Category Archives: Spirit

Baptised

Here is the text of what I read tonight at my baptism*:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

I was here once. Here in these waters, with a pastor, and I dedicated my life to Jesus. I dedicated my life to him and then I turned my face away. Not all at once, and not … completely. But yes, I turned away and went to live in the world and do it all myself.

If you had asked me a year ago if I was a Christian, I would have told you, and this is painful to say now, but then I would say lightly, yes, on take-offs and landings. When I would sit in the aisle seat of a 747 and remember my mortality and the path I’d stayed so very far from, I would ask my father to forgive me and promise to go back to church (real soon now…). But you know just what happened then. The plane would land and my plans would go on and I would forget about him. Again.

But I tell you, that he did not forget about me. He was always there when I wanted to whisper to him. He was always there, guiding me even in my worst days, using my conscience to remind me of what was right and what was wrong. And even after I had started to believe the world, that there was no real truth, that there was no real meaning, he brought people into my life to disprove that by the way they lived and the way they loved. I found myself wanting to be with those people, wanting to find the truth, wanting to be with the good, fighting for the loveliness.

And I found myself at Celebration this last Easter morning, listening to Jesus speak to me. He offered me truth. He offered me rest. He offered me himself, again. Even after all I had grieved him, he welcomed me home.

So I am here again. In these waters, with a pastor, and I rededicate my life to Jesus. By his grace, I pray that I will keep my face turned to him.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

 

*I didn’t actually read the scriptures for time (my speech was a bit long as it was), but I thought I’d go ahead and include them here, as they were what I was thinking of.

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Poor Indeed

Have you ever been poor? More than broke, more than bankrupt, more than desperate…have you ever had nothing? Where you had nothing and nobody to call your own? No where to turn? Completely and utterly destitute?

I haven't. I have never wanted materially. Not once.

I have a hard time even conceiving of it. Born with middle class American privileges: education, food, opportunities. I've never lacked for the basics, and I've often had way more than enough. I've been through some temporary rough patches, but nothing a little elbow grease and bootstrapping couldn't fix.

I hesitate to even write this, because I don't want to sound like I know what I'm talking about. 'Cause I don't know anything.

I can't do anything right.

I don't know how to live like God wants me to live.

I don't know how to stop doing the things God's Word says not to do.

I don't know how to do the things God's Word says to do.

I don't know how my own inner voice works anymore.

I don't know how to stop second guessing myself.

I'm walking around and I'm doing my job and I'm taking care of my kids, but I don't know how to do any of it without offending God. It's unbearable. It's paralyzing. It's horrifying. I've been shaking. I've been queasy. I've felt ominous clouds rolling over my skies. And there is no way I can fix it. I cannot live right at all. There's no way out.

Forgive me if you know what's coming. I didn't.

I was trolling along aimlessly through blogs, feeling so bewildered when I encountered this verse (that I of course have seen before but never understood) in a blog at reallivepreacher.com: Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 5:3 NIV). In the comments, rlp says:

The classic interpretation of this is that Spiritual Poverty is the state in which you understand that you are unable by the force of your own will, to live your life in ways that are spiritually healthy. This is VERY much like the first step in AA when a person admits he is powerless over alcohol.

Many of us believe in living in certain ways, and then are unable or unwilling or unprepared or whatever to do so. Christian spirituality begins with an admission of that fact. That's what I think Jesus is getting at.

So that's what this feeling is. Being poor. It's ugly. It hurts. It doesn't feel blessed at all.

And yet, to know that every teeny tiny thing I have, even this glimmer of understanding, is something He has given to me is remarkable.  

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I Am The Town

I had a dream last night:

I was in a small western town.

 

It was baking in the heat of the relentless red sun.

 

The people of the town were worried since there had been so little rain. The fields and the dirt roads and the front yards of the houses of the town were growing large cracks in the baked clay soil. The land still grew some vegetation, but it was sparse and weak and barely enough to sustain the people. I talked with the people and felt their worry.

 

Over the years, some muted rains would come to the town. They were never enough to spring the land to life, but enough to keep what was there alive. The townspeople barely noticed these soft rains. Indeed, their worry got stronger and their whispered complaints to either other grew louder. "What will we do," they said?

 

They went on, scratching a hard life out of the wretched cracked dirt; resigning themselves to the harshness of the dust that coated their clothes and hair and lives.

 

In time, a few noticed the gentle rains were becoming more frequent. The top of the soil, they saw, was softer to the touch.

 

One afternoon, large dark clouds appeared over the horizon. The people looked up from their fields and stood where they were in the sudden stillness to watch the thunderheads close in.

 

The clouds burst open and it rained. It rained like they had never seen it rain before. Sheets of it poured out of the sky, drenching the people, the houses, the streets and the fields. The people were dumb with awe as the great and terrible storm brought them what they had ceased to hope for. They had forgotten that rain like that even existed.

 

When the rain slowed and finally stopped, the town was a disaster. Muck and mud was everywhere. Puddles of water pooled in the streets and the fields. But the sun was gentle and the air was clear and sweet smelling. The people started to greet each other outside their houses and they remarked with amazement that the dry, cracked town had not been destroyed with flash flooding. 

I realized then that the gentle rains were responsible for protecting the town. The soft rains the people had ignored had softened the ground enough so that the great and terrible storm could be borne. The mighty rain was able to be absorbed into the ground and into the cracks without wiping the town completely away.

 

I remembered this dream so vividly upon waking this morning. My first thought was that it was such an odd thing to dream about. But following that, it came to me, that it was a sort of answer to a question I've had, and had written of indirectly last night in an email to a friend.

Why here? Why now? Why is my relationship to Christ been reconnected here and now and why is it so incredibly different and strong than when I knew him as a young person?

I am the town. My Father's storm is pouring great and terrible rain down on my cracked and dying land, but because he has stayed with me through the years, and shown me his grace in quiet ways, I will not be washed away. I am covered in muck and mud and have much to clean up. But the air is sweet and my town will live. He says: "I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU, NOR FORSAKE YOU."

Thank you for all of your rain, Jesus.

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The Littlest Apologist Stands Up

My name is Tracey. I'm not sure about sharing anymore identifying information than that.

I was baptised a Christian at Little Gallilee Church camp in my early teens, but have spent most of my adult life separated from Christ. I came back to Him this Easter (2006).

One reason I strayed and stayed away so long is that I understood Christianity to be based on a feeling – a feeling of blind faith. I had so many questions – but there were very few answers to be found – at least answers based in any kind of rationality and logic. Most seem to boil down to "because the Bible said so."

But just because I got no answers as a teen that made sense to me doesn't mean those questions went away. And neither did God.

There were many small moments and communications between us that kept the path clear enough so that when I was shown a light, shining through the eyes of someone I had come to respect, I was able to walk into a small clearing and join Him.

Shortly after this, I started surfing through Christian blogs, looking for answers to these long-lost questions. I came across the term apologetics, and after reading about it on wikipedia, was amazed to find there was a whole field dedicated to defending the Christian faith with intelligence and rationality!

Even more amazing, the second Sunday I went to my new church, the guest speaker was a professor from a highly respected seminary. His specialty turned out to be…you guessed it…apologetics.

This blog is about my quest for God and learning the Christian faith, and defending it in this crazy world so that it makes sense.

I know very, very, VERY little now.
I will know very, very, VERY little when I die.

But in the mean time, my hope is that I can use the gifts I've received to grow that little bit of knowledge of God's love and God's truth and share it in a way that gives plausibility and hope and salvation to whomever I can touch.

I have a feeling this ain't gonna be easy.

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