I’ve been asking God for connections, insight on how things work together. The typical chaos of a day looks random, but God turns random into relationship. Right? God eliminates the seeming coincidences we experience by changing them into full-bored, highly engineered syncopation. What looks originally like happenstance on the outside isn’t that at all. Under the hood, all cylinders are working together toward the same purpose.
Unknown to me behind my plea to God were two issues I was dealing with; two things that have been bothering me sat ominously in the way of the answer to my “connection” question. First, how does evil get turned off inside of my heart, and what practical way do I get to act out my relationship to God?
I didn’t know these were my core questions, until later, when my prayer was so clearly answered.
My actual prayer requests for “connections” were not that insightful. I just wanted to know how my fixing dinner for Joanne was so delightful, and how making so many new friends in our new home in Woodland Park turned out so well. Making dinner used to be a drudgery, and making new friends has never been high on my, “Let’s do that!” list. What happened to turn that around?
A few weeks ago, John Sorensen invited me to attend “The Restoration of the Heart” conference in Colorado Springs with John Eldridge and Dan Allender. It was a two-day event. At about the same time, I was writing a reflection for this website on the subject of the heart, which I had to re-write. Consequently I was forced to dig deeper into the meaning of evil in the heart. Not a seemingly huge connection, but the two things drove me to study my heart’s motives, and how I could let God peer into my life and then, with my permission, change it. The work of those two disparate things, a retreat and a writing task, touched me deeply. I learned that not only does God want to love us and change our hearts toward him, but he also wants to change our histories of trauma and pain by repairing the “past us” in order to love us in the present.
Most folks may already know that is how God works, but the living example of it, the actual taking place of repairs and his love for me really took place. This was not just an intellectual exercise.
A week ago, I began preparing for a study group that meets on Wednesday nights, but I didn’t get to the reading until this weekend. We’re reading from Benedict’s “Jesus of Nazareth” series. The topic for this week is The Sermon on the Mount. About the same time, I got a call from my friend Pete Michelin. He invited me to attend a discussion/contemplative session with him in Denver, led by Franciscan Sr. Ilia Delio, reading her book “Making All Things New.”
After reading the material this weekend, preparing for this Wednesday, the intersecting lines of these two studies is remarkable. The connection of Jesus making us whole by his reinterpreting the “laws” in the Sermon, plus Delio’s reimagining the universe with both God and us in it, nearly bowled me over. The timing of these two readings was no accident.
Yes, my explanations are not complete, and my defense of God’s answer to my request for clarity around connections sounds pithy, but real stuff happened here.
I love that about God. I was actually asking for help in the more mundane things of coordinating my time better, of helping me to sleep through the night, and making me more aware of people’s needs around me. I got all of that, and the awareness of God’s presence in those arenas was stunning. But I got so much more. I got deeper work on my heart, and unforgettable study about God’s involvement with me in the world we “both” Iive in. It’s his world, too. Intimately. He built it, and he loves it. He tells us how to live in it!
I got actual relationship events with God; physical, mystical relationship events. While we can often forget the thoughts, insights, wisdom, and conclusions in life, we don’t forget the relationships that make marks upon our hearts, minds, and soul.
I asked for little things, and got them. I also got a life lesson I will never forget.