Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Detachment and Happiness; Heaven and Purpose

It seems there is something the Lord is quite intent on me getting: to wit, heaven is the goal.

There are lots of things I don't mean by that. I don't mean that this life is inconsequential. (I believed that at one point.) I don't mean that the only point in life is being super-spiritual (I lived that way for a time, too.) I don't mean that all one can do is wishfully and vaguely hope for better times ahead in "some heaven light years away."

I mean that right now, in my concrete circumstances and relationships, the meaning, the divine intent of every last bit of it (and yes, this implies that there is divine intent in every last bit of it) is to bring me, right now, into union with heaven. I define heaven as the Blessed Trinity, the souls of the just who abide with Him in eternity, and the life of grace at work in souls and through souls in this world.

Last January I wrote a few posts about detachment. God was doing some work in me at the time that felt like a slow-mo explosion. It's pretty obvious to me now that there's a standard pattern when it comes to this whole matter. First, there is something I perceive as good. I am designed to want goods, and so I set myself to go after this good I perceive. The trick is that I am not born with a fully developed (let alone sanctified) understanding of what "good" is. Good, ultimately, is God. I will never fully comprehend God with my intellect. So I can go through life wanting, mostly, "my god." I want whatever satisfies me in the moment (however base or nobly refined that satisfaction may be). My only option out is to be sanctified, to be made holy. And this comes about through the process of surrender to the God Whom I cannot control. This results in struggles for me, and lots of times that I just don't get satisfaction the way I think I want it, even when I think (and truly am) wanting in the holiest fashion known to me.

In other words, sometimes, the more I tell God I want His way, the more often I will have little but real pains over not being happy with my thing, until He is the only Thing.

Because God wants us to know that our only happiness lies in Him, and to follow His lead into the fullness of happiness.

In my Protestant/pentecostal days when I thought it was fine to take liberties with Scripture, I used to re-translate 1 Cor. 15:19 which says "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied above all men." In one of my early Bibles I actually bracketed the word "this" and wrote above it "the next." In other words, if the only hope God holds out for us is heaven, well, forget Him. (In those days I was focused on God's redemptive power healing my circumstances and delivering me from the pain of the moment. That's not bad, God does that; but if I try to stay in that place I morph into a prosperity-gospel heretic where I employ God as a means to a happy life.)

But the truth is, God longs to give us heaven, and He wants to start now, not when we die. Heaven is not about wish-fulfillment on earth. This is the nub of what God is driving home to me. I don't care about stuff very much, but I realize I actually need to care about it more so that I can be diligent in serving with it, whether that means giving it or selling it to have money to do good with, or using it myself to bring good to others. I do care about relationships, and although I've had the snot beaten out of me over this in the last couple of years, I realize that valuing relationships for what they are for is something I also need to care about more. The point of my relationships here is not for me to hold them tight or enshrine them or try to make them stay one certain way, but to allow each person to draw me to love heaven, and to love each person in their being drawn to heaven, too. One thing heaven is is perfect communion, through Christ, with all who belong to Him. That God has taught me. Nothing on this earth is worth clinging to in light of that union, not even the sense of "my god" in the midst of my relationships with those loved ones.

I can't sort it all out in theory, in a blog post, only in living. I can continue to pray, reaffirming that God, the All-Wise, All-Loving, the All-Powerful, Who encompasses me, draws me, leads me, sustains me, and is all to me, is completely allowed to arrange the people in my life exactly as He wants them, and that I desire to learn to allow His love to flow through me to everyone as He desires it. I can learn not to fight Him or reality where I find His work. When I want to hold on tight to something of this earth, I can turn to Him instead and ask to be held tight.

And He will do that. Sometimes I will feel it and sometimes I won't. But He will always leave evidence of His presence, calling me on to Himself.

No comments: