Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wes Roberts asks some questions

I read several recent posts by Wes Roberts, and as always, what this gentle and wise man had to say triggered explosions of thought. Take a look at his post for February 12, 2007 "113...what do we claim to be true?"

Wes wrote: "War images can offend. Battle talk is uncomfortable for most...to be avoided. Thus, in the messiness of language, images, symbols, I believe, the wide ranging issues of spiritual warfare (...a fairly consistent theme in our life-text, the Bible...) gets minimized, ignored, and we pretend there is no such thing. There is......." Oh yes, to the sensitive little girl who grew up in The Salvation Army (Church, not Community Centre or Thrift Store) those war images have been offensive. Coming of age during the Vienam War, I was acutely uncomfortable with the externals attached to my roots in this Christian movement: uniform wearing, street meetings, knee drill (prayer meetings), and systems of hierarchical command. For most of my life I have avoided thinking about the Biblical context and the Divine imperative behind the notion of spiritual warfare.

But Wes pointed me in the direction of Eugene Peterson's rendition of Ephesians 6:10 - 24 in which Saint Paul urges us all to take up the best spiritual weapons in order to enter into a fight to the death with the Devil. Here is the portion of the passage which spoke most deeply to me:

Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
Wes suggested some questions for reflection and I have chosen to respond in this blog to seal my intentions.

1. Where do you need to take more seriously these words of our God?
"Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words." I need, as always, to embody these words in my daily life. 2007 is a year in which I have covenanted with God to be more even tempered emotionally and relationally. I need truth to anchor the sometimes unwieldy breadth of my unorthodoxy. I need righteousness, a clean heart and a clear mind, in order to do my work with my family and as a writer and volunteer therapist. I need peace in place of the rage I feel when trapped in circumstances beyond my control...rage never helps..."Lord, grant me the serenity..." I need faith to believe that God is in control of that vast host of things beyond my control. That is huge. And I need salvation, not in its limited and perhaps distorted sense of being 'born again,' but in its truest sense, which is deep healing. I need to experience salvation/healing daily in order to bring this balm into my small world. This is where I need to begin.
2. What will you do about that?
I will write this blog. I will covenant with others to keep me focused and faithful (my name of course, 'constance.')
3. Where do you need to do battle for a variety of issues within your own soul?
I need to do battle with fear. This is the microcosmic battleground for me. It is not sufficient to say, 'I have an anxiety disorder' and therefore I am excused from this particular battle. Rather, I think, this particular battle is enjoined on me with a special purpose. I must fight fear in order to release the gift of God which is within me and in order to be useful in this life, which, after all, is the only life I presently have.
In the macrocosm: I believe that fear is the cause of much wrong headed thinking in this world. It is fear of differences, fear of others, fear of change, fear of self, fear of past, present and future which motivates the physical wars and rumours of wars which are destroying the world community. It is fear of surrendering to kindness and willing love which creates pain in marriages and families. It is fear of poverty which creates poverty through hording, lack of generosity, abuse of resources and wealth. And so on.
4. How will you allow others to join you in the battle?
I will write this blog. I will ask for prayer to keep my resolve. I will ask others to consider these questions and the import of Ephesians 6 for their lives.
5. What is God up to in your own life?
God has given me great blessings this year and more importantly, awareness of these blessings. My life is far, far from barren. Indeed, this barren woman is about to become a grandmother for the fifth time in as many years! My family is more cohesive, sharing and caring, living love despite uncertain circumstances. I am so grateful. My book has received a good response: people have laughed and cried and seen themselves in it. This is all I ever hoped for. This is very fulfilling and it is a direct result of my obedience to God...yes, obedience, another term I've cringed to own. My personal life vision and my mission statement are being fulfilled in ways beyond imagining. Despite fear, I am giving birth to Beauty, a commodity much touted but little understood.
6. What all do you want our Triune God to be up to?
Is this where I say, 'world peace?' Nope. I want God to continue to break down the walls between all people of faith. I want the battle for truth, righteousness, peace, faith and salvation to be joined on all fronts. I want God to open minds, to break down narrow sectarianism (another form of fear and an acute hindrance to the work of God in any generation). I want God to stir Christian imagination. And out of that great stirring, I want God to bring about creative and loving ways for Christians to confront evil in the world. I want God to help Western Christians to learn the lesson of turning the other cheek, which clearly is not weakness but wisdom since it comes from the mind of Jesus.
So there are Wes's questions and my responses. Should you wish to answer the questions in your own blog, please do. The questions themselves are a kind of spiritual warfare, don't you think?


Wes Roberts said...

Connie...for some reason I can't access your blog to leave this message...so here goes: :)

On a very cold night here in Denver (snow...some more...amazing!) my soul is warmed by your thorough responses. You are already living well, in what all you have written, your sentence..."I want God to stir Christian imagination." Thank you for being courageous enough to share some parts of your story...and thank you for being such a stellar example of desiring to take our God at His word. God bless you as you continue on in His direction. And...please...keep writing. Your words...your life...your insight is sorely needed. Again...thank you!

Barbara said...