Chapter Seven


Anyone have post delivered every day?

No matter the rise in emails, social networking, twitter, and all the other new kids on the block – a bit of paper in an envelope continues to make it through my front door an a regular basis.

And despite the rise of SatNavs and GPS and all the wonderful gadgets to get me from A to B without a furious argument with my front-seat navigator and map – place names and road numbers and mileage and time remain crucial in getting from one place to another.

And the bible?

Chaptered, versed, sub headed, reference linked, commentary rich, all making sure that getting lost in The Living Word is hard to do (he says cheek bulging with tongue).

And believers?

Which ology do you belong to, which denomination, what upbringing, what beliefs, what faith, which god (!), what verses, which hymns, what prayers, which discernments, and all that stuff.

The road to heaven is littered with signpost and labels and so many indicators that the “road furniture” can be most confusing. Speed limits, give way signs, hump-backed bridges, no U-turns here, no stopping in a red zone, so much to take notice of, so much to watch out for.

And the result?

That winding path is replaced by the big six-lane motorway. The winding path becomes the straight and wide path. And if too many take a detour and a sharp left-hand turn down a leafy lane? Chaos will happen! And where will we be if we all did that? Gone to hell in a handcart is where!

Stop being an individual! Get with the programme! Read your bible! It is simple!! Are you for us or against us?

How did that happen?

How did the narrow gate and the winding path become the super-highway towards the biggest and most obvious neon decorated, sky-high door frame, lit with searchlights for all to see – so obvious is the way into heaven?

I grew up in a house of God. The God I was given was God. Not some weird kind of retired pensionable age wrinkled and past His sell-by-date God. Just God with nowt taken out.

Except it was someone else’s God. Not mine. Someone else’s love. Not mine. Someone else’s relationship. Not mine.

(and as I type that word “relationship” something inside me sighs gently: “Welcome Home Paul”)

We so love to know stuff. The world works on knowing stuff. Where, when, what time, for how long, with whom, with what, and how, and then what, because I have this or that or the other to do.

It seems to be a constant.

Old T, that tome of time. The context setting for something wonderful. The how to and the how not to. Plenty of labels and signposts and road furniture there. The Rules and Law and Covenant and “how many miles” indicators.

Then the Company Jolly. The New T and a day off. Casual wear and miracles galore! A picnic by the river with plenty of swimming. New covenant all shiny and bright. Bread and fish for lunch! Sunshine all day long!!

And then map stops. The signposts stop. The mileage indicators stop. Except we keep going.

The journey continues. Our “Ongoing T” being lived and questioned rather than written. And we look back at the Old T and the New T and puzzle over our Ongoing T. Compasses to the ready, looking back at the path, trying the discern where it goes. Struggling to see the next turn, the next mileage indicator, the next something we need to see. Need to know. Need to earn. With all the journeying we need to know we are on the right path. And we need to know that those we journey with are not taking us down a blind alley. Tempting us to sin. Steering clear of Sin. Always scared of Sin.

(I find I keep checking with Him as these words fall off the keyboard: Is this really what you want lord – seems like weird shit to me? And I just get a gentle: “Oh yeah … keep typing”)

Seems to me that we want to build a super highway of certainty. Construct in our mind’s eye a super colossal Stairway to Heaven (I love that song!). Scared – fearful – that we might not be heading the right way. Doing the right things. Saying the acceptable in His sight. Mixing with the sinners (even though I keep seeing we cannot help but sin – same quandary on this one). And instead of earning our way to heaven (obviously a sin), we replace rules with signposts, labels, mileage indicators, more stuff of rules but with a pretend coating of labels.

Which ology do you support … I was a label – now I am not a label … look at me – I am label-less (btw please confirm that being label-less is an ok label) … I am free … Look at me – I am walking the road to my God – every day.

And the only way “I know I am”?

Is by keeping to the middle of the biggest most straightest most flattest most planned and honed and constructed and maintained mega-laned highway. Made by others. Maintained by others. Confirmed as okay by others. And yet (and this is the stuff which really blows my grey cells apart)

We convince ourselves it is really the winding path to the narrow gate.

And the eensy-teensy smidgeon missing in every single illusion – in all of this soap-opera style of salvation:

R E L A T I O N S H I P
has
NO
stuff.

Relationship with your best bud, your spouse, your partner, your children your friends, your facebook, your twitter, your whatever … it is not about doing the right or wrong thing. It is not about charging along checking all the time. It is not about what others say or do.

It is about being. It is about be still. It is about initimacy.

Walking on Water? That parable spawned an industry of climbing out of your boat stuff. Dare we get out of the boat? Can we actually walk on water? Are we up for some wave walking? Isn’t that how we do Kingdom Work? Isn’t it (under the fluff) all about “ME”?

One morning some time ago – pre-Monologue on the Mount – He took me into that storm, into that boat, into that fear, into Peter, and pierced my heart with one word: relationship.

He gave me an image of thousands of happy people at the beach on holiday. Swimming, diving, jet-skiing, floating, lounging, sunbathing, at rest, at ease, off-duty. All able to walk on water. All indeed already walking on water. No fear of water at all. The walking on water is the easy bit. The walking on water something we all do every day without even realising.

It is the relationship bit we never understand. The bit that we flounder with. The bit we doubt. The bit we need “how to have a great relationship” books and counselling and support groups and church.

R E L A T I O N S H I P

We are already out of the boat. And only when we flounder in our relationship with our lord do we jump back in (to our polished comfort zone of doubt and “boat furniture” salves).

