After a conference that I attended, August 19, 1997, “Who do you say that I am?” I wrote the following in my journal:
The rest of the conference fell flat for me yesterday. I don’t know why the speaker was so likable, but his talks seemed unfocused. Or was I unfocused? Or he wasn’t offering me any challenges. I wanted to come away with a grand new thought, a new directive, an inner banner to carry. As a result I felt a loss, a loss of a good day’s work, a loss of energy. I felt vague – what is it that I am supposed to be communicating to those I serve? Where is Jesus in all this?
I realize, I think, that I have a different relationship with Jesus than all the options the speaker proposed the first night. Jesus said, “I am the way to the Father”. I know this is true for me. For twenty plus years I prayed to Jesus, studied Jesus, worshiped Jesus, walked with Jesus, held him in my heart. Then something changed – like I was in a bubble and it suddenly broke and I was left seeing too much. My world opened up. Then I seemed to wander for a while. The reality of God lost its concreteness – Jesus is concrete. He has a form, a character, a personality revealed in scripture. Now the God image was no image. Hardly even a feeling. Any time I tried to give image to God, my efforts fizzled. I’d wear out trying. Praying words became strange – like talking to myself. God is so within me; he knows every nook and cranny of me, even my thoughts. Why word it?
Yet I still do, especially to pray for those persons and circumstances outside my family. But I do that for me. When I give word to it, I convince me that I care and can tell those folks out there “I am praying for you.” But I have this sense that God is already there loving them so what is it I am praying about? I am praying for God to be God – as though He forgets sometimes, as though He gets distracted and my prayers get him back on track. How strange that seems. “Lord, look at Laura…don’t forget her, she needs your healing.” But God loves her a million times more than I do and I need to remind him? Rather, God needs to remind me to love Laura.
So there I go – here I am. Prayer has become a reverse conversation. I no longer – or rarely – feel I have anything to say to God. Rather, I feel a need to stop long enough for God to speak to me. Who is it he wants to pull into my attention? Who should I be loving more?
So where did Jesus go? He carried me to the Father. The Father, the Creator, tender keeper of the world. And here I am. Do I still need Jesus? I don’t pray to him any more. But sometimes he reminds me of the expectations of the Father revealed in Jesus’ life: “Remember the poor.” “Stop and listen to the spiritually hungry.” “Give generously.” “Tend the soil to receive the seed.” “Take time to pray.” “Take time for relationships.” The messages keep coming through the Word. But I don’t feel Jesus as I once did. Rather, the kingdom dream is what I feel his life stories show me how the kingdom comes.
As for the Holy Spirit – the wind – every time someone says to me, “You are so enthusiastic,” I think, “must be the Holy Spirit.” That God in me that moves and acts that I hardly am aware. God giving me the courage to do things I don’t want to do. Keeping one moving forward. Driving me, like a windmill. Pulling energy from somewhere.
I don’t know the Holy Spirit. I just look at what I am doing and think, “How did I get myself here?” What I think and what I do often seems at odds with one another. I don’t want to go to work – I’d rather refinish furniture. But I go and when good things happen there, I wonder, “How did this happen? With an attitude like mine, it must be the Holy Spirit.”