Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Meaning and Mattering

In doing my yearly reading of the Nativity Story I came across a gem of a phrase in the notes of my old Tyndale Living bible. 

In the section in Luke 2:3-6 where the story tells of Mary and Joseph having to travel 70 miles at the 'very worst time' for a pregnant, unmarried woman in a primitive time period, the following sentence stuck out: 

"When we do God's will, we are not guaranteed a comfortable life; we are promised only that even our discomfort has meaning in God's plan."

Meaning. A life that matters. That's what I want. don't you?  Mary had no idea, really. And neither do we.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Praying is Visualizing

Imagine your future! Make it happen! Picture yourself in your dream house! your dream job, your dream life! Are all these techniques valid? and how do they fit in a christian world view?

It occurred to me that when I pray, I am visualizing to myself and God exactly what it is I really want, both for myself and for others. It is telling the truth and reaching into my deepest self to see that which I wish to happen. As I do this, the real, true desires of my heart float to the top like cream on the top of the old fashioned milk jug.

There is a moment in the movie Bruce Almighty where the character Bruce, played by Jim Carrey  is telling the God character Morgan Freeman, that what he really wants for the girl he loves is that she be happy, even if that means she won't be with him. It is a realization that he wasn't able to see for himself until he verbalizes it.

"Now that's a prayer." says God.

I've kept pace with the traditional view of prayer, and for most of my life, thought of it as a way to please God. After all, He told us to pray, and Jesus himself modelled it for us, praying often, both openly and in private to his Heavenly Father. "We ought to pray", is how I carried it in my heart, feeling guilty if I didn't 'pray enough'.

But the transforming truth, as Jesus reminded us, will set us free, is that part of the design God has for prayer may be simply for our own benefit. Daily regular, episodic, and seasonal contact with ourselves in His presence may serve to sort our own hearts out for a bit of soul cleaning and organizing, perhaps.

What a master designer!