To see GSHJ “less darkly” – a love story (3)

*** (God Soft Hands Jesus)

The reason for this story? To see GSHJ “less darkly” – and a question from Julia: (and work forwards if you wish)

Dear Julia –

This word “free” – much like the word “grace” – much like “love” … I wonder if we prefer to use them as labels. Slapped here and stuck there. Covering this need and suppressing that yearning.

I think it odd that we use the phrase “tying the knot” when marrying the person we love. Is love really about that? Is love not “untying the knot” – allowing the freedom to walk away – the freedom to give everything I am.

Free! Love! Grace!

What does that actually mean? What does that actually allow? What does it really endow? If these words of power are really something incredible – what do they allow us to be – to do – to become?

Because if we invite our Lord to dwell within us – are we not simply asking to be possessed? And if we are – then voices, and dreams and visions, and sensing and hearing and seeing and all that Really Weird Shit might be the consequence. More for some, less for others, and unique to each – but a simple reality of inviting our own possession.

The Really Weird Shit has become important for me to talk about. Simply because so few do. Not in a personal “guess what happened last night” kind of way. For me it is.

Because if we never make the weird shit just more normal stuff … if we are not safe to share … How do we distinguish – how do learn how to discern … Just how do we learn to know what is Him – and what is us?

And if we never learn to trust Him or us …

How are we safe. How are we really free? How can we give or receive anything freely? And just how can we really and truly love “me” – never mind anyone else?

Yet we happily read the Bible and demons being cast out. We happily read about dead people coming back to life. We happily “buy into” the sticky labels of faith.

Yet so often never make them more than that.

And therein for me is the greatest sadness of all. For decades no one ever invited me to step into the “really weird shit” and accept it as “normal God stuff.” No one ever talked about really weird shit as normal.

Is it intimacy or fear?

If it is intimacy then we all love God. We all have a relationship with God. We are all connected in God. He showers me day after with intimate moments. They do not “run out”.

So is it fear?

Because if it is fear then the bits of the jigsaw come apart. Hopping from church to church (or just opting out), from minister to minister (and judging each one), from worship team to worship team (and loving or loathing the show). Always looking for where we might fit. Always looking at each other.

Rather than looking at Him. Full on. In the eye.

And all the time sticky plastering “I am Free, I am Loved, I am showered in Grace” everywhere I go.

And knowing I am not.

Could it be we worship our Lord and Father on “bended knee, in fear and trembling” because we are not truly safe?


29 thoughts on “To see GSHJ “less darkly” – a love story (3)

  1. Hi Paul,

    I love the questions you ask. Sometimes I have a bit of an answer, sometimes not. But you made me resonate with your (perhaps rhetorical) question of: “Could it be we worship our Lord and Father on “bended knee, in fear and trembling” because we are not truly safe?”

    In my experience, yes, yes it is. And, as you know, I spend much of my time trying to help the “white knuckled and fearful” to relax a bit and let Jesus do what Jesus does when you let Him. But as I read this, my mind saw an image of “sheep”. Sheep in a flock. Sheep who are taught from cradle to grave that the SAFE spot is in the middle, dead center, of the flock. Danger always lies at the edges.

    That is, we are trained from nursery school on… that we are to be “normal”. I am, in part, a statistician… and “normal” has a very specific technical meaning to me. We learn to stay around the “mean”, limit ourselves to the beefy part of the normal curve, the bulgy part. It is dangerous to be an “outlier”.

    Granted, “great people” are usually “outliers”… but, what’s the odds of that? How many of us could ever envision ourselves as “great people”? No… much more likely is the OTHER kind of “outlier”, the bad kind… the Eccentric, the Deviant, the Alienated, the Weird, the Crazy, the Marginalized.

    Eventually, when we’re properly socialized, educated, and trained, we always learn to “gravitate towards the mean” as nearly an instinct. We measure our social safety by watching the “flock thickness” surrounding us. When it becomes too thin we are getting too near the margins, walking on thin ice, and run the risk of leaving our social safety net.

    The other problem becomes, if we let go of this… what do we then HAVE to measure our “right/wrong” or “ok/not ok” -ness against. I mean, it’s all well and good to SAY… “well, Jesus was an outlier, as were the Companion Disciples, the Apostles, and so scripture calls us to be”. Fine. But how do we distinguish that from the multitudes of headliners who use God and religion to do terrible things to other people and groups? Isn’t it just safer in the public interest, to keep our safe and central place in the flock of semi-consciousness?

    So, what makes it safe to become an outlier?

