Archive for November, 2009

Tangible Answers

It is no secret that I wrestle with faith. I have a friend who, upon me saying I can’t stand drama, reminded me that all of my drama is internal — and it is incessant.

What I’m about to share is very personal. It’s not a statement about how I think God works in the world, nor is it an attempt to say suddenly I’m back on God’s good side or anything. This is one story — part of my story. It isn’t meant to push, pull, evangelize or anything else. It’s simply what happened, and how I view this event in perspective in my own faith walk. It’s not meant for any more than that. So, if you’re a person who likes to take things out of context, or a person always looking to build up either side of a faith debate, please don’t prostitute the story I’m about to tell. “It is what it is,” and I wanted to share it. End of disclaimer.

About three weeks ago, I confronted God with a big issue. Not life and death, mind you. I don’t believe God responds to ultimatum. Most days, I don’t believe God listens to me at all. Or, if he does, he enjoys toying with me, seeing how far I can be pushed before I release blasphemous sentiments his way. I admit, my theology is tainted, and what I’m sharing is the worse day scenarios. Anyway …

My son is in college. If you live in Michigan, you know that our state government has recently reneged on the “Michigan Promise Scholarship” (seemingly becoming a reoccurring theme in my beloved state). My son earned this scholarship, and it was part of the package that got him to attend his college of choice.

I was angry. I am not ignorant, nor a simple-minded person who thinks the world revolves around me and my family. I had what I call a “knock down, drag out” conversation with God, alone, in my car. I may have said things like, “OK, you want Wesley at college? You figure out how to keep him there! I’m not going to compromise the rest of the family to have this happen. We’re already living close to the bone, God, and we can’t do this.” I ranted a lot more; details I’d rather not share here, so public. Suffice it to say I was hurt, I felt abandoned, and I worried for my son, whose belief is deep and pure and real.

“I’m done,” I said out loud. This is not my problem. I’m not going to talk about it with my husband, or my son, or anyone. I’m done.” And I was. In fact, my husband didn’t even know the Scholarship had been cancelled.  That’s how “done” I was.

Here’s the text I got from out of nowhere yesterday: “I love my college! I just received a letter from President Webb saying that because of my financial need they would reimburse my whole Michigan Promise Scholarship! I’m covered!”

I was driving, and I had to pull over. Understand, I had totally let this situation go out from my mind. I was coming home from a wonderful lunch with my husband, and we were making plans for home renovations, and we laughed and simply shared a beautiful few minutes together. So when I read this (yes, I read it while I was driving — bad, I know) I teared up and had to pull over.

It has been a long time since I feel like I’ve seen tangible answers to a prayer I’ve prayed. And, like I said in the disclaimer, this isn’t a statement of theology or “how God works” or anything. This is what I experienced yesterday. I was speechless, only to say, “Thank you.” What else could I say? God had, in the providence and kindness of Spring Arbor University, made possible for my son to continue his education — the one he’s planned and worked hard for a long time.

So … what do I do with it? I move a little closer to maybe, just maybe, believing that God does care what goes on in my life. Hard even to say, because of my skew on it all. But I feel like, for me, right here and right now, I have something I can wrap my mind around … God hearing my cry and showing me he can take care of things.

That’s all I’ve got to say about that. Right now.

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A Necessary Autumn Inside Each

Do you know Rumi? “Rumi was born near the city of Balkh, in what is now Afghanistan, then the easter edge of the Persian empire, on September 30, 1207. He was the descendant fo a long line of Islamic jurist, theologians, and mystics…When Rumi was still ayoung man, his family fled from Balkh, just ahead of the invading armies of Genghis Kahn … Rumi and his family travled to Damascus on on to Nishapur, where they met the poet and Teacher Fariduddin Attar, who recognized the teenaged boy Rumi as a great spirit….”

Bottom line: Rumi is one of the greatest poets of the ancient Muslim world — and actually, our modern world as well. His influence can be found throughout literature, music (David Crowder’s line, “And what was said to the rose to make it uncurl …” Rumi), and both the western and easter world.

Yeah, I’m a fan. Today, I found this poem and thought I’d share it:

You and I have spoken all these words, but as for the way we have to go, words are no preparation.

There is no getting ready, other than grace.

My faults have stayed hidden. One might call that a preparation! I have one small drop of knowing in my soul. Let it dissolve in your ocean. There are so many threats to it.

Inside each of us, there’s continual autumn. Our leaves fall and are blown out over the water. A crow sits in the blackened limbs and talks about what’s gone.

Then, your generosity returns: spring, moisture, intelligence, the scent of hyacinth and rose and cypress.

Joseph is back! And if you don’t feel in yourself the freshness of Joseph, be Jacob! Weep and then smile. Don’t pretend to know something you haven’t experienced.

There’s a necessary dying, and then Jesus is breathing again. Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground. Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are. You’ve been story for too many years.

Try something different. Surrender.”

Such beauty, echoing over so many hundreds of years. Rumi has helped me see that there probably aren’t so many differences between our world and that of our brothers in the Persian realms — at least, not like the media and some religious fanatics would have us subscribe to. And while we’re separated by thousands of miles, and hundreds of years, the beauty of the language still resonates in my soul.

And I’m not even a big fan of most poetry …

(quotes taken from Coleman Barks’ “The Soul of Rumi.”)

A simple paraphrase for my church …

“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

“Love everyone. Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to even those who are thankful and wicked.

“You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” Luke 6:32-36 (paraphrased words in bold)

No other comments. Just words attributed to Jesus.