Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

John 15:16:

"You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name."

I came home last night with the full intent of winding down from a long week. I swear, I had a week of Mondays this work week with Thursday being the equivalent of two Mondays packed into one. My tendency when the week is particularly hectic, is that it takes a while. I can't just "sit." I have to sit a while and get up and distract myself a while, and sit again a while, etc.

This went on clear until midnight or so, when I was reclining in my lawn chair in the back yard and finally, the dancing of the moon behind thin clouds could catch my attention long enough that I could just sit and be gentle with myself. Just lounged there with a blanket on me, watching the night sky, feeling my inner self finally able to loosen and join in the dance that the moon and the light cloud cover had provided.

I realized this week has been a huge week in my prayer life, too. Many people this week with troubles, issues, and catastrophes in my world. My tendency is to want to "do something" for them. But most of these are issues where I must simply "sit and be with where they are," and let things unfold for them. None of these things have a single facet where I can even begin to have a delusion of control.

In working on John 15 this week, verse 16 keeps jumping out at me, for two different reasons.

"You did not choose me but I chose you."

Huh? Wait a minute. Wasn't it me that did all the work? Haven't I been the one who became disciplined in prayer? Learned to sit still, at least a little bit? Don't I get any credit here?

As I watched the moon trip behind a cloud and pop back out again, as I heard the breeze rustle in the trees, the limbs fan-dancing across the moon, I had to admit...nah...I have only entered into what was already there for me. God had prepared a banquet in my wilderness heart, and had been keeping the food warm all this time, simply waiting for me to finally show up and sit down at the table. When I finally sat down, it was the banquet that drove all that work. It was the eating of this nourishment that was there all along that gave me the energy to do all those things "I" have been doing. My only "credit" was to have enough sense to eat.

Then I focused on the other half of that verse that kept poking at me.

"...so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name."

That "getting what you ask for" thing that is sprinkled throughout John really historically bugs me. It's one of the most misinterpreted things in the Bible, I believe, and entire ministries, particularly in some segments of evangelical Christianity, have been built on people praying up wish lists to Santa God, or God the Cosmic Coke Machine, where you stick your prayer quarters in, and out comes a fat bank account, true love, or a Cadillac.

But a lot of John 15 talks about how when we follow Christ, or obey God for that matter, we are "not of the world." I got to thinking there is a transformation in "what we ask for" as we become more Christ-centered and more spiritually connected. Our heart's desires become clearer and what we "ask" for changes. As we understand better what is of God and what is of the world, we also understand what "asking in his name" really means. It doesn't mean "if I tack 'in Jesus' name' on the end of my wish list, I'm covered." It means to ask for what truly comes out of the holy parts of ourselves at those moments we feel connected to God. They tend not to be things of the world.

I could sit down right now and simply go, "Ok, God, I want an extended cab pickup, a winning Powerball ticket, and for my sick and hurting friends to be healed." Maybe one of two things go the way "I want." Most will not. God's going to let us down every time when it comes to simple "worldly wants."

Does that mean God doesn't listen? Does that mean "I'm not doin' it right?" Does that mean God really doesn't exist? The answer, of course, is "none of the above."

More and more, when I pray for, as we say in Form III, Prayers of the People, in the BCP, "our own needs and those of others," I realize what I am really, truly asking for is for others and myself to simply see God in everything.

When I pray for a sick or hurting friend, I am really asking that they see God in the darkness.

When I pray over a strained relationship with a friend, I am really asking that we find a way to honor our Baptismal Covenant to "seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself."

When I pray over a difficult circumstance, I am really asking God to help me put my whole trust in His grace and love.

I am not asking for "a worldly outcome."

In those things, if we can accept what has been chosen for us, we will always "get what we ask for." Even if the outcome is "not what we wanted or ordered."

In the death of a friend, you might finally come to the full realization of what the intensity of their life's light was in your heart.

In the loss of a job, you might finally come to the place where the next job "fits you" better.

In the pit of financial uncertainty, you might discover what it is that you really need.

These are all things God can deliver, and does, time and time again.