    It’s not a question of “what?”, but a question of “Who?” Jesus, the Living Breathing Speaking GSHJ, makes it “safe”. Love makes it safe. To act as one truly sees Jesus ACTING in the Gospels… not what someone else interprets Him as “really meaning to say or do”. To speak as Jesus truly SPEAKS. To love as Jesus loves. To treat one another with the respect and sacredness we see Him use… all the while acknowledging that He Himself is alive, is “in possession” of us, is working grace through us, at the same time… These are what make it safe.

    Truly to surrender to His control and transformation, no matter how wobbly we may feel in the knees, to humble the self to learn from Him, from scripture, and from others… to reject the pride that says, “I’m to big, too old, or too smart for this!”

    I suspect these are the traits that make it safe to trust to the possession of GSHJ.

    Loved the question. *Plop*… there’s my answering pebble. How do the ripples mesh? Grace — LM

    • The ripples are a wonderful sea, in the sun, miles from anywhere, on an air bed/lilo rocked beautifully and soothingly! Wrapped in peace, totally safe and unconditionally loved!!

      Your words hit so many nails on the head LM – so many!! Tap, tap ,tap …

      Through God, of God, in God! Wow!!!

      Thank you!!

    • LM…that was WAY more than a pebble, my wise friend, that was a boulder. You peeled back layer upon layer and revealed the soft inner core of Truth. I have often felt like an outlier (an outcast to many who know me) and wallowed in self-pity about all of it for a good portion of my life. Until I met Jesus. He embraced me on the outside and walked me into knowing Him more fully. He showed me that I don’t need to be a part of the circle, much less in the sweltering, mushy middle. I can breathe on the outside, because He gives me air.

      Thank you for this comment. I am soaking in the warm glow of these words and will share them with my Father. On the outside of the circle.

  2. “Is love not “untying the knot” – allowing the freedom to walk away – the freedom to give everything I am.” What an interesting thought. Love is a choice we make. It is overwhelming to know that He “chooses” to love each of us every single moment. Thank you for sharing your journey 🙂

    • Hiya Julie – keeping my personal “personal” – after 20+ years of marriage, that thought only crossed my mind last night. And yes – He chooses to love us, all without the hot and cold we are so good loving ourselves, each other as well as Him. Wow!!

      • Great comments here. This is what real love looks like. Two free people choosing to love the other. This is how God loves us. And His other-centered love drives away our orphan fear. I’m always safe in the Father’s embrace. As Jesus said, I am never alone.

        Btw, great post too, Paul. 🙂

  3. Wow – this is all awesome to me. Little Monk – whoa – I got so much from what you shared. And Paul, as to true form, I got blessed – I got to thinking – and that, my brother, is good.
    Thank you guys.

  4. I, like others, have taken off our shoes and are on tiptoe beside you in your sacred space. I am reading and listening and am in awe; not of you as much as what is deep and precious for you to express. I am listening to understand and not to refute. May I go back and ask questions? I often have questions. If I become too nosey, tell me to go away. If it is enlightening, perhaps you will answer. Be gracious to us and tell us more…

    • Julia, thank you.
      Refute, ask, question, converse. Your question of Him, in Him and through Him began this story. You were Him and are Him. All of us who profess to love Him are.
      It is odd seeing some of the comments here. Simple words tumble out through this keyboard, and yet so many precious and rare words bounce back. Inspiring and connecting and unifying. And confusing. Mostly confusing.
      How are there so many so full of love, of God, of all that is good? In this world we bemoan, this world of sighs. So much hatred and violence and pain. Yet underneath? So much love. So much community. So much the same.
      I have you to thank for releasing this story. And as always Him to thank for moving in each of us. But especially you for hearing Him and allowing me to as well. Ask away 🙂

  5. “Rather than looking at Him. Full on. In the eye.” Wow.

    I suspect the fear and trembling for some (sometimes me) is not that I don’t feel safe but God may actually have me “do” something I don’t want to do or tell me something I don’t want to hear. We can safely encapsulate our religious experience but doing so separates us from God and any hibbie jibbies, visions or commands those heroes of the Bible experienced (endured?).
    I think its easy to trust God to meet our needs but harder to trust ourselves (flaws and all) to all Him.
    I must say I never know what I’m going to find on your page on any given day. And that’s a good thing. 🙂

    • Lilka – hello again! What a wonderful comment!

      “… God may actually have me “do” something I don’t want to do or tell me something I don’t want to hear.”

      When I look back since that devil/Jesus evening, I know without a shadow of a doubt that He has used this blog and my words. Not for anyone else – although that may be the case sometimes – but to teach me to listen, to hear, to say yes without “why” all the time, to become comfortable in saying yes to more – and learn that “no” means no. Sometimes it means “not yet” – but always it means “no” in that moment. And all through sitting here with a bible website, some daily verses, and a keyboard. My life and work and “living” has not been turned upside down, nor have I been asked to give everything away, or spend all my time doing churchy stuff. None of that.

