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reality check

25 Nov

Thinking much on reality.reality

Fantasy is so much more appealing, I know. Especially religious fantasy.

You can only walk with death so long before you either have to dive headlong into a swirling religious fantasy of denial dressed up as “faith” with a full complement of “faith verses” or see that we are dealing with a much more complicated, textured, layered reality.

I think we all start off very much in sync with Deuteronomy. Life is so wonderfully straightforward. Do this and you get that; do that and you get this. It’s called fair. Keep these commands, follow these instructions, say these prayers (correct verbal formulations only, please!), complete these rituals by traveling to this holy place to see this holy person, etc. etc. Covenants become contracts with promised rewards and protection for good behavior, or your money back. Actually, no. The money is kept regardless.

reality (1)Yes, this is where we start – depending on how rough your start is. Some of us are disabused – or rather abused by life – right out of such notions early on. And we move from the sureties and simplicities of Deuteronomy to the twisted complexities of Ecclesiastes and the howling grief of Lamentations.

But oh how we fight it.

When our three oldest children were diagnosed with familial polyposis in 2001 and were awaiting imminent surgery to remove their large intestines (which between the three of them ended up entailing 10 major surgeries over 9 months– our own personal 9/11 as 9/11 unfolded right in the middle of it), we were the recipients of much prayer and ministry. Much of it quite helpful, fortifying and sustaining. Some of it less so. And yes, some of it quite entertaining.

reality-a-bit-more-complicated

i like this one…

One dear brother, God bless him, insisted God had told him our whole family needed to line up, single file, and then bunch together while he placed his hands level with our aligned bowels and prayed because this would break the family curse. We were up for anything, so we did. And we smiled. We thanked him. And the ten surgeries rolled right on unabated.

Another well-meaning sister inquired into any sexual deviations in our family history and even into our sexual positions in the marriage bed. Less helpful. Less entertaining.

Words of command were spoken for mountains of tumors to move in Jesus’ name (because that’s what they have to do when we ask them to in Jesus’ name). The surgeries still came. All of this repeated itself when one of these same kids was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor five years later.

And then there were those who just ached and wept with us, and having no idea what to pray, prayed little – at least verbally. And among these was one who in the midst of all the “mountain talk” simply prayed in effect, “This is a mountain that you are going to have to go through.”

And when she said it we knew it.

what we imagine faith will do for our troubles...

what we imagine faith will do for our troubles…

No matter what verses and scripture facts we can marshal to break curses passed by progenitors or off objects we unwittingly bought in a gift shop on vacation in Tahiti that had curses put on them, or that prove once and for all that by the stripes of Jesus we are healed of everything, especially tumors, and we just need faith to claim the blessing; no matter what formulations of faith with which we would bolster ourselves or others against adversities unfolding in an unstoppable torrent or in a fiendish, torturous trickle, this reality remains – at least it is what I have seen:

Sometimes the mountain moves.

what faith moving mountains usually looks like...

what faith moving mountains usually looks like…

Sometimes you have to tunnel through the mountain.

Sometimes you have to climb over the mountain.

And sometimes the mountain falls on you
and flattens you into the dust.

You can decide which of these demands the greater mustard seed of faith…and, in reality (and biblically), which leads to a greater depth of character and beauty in humanity.

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14 Comments

Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Faith, haverings, Prayer, Suffering, Uncategorized

 

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14 responses to “reality check

  1. Chad

    November 25, 2013 at 5:45 am

    “You can only walk with death so long before you either have to dive headlong into a swirling religious fantasy of denial dressed up as “faith” with a full complement of “faith verses” or see that we are dealing with a much more complicated, textured, layered reality.”

    Sigh… Yes. That is the reality.

    I told someone the other day that the Jesus I believe in is the one who wept at the death of his friend.

     
  2. Tracey

    November 25, 2013 at 5:54 am

    How about traversing the mountain(back and forth) and then tunneling through only to find a boulder, go back out and start over again…sigh. I’ve had a lot of reality checks in my life. Religious fantasy bombs. One time I told a friend his mom died because she didn’t have enough faith. Ugh. That has haunted me for so long. I wish I would have said Jesus wept at the death of his mom. He forgave me. Thank God for many chances.

     
  3. wordhaver

    November 25, 2013 at 6:01 am

    heavy sigh…loved this rendering (Good as New) of that passage in John 11 – “Jesus broke into tears…when he saw the grave he was so distressed, he snorted like an angry bull.” Not exactly the traditional Sunday School rendering, that…

     
  4. wordhaver

    November 25, 2013 at 6:02 am

    So sorry Tracey…and yes, sometimes it is all of the above! Aargh…

     
  5. Joel

    November 25, 2013 at 6:13 am

    The mustard seed of faith is crushed into the dust, right along with the dismayed holder of the seed, when the mountain falls on them.

    Today. That would be today. Crushed by the mountain.

     
  6. wordhaver

    November 25, 2013 at 6:16 am

    Actually, I think this has been me today! “And if that seed falls into the ground and dies, it will bear much fruit.”

     
  7. gigislens

    November 25, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Mike, Oh, Mike, Oh, Mike. You know how deeply this one cuts. On the one hand, I think, “Good, Lord, if I have to stand on my head at 10:03 in the morning, three days before, but only two lunches before a healing, and then take my garbage can out to the street for three days in a row after a prayer, even if it is not a garbage day… [etc] – well, then I’ll just walk away, thank you.” But then, it *seems* that sometimes, the best pretenders win at this game. It *seems* like there are those stories… And I ask, like I’ve asked a hundred thousand times, “Isn’t it enough to just be moved with compassion, like You were?” And then I think,, I just don’t want to pretend. I’m not good at it. I’m not good at having perfect hair or a perfect home or a perfect tongue and pretending it was effortless or that I enjoyed the suffering it took for all those perfect things. I’m a terrible Iyar. I can’t even make out like a bandit with two extra pennies. Two cents extra back from my bill cashed and I feel guilty. So, I don’t pretend (well, we all have something we like to cover up, I suppose, but I don’t intentionally pretend very well). And I don’t want to. Thank you for these words, friend. They may be the most real I’ve ever encountered on this subject.

     
  8. wordhaver

    November 25, 2013 at 8:01 am

    In a way, Grace, how sad that you understand what I’m saying! Oh to have such hidden from our eyes, to look out with eyes of innocence at a fair world again. Perhaps we will again in time…or rather beyond time; and having lost our innocence so, how sweet the return embrace will be, how much deeper, truer the innocence. Dreaming now of seeing so again with you one day…and of laughing more deeply than we can possibly imagine. 🙂

     
  9. gigislens

    November 25, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Yes, Mike, yes… through tears and hope. We bring beauty. And beauty heals. I do believe this to be true.

     
  10. Tracey

    November 25, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Thankful for beauty that heals ugliness and showed me the innocence I never understood. Thank you for sharing these words.

     
  11. Sheila

    November 25, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    It all comes down to trusting God doesn’t it? More and more I am speechless in prayer.

     
  12. Phil Bush

    November 25, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Mike- Hi Phil My experience-I see the mountain out there. And find that the mountain that gets moved is , and has been, in me all this time. And when that ‘mountain’ gets dug up and rearranged a bit, the mountain I see in front of me gets rearranged as well. Thanks, your willingness to share, you, it has really helped me rearrange many a mountain.

     
  13. wordhaver

    November 25, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Bingo! 🙂

     
  14. wordhaver

    November 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Yes! This is it precisely! Too see this is to see everything. Thanks Phil. You bless me. 🙂

     

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