For the past many years I have been in turmoil about my spiritual life. I am definitely not disciplined in the matter, and am also more than a little bit damaged in that regard. My history with organized religion is not a happy one, to say the least, and that has resulted in my having made difficult decisions which required me to work personally harder at the whole ‘keep in touch with God” thing, and I really didn’t do that hard work. Hence, I have to some significant degree lost touch with my spiritual connection to God. It has cost me. It has cost my family. I am guilty, and I know it.
Interestingly, during this time (especially early on) I was very aware of God. Not in an “asking for help” way, either. I was in fact very comforted by His presence. Even knowing that although this was a tough time and that Wilma and I would have to sort it out, I knew that God was here, was interested. And over a very short period of time I became aware of the fact that His interest was not merely observational: I was seeing and sensing things that made little sense outside of an understanding of God. I could, I suppose, humanize events in this time by categorizing them as coincidence, or ‘good luck’, or perhaps some would suggest that I am hard at work looking for a silver lining in this period (though if you knew me you’d find it considerably harder to make that particular argument with a straight face.) I choose, by faith, not to. I know God. I’ve known Him for 35 years, and know how He works in my life… in fact, I am often embarrassed by my churlish stupidity and insensitivity in the face of that much experience (and, I might add, many experiences) walking with Him.
In any event, as I have mentioned earlier in this writing, I early on became aware of God acting on me and for me as this event was unfolding. I got Wilma to write a list. Eventually, tho, we stopped writing into that list: it was becoming almost a normal event. And I think I understand why.
If you accept that God is in the world, and if you accept that He can act physically (admittedly, two very big “ifs”), then it really just becomes a matter of awareness. Once you understand that the possibility of an active God in your life exists, and once you gain an awareness of how God moves in your life, you can hope to actually see Him. All it takes, almost literally, is actually looking and accepting what you see for what it is. Really. It’s that simple. Though, the simplicity of the matter has a rather more difficult basis: it’s simple if you have faith. No faith? It’s impossible, then, or at least very rare.
So. God is active here, and I see those activities and acknowledge them with grateful joy and real pleasure. And then, I read Ecclesiastes. You know: Solomon’s book where he tells us it’s all pointless, meaningless, and small. Rich? Poor? Healthy? Dead? It doesn’t matter… it’s all meaningless. That book. Except that it’s not that book. That’s not what he meant us to understand. Or at least, that’s not what I understood this time reading it. It’s all about contentment, about being where you are and finding the good in it… and that there always is good in it. And you know what? It is true. As I work through this period of major change in my life, it certainly appears to be true… or at least the truth of it currently seems relatively accessible to me.
Spiritually, the trick going forward will be to find a way to maintain that sense of connection, and to commit to greater personal discipline in matters of devotion. And maybe even to re-examine the whole ‘organized church’ thing that has left me so wounded in the past… perhaps with increased wisdom I will have learned to be less vulnerable.