Tuesday, May 19, 2015

undivided

“Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall." (Luke 11:17)


Do you ever sense that there is a divide within you?  I know I do.  At times the sense of it is worse than others, but it is definitely there.  And I do not have to go far before I realize that this is not a good thing.  Just take a look at the verses above.  They seem to bring us face-to-face with the question, "Where am I divided within?"  For any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined.  Where am I living a divided life?  For a house divided against itself will fall.  Is there a gap between what I long for and dream about versus the life I am actually living?  Why is that?  Is there a different me for the different contexts of my life?  Do my spiritual life and my personal life and my vocational life and my family life and my private life all flow from the same well, or are they isolated from each other and separate?  If so, I suppose I need to hear this statement from Jesus again: "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall."  Is there a gap between my spiritual life and my practical life?  Is my life a bunch of separate parts, or one continuous whole?  Am I living a divided life or a unified life?  Because Jesus sure seems to be advocating a unified life.  And finally, how large is the gap between my will and Thy will?  And why, for the most part, is that okay with me?  Maybe I need to hear the words once again, “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall."    

Jesus wants so much more for me than that.  In fact, he prayed that I would experience so much more than that: "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.  May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:22-23)  Somehow a unified life matters to God, because God, at his very core, is a God of mysteriously wonderful unity.  And he wants us to enter into that unity.  So when we live divided lives, we are not living the lives he made us to live.  We are not living lives of integrity, which is when all parts of our lives say the same thing--the thing they were created to say. 

Yet still, somehow we continue to live divided lives.  Maybe that's because when we keep our "worlds" apart it gives us at least the illusion of autonomy, control, and independence.




Evelyn Underhill said it so well when she said: "Most of our conflicts and difficulties come from trying to deal with the spiritual and practical aspects of our life separately instead of realizing them as parts of a one whole.  If our practical life is centered on our own interests, cluttered up by possessions, distracted by ambitions, passions, wants and worries, beset by a sense of our own rights and importance, or anxieties for our own future, or longings for our own success, we need not expect that our spiritual life will be a contrast to all this.  The soul’s house is not built on such a convenient plan: there are few soundproof partitions in it.  Only when the conviction—not merely the idea—that the demand of the Spirit, however inconvenient, comes first and IS first, rules the whole of it, will those objectionable noises die down which have a way of penetrating into the nicely furnished oratory, and drowning all the quieter voices by their din." (The Spiritual Life by Evelyn Underhill)

O God, eliminate the gaps and divisions within me, and within my life.  Make my life one unified whole instead of a bunch of isolated individual parts; that I may be one, and that we may be One.  Make me undivided.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

compiling a narrative

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)


I love the way Luke begins his gospel.  It reminds me that with God there is always a narrative being compiled--both within me and around me.  It is something that I must pay careful attention to, or else I can easily miss it altogether.  What exactly is the story God is writing within me these days?  What is he doing deep in my heart and soul?  How is he drawing me to deeper and deeper places with himself?  How is he trying to disrupt or disturb me in order to make me more fully his own?  What is he inviting me to?  What is he asking of me?  Am I living his story for me in every way possible?  Or am I somehow resisting, refusing, or denying it? 

Because there are other narratives within me that compete with his--ones that make the story I end up living each day much darker, much uglier, much less heroic.  They are false narratives that go deep into my soul; planted there long ago by the arrows that have pierced my heart along the way, as well as what I've interpreted those arrows to mean as far as my value, worth, and identity are concerned.  They are the tool of the enemy to keep me living in a bad, dark, hopeless story, rather than the good, beautiful, heroic one God so deeply longs for me to live in--and longs to live in me.

So I guess the truth of the matter is that every day I have to choose which story I'm going to be about, which story I am going to live.  Am I going to be like Luke and be about compiling a narrative of all that God is doing in and through me?  Or am I going to live a story that is much less than the story He has imagined for and with me?  Doesn't sound like much of a choice, does it?