In my last post (My Dusky Hour of the Soul), I discussed some passages from Tim Farrington’s A Hell of Mercy.
I’d like to share another here, a passage that really resonated with me in this time of wondering and waiting…
What the dark night shows us, through the intensely resisted revelation of our spiritual bankruptcy, is that we have been in the game for the payoff… We’ve been hoping for peace of mind during our golden years, a solid foundation of spiritual capital, security, and a 9 percent return on bliss. But now the bottom has fallen out of the market. Our spiritual checks are bouncing. (p. 71)
Oh, how I relate!! I posted earlier (Bargaining with God (Who, Me?)) how aware I was of this very phenomenon in my life.
But, now, I am even more conscious of the fact I’ve been “in the game for the payoff.”
I recall during my sophomore year of college, I suffered an emotional breakdown of sorts and entered the campus infirmary (I had an infection and fever as well). The infirmary staff kept me there until they knew I was on the rebound, both physically and mentally.
Anyway, upon leaving the infirmary, I headed over to the dorm room of one of the spiritual leaders on campus to seek counsel. I will never forget her words upon my sharing the recent struggles:
“God has a wonderful plan for your life” (or something to that effect, though I doubt she quote Law 1 of the 4 Laws to me).
In any case, I believed it. Those words (and the subsequent friendship with this woman) encouraged me more than you can imagine. I needed to know someone had a plan for me. I needed to know someone liked me, too.
It’s only recently that I’ve seen that I am angry at God for not giving me the wonderful life I thought He had planned (I suspect we had different plans in mind all along).
Though I talk a lot about the benefits of suffering (again, in terms of repenting and growing closer to God), at some level, I expected God to deliver on that wonderful plan with something tangible, not just something spiritual (and even that seems to have been lacking lately).
I’m embarrassed to tell you what I now realize I thought that good life entailed, but it did NOT include four years of an unemployed and unhealthy husband, exceedingly (for me) difficult job and church situations, and a loss of the type of community which has made me feel loved most of my Christian life. And it did include some sort of “spiritual payoff.”
I don’t think I saw God as a cosmic Santa Claus or Vending Machine, here to serve me if I inserted the correct spiritual coinage. It was/is more subtle than that.
Rather, I saw Him as my loving Father who intended to take care of His child, to ensure that His child had a good life.
Any of you parents know how self-centered kids can be are… Well, I realize that in a real way, in my relationship with God, I was very much like a child, very egocentric.
It sort of makes me sick.
Maybe it’s time to grow up.
More reflections to come…