      Yet I trust Him now more than ever – all through tapping a keyboard in communion with Him. And that feeds into “real life” – that feeds into real “encounters” with others. That listening becomes more a habit and less a conscious decision to “hear”. And still I walk around with my ears plugged solid so much of the day.

      When I look back – He has asked me to do so much – but tiny little-stuff things. He allows me to be safe always. And I find that incomprehensible. It is a finesse and a knowledge of me I don’t have of me. Yet He does.

      I offer no advice because that gets in His way. What I can say is this: I know without doubt that He allows if we allow. And it probably a rare day when that includes “life and job and home and friends and family” changing. He has asked and I have changed – but a fraction at a time – such a small thing I don’t even mind. It can feel confusing sometimes – but it is always “great” relationship. 🙂

  6. What a joy it is to sit back and observe the unfolding of your love story. To witness the questions you ponder–each requiring us to plunge into the depths of our beliefs (dare we ask them of ourselves? If so, can we answer them? if not, why not? oh that we would engage in our own love story with GSHJ to ask Him!), to dig beyond the shallow, “sticky labels of faith” to uncover the Truth–and to be privy to the inner-workings of your glorious mind.

    “If these words of power are really something incredible – what do they allow us to be – to do – to become?” These power words deflate under our labels, under our misguided, misunderstood misappropriation. Much like our “denominations” and the subsequent (connotative) meaning behind those labels, we often use words as comfort, as a warm blanket in the midst of the frigid winter of our sin. Those words are God’s. They ARE God. Jesus is the Word. Oh how we abuse His Word. How we abuse Him, casting a “grace” to the homeless man on the street, and a “faith” to the person awaiting her cancer treatment, and a “love” to the neighbor we never greet with a smile or kindness. Do we mean what we say? Do we have Jesus abiding in us so that He can speak through us? So much to consider…

    Perhaps one of the most poignant, profound, and piercing questions you asked was: “How do we distinguish – how do learn how to discern … Just how do we learn to know what is Him – and what is us?” I have often wondered this and have determined that, for me, I know it’s NOT Him when I wobble as Peter did in the presence of GSHJ, when the Word becomes just words spoken at and over others in harsh tones or hushed disdain, when I lose sight of Truth and dizzy under the astigmatism of lies.

    You definitely chiseled away the crumbly bits to reveal the raw underbelly of our truth: We are simply looking for a way to fit, always looking to each other, at each other. As if we have the answers. As if the “other” could shoulder the blame for not having the answers we seek. As if the other could save us from the storm when they can’t even save themselves. Our only hope, our only safety is in the arms of GSHJ.

    When we come to Him on bended knee, when we tremble before Him, are we merely “sticky plastering” an “honor Me with your lips” facade or are our hearts trembling, too?

    I have so many things to add but need to spend time with GSHJ first.

    Thank you, Paul, for talking about the weird stuff. I’m the proverbial moth to the flame of its truth, His Truth.

    • Heather – wow and wow again! You are such a beautiful word artist! I see differently when you paint your words so delicately and lovingly. Thank you!!

      I will rest. And await what comes from your communion – because you always release another glorious painting/statue/work of God each time!!

  7. I’ve pondered this for a couple of days now, wondering exactly what you are asking, how to respond. Thank you for making me think.

    There’s so much here I’m processing, more thanks to the comments of your last responder. But for now I will say this–the closer we walk with Him the more we sound the same . . .

    • Paula – thank you so much for this comment. I have been overwhelmed by the words being shared here. To have these words pondered is a true gift. The best.

      Your last sentence reminded me of the question “what do you do” – and the answer “I play in an orchestra”. For each musician there must be so many alternative answers. Yet each of us here simply “plays in the orchestra” – and helps makes a beautiful sound. Whether that be in Him, or seeking Him.

      I hope.

  8. Paul, I’ve been meditating, resonating, pondering – this is all so joyful. Catching up with this entire thing and loving it – the post, the thoughtful comments – this family. Simply awestruck at this – yes, you said it – orchestra, so harmoniously seeking God and all the love he has to offer.

    • Susan, thank you. Today the story (so far) seems to have run its course. And it touches me deeply to see the community, the love and the fellowship. That “mustard seed” comes to mind – this blogging family just a seed. And the seed has no notion of what it could be, should be, or any of that. It just gets on with being a seed, then a shoot and then ….
      I have no idea what this could be, should be or any of that. But just getting on and being a seed – that is cool.

  9. The last line, to be in awe of God, presupposes, in me anyway that I know the Wonder of God. I do not fear because I am in his hands and he will never drop me and for this God is awful and wonderful to me.

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