My mum used to talk to God. I remember her saying she had told God she could not be bothered to talk one day – she was not in the mood – no apologies – just “I don’t want to talk to you today.” And didn’t.
I remember that because no one else had ever said anything even close. Everyone else HAD to talk to God. HAD to listen to God – HAD to! God was God and we weren’t.
Mum also kicked my butt from time to time. And I wasn’t God – I was just me – her son! That wasn’t all mum was – she was so much more. It’s just those memories linger when I think about her.
This morning I had the same thought: “Don’t want to talk today.”
At times like this my daily “routine” of meditation and verses just irritates. “I ask that God this, and I ask that God that, I remind myself that, and ask God for this that and the other.” In church we call that preparing for worship.
There are days (including Sundays) that I do not want to be “prepared” by anyone or anything. I do not want to conform. I do not want to ask God to make me something different. I want to be the one who makes me different. I want to be the one what wants to talk to God. And if I cannot and will not and do not … I don’t want to be “prepared” and “made ready” to meet God using someone else’s “must do and should do”.
I want to be left alone to NOT talk to God, to NOT listen to God, to NOT be changed by God, and to NOT become a walking-talking-breathing God-chill-pill-zone – that always seems like (in these moments) a chemical cosh (if you get what I mean). So I do not want to be “prepared” for worship and praise and adulation. Not today. And I hate reading the bible when I am in that mood. So I didn’t this morning. I decided that I would go around and around the “patronising preparation cycle” and see what happened. So I went around and around the three elements …
Presence … Freedom … Consciousness … Grrrrr … Hmmmph … Leave me alone … Hmmmph … Grrrrr … Leave me alone … Leave me alone … Grrrrr … Hmmmph … over … and …over … again …
And slowly a word, a phrase connected. A word penetrated. I allowed me to allow a word to penetrate. Not someone else. Not some “process”. Not some you must be chilled before you can speak to God instruction.
I allowed (you just have to wait God – I am busy).
We got to the verses eventually. He waited. I chilled. He always waits. I always chill. Eventually.
The verses were Matthew 18:21-19:1 The Forgiveness Parable – the seventy times seven – the if YOU don’t forgive YOU will get what’s coming to YOU when I come back parable – the duty and sacrifice and burden parable.
But not today.
Today we stopped at this: “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive?”
A self-declared “follower v follower” falling-out. Two people who have “given my life to God” confrontation. Both believers in my God and My Jesus and My Holy Spirit. That kind of tiff – an “in-house dispute”.
This morning in my grumpy “leave me alone” mood I learned something I would not have learned otherwise.
He waits. He waits and waits and waits until I am ready. And we expect that. Many of us don’t “cash in” that waiting. Many of us go through the “preparation cycle” and come out the other side still with all their stuff making too much noise to hear anything else. I have. I am certain I will again and again. Because “worship is worship” and God and is God and we are all busy people. Can’t sit around all day waiting for the magic to happen. Got stuff to do. Let’s get on with it.
“Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive?”
When the noise of MY stuff is ringing in MY head – doesn’t “sin” and being “sinned against” take on a “ME” perspective? Doesn’t my “stuff” filter and change everything I block or allow into my head? And the stuff I allow is going to confirm (without doubt) that I have been sinned against – that the “member of the church” is the sinner – that I am their innocent target – that I am the victim here –
Now that is always an interesting mindset! Usually comes with “but I had no choice” … “they were out to get me” … “I am the innocent party here” … “where is the justice” … who will agree I am the wronged party” … “who will put them in the place” … “what about me” …
That Forgiveness Parable … church members … in-house tiffs … I think is saying none of us are “victims” … I think “how many times” is the wrong question … I think Jesus knows this … I think I have just been shown this.
Because a victim is not a great mindset when it comes to love and unconditional love – it focuses on sin and being sinned against. And if we are looking for sin – if we are finding sin – how can we ever find love? And if we find sin instead of love – how can we forgive?
And if we always prepared to be “prepared” – to never go around and around – to never tell God to wait …
How will we ever hear anything but our own questions and answers?