Tuesday, April 24, 2007

life is a process

In thinking about Dad's life and my own and human life in general, including the life of our Lord, one thing that kind of stood out for me this past week is the thought that life is a process. And it's a process we need to commit ourselves to. Mom asked me to speak a little at the funeral and I drew from Psalm 13 in thinking a bit about Dad's life. A book I found helpful in all of this is Michael Card's A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament. This is a book worthy of reading and rereading and working through. Many of my thoughts I adopted and adapted came from it, especially in my remarks at the funeral service.

Process is not what we "naturally" (in our falleness) like. We want instant results in our society. But even as Jesus embraced this path, so must we. Life being a process goes on from the cradle to the grave. Some aspects of that are related to "the Fall" of humanity, and indeed are not pleasant. But even with and through those things God is at work in his "in Christ" people to make us holy and filled with his goodness. We are to become more and more like our Master together in his love.

Process means time, progress (and oftentimes setbacks and failings) and oftentimes pain, including involvement in grief as my Mother and family have recently encountered. It means to live through the gamut of human experience.

And who better to look to but Jesus? He himself went through what seemed to many to be a very ordinary life until the time of his ministry. He was made human and lived with all of our limitations except he was not a sinner nor did he sin. And by his death for us, once for all, and through his resurrection we can embark in the new way he has made for us. That too, like his life here, is a process. We are a resurrection people in him, but we live as those who follow Christ and become like him in his death in this life. This is one reason I like to look some to those who embrace the monastic life. Many of them are seeking to enter into this in their lives. And it is for all of us who are God's children through faith in Jesus.

May God help us to accept and even embrace life as a process including the good and the bad, as we seek together to follow our Lord.

What thoughts would you like to add here?

6 comments:

Odysseus said...

Ted,

As recently as yesterday I heard a conversation about the underground church in China. A person who had the honor of meeting some of our brothers and sisters there asked them about prayer. I will paraphrase the Q & A.

'Did you ever pray for the government? Did you ever ask God to deliver you from the oppression and persecution?'

'No. We never prayed for that. We asked God to help us not loose our faith and trust in him while we were going through the persecution.'

That was astounding to me. So many times I am at a loss of words for people who have the tough questions. This type of prayer by-passes that type of thought process. It shows us the need we truly must have. The need to be faithful to God in the midst of trial. That is what I see in each of the example given. Job, David, Jeremiah, and Jesus all struggled with 'why' or 'where' but the one thing that seemed consistent was 'Help me to be faithful. Help me not to loose my trust in you.'

How I desperately needed to hear that.

Thank you for sharing with us your own struggles and joys. You have been a blessing to my life and I'm sure to the lives of many people who drop by from time to time.

Peace be with you.

+ OD

L.L. Barkat said...

That's the thing about a process... it has such varying seasons and not all do we welcome. I like the idea that somehow it all works together in the end.

And, I love that Michael Card book. It's marvelous and comforting to be told it's okay to mourn... even an act of worship

Ted Gossard said...

OD, Thanks for your kind, encouraging words. And for sharing that with us! I think you've seen or read the book! It's wonderful to see the grace given to our brothers and sisters in the midst of pressures and persecutions completely foreign to us. We need to be in prayer for them and I appreciate Michael Card's thoughts in that regard as well.

But we all face pressures. Richard Wurmbrand, himself in communist prison for 14 years because of his faith and witness in Christ said that for him living in America was more difficult than what he had gone through in Romania. The pressures we face here are subtle and potentially deadly. To drift or go with the flow of "the American dream", etc.

And we face temptations and certainly death.

I want to embrace life as a process of being conformed to Christ in becoming like him, by grace, even in his death (Php 3:10).

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., Glad you like the book too. I need to reread it. I believe the language of lament is a strong Scriptural language and all too foreign to me. Though, as Michael points out, it really is just being who we are before God and in that process seeing him change us.

And you're so right: there are things to go through that we would gladly avoid if we could, but you can't.

Thanks.

Every Square Inch said...

Lamenting before God is something special to the Judeo Christian faith, I think. It's based on our knowledge of a personal God, a God who cares and understands the pain we experience.

I don't think it's something that is found in other major world religions.

If those in the OT can lament, all the more for us on this side of the cross. For we know just how much God loves us and cares for us.

Ted Gossard said...

ESI, The clincher to what you say is the reality that Jesus himself lamented. And when some wondered (or thought) that he may be Jeremiah, what does that say?

Yes, I think Christianity (along with Judaism) does have room for lament that other world religions lack, though I haven't studied or read up on that.

Thanks.