I was fortunate. I seem to have escaped so much of the debate, dissent and division I see around me now. All the labels and ologies and verse-offs. I was simply presented with someone else’s God and told that was how I do it. And I looked at that God, took it on board, tried it on for size – and found it didn’t fit.

So I took it off and never bothered finding another size.

Until the last few years. And I found not a suit, not an outer layer, not a protective coating – nothing on the outside. I found something on the inside. Waiting. Patiently. All the years.

And found a relationship that has no size, that has no fit. Because we do not “clothe ourselves” in it. We “are it.” As much a part of “it” as the nails on my fingers, the toes on my feet, my bum sitting on this stool as I type. He is us and we are Him. One with the One, of the One, one with I Am, I am of I Am. Just like you are. And always have been.

What need of labels? What need of signposts? What need of mileage indicators? Why do we need so much to know we are on the main road, the highway, the super mega many-laned straight and certain route to God. Isn’t that how we get to A-B in the fastest time?

And what do we learn as we travel this featureless, road-furnitured route? We see others travelling faster or slower, we learn to keep pace, we learn that slow-coaches are obstacles. We get bored. We ask “are we there yet.” We watch a dvd in the back seat to pass the time. Content in the knowledge we are going the right way and keeping good time.

Relationship.

You ever meandered with your loved one? Caught a sunset. Caught a sunrise wrapped in a duvet on the beach with the salt air chill tickling your shoulder blades as you make the sweetest love, the faint light of daybreak adding to a wonderful intimacy, and not even minding when you notice a curious boatman (trying not to be curious) out there on the water?

You ever get that as you cruise along the highway? How would that fit into the map of how-to?

Relationship.

Without it – will we ever get to heaven? And even if we can – why even bother? Isn’t heaven simply the relationship of all relationships? And don’t we already have that – every second of every day – day after day.

If we allow?

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10 thoughts on “Chapter Seven

  1. I feel so lucky sometimes that I was not raised as a Christian.

    I got to skip all the labeltheodoxology and walk straight to Jesus when He called. Sure, I read about it and ponder it, but it doesn’t get in my way. It doesn’t become a barrier to my relationship with Him. I follow Him, His words, His intent. Jesus is the One who brought me to God. He’s the One who ensured I have a family and an inheritance. He’s the One who, with my Father, sent the Spirit to live inside me. I can never, ever minimize that gift, that grace, that love. That’s the extended hand of relationship.

    Frankly, I like this narrow, pastoral road. Why would I ever give it up for a crowded, loud, argumentative highway vehicles of judgment, unacceptance and anger?

    • I am in danger of taking every word you have written and enthusing!!! Enthusing I am. Writing loads of words – no.

      Because I think what I am learning recently is that my journey is perfect for only me. And someone who found their lord as a child? That is a perfect journey for only them. “Perfect” in my sense: where you had to be and what you had to do … to be who you have become …

      None of it perfect for all, not a template – just a unique original. Every time. Each difference perfect for each “one” just their where, who, what, why, and WHEN – all just for one.

      • Absolutely, Paul. I don’t think I would have chosen to walk toward Jesus, or understood what he had to say any earlier in my life. I’m certain I needed to be weighted with the sight and experience in order to be willing – grateful – to give him my burden and take up his. I ache to learn more of him every day, to lean in closer and hear his heartbeat. Perfect timing, for me, and for the rest of my life.

      • And the oddest thing for me – I read your words and see a lifetime, in the same way I read others words and see a lifetime. No “pecking order” of seniority, nor rank being pulled. And the saddest thing – just occasionally the imposed (self-imposed?) pecking order and hierarchy I also read in the same words. The “how long” comments.

        The parable of the vineyard, and the workers paid the same whether for a full day or a few minutes. And then the comments I see everywhere about how long we have each been (facebook phrase!) “in a relationship” with our God. And the other comments about “mature christians” (as opposed to really immature?). And the counting we impose is somewhere there under the surface.

        And the best thing? Being able to talk about this here. With you. 🙂

  2. “You ever meandered with your loved one? Caught a sunset. Caught a sunrise wrapped in a duvet on the beach with the salt air chill tickling your shoulder blades as you make the sweetest love, the faint light of daybreak adding to a wonderful intimacy, and not even minding when you notice a curious boatman (trying not to be curious) out there on the water?”

    No, but have always thought this would be lovely!

    (and I’m still laughing from way back up in the middle. So Englishman say “shit” too? )

    I guess my thoughts were not all that spiritual this time.

    • Chuckling at your comments , Rebekah. You have a habit of touching a thought and connecting it with a ton of other stuff. Your last line has just pulled another internal trigger – in a very interesting way. Thank you.

      (And the beach was spontaneous – and memorable!)

  3. And it that day you will realize that I am in the Father and you are in Me and I am in you . . .

    My agent told me I reminded her of her dog the other day. I may have to blog about it, but the idea was how far and fast I could run as long as I was sure He’s put me on that trail, but how timid and questioning I became when there wasn’t the God-markers I relied on. She says I’m learning now to trust that I run in the flow of His Spirit. And we’re both excited.

    • And that has me chuckling and chuckling!!! Thank you! 🙂
      And what a lovely picture you paint with so few words. Because I have yet meet anyone who doesn’t and hasn’t. Oddly he seems to be using this blogging to show me trust in my own relationship. Big stuff like jobs and finances and career are still outside any comfort zone – yet within reach. And should He ever ask for trust in these areas of comfort, it will be just another thing to listen, share and walk with Him and those in my life. Because one thing I have discovered – I cannot make myself ready.
      Thank you for this comment – I share your excitement. Because this is real stuff, and real stuff is what He is all about. 🙂

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