Saturday, February 26, 2011

everything but God

There are times when I forget who I am. Not in the amnesia sort of forgetfulness that causes a person to forget his name or where he lives. What I mean is, I have occasions when I forget in a conscious way that I am God’s, someone who knows he is loved by God, someone who fell in love with Jesus Christ along the way and has experienced a calling to follow Him.

After reading a daily devotion by a favorite writer one morning this past week, I suddenly realized that, if it hadn’t been for taking the early morning time to read, I would have gone about my day influenced more by what is external to me such as what people expect of me because of my job, my title, etc. Essentially living out of what Thomas Merton called my “false” self, rather than my “true” self. Essentially reacting to people and events without any deep appeal to my heart or conscience since, by definition, such forgetfulness disconnects me from who I am, whose I am. Such forgetfulness blocks me from bringing the Presence into the present.

We live in a culture that shapes us into consumers of non-stop news, celebrity, position, and titles and status, and I wonder what this is ultimately doing to our souls. We easily blend our brand of faith with our cultural preferences in everything from our worship style to our politics. Francis’ conversational prayer meditation almost seems too simple and basic to appeal to people like us here in 2011 who are so afraid of “wasting time” and maybe even more afraid of coming face to face with solitude and silence, which for people like Francis and other mystics (like Jesus), appears to be about the only way human beings have had authentic experiences with God.

The reading that brought about this reflection was written by Brennan Manning. He writes about Jesus:

“The enduring temptation of his ministry is to fulfill his mission in a way opposed to the Father, to begin with a flashy demonstration of power by turning stones into bread and to end with a sensational exhibition of might by coming down from the cross. The alluring attractiveness of cultivating security, sensation, and power with life in the Spirit is Satan’s worldly way. Jesus utterly rejects it. In the final foolishness of love he freely accepts death on the cross.”

In this counterintuitive journey Jesus calls his followers to, I easily forget that the final foolishness is abandonment of everything but God.