Friday, November 18, 2011

Giving Birth to Our Dreams: What's God waiting for?

Do you ever wonder what God's waiting for? Why God delays answering your prayer. Why he's stalling to realize a dream or even need you have? The answer to that question is often unclear. Yet, as I ponder this waiting period as we prepare to launch Sustainable Faith Indy, I do notice important things happening. The one's most obvious to me are within me.

It's not that I can see obvious, tangible reasons for God's delay, but I can see a shifting within my own heart. As I settle into what feels like a "long winter's night," I find myself thinking and processing important questions, finding a heart posture that I can support during this stand-still.

Most of all, I sense a deepening yieldedness. Through the passage of time, I notice God inviting me to a greater surrender to his will and an openness to receive his guidance and counsel. It takes time for me to get to that place. It's interesting to me that just as I think I'm waiting on God, in reality, He's waiting on me. 

Last week, I was Sustainable Faith Cincy SFC for the School of Spiritual Direction. As we gathered for our first morning together, Dave Nixon led us in a version of the Lord's Prayer that he wrote after reflecting on the passage. As we repeated this prayer, phrase by phrase, one particular line stood out to me. In a moment, I knew that it expressed what God is waiting for in my life.

Here is Dave's paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer. The line that spoke most to me is in bold. Take some time to pray it, line by line, and in the process open your heart to a posture of surrender.

Our Father-in-Heaven, be lifted up today.
Let your intention for us be realized completely regardless of what it might cost.
We look to you to feed us, to provide what we need.
Forgive our sins; cancel our debts.
Teach us to do the same for others.
We are weak and prone to wander.
Oh, have mercy, dear Lord.
Find us in our weakness; rescue us in our lostness.
Protect us from the evil one.
We confess you as King of the Everlasting Kingdom,
The High and omnipotent God,
The All-Glorious One.
This is how it is and how it always will be.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Giving Birth to Our Dreams: Trying to Figure God Out

A friend of mine wrote me recently and made the off-hand comment that it "seems like we are confined to understanding our lives backward." I knew just what he meant. Often, as I puzzle over the mixed media of my life, I have a difficult time understanding the emerging image. It isn't until I get some distance, step back with time, that I can make out the purposes of God in it. But when I struggle to understand, my natural tendency is to try to figure God out. I ruminate and speculate about what is going on and what he is doing. And that preoccupation typically makes me more anxious.

As I give birth to the dream of Sustainable Faith Indy (SFI), I find myself trying to figure God out. The birthing process has not happened quickly and concisely and the way forward is not clear. The tangible reality of this dream is still hazy. 

I read a short paragraph this week that brought this experience together for me. It's by a 17th Century priest named Francois Fenelon. I thought it might having meaning for you. Fenelon offered this counsel to one of his friends:

"The future is in God's hands, not yours. God will rule it according to your need. But if you seek to forecast it in your own wisdom, you will gain nothing but anxiety and anticipation of inevitable trouble. Try only to make use of each day. Each day brings its own good and evil and sometimes what seems evil becomes good if we leave it to God and do not forestall him with our impatience."

Trying to figure God out can be a perplexing vocation when using our own wisdom and vision. I know that my impatience to understand my life often leads to frustration. I appreciate Fenelon's advice to "try only to make use of each day." That seems to be God's word for me right now. That and being grateful for what I have today.

So, let me invite you to join me in an imagining prayer exercise that might help us "make use of each day" as we live into our dreams:

As you embrace the dreams within you, imagine being a tree, stretching tall toward the sky, yearning with desire. As you reach upward, what does it means to "root yourself" in today? Feel yourself thirstily sinking your roots downward into the soil of your present life; imagine living right now in Christ from your true self.