The joy of Christianity was probably my least-expected discovery. Perhaps it is the freedom that accompanies the realisation that you are absolutely, totally loved and there is nothing you can do to change it. No matter how many times you trip up. There isn’t any kind of ledger to tot up. No need to pressure yourself over good deeds minus bad ones that leave you with some net score. Just remember you are precious, you are loved, you are not alone. The grace of Jesus and the Gospel in a nutshell.
Then something else crept in along the edges that left the joy behind.
Awe. At the size and enormity of God’s love and grace. It is the awe that regularly fells me. The shock and awe WOW moments that explode and side swipe my heart. Knee buckling, falling down awe. THAT I never expected.
Take my messy past weeks. God and I were having a few issues. Religion and I were having a few issues. The right to bake cake. In the midst of all this religious overwhelm I forgot two important things:
God. Worship. I was desperately trying to get my exploding head around it all, forgetting that I’d never manage that because, well, religion has a jumbled mess of flawed humanity at the centre of it.
I was using a lot of my messy Psalmesque, vodka cruising style slanging laments at God. Stomping ungraciously, asking, “What are You doing? Where are You?”
I have become used to some fairly explicit answers from God but in the week after Easter, as I dived into work before planning a family trip away, I felt more like solitary echoes coming back to me. My God-frequency was on the fritz. It wasn’t pretty. A series of 3am wake-ups, vivid dreams, and jumbles of blog post ideas and questions flying around my head. The SAP has commented that watching God and I is often like watching a cage fight. He isn’t far wrong.
I often pray that God will pick a really noticeable voice like Manuel from Fawlty Towers so I’m sure to know it is Him. Yet there is a pattern to how God communicates to me. First a insistent pressing into my head. Then a more relentless shoving. That I managed to ignore twice in three weeks because I was so busy being busy and letting my head explode over cake gate.
I recognise that shoving insistence. At one point I actually said aloud, “Yes, I know, I’ll get to it.” And didn’t. Yet, lovingly, God served me the elegant solution I’d been too busy to get to for seven days before. I apologised…..
….and less than two weeks later the same thing happened again. God pressed. I told Him I’d get to it. He shoved. I told Him I’d get to it. And once again He delivered a loving, elegant, caring solution – despite my short-sightedness and willingness to ignore Him for the week prior.
Hindsight is wonderful. So I humbly apologised because, whilst I was diving headlong on my merry way, stressing how I was going to do something, God quietly delivered me the solution. I could have saved myself a week of overwhelm had I listened the first time. So that’s why I get awed. Because in His position I’d be throwing me around the cage-fighting enclosure, thoroughly impatient with my inability to get with the program. But, similarly with Jacob (Genesis 32:22-32), He happily lets me wrestle and waits patiently for me to get it.
I don’t call any of this miraculous. For me, miracles are the roll up your mat and walk variety. These are love notes. Like the yellow post its I sometimes hide in my children’s lunch boxes to remind them that I love them, miss them and please can they eat all the cucumber and raw carrot sticks before the cookies.
“Be as impatient, stubborn and hard-headed as you like, Phil,” God smiles. “I love you and will wait for you to understand. And if you keep missing the point, then I will still gift you the solution, despite your ignoring Me, despite the angst and pressure I see you putting on yourself, despite how I wish you wouldn’t. I gift this to you because I love you. Draw closer.”
And the final yellow post-it note, that shoved into my head as I finished this blog post? This is what it says:
Phil, the only opponent in this cage fight is you.