Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: August 2008

and this is all that i can say right now…

“here’s what i want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” – Jesus, Matthew 6:6

I was reading in my current book (The Year I Got Everything I Wanted: A Spiritual Crisis) about the author’s year of struggle in the midst of supposedly amazing things happening – new job with great title, money, gorgeous girlfriend, new city. He speaks later in the book of a particular evening when he really struggled and gave into the temptation of pornography. He makes a profound self-realization in that he says that he doesn’t normally struggle with porn except when he’s avoiding something in his life – a big decision, a hard discussion, a change. Rather than deal with the inner turmoil, he escapes with some sort of self-gratification.

JJ and i had quite the interesting discussion about the concept – avoiding inner turmoil by seeking self-gratification. I think we all do it in some form. There are the types who seek out gratification in the physical form – drinking, drugs, porn, whathaveyou. Then there are the types who seek it out through inner self-gratification. Hate, self-righteousness, pride.

“Even though we may have a deep desire for real solitude, we also experience a certain apprehension as we approach that solitary place and time. As soon as we are alone, without people to talk with, books to ready, tv to watch, or phone calls to make, an inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering into a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distractions, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves in full force. We often use these outer distractions to shield ourselves from teh interior noises. It is thus not surprising that we have a difficult time being alone. The confrontation with our inner conflicts can be too painful for us to endure.” – Henri Nouwen, Making All Things New

“Solitude is one of the deepest disciplines of the spiritual life because it crucifies our need for importance and prominence. Everyone – including ourselves at first – will see our solitude as a waste of good time. We are removed from “where the action is.” That, of course, is exactly what we need. In silence and solitude God slowly but surely frees us from our egomania.” – Richard J. Foster

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought…” -Jesus, Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:3-5, The Message.

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the chicken or the egg

or it’s equivalent theological question: free will vs. God’s predestination.

I have had similar conversations revolving about this topic a few times in the past couple weeks, which is curious because i feel like i rarely have opportunities to have these conversations anymore. but good ol’ patty b. started kindling a thought when we were talking about God and babies (2 of our current favorite topics at the moment). when you deal with topics like, people who don’t get to have the babies they wanted, or, people who get to have babies they didn’t want, God is certainly to show up in conversation, usually as the veiled bad guy (for the one who didn’t get what they want) in the phrase, “well, God knows what he’s doing…” now really. who’s going to argue with THAT statement? of course God knows what He’s doing! but i’m not sure it’s the appropriate response for the given situation.

so we were verbally processing through such statements and were talking about how when it comes to reproduction in general, somehow the auto-predestination switch gets turned on in people’s thought patterns. Patty’s a bright girl. She said, “you know, i really do think there are some free will options in the matter. there are ways for people to avoid getting pregnant.”
mind you, this is all background material for my general thought.

that’s when i told her of my opinion of the predestination vs. free will argument.

i am dramatically opposed to predestination, not because i believe it’s theologically incorrect, but because i’ve seen people live out such beliefs sooooo badly. if you’re going to comment about the sovereignty of God or some other great insight as to why we must believe that God predestines us, then please refrain (i’d like you to argue me on my other points, please). You’re probably right. I’ll just agree with you. bring out the “for those whom God predestined, he also called…” scripture.

the reason i come to butt heads with the predestination believers is not because of thought but because of practice. i have seen before that many a good meaning christian make decisions based on “God’s will” that really had nothing to do with God, but more of the good christian’s attempt to remove any responsibility from him or her because of the decision. God ordaining something, God making something happen is the mother of all trump cards. Call it the Right Bower (is that how bower is spelled in euchure?). no one wants to argue with what God wants, so a person really only needs to “feel peace” about a decision to decide that it’s what God had planned all the time and thus the right decisions and thus, if things go wrong/badly, it’s because God ordained that, too.

with this thought pattern, a person will never make bad decisions, they’ll just have to live through whatever God decides to insert into their lives.

now, i’m all for a God that just tosses things into our lives. He’s done it to me. it’s crazy. i believe God does things that are inexplicable. i believe he brings us blessings and he takes us down roads that are a little bumpy. because all these things are included in this journey of life. and i really believe that you should seek God’s wisdom when making decisions. you should feel a peace about decisions you make (not lack of fear, but peace). but we have to play the cards that are dealt to us. God does the dealing, that’s for sure. but i just can’t get there that he also plays the hand for us (can you tell that i should be at the lake? all these card playing analogies…).

so i’d like to be convinced. i’d like to see someone live this beautiful balance of keeping in step with God’s will and direction while realizing that as God’s child i have to learn to make decisions based upon the model set before me. but there may be times that matt, mark, luke or john didn’t record exactly what my example did, so i need make the best decision I can and trust that God is going to help me with whatever this decision brings into my life. he won’t “give me what i deserve” because of it, but maybe there’s some reaping and sowing involved.

so that’s my thought. it was broached again last night by lively conversation, which is why it’s still on the brain this early AM.

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