Love Notes from Faithful and True

Being yet rather encumbered several years back by a debilitating inability to cook, I one day had made myself a rice casserole. Back then–those were the dark ages–if I had to cook for myself, it was pretty basic, and I held primarily to those staples I could actually make something of, being rice, potatoes and pasta. Needless to say, most meals weren’t too exciting.

Anyway. I had gotten rice pretty well down to a science and after devouring half the pan I reasoned that I would have eating for another meal–hurrah! The next day I spread the rice back out in the dish and put it back in the oven. Once it was heated I commenced to eat the other half of the casserole, roughly the same amount as the day before.

And when I was finished, there was half a pan of casserole left.

In fact, from taking the pan out in the first place I’d noticed a general full-ness going on in my meager lunch plans. So I said–paraphrasing–“Thank-you Jesus for more than enough,” and went on to eat my fill. The day after that I had my third meal of rice casserole.

Yeah, so God might’ve just multiplied my least favorite food.

That’s just the trivial part of the story. I just happened to throw up a comment to my Facebook profile saying something along the lines of “God just multiplied my rice”. It might’ve been more in-depth than that, but you’ve already got the gist.

Someone whom I had respected and looked up to for some time (who will of course, also remain nameless) commented on my post and basically discredited the whole thing with an attempt at a natural explanation. I immediately felt about 2o founds lighter as I heard my respect hit the floor.

Bam.

So that’s what you think of the goodness of God.

I wasn’t devastated. I knew not to put infallible stock into a person. But I was surprised and my eyes were opened; previously if anything I would have expected some positive affirmation from this person in particular. But now I realized something: faith bigger than a mustard seed misses God’s romantic subtleties.

Let me explain why I use this expression.

I looked up to this person because I perceived that they had a lot of faith–and I still believe that they did. They’d been into God’s presence and seen some mighty things–movements of the Spirit, healing, hearts changed.

But where there is no doubt, where there is no weakness, where there are no visible cracks, there is that much less room for the goodness of God to be manifest fully.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t desire faith, strength, or even perfection. I’m not condoning the idea that being under grace, we should sin to increase the power of God. That’s not what I’m getting at.

What I mean is simply this: God spoke to me in a little thing. He wrote a love note to me in rice and veggies and signed it with a wink because just maybe He saw the humor and the irony in me eating rice for three days instead of two, and challenged me to accept His goodness as it comes new every day.

And the miracle was passed over by this one who was more interested in moving mountains. But what they never knew was that it was more than just a little extra rice for another day, it was God showing up in the white noise of my doubts.

I don’t look at people the same way any more. I don’t look up so much to those people that are on the “cutting edge” of Spiritual moves of God. I look at people who hear God in the silent moments, in the small things. I look at the man who said “Lord, I believe; help now my unbelief!” and the man who said “Lord, forgive me, I’m a sinner.” when the “leaders” around him waere standing tall to boast of what they had accomplished for God, to boast in what they were and what they were not. Those Pharisees missed Jesus in the minute things, in the sparrows and the lilies of the field dressed more radiantly than King Solomon. And it seems to me, that people missed when Jesus said “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” for a meal for 5,000 from five loaves and two fish.

Joan of Arc, Peanuts and Other Brief Musings

I just finished reading Bernard Shaw’s play “Saint Joan” based, of course, on the military movement of Joan of Arc (or Jeanne d’Arc), her trial and eventual execution as a heretic. While I don’t necessarily know what to make of Catholic theology or Joan’s saintly visitations this isn’t going to be a debate over the authenticity of her spiritual life. I do however, strongly suggest that you read Shaw’s play and perhaps do some research on her life. You can find the play over at Project Gutenberg Australia available freely as an e-book; it’s a short read and took me only a couple days to finish. (To those who know me well enough this is significant because I do not enjoy reading all that much and am not a fast reader). Personally, this book is good enough to have your own physical copy of.

I’ll put it to you straight, because that’s the way I like to hear it best: I have little doubt that God directed me to re-read this book for such a time as this. I don’t have the words now, so take a few days and read it for yourself and perhaps I will comment more fully on it later on; for now I won’t spoil the story by sharing my own experience just yet. So there’s your reading assignment for the week; look forward to another post about it and get to it!

Shifting gears now, someone recently shared a tid-bit of information regarding a man by the name of George Washington Carver. I went searching and pulled up this quote:

“When I was young, I said to God, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the universe.’ But God answered, ‘That knowledge is for me alone.’ So I said, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.’ Then God said, ‘Well George, that’s more nearly your size.’ And he told me.” -George Washington Carver

That prayer resulted in a reputed 300 new uses for peanuts discovered by Carver, revealed to him by God. Cool, right? Well the other day I asked God for my own bit of wisdom; I asked God to reveal some mysteries to me about people. Alright, so maybe I was a little more ambitious that Carver, minus the universe of course, but I’m still shy of King Solomon’s request. (I’m also shy of his calling). Anyway, however the case may be, God didn’t say it was too big. But He did say it would take a while.

Anyway, I forgot all about it till a while later when I nearly banged my hand into my bedroom wall. Instinctively I said outloud, “Ow!

And then the ensuing mental conversation went something like this:

“Why did I say that? That didn’t hurt, I barely even hit the wall!”

It was purely monologue.

And then a thought came to me. In many (probably mundane) instances such as this, I respond before I even have time to think. That isn’t the first time I’ve instinctively said “Ow,” before something hurt, even when it didn’t end up hurting all that much. Huh. Interesting. And then the thought followed through – people respond before they even have time to think. Just think about that.

Alright, so maybe you’re not catching the revelation like I did because God didn’t whisper in your ear, “See? You’re learning mysteries already,” directly afterwards. That’s okay, because it was for me.

But think about this. People respond to things before they even have time to think. We’re so practiced up that it just comes naturally. Sometimes before anything even happens. I was about to say that’s not always bad, but I changed my mind; I think it is always bad. No, it isn’t dangerous to be conditioned to something good, but think about it. I’m still fighting my way out of a performance conditioning–the idea that how well I perform before God matters. It’s Law-based and it’s some dangerous conditioning. Conditioning is at its heart, numbing. We label every situation and circumstance and file it, neatly referenced to what we believe is the appropriate response. But if your filing cabinet is anything like mine, it doesn’t stay organized without constant reevaluation.

The problem with conditioning is that we’re open-minded people–that is, so open-minded that the categorizations we make for our replay-responses become generalized. “Oh, I’ve experienced something like this before, this must be the appropriate response,” followed by a new file in the cabinet under the heading “Bad Reactions, [A-H]”. Our most hardened defenses begin to leap out regularly at any innocent passer-by simply because they looked at us a certain way. We begin simply accepting wrong ideas from others simply because we are trained to accept ideas from sources A B and C but not D. But the reality is that every moment is new, requiring a new response. But with so much reevaluation required to make our conditioning realistic to a world continually spinning, is it worth being conditioned any more?

I came from a system where people were conditioned to accept just about anything as truth if it came from an authoritative figure. No questions asked–and how dare you challenge your elders, they obviously know more than you because they’ve lived longer.

Unless they’ve lived longer under a system of false conditioning.

Because now the system gives authority to people above Biblical truth–or at the very least it gives people the authority to make what they will of the Bible so that it agrees with them instead of the other way around. That’s some dangerous conditioning, because that conditioning is costing them the gospel of grace. So I hit my hand against the wall. But contrary to my conditioning, it didn’t really hurt.

Because do you know what is at the core of conditioning? Wrong believing.

If we let our conditioning lead us, it will feed us a false reality, and we will–even to our own shame and demise–believe it.