Sunday, May 15, 2005

God is not boring!

recently remarked to a friend that following God is never boring. And she agreed: kingdom life is a wild and wonderful dance, challenging, yes! -- utterly challenging sometimes -- but never boring!

However, many people live between inner anxiety and boredom, anxiety and boredom… and attendant escapism. Most people spend their lives running from their true self, not knowing why.

Humans are instinctively afraid of God breaking into their lives. For when God breaks in, we see not only God, but our true self… and that is disturbing. In seeing true self, we are not happy serving serve false self. And, in such acceptance of God, we lose false control. And we are most comfortable with control!

So we flee the divine encounter. But we then live in unstated boredom, disconnected from vital life… and unconsciously anxious over the lack.

Of course we can’t admit boredom or anxiety!

But it can be seen in any number of ways that humans manage inner pain…calculated risk, adrenaline rush, masking behavior, numbing chemicals and endless activity.

Not far from my PA home is a bridge in WV, the [second] highest bridge in the US. It is an imposing sight, tucked between two mountain ranges, spanning vast height. People have died bungee/chute jumping from this bridge, but others are still compelled to make the jump. One girl from near my hometown usually made the pilgrimage to this bridge, to jump once a year. An intelligent girl, very beautiful… but driven to risk the jump: “Why?” I asked myself. I looked over the edge of that bridge and asked, “Why?” As I’ve grown in understanding, I think I see the answer.

It’s a human issue.

Without this dance of abundant life, without embracing God and our true self, we live our lives between boredom and anxiety. We have to risk our lives [moderately, of course!] to prove that we are alive. But after the jump, after the ride, after the scare, after the thrill, after the entertainment, when the money is spent and the adrenaline wears off, anxiety is still rooted deep within, and boredom creeps around the soul. The false self still lurks.

I’ve seen this even in religious ways, where Christians use such things as the Bible to hold God at arms length. Other good people use family, church, tradition and service of God to manage God: they can’t be ‘happy’ hearing of true self, and present reality, so they close off those voices any way they can – even if it takes ‘buying off’ God and conscience in good activity.

Brian Stoffregan tells a Jewish tale of stale life – how even learning, education and erudition can be used to ‘manage’ God.
A Jewish Story: Stale Ancestors -- Stale Learning

Usually the orthodox rabbis of Europe boasted distinguished rabbinical genealogies, but Rabbi Yechiel of Ostrowce was an exception. He was the son of a simple baker and he inherited some of the forthright qualities of a man of the people.

Once, when a number of rabbis had gathered at some festivity, each began to boast of his eminent rabbinical ancestors. When Rabbi Yechiel's turn came, he replied gravely, "In my family, I'm the first eminent ancestor."

His colleagues were shocked by this piece of impudence, but said nothing. Immediately after, the rabbis began to expound Torah. Each one was asked to hold forth on a text culled from the sayings of one of his distinguished rabbinical ancestors.

One after another the rabbis delivered their learned dissertations. At last it came time for Rabbi Yechiel to say something. He arose and said, "My masters, my father was a baker. He taught me that only fresh bread was appetizing and that I must avoid the stale. This can also apply to learning."

And with that Rabbi Yechiel sat down.

Thank you, Rabbi Yechiel!

To be true, we must flee the stale, the managed, the contrived: the false thrill of false self.

For God is not boring.

He is alive. He is here. He is making demands of our true self.

And we must respond.

C. S. Lewis makes the strong point that we are all about God if we can manage Him. But when it comes to the place where God manages us, finds us, reveals Himself and our true self, we turn away.
It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. "Look out!" we cry, "It’s alive." And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back – I would have done so myself if I could – and proceed no further with Christianity. An "impersonal God" -- well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads -- better still. A formless, life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap -- best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband -- that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was there a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion…suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us? [2]

Supposing He has found us?

All we can do is turn to face our divine Adversary, and find in the facing that He is not against our true self at all, but speaking death to our false self.

In facing Him we find ourselves, and gradually lose the urges of false control and false life.

In facing Him we risk all -- all we can conceive or imagine -- and yet find real thrill in return: distilled droplets of the Eternal that last forever.

For God is not boring!

God is Life!



Eagle over New River

[1] A Jewish Story: Stale Ancestors -- Stale Learning [from A Treasury of Jewish Folklore: Stories, Traditions, Legends, Humor, Wisdom and Folk Songs of the Jewish People, Edited by Nathan Ausubel, p 51.]
[2] C. S. Lewis, Miracles, Chapter 11.


Maria said...

"One girl from near my hometown usually made the pilgrimage to this bridge, to jump once a year. An intelligent girl, one of the most physically beautiful that I’ve met…"

If it just weren't for the jumping part I'd think you were talking about me! lol hey, why don't you reply to emails anymore?

Loy Mershimer said...

Hi Maria,

lol, you never were shy about admitting your qualities, were you? And you mean you haven't received all those emails and notes and flowers and stuff?

Must be a glitch in the technology somewhere -- I blame the internet! Or maybe my personal assistant didn't deliver all the letters I gave her to send. Yeah, that's it...a conspiracy, lol. I'm the victim here. :-)

Hope you are well -- I'll try this technology one more time and see if it will work long enough for an email to get through, lol.


Henry said...

If you're not familiar with it, read Francis Thompson's poem, "The Hound of Heaven."

It fits well with the thought here of trying to hold God off.

Loy said...

Thanks, Henry!

Awesome poem, and yes, it does connect with this post. Good stuff!

Thanks again and God bless you,