Saturday 26 April 2008

I've just been reading through some of my blogroll this morning, and saw this comment Kent made (hope you don't mind me repeating it here, Kentster). The conversation was amongst other things about healthy boundaries, and exactly what they look like. He made the point:
I believe healthy boundries do exist but what I was trying to explain (and this is just my observation from my experience) is that our understanding of what they are is much different than what Jesus seems to demonstrate. The only place healthy exists is within a relationship with Father following his lead.
This really defines for me why it is that a life lived in the love of the Father and walking in whatever that means every day (with many days where he doesn't seem to be saying much at all) cannot be determined or judged on the outside by another human being. Because God is not a formula to be worked, as Wayne Jacobsen has said, it can never be a made-in-China one-size-fits-all approach to walking in what he is asking us to do. Some people really should be out there spilling their guts for the homeless, for example (I would like to one day be that someone, maybe). Others really should be home praying and being the Soul of the Body. Some people are both of those two elements, and one day they will be one, one day the other (this is even closer to what I want to be).

A formula, something that can be Excel spreadsheeted, is sure and believable and seeable and categorisable and I can go away and rest securely in the knowledge that I'm working the formula and so therefore I must be on the right track. And yet what God is asking of me may be the opposite, for me, today.

Our view of how much of a cosmic killjoy God is, how rigid and puritanical he is, will determine what we think he could be saying to us, too. Maybe he's yelling certain things at us and we dismiss them as our own wayward desires. Seems to me, sometimes the things he asks of us will seem frivolous and pointless. Informed out of our culture of grey docility and economically rationalist uncreativity, my bet is that God is probably just a little bit more frivolous and out-there than we have often are led to think. And if we have stifled the things he may have made for us to do, then they definitely often feel too good to be true - which is part of the reason why we have stifled them in the first place. Who can play music, or draw, or run, or write a story, or do anything vaguely fun at all when there are starving people in the world?

I've been pondering this the last day. Got out of the house and hung with a friend yesterday for over three hours at Seddon Deadly Sins. This cafe was originally started by an artist and consisted of a coffee machine at one end and an easel at the other. Coffee lovers would come and watch him work. This guy's art now adorns the walls of the cafe that he sold, now that he is making enough money from his art. I love artistic happy endings! And now this cafe is this buzzing, vibrant place that has grown into something even better now it has passed on to new hands, a creative-feeling place that fosters relaxation and happy possibilities (the food just rocks). Somehow, the time went past in double speed while we were there.

It was so good to get out of the house and my own head after the rather bizarre week I've had spiritually, being so inwardly focussed on the parts of me that I hate the most. It really does feel like something shifted in my soul. It felt like a necessary thing, to go inward and be all self-absorbed and caught up in myself. Even though my inner Puritan bemoans the self-indulgence (and quite rightly, too - how unattractive self-absorption is, how drear and irritating for the absorbed), it was necessary. In hindsight, It felt like God led me there, did some spiritual curetting. I'm glad I wasn't aware of the surgery in hindsight - much better to have that kind of thing foisted upon you unawares than know it's coming, for mine.

Anyway, my rambling point I'm trying to make to myself is this: freedom in God means that when he leads me inward to do what needs to be done, whether it feels self-indulgent or not is pointless in some ways because it's going where he leads. If I sat there the next day when he didn't lead me inward and just focussed on my own stuff, then I could probably legitimately call it self-indulgence and there could possibly be very little fruit that I would glean from the experience.

I just did some centering prayer earlier (another thing which feels self-indulgent. Do you see a pattern here? That inward voice labelling certain things as self-indulgent is, I suspect, what is referred to in novels as an unreliable narrator. I really don't know what is good for me and what isn't). Anyway, I was doing some centering prayer and had this picture flash into my mind, an almost-fully-formed idea that I want to at least attempt to draw. They are happening often for me, these days, these inward flashes of visual inspiration. Ever since I started dabbling in a bit of drawing. Often I feel frustrated, that what I am seeing is way, way beyond what I am able to reproduce but still - for all that, it's very exciting. It feels like creatively, there are fruitful things bubbling below the surface, and these days, even when the island of creativity feels far away I am beginning to see boats and giant ropes and flying foxes that enable me to get from here to there again.

