Running on empty


No one comes to the Father …

I read one part of a comment yesterday. The comment was below yesterday’s post: Lord, I gift you my emptiness –

Julia began with these words: It’s strange how your theme of emptiness keeps coming up. Is it a bit like “us and them”?” (Julia, Gentle Breeze: He leads me beside a moorland stream – http://reflectionsduringlent.wordpress.com/)

And I think that this theme of emptiness is simply another realisation on my part – not that there is an “us and them”.  Simply that the more of “me” I bring to the relationship, the less room there is for Him.  And my way of seeing things is so ingrained in “my way” of seeing things – that when I see things my way (uninfluenced and unguided by His way) I still see things too darkly.

No one comes to the Father …

I was sitting in church yesterday – the last “official” time we can sing a few carols.  The Magi were the centre of attention.  And yet He drew me to something I had never ever seen before.  He whispered something I had never ever understood.

He let me see that God entrusted Himself not simply to the womb of Mary, not simply to those nine months and a barn (stable, shack, whichever “hovel description” works for you).  Not simply to a warm safe womb of His own creation.

But that God entrusted Himself to the ignorance and imperfections of an untrained, unversed, very new Mum and Dad.  He entrusted so many of His years to the best efforts of two newbies.

And as a parent myself, I am familiar with the concept of getting it wrong as a Father.  Familiar with the concept of teaching “child one” something – and looking round to see “child two” doing that same thing – and wondering how that happened – because we had not taught “child two” how to do that yet.  I am familiar with learning how to be a parent with “child one” – making mistakes with child one – and (unless I am uniquely rubbish at being a parent) I would say that is true for most of us.

And as I pondered yesterday the “prepare to worship” minutes – when we all look down and look within (to see if He has gone fishing?) – as I pondered the weekly repetition of “forgive us for being so crap” prayers – as I sang along to the hymns and carols of three wise men turning up (almost before Jesus has had his first nappy change) …

By making GSHJ so perfectly perfect in birth-death-resurrection – we distance Him. By creating a Mary “without blemish” for the rest of her life – we distance Him.  And by assuming that Joseph was the perfect Father without any experience at all – we distance Him.  By airbrushing (so wonderfully perfectly) the corporate version – we make the whole thing so chintzily perfect – we create our own fantasy fiction – we create our fanclub version – we distance Him.

And then rest comfortably in our “default mode setting” ever more.  We rest in being such crap sinners we never can (we never will) be good enough for Him.  We embrace crappiness and sinning and being incapable of doing anything else.  We so love to compare ourselves as sinners to One so perfectly perfect … that He remains distant.  From our birth to our death – He remains distant.  The corporate God is just that – a corporate entity.

And that is not a person.

If you really know me …

I have not “known” GSHJ for 2000+ years.  None of us have.

We buy-into the corporate stewardship of the family album.  We buy into being related to Adam and Eve.  We buy into carrying that (chintzy?) version of creation.  Seven days measured by our modern digital clock perception.  We “fill ourselves up” with so much “knowing Him” that we never get to “know Him” at all.

I have “known of” Jesus for around 50 years. Just as I have “known of” the corporate God for thousands of years.  Yet only in the past two years have I come “to know” GSHJ – only in the past two years have I seen GSHJ “less darkly”.  I have had to “empty” myself of so much – so much of what I have been taught and teached and preached to think – to do – to be.

As I sat in church yesterday He blew over my shoulder.  And other prejudice … another stale belief … another label … another “them” … tumbled over.  Another category of “unloved and unsaved” vanished.

If you really know me …

I have not “known” GSHJ for 2000+ years.  None of us have.  In my case I have known Jesus for less than two years.

How about you?

