Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Best God I Ever Had

An interesting thought has occurred to me lately. It's been rolling around in my noggin so I have turned into my prayer for Lent. You see, I desire so much for this Lent to be different. I don't want to throw in the towel midway through, as I have done so many other years. I don't want to treat every Sunday like a "mini Easter" in which I give myself permission to indulge.

No, I want to throw off everything that hinders me. That is my sincere desire.

And I think, this thought/prayer that has been rolling around, while nothing new, is going to help me stay the course. It has taken a hold of my heart, even though it has been in my head for quite a long time.

Jesus was a radical. He was a subversive. He was serious about what He was doing. He ushered in a Kingdom that is the antithesis of everything we experience. His thoughts, words, actions were so radically different than anything anyone had ever seen - it is not hard to imagine why the Disciples were walking around baffled all the time.

He spoke on so many levels. When He makes a declarative statement, it is not just for the here and now - it is for eternity. It rings in the Heavens, high beyond our capability of imagining, much less understanding.

His Word is law because He is the Word. He is The Law.

In our meager human existence, when someone takes over and makes himself the law - people suffer intolerably. Prisons and graves are filled, poverty ensues and compassion goes out the window. History repeats this pattern over and over. Heck, we see it going on in Libya right now.

But here is where it gets radical. Not just in His living, but most importantly in in His dying, Jesus thought of us first. We, who can be so clueless and cruel - the first thing He chose to ask for from The Father is forgiveness for us!

What I think is truly radical about Jesus is that He came for freedom. He chose His destiny - to free the prisoners - when He could have easily locked us away for all time. And He didn't want to just do it for His generation - but for all. He chose to serve the weak, the helpless, the hapless - when the rest with even an ounce of His power tried to enslave the world.

Christ - and by extension Christianity - is defined by forgiveness. Not "I forgive you because you said sorry." No, as Bishop Will Willimon says, "Jesus doesn't just forgive; he preemptively forgives." (Thank God It's Friday, p. 13)

He beats us to the punch - what kind of God does that? What kind of God chooses US? Then, beyond that - He gives us the keys to the Kingdom? We get new life, new power, new purpose? It is outlandish!

He is a true radical. A true original. The One and Only.

So, in this Lenten season, my prayer is to have my mind expanded. If I want to be that original, like my Lord, my limits of understanding will have to be pushed. This could be a very dangerous prayer - but I am inspired by what Richard Foster writes in Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home:

The true prophetic message always calls us to a spiritual defiance of the world as it is now. Our prayer, to the extent that it is fully authentic, undermines the status quo. It is a spiritual underground resistance movement...In our prayers and in our actions, we stand firm against racism, sexism, nationalism, ageism, and every other "ism" that separates and splits and divides.

I want to know and show others what real freedom looks like. I don't want to just pray - I want to undermine evil. I want the people in my life to have real freedom. I'm finding that it is not about circumstances, but hope. It isn't about what's been done to you, but living in forgiveness. It isn't about getting what I want, but exactly what I need.

And I want to do it with the abandon that Natalie described last night - as we were having one of our mental gymnastics sessions (where she peppers me with questions about God, Heaven, Jesus, anything.) She said:
You know, when I see God - I'm going to run to Him, throw my arms around Him and say 'You are the best God I ever had.'

That's how I want to feel when I go to church Easter Morning and then I will be able to truly say,
He is Risen Indeed!

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