this is the One by my side. He’s not the monster God waiting to strike me. He’s the One who promised protection. When I look to the sky to see a bright flash of lightning while driving home in a storm, that is my looking toward my God and remembering that strength—His strength—is a gift He promised me. I think I’ll try looking up a bit more this week, not just during the storms.

3. Look out. This is where I am able to do things with God’s strength and not only with Him but also with others—with my faith community. This is not just Jesus and other and you spells JOY. But I think this is relying on the gift of others—those we know are safe people—to help us see what God is doing in our lives and being able to share when we see Him working in others. This is me sitting with drinks at the bar (Bar Louie!) and laughing with a friend because we are remembering the joy that comes from life and then talking in hushed tones because we’re working through the crap of life together too. It’s knowing you are seen and heard and that happens by being with others. From those places—those safe places—we are able to go out and be a safe place for others as we live out who we are. Good friends who love God love us enough to say He’s made you this way and He wants nothing less for your life because He’s good. And we can bless them before they go out into the unsafe places again.

 Go in peace, friend. Know you are loved. Know you are seen.

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