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“Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”” John 14:5-10

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16 thoughts on “Running on empty

  1. Paul I just love this, and love being back. You know we listen and are surrounded by so many voices it just drowns everything out. I am learning day by day in my walk with Him that He just wants me, as I am, to come to Him, as He is. Thank you for this beautiful post and your beautiful thoughts, I am so glad God steered me back to our wonderful little church online full of some of the most beautiful people I know. Lots of love to you today, have a great one

    M

    • Wow! Now that is a comment! 🙂

      I did a family and friends email over Christmas. You reminded of something I wrote with real love about this church of blogs:
      “And the real joy of this community? It is non-hierarchical, non-denominational, and non-judgmental. And with that has been a freedom to explore and develop a relationship with the best friend one can have.”
      Thank you! ((hug))

  2. Good stuff, Paul. And it’s interesting you bring this up. I just told my congregation last Sunday that I’ve been a “born-again, Spirit-filled Christian” (as people like to say), loving Jesus, worshiping Jesus, doing the “stuff,” faithfully following Him for 37 years, being a leader in a local church for 24 of those years, but I’ve only really known Him for the last 14 years.

    • Thank you Mel. I love the honesty in this church of blogs. And I love the honesty you share in church.
      Distance makes the heart grow fonder (as people like to say) except we all know that it doesn’t. Not unless you know you will be embracing with a full-on embrace asap. Here’s to getting intimate – here’s to really knowing Him – right here right now.

  3. I have always been terrified at the thought of seeing Jesus, like if he were to show up tonight in my living room I would probably drop dead in fright. Yet, I love the Jesus that wraps his loving arms around me and holds babies on his lap. Both Jesus’s are real and I know both. I guess I am just thankful that he knows me.

    • Rebekah, I sometimes wonder whether He has – and I never realised. Too busy seeing the outside to see the inside.
      (And if you did drop dead in fright … Well that might be the safest place to do it!)
      🙂

  4. Been saved many years, but I am still just getting my feet wet. So much to learn, so much to know, so much to understand. I think after last year I am up to my ankles now . . . and so I continue on . . . trusting, believing, getting closer everyday . . . praying one day I will (in faith ) just walk on the water and forget all this wading around 🙂 ~ Blessings in Jesus ~

    • Deborah, today at work a colleague asked how to do something on a spreadsheet. Always too busy to do it themselves, always not important enough to know how. Yet all the time that spreadsheet had been doing what it does. Day in and day out.
      Today she wanted to know how. So she could as well.
      Reminded how He can do it all, and how long I have taken to start finding out how. Just accepted He does what He does for so many years. Always too busy to ask.
      I love your water colours!!

  5. Beautiful post. Peeling back all of the perfection and coverings that have enshrined Mary allows us to bare our imperfect selves as well. I can’t even imagine being the mother to the Messiah, (no pressure there) but your statement about entrusting Christ to two inexperienced parents reminds me that I don’t have to have it all together to embrace God, to dare and inch a bit closer. My imperfect self is good enough. I’ve been “saved” for decades but to just familiarly talk to God about any old thing, little things, trivial things without want or need, just to chat, and then listen, not even two years.

    • Lilka, I was talking with someone recently who is scared. Who is “saved” yet scared to get too close. Scared of the answers to the questions. Some years ago I would have thumped any bible within reach and offered advice. Now I understand. And now I nod, listen, and nudge Him inside. Now I know why. Distance is safe. That final hairsbreadth scary. And until you do – always will be. But once you do, once you have – then it is safe! More than safe. More than anything.

      My friend’s time was not “now”. But it will be. And when he does – then the fun begins …
      🙂

      • I think the fear of getting too close coincides with the fear of being accountable and actually obligated to “do something” I don’t think most people realize the freedom it provides. I don’t think it even truly explainable unless you experience it. Great, great post 🙂

      • “I don’t think it even truly explainable unless you experience it.”

        More and more I am appreciating the different tones, words, notes, scents, and sights we all prefer. Less “Why can’t they see it my way” – and more “Thank God they don’t see it my way” – each of us making up this wondrous and diverse orchestra of love.

  6. Hi,
    I seem to be going backwards in time or perhaps just catching up. I have been wondering what began happening two years ago which caused you to begin to see GSHJ “less darkly” and what caused you to empty yourself of what you “have been taught and teached and preached to think”.
    I glanced at what you wrote awhile ago and found myself thinking and wondering as the weeks went by. There is a story here I reckon. Can I coax you to share it? I am interested
    Julia

    • Hi Julia – now there is a question to ponder! Thank you. And oddly enough connected to some things He and I have been mulling over together recently. So you and He have prompted an answer – or at least an introduction to an answer. And I have no idea where this will go, or why right now, or even what it will include.

      Ain’t He great!! 🙂

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