Ask God to talk to me

Yesterday, I was reading the story of Samuel to Harper (I have been trying to read him bible stories every night).  He loves his bible.  In the story, Samuel hears his name called three times in the middle of the night.  The high priest, Eli, advises Samuel to reply with, “Lord, I am listening” when next he hears the call.  Samuel does and the Lord begins speaking to him and uses Samuel as his prophet.

Laying next to Harper, I explained that God speaks to us in many ways, but sometimes he speaks to us directly either in our dreams or when awake.  He leaned in close to me and in the most innocent and sweet way asked, “Daddy, will you pray for God to talk to me?”  I nearly lost it because I have prayed for this since before Harper is born.  On most nights, after Harper is asleep, I’ll go into Harper’s room, kiss him and place my hand on his forehead and offer up this prayer – that God will reveal himself to Harper and make him into a good man who loves God and others.  So to hear my baby boy ask me to beseech God on his behalf fills me with joy and love for my son.  I love you Harper so much that it hurts.

2007 Year in review

2007 has been a good year. More than anything, I believe God has worked beautifully this year in my life. More precisely, God has made me more aware of of his workings this year.

1. God has revealed himself more to me in my experiences as a father. As my love for Harper has grown immensely with each day of 2007, my desire to lavish gifts and forgive hurts has grown. I want to give my child everything, yet I understand more now about what it means to withhold gifts and privileges in order to effect and stronger character in my son. God has revealed to me more of his feelings for his own Son and how it must have been so difficult for him to hold back his help and assistance to Jesus as he watch his son struggle in his mortal state. So I better understand God’s love for his Son and also for the rest of us (his other sons).

2. More soberly, through the experience of having lost my own unborn child to miscarriage this year, I am more appreciative of the following wisdom:

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I have come to believe this in solidarity this year. In loosing my child, I feel that I can share, to some small degree, what God must have felt at the loss of his son. But in the sweet mercy of God, the Lord spared us from experiencing the more acute pain of a miscarriage further along in pregnancy. I hate what happened and it tears me up inside, but I count myself privileged that God chose to deliver this wisdom to me. And in his wisdom, he understood that this was all I could take at the time and that I would not have been able to bare something more catastrophic. In all things, blessed be that name of the Lord.

3. This year my belief in “no coincidences” has solidified. Since God knows all things and works for the good of those that love him, since God is desirous of our coming to know him better each new day, since God has a plan for human history and has busied himself for the past 12 billion years implementing his plan, then God not only has the power and will to do so, but in fact does craft each moment of our lives to the fulfillment of his plan. Earlier this year I earnestly prayed that God would open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what he wants me to know. He did. There have been so many times this year where I have had an idea or conversation that ends up being the missing link to another idea or realization. Many times events have coalesced in ways that are only explainable through coincidence or providence. While I acknowledge the mathematical possibility of coincidence, I cannot acknowledge its probability and choose by faith to believe that God is allowing me to see the many ways he tries to draw me closer to him.

Michael Roach, a respected elder at Quail Springs, told me that the Holy Spirit revealed to him that God has “big plans” for me. This seemingly small and cliche event presented me with the opportunity to re-examine my life through a new and different lens – the lens of purpose. If God has always had “big plans” for me, then he has spent my life and undoubtedly the generations leading up to my life “preparing the way”. He has put experiences, revelations, events, people, joys, pains, successes and failures in my path to mold me into the image he wills for me. Therefore, this can only mean that there are no coincidences in my (and everyone else’s) life. Every “thing” that has happened to me has been for a purpose so that the plan and will of God can be fulfilled.

4. This year I have become comfortable with paradox. As the above states, God directs every aspect of my life. Yet, paradoxically, I still maintain a free will. This doesn’t make sense, but I believe it nonetheless. God has spent the past decade removing or ironing-out the trappings of my early theology. I no longer need to have all things work out nice and neat in a clean unified theory of everything because I believe (1) faith comes from God as a gift and (2) man does not have the physical capability to know all things. Therefore, there will be many aspects of human knowledge that are seeming paradoxes. Many in the “modern” world cannot allow themselves to believe something unless it fits in nicely with their other beliefs. So they throw away any idea that seems to contradict their other ideas usually on the basis that it is irrational or unscientific. However, faith has always been irrational and unscientific. At its core, faith is an illogical decision to believe in something for which there is no conclusive evidence. If you think about it, we naturally make many faith-based decisions before getting out of bed each morning. Even the “constants” in science are believed to be constant based on faith.

We will never have all the answers. We do not have the power or capacity to know all things. God and his creation are mysterious. Therefore, any knowledge is revealed and received in faith.

5. This year I came to believe in holistic health. Van Tran introduced me to many ideas about balance (yin-yang), fasting, Eastern medicine and ki. These ideas coalesced with my ideas on body, soul and spirit and formed my new belief that part of God’s plan for us to to live lives more in balance with the rest of his creation. I can witness the three dimensional creation of God (the art of God) and, unlike a painting, I can truly experience the wind and warmth of the sun on my body. Additionally, being that I am a created being, I can participate in the natural rhythms of creation. Creation acts in balance and harmony. I have the choice to act in harmony with creation by leaning into the stream or current or I can choose to be disharmonious and fight against the current. I cooperate by getting my body (physical), soul (intellectual and emotional) and spirit (God communing) parts of myself in balance. This balance will yield a fuller, realer, more satisfying experience with God. But easier said than done. Only by the power of God and in his own time.

6. This year God caressed my heart. He opened my emotions. For some years, God has been removing the dead parts of me and quickening the dormant parts. The emotions of my soul lay dormant until God sparked them to life after my prayer to have eyes to see and ears to hear. There are now only short periods that pass between my tears of thanksgiving. It is now rare that I can make it through a church service where I do not cry. My tears are not from pain, but from overwhelming awe. I am now in a state where I understand enough of God’s grand scheme and enough of the symbols and types that God has placed in the world to be overwhelmed in my appreciation for God. Perhaps a better way to explain it is that I acutely feel the limitation of my humanity and when I am filled with the Spirit (I can’t believe I just used that phrase) I feel ready to burst – like I cannot contain the love and appreciation in my heart. I have come to realize that I have a part to play in God’s drama and that I am connected to Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Daniel, Jesus, Peter, John, and Paul. I am a character in the same story, not just an outside witness. This is overwhelming and evokes my strong emotion because God has given me his specific attention and told me, not only that I matter, but that I am a critical player.

Of course, there have been many more events and lessons in 2007. I have grown stronger in my relationship with Tara because I have chosen to be more honest. Harper has blessedly gotten bigger and stronger. I have been successful in my job. Etc, etc. But at the end of the year, I know that I am blessed. I feel blessed. I receive this blessing and return it to God as praise to his glory. Praise God!