But you have to dare to sit down at the table and eat.

7 comments:

As the object of some of those prayers, I appreciated this post, Maria. And, of course, my pager just went off as I started to type this comment to help underscore what my current issue really is. :)

That and I bought raw hides for the dogs and have been watching them maneuver, ignore, etc. the raw hides. There seems to be a metaphor there for me as well.

Blessedly the pager has allowed me to sleep this morning - frequently and deeply. Only now at 1:43 PM am I beginning to feel rested and ready to face the day and my aching/numb hands and feet.

That voice inside tries to make me feel bad about all that sleep - that that's what crazy depressed people do, you know. Yet, the Dalai Lama said "Sleep is the best meditation." I know because I have it from a desktop calendar.

Back to the raw hides - the dogs have had varying levels of interest in the raw hides this time - two "bones" and two "tire rolls." Zoe, my little pig dog, of course, has shown the most interest.

Cosmo is interested but only if he can take it outside and go hide it from the other dogs.

As usual, Frankie only wants what the other dogs have.

Lola just yawns and waits to go outside and nibbles occasionally on the one Zoe has started, which, of course, causes Zoe to decide she wants to chew again after all.

I think there's a connection here with your bit on needs and prayers for needs. I was reminded of the Garth Brook song "Unanswered Prayers" as I read that bit.

I think you drift dangerously close to the "It's part of God's plan" response to adversity when I think it's a bit more like the Rolling Stones: "You can't always get what you want, but just some times, you get what you need."

Clearly I needed some loving prayer this week and I got it in spades.

Peace, cyber sistah!

feeling my inner self finally able to loosen and join in the dance that the moon and the light cloud cover had provided.¨ K

You sucked me in with this one...yes you did...imagine the dance you joined...sure it was always waiting for you and the band plays on and waxes under the Moom and Sun...you found out you had a partner already didn´t you? You´ll never dance alone again. Your partner has always wanted to twirl you about and show you off...no longer on the shelf? You´ve engaged in the dance?
Dips and swoons of the heavenily variety.

It feels so good to know that your partner is always there and you no longer require a safety net.

¿verdad?

I can hear the faint music even down here.

Thanks

You can follow or lead...some gifts are more imaginative than others.

This comment has been removed by the author.

Wonderful comments, all.

Renz, as a dyed-in-the-wool Stones fan, I agree wholeheartedly to your song choice. I think the only thing I am saying different is, "What I ask for has changed over the years." I really don't think adversity is "God's plan" per se, but that within all adversity is a chance to better hear what is within our true God-connected hearts. Just as in all joyful things is that little Roman who rode on the chariot of the conquering hero in the parade reminding us that fame is fleeting, and we are mortal.

We so often find "want" and "need" are different critters, and that our needs are fulfilled, though our wants might be dashed against the rocks.

Leonardo, what a wonderful image! I thought about how a post or two ago, I had mentioned the "cadence of God." I find when I go with the cadence of God, I can do the steps even when I don't know the dance.

I think of an old college pal I had. We never really ever "dated" but we were better dance partners with each other than with our respective dates. We could just naturally follow each other's instincts on the dance floor and it looked like we had rehearsed the moves, but we didn't. We just felt the music in tandem well. That is how I imagine that dance with the Holy Spirit. If you just loosen up and feel the beat of your own heart, and the cadence of God, the moves just flow. But you must loosen up for it to happen!

Exactly...thanks for that, a nice way of thinking about the dance...whew, I wonder why it took me so long to learn how to blend my spirit with the Holy?

There is so much in this post I love. The dance of the moon phrase spoke to me too, and I also especially related to this:

God had prepared a banquet in my wilderness heart, and had been keeping the food warm all this time, simply waiting for me to finally show up and sit down at the table. When I finally sat down, it was the banquet that drove all that work. It was the eating of this nourishment that was there all along that gave me the energy to do all those things "I" have been doing. My only "credit" was to have enough sense to eat.

As you know, I too am learning not to dictate my wish lists to God but to listen. I suspect I'm going to have to keep relearning that one the rest of my earthly life.

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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