One area of recent meltdown relates to my faith in God. I am not despairing or losing my faith, but everything I have previously understood about God is coming in for some close examination and review. Mostly I consider this to be good thing, (I am not one for believing for the sake of it) but at times I feel rattled, as if someone has picked me up, turned me upside down and shaken the bejeebers out of me. When they put me back on the ground I stagger around trying to find my bearings, but I can't even tell which way is up.
Take this for example: I find myself rejecting the notion of me playing a central role in God's thinking and plan.
A distant, Pentecostal past deposited within me the expectation that God should perfect my world at the click of my fingers:
Runny nose? Repent of your sin and ask for healing!
Need a car park? Plead quietly for one as you drive slowly along rows of full spaces!
Pain in the hip? Rebuke it!
Someone annoying you? Pray God will convict them of their need to change!
Can't decide what to do? Listen very carefully and God will tell you what path to take and everything will be OK!
OK, so I am hamming it up a little here, lacing my words with cynicism... but this form of (what I consider) extreme Pentecostalism is alive and well. However I cannot subscribe to it in any way, shape or form any more.
As far as I can tell, I am not the centre of the world and (all shloppy worship songs aside) I am certainly not the only one God is thinking about right this very moment. I don't deny God loves me and is interested in my goings on, but somehow I think God takes a far more global view of things. Six billion people out there in pain, entrenched evil and corruption, broadside destruction of God's beautiful creation, exploitation and greed - I cannot bring myself to pray for a parking space (or any other little thing) as if that matters greatly in the grand scale of things. Chances are, whether I pray for a space or not, someone will reverse out and head home just as I drive past and there is the space for me. And God might weep because the things that matter to him don't matter to me because I am too caught up in my own little world.
This is a deep shift going on inside me. Ever so slowly I am dethroning myself from the centre of my life, moving to the side, giving God's heart more credence in what I value, viewing the world through his eyes. (Don't worry, I ain't no angel yet! It's a work in slow motion!)
The trouble is that I am not sure where God's love and concern for me dovetails with his concern for all of creation. Does God's big-picture view mean that my personal pain and distress are insignificant and unimportant in his eyes? Are my present dilemmas a necessary result of a world in upheaval? Should I stand here and accept my own pain and heartache as an unavoidable side issue while God works globally to reverse evil?
I am not demanding God touch me with spine tingling warm fuzzies, blessing me and transforming my life into a garden of roses and lavendar and dahlias. I've already said I can't do that anymore. But does that mean I don't matter?
I have been puzzling over this for some time. Today God answered.
My brother and sister-in-law are visiting from Newcastle. Ever the hospitable tour guide (I missed my calling there!) I took them around my favourite local haunts - the restaurants, parks, shops and galleries. We ended up at the art museum, at which there happened to be an exhibition on fungi, moss and lichen
. It was a fascinating blend of art, history and information and I found myself drawn into the displays, trying to absorb as much as I could.
I stopped before an old collection of Australasian Mosses, gathered before 1898 by a botanist called Bastow
. At this point I was still enduring the exhibition while Luke and Michelle explored permanent exhibitions I have already seen several times. I noticed a magnifying glass hanging below the cabinet of crusty, dry moss and lichen and thought I might as well take a closer look to pass the time. I was amazed by the detail in each tiny specimen, leaf, flower, stem and spore. They were unique and intricate and altogether incredible.
Enter God. It was as if he was behind me, peering over my shoulder through the magnifying glass too, admiring the beauty with me. Then he said, quite matter-of-fact, 'Cecily, don't think I don't care about the detail'. Just like that, speaking into my ear before he was gone.
I am not really any clearer on how it all fits together, the big picture and little Cecily, the grand scheme and one lone individual. But somehow it does. And if I can be concerned for the things God is concerned for, I think he might be concerned for me and the things I am concerned for. And maybe it is all one and the same. Because isn't God in all and through all anyway?
Labels: God, nature, spirituality