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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Coming into the Light

"Understanding is something one does best when one is on the borderline."
-Peter Høeg (1994), Borderliners, p. 37

I came across the following quote this week and it spoke to me as I contemplated coming out of my dark period of reflection. There is something vaguely comforting in the knowledge that one has made it through a dark period and that God is still with us but in a fresh and interesting new way and also one's understanding can grow through the process of struggle.

I say that one's understanding can grow because being "on the borderline" in some manner does not guarantee understanding; it merely provides a catalyst for new insight and understanding into one's mind, will and emotions. I work with men who have reasonably serious psychiatric illnesses. Many of these men do not develop understanding. Instead they become oppressed by the weight of their struggle and become despondent and overwhelmed. A few of the men continue to amaze and inspire me as they see nuggets of gold in a river of despair.

It has been a couple of weeks since I posted. In that intervening time I have reflected upon my role future in "ministry" and have attempted to wait upon God in an attitude of thankfulness and listening. God is the most loving person that I know. I do not offer this as an exegetical analysis but from the depths of the heart of one who has been, and is being, held fast by that love.

I received 3 comments to my previous post all of which I want to acknowledge because they inspired, encouraged and lifted me. One of my foundational tenets is that the Bible is clear that ""By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."(John 13:35). These expressions of love as well as those of my close friends in Australia shows me the importance of this verse. We are not measured by the words that we speak but by the love that we demonstrate.

Patrik referred me to a blog on his site that I thoroughly recommend. I particularly appreciated the following comment

"...God has created us free, and this means that it essentially up to us to decide what we fill our “I” with. This is the great paradox: We are created by God as we are, and we decide ourselves what this is. In a way we create ourselves, but God is present in that creation."

What challenges and what responsibilities lie within this concept. Rather than being paralysing I found that quote to be energising in the sense that it opened up possibilities inherent in a vital partnership with God. I would like to expand on the fact that God needs to be not just present with us but needs to be involved in a relationship with us.

Later in the same blog Patrik writes "
a person who is secure in his or her own identity cannot be manipulated easily." Once again this was an encouragement to me to continue my journey towards greater inner integrity and security.

Renee responded and everything that she wrote touched me deeply but I want to draw attention to her closing words "
Keep searching the possibilities, and don't be afraid to post about this again." In line with my comments re Patrik's blog I would like to help others to "keep searching the possibilities". Surely this is what the church as a network of loving outreach should be encouraging for those who have not felt the embrace of God's love. God makes the impossible possible and it is a part of our missionary calling to point people towards those possibilities.

Chris responded via a comment to the blog as well as a beautiful email that I have kept for the purpose of re-reading when I need a signpost for the journey. Chris made use of Pannenburg's idea that "the infinite Triune God enters into our finitude and transforms us." Wow! That phrase in itself is worth a post or three but it is staggering that God is his majesty and power enters into, and engages with us in, our struggles and leads us into transformation.

Thankyou to all of you for sharing your thoughts and concern for me. Thankyou for those silent voices who have been, and are, praying for me. Thankyou to my friends here in Australia. Am I "better"? Well, I am not sure what "better" is these days but I do not that my load has been shared and that I have been opened up to even more of God's love and grace so in that sense, yes, I am much better.


Renee said...

Here is one of my favorite prayers, and I can't remember who it's from at the moment, but I'm sure someone will.

"For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be -- Yes!"

It is so exciting to hear that you are feeling encouraged and held securely by the One who loves you fully and "more than any other person." I had a huge smile on my face as I read your post. Keep exploring those possibilities. Keep saying "Yes!" to all that will be!

I just wrote a post on my blog that may encourage you as well. It's about this strange phrase: "Nothing you do is insignificant because of whose you are."

Take care, and keep us posted!

Patrik said...

I'm very glad my thoughts have been helpful to you. That is always the final test when doing theology: Does it make our lives more understandable?

Good luck with your work and life!