If I said this guy spoke love to asylum seekers, saved the environment with a breath, empowered women on every day, not just on March 8th, tackled the corruption of and abuse by religious leaders, and could fix the public health system by healing all the sick – you’d vote him in at the next election, wouldn’t you?
It’d be big crosses on the ballot paper for the Jesus party.
Sadly, I think us humans are way too fickle for that. Look at me. Here I am, unexpected poster girl for ‘Who does that at 40-something? Wow, that Jesus bloke must be something different for Phil to do this major life switch, did you know she’s even at Bible College and, what the actual, she’s preaching???!!!‘
You would think I’d be drunk on dizzying amounts of watered up, Jesus-delivered Grange.
I had the mother of all awakenings yesterday when I realised I’d domesticated God. I read back through some of the early posts on this blog and wondered, where has the ‘zing’ gone?
Those cage fights with Him that characterised our early relationship – as I tested, wrestled, Vodka-Cruiser style Psalm slanged – have settled. I, much like a slowly maturing adolescent, learnt to lean in and trust. Much of that trust has come from spending significantly more time with God. Marinating in His word. I have to give the SAP points for pastoring bravery. There’s a certain smart-alec timing in being able to deliver, drily, “I reckon some time in the Bible would take the edge off this wrestling, Phil,’ without causing the recipient of such wisdom to launch herself at him in cage-fighting frustration. “I’m wrestling here! Venting! And you want me to go off, sit quietly, pray and READ THE BIBLE??!!!!”
The SAP received a fair few flippin’ the bird emojis in the early days.
I miss those God wrestles. I find my answers in His word, but, gosh, I loved it when I’d launch myself at Him and then see Him reach so clearly into my world, catch me and guide me. Graciously and kindly, He would deliver His Post It Notes of love. It was real, vital and tactile. Plus my immature Christian faith, my pinging around like a meercat on speed, gave me such blog fodder. So entertaining!
Originally I wrote to figure out what was lost in translation between the stereotypes by which I’d been misled, compared to the hope-filled, loving reality of having a relationship with GJ&HS. In God’s crazy way, readership grew. He used my own figuring it out via this blog as a way to help others who were figuring it out too.
As the months passed, more would press on my heart and out the keyboard: domestic assault. Lack of women’s voices. I began to write less about where I was in my faith and more of what I saw around me in institutionalised Christianity that I perceived as barriers to people meeting the Jesus-fella.
Plus, if I’m honest, deep down, I quietly wondered how interesting I could keep making the settled, sedate, safety I was experiencing with the three of them. How entertaining was writing about church each Sunday? My bible college classes on a Tuesday night? The swathes of the Bible I have now read? How systematic theology fascinates me, understanding the historicity of God’s story hooking together, and how His reaching through time and place to redeem people to Him – broken, stuffed-up people like myself – is echoed over and over and over.
I mean, I love it. But everyone else? Aren’t cage fights and vodka-Cruiser style Psalmesque slanging more interesting? Compared to settled, sedate, safety? Hardly the three Ss of a news agenda or rollocking good story.
But I have far more than an interesting, entertaining faith. My God is not a God of readership statistics. Jesus is not a barometer of social media likes and shares. The Holy Spirit doesn’t get measured on His five-star entertainment rating. My faith is deeper and stronger than that.
And God says, just as He has to countless characters over thousands of years, inside the Bible and out: “Excuse me, Phil…since when is it all about you? I’m in all of this. It’s not you.”
It’s the three of them inviting me into their story that have given my life fresh colour. At the start it was ‘let go of the trapeze, what next?’ crazy. Today the trapeze still happens – but now it feels so safe because my trust in them is now strong and implicit. My error has been confusing their strong, surrounded, rock-solid support with BORING.
GJ&HS have removed my need to operate at speed. They have healed the hyper-vigilance that domestic and sexual assault grew in me from a horribly young age – along with the help of some cracking meds – but it wasn’t until GJ&HS was I able to understand what was going on.
They have – and absolutely this is the HS at work – helped me become more other focused. I genuinely want to be kinder, more patient, have self control, be gentle, share love, offer peace. Not because I have to in order to get in God’s good books. But because that’s how the HS shapes me. A little bit more of Jesus taking shape out of this clay each day.
I mistook that for boring. I replaced GJ&HS with my worldly news agenda that tells me in order to write well and to gain attention, I need to have conflict. Action. Pace.
I made GJ&HS boring. Not them. I told myself no-one would want to read about:
- my answered prayers, because I’ve written about those before
- how daily Bible time in a quiet room and the wisdom it gives me each day is the only thing after 40 odd years of searching that works (and I really did some searching!) when it comes to helping me tackle whatever life throws
- the quiet room nicknamed the Prayer Yurt – so named because it needs more than four walls for the strings and strings of A4 pages of handwritten prayers hung up. Prayers I get to take to God, secure in the knowledge that Jesus’ work in me makes those prayers powerful and effective
- the journal of daily notes that come out of my Bible time. That when I make those notes, there can be a tingling in my fingertips and the handwriting turns to CAPS as God speaks His love and wisdom to me. To me. Wow. The God who hangs stars, calls tides, commands night and dark, speaks to me. Here is this quiet space. Him and I. All because He loves and desires relationship with ME. With us all.
- how, like nothing else in 40 odd years of struggling and searching, GJ&HS, Bible time, the Prayer Yurt and the support of other Jesus followers have healed my family through addictions, marital struggles, and helping me find my voice that I’d silenced for so long. Silenced due to what happened as a child when the man in the pink shirt wearing Paco Rabanne Pour Homme aftershave would enter my bedroom.
No-one would be interested in that. They’d find GJ&HS doing that boring, surely?
The only boring bit here is my repeating the same mistake that God’s people have made over and over for thousands of years. Of making it about me. Of me thinking it has to be fast and exciting for anyone to pay attention to what GJ&HS have done and continue to do. That God needs me to drum up attention. To be the arbiter of what makes Him exciting. How foolish, how typically human, I have been.
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
1 Kings 19: 11-12