But my inner Puritan balks at all this creativity on one level. Granted, it is a very small level, really. So small that I can reach out and squash it quite easily with my bare feet (it explodes like a grape). I just found out recently from my Dad that my great grandparents were Plymouth Brethren stock. So I really do have inner Puritans flowing through my veins! Luckily, my grandfather added a bit more spice to the blood, cleansed it somewhat, through his own rebellion. Poor dear, he really didn't have a lot of choice but to rebel, did he? :)

So yes, my inner Puritan(s) balk on one level at all this creative indulgence that feels like self-indulgence and which I know is nothing of the sort. They ask me how I can live a life that includes colour and movement, love and life when there is so much suffering in the world. I ask them in return, twice as loud, how I possibly couldn't.

The light overcomes the darkness. King David danced down the road out of his love for God and made a fool of himself. Better a dancing fool than a Michel, looking out the window, ultimately jealous of David's freedom. Dancing foolity for God opens up the heart - opens it up enough to let compassion for other's suffering enter in. Being centred within myself, doing the things that open up life to me, is the surest way I can find to walking towards the suffering of others and having enough left over to give. Fruit only grows from an excess of energy.

Happy Saturday to ye, bloggers!


  1. Sue, this post is so full of freedom and hope of even more to come.

    While reading the first part of this I was reminded of a question I asked on the forum a few weeks ago and no one touched it. For me it has been such an important question to ponder.

    Scripture tells us that God is always the same...he doesn't change. I think it speaks of his character and I do believe it but my understanding of that has changed drastically. Before, it led me to attempt to figure out all the rules of God because if he doesn't change it should be possible to figure out how he works and follow that. That all proved itself to be a worthless impossible task and dead end road that produced all kinds of ugliness in me that was hidden under the guise of Christianity.

    Here is the question I asked on the forum. If God is unchangable, is he unchangable in his doctrine (rules) or in his wild freedom? Today I say it is in his wild freedom to do what he needs to do to set us free and redeem that which needs redeemed. And Sue, you have expressed this in such a beautifully transparent way in what you have written here and it's just so dang inspiring.

  2. Aw, thanks, Kent.

    When I read your question what came to mind was Hosea going off and marrying a prostitute. And so I would say that it is God unchangeable in his wild freedom ... and yet, perhaps we will find at some point in the future that the things that seem incompatible are actually two sides of the same coin.

    But yes, for me, it is definitely his wild freedom. And if the prophets of old caught glimpses of that, how much further along should we be able to see it on the other side of the cross? (Although the human heart is still the same, granted, and it takes us so long to learn, but yes, I'll emphatically lock in (b) :)

  3. Sue, for the past 20+ years the story of Hosea has been one of the most powerful stories in all of the Bible for me. And once the religious arrogance that occupied much of that time of my life began to be exposed in me and removed by the loving care of Jesus, the story is now stripped of many things I had added to it and it stands in it's simplicity. This is a story of the power of the wastefullness of grace.

  4. Never did hear a sermon about Hosea, that I can recall :)

  5. Sue, I don't know if I ever heard one either. I guess next to all the moralizing that goes on this story doesn't preach well?

    This song of Michael Card's has always been one of my favorites of his.

  6. Fantastic post, Sue! It made me smile. "Dancing foolity for God" - that's where I want to be. :)

  7. Kent - my broadband connection is playing up a bit at the moment (I share one wirelessly with my landlord) so I can't look.

    Tina - me too :)

  8. I'm sorry I've been so absent here lately....but I AM here, reading and listening.

    I'm so glad we don't have one size fits all Christianity. That would suck, because I'll never be a size 2.

  9. Erin - s'alright, dude! Commenting is an optional activity :)

    Yeah, one-size-fits-all Christianity would look beige, smell chemical, and feel polyester, wouldn't it :)


Newer Older