Wednesday, December 05, 2012

And Then it All Makes Sense

It is early afternoon, and I've been awake for nearly 12 hours now. I probably should be napping. However, I figure I might use this opportunity to write an amusing blog post. What else could it be on roughly four hours' sleep?

This is probably the best state of mind for me to write about the current subject matter, however. I'm not even sure why I write things sometimes, except for the fact that writing is part of who I am. To be myself, I write. I've never particularly expected anyone to read what I write, but people do. Fascinating. And beside the point.

(Rambling is part of little sleep. Mostly.)

If you look back through recent posts, I've written about a spiritual trial, without getting too specific about it. I dare not say that it is finished, because it hasn't been mine to start or to finish, only to experience. So I won't say it is finished. But I will say that all of a sudden, many things make sense. Many spiritual things make sense.

I want to list some things that make sense.

The rootedness of the new covenant in the old covenant makes sense. This teaches me that when God sets out to do things, He starts out early, setting things up that don't look like they make a lot of sense or have a lot of meaning to them. When these things transpire in people's lives, they look like stuff made up of random suffering, injustice, cravings, sin, and choices on God's part that look like whimsy. But God does everything for His purposes, and He can redeem absolutely anything that befalls anyone. God invested a lot of time with the patriarchs of the old covenant, and He did it for our sakes -- for the sake of everyone who has lived since then. Christians impoverish themselves if they are not fluent in the Old Testament.

Poverty makes sense to me. I've written about this on this blog a few times. It has always sat awkwardly with me since my earliest contacts with the Catholic Church, whenever a homily or instruction has talked about poverty being all about someone else, and God's concern for those in poverty to be all about how we need to treat somebody else. No. We, God's people, are called to poverty. Spiritual poverty, and material poverty or detachment born of that spiritual poverty.

Mercy makes sense. Pride is the poison that keeps us from the heart of God. Mercy and the works of mercy is what breaks pride, both when we receive mercy and when we give mercy. Mercy comes to and from a heart that knows poverty.

This is a daring statement, but God's love makes sense. Jesus is God's mercy. The only thing we should think when looking upon any image of the Savior is how deeply God loves us. How "expensive" in terms of personal suffering Jesus' love for us is. That He paid the price for us isn't just some religious gobbedlygook talk. He lived a human life and He paid with human suffering in order for us to experience love. And not just any love, but a love that is infinite, and capable of literally anything. An all-powerful love.

I am God's child. And this makes sense. Children cannot take care of themselves, entirely. Small children cannot do it at all. They have needs which are far beyond their own capacity to fulfill. God wants me to reckon myself a very small child. In many ways, I have never been a very small child. In many ways, it takes great adult strength to reckon oneself a very small child, because God does not wish us to turn our brains off. Adults know the dangers of human frailty (our own and that of others) and the power of sin and temptation and what happens when a soul relinquishes itself to evil. Or at least adults can know these things. Chronological maturity and spiritual maturity sometimes have precious little association one with the other. But with my brain all the way on, God wishes me to simply turn to Him and say "You are Almighty. I am not. I will trust what you say, walk in your way, but You must be the one who comes through in this situation. But I'm not going to sit here gritting my teeth, waiting for you. I'm going to follow your directives, smile at you and hug you with my heart, because I know how much you love me. Anything you do in my life is going to show me that. Cuz I read the last paragraph."

I've learned that when I come to God I should say "Here I am, Lord. Anything You want, I want it too." So often my approach has been more like "Lord, I want to understand. What does this mean?" He knows my bent, He knows my needs, and understanding is not bad. What gets bad is anything that becomes a precondition for self-donation. "I'd be able to give you anything, Lord, if I just understood what was happening." Nope. That's not trust. That's not loving abandon. That's calculation.

I've learned that when God puts something in my heart to do, I should do it. It is God before whom I live. He is the one who matters. My mistakes in discerning the what and the how -- they can not only be redeemed, but they allow me a chance to be refined and to do better the next time around. And there will be a next time around. What is the worst thing that could happen? I could feel foolish. God's love is big enough to cover it. And I don't need all that pride baggage.

This doesn't mean that my life won't ever feel like it is being shredded alive. But that is a grace and a blessing, too. God is all-loving, and He is sovereign. No part of my suffering escapes His notice. This present moment is such a small piece of the whole equation.

For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence. Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God. Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal. -- 2 Corinthians 4:11-18
I've learned that God keeps His promises not to make His people feel smug and self-righteous, but because He is who He is. He is worthy of our worship. He is worthy of our lives. When we worship Him, we are seeing Him, and in the perspective of other people we are pointing to what we see: to heaven, to glory, to eternity. We are living signs. We are the living proof that He is faithful, that hope is reasonable, that love is reasonable, that peace is reasonable. Because we point to the fact that God is. When God fulfills His promises in our lives, it is about Him, and only then it is about us, because we are about Him. When our hearts are all His, He gives us everything we want and everything we ask for, because it is His nature to give Himself. Our worship is all about our saying, "I was in terrible need! I could do nothing for myself! But I cried to the Lord, and He rescued me. He saved my soul. I am running to meet Him. I will never stop." It is the todah sacrifice. It is the Mass. It is knowing that we exist so that we can give ourselves away, to Him, and to everyone in His name and at His bidding.

So, maybe this post hasn't been exactly amusing, but I could sense that only in a state of weakness could I bring out what God has given me. God has called me to fast, and because extended food fasts are tricky on my health, and because I had prior good reason to, I decided to do a particular sleep-fast, getting up earlier than usual, knowing that occasionally (though not of late, at least, not until today!) I am susceptible to insomnia. There is something to the voluntary weakness of fasting that is actually rather delicious. To hear God say "Give yourself to me," and to be able to respond with my very body. It is amazing. It is a grace. And I thank Him and give Him praise.

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