Monday, September 12, 2016

Points of No Return

Thomas Merton wrote of his journey into ever-increasing solitude: "I go forward. I don't believe I would go back." Merton, in his solitary life, had "reached a point of no return."

As I read this I thought that, in many areas of my life, I have also reached a point of no return. Here are some of them.
·                    I could never go back to a prayerless life. Every week for the past 40+ years I have spent many hours alone, praying. Talking with God. There was a time when I was "too busy to pray." One day that changed. Now, I could never go back to a prayerless life. The alone-life with God is the most precious thing I have. It has become my life. Any life I have to give to others comes from this.
·                     I could never go back to the program-driven church. I have not only sat in but led church meetings where little is accomplished except the need for yet another meeting, where a one-minute prayer opens the meeting, where the Holy Spirit's name is discovered to be "Robert" (as in "Robert's Rules of Order), and where disagreements escalate into hostility as we fight over the color of the new carpet and bring it, finally, to a polarizing "church vote." (But there's no voting in the Bible?) I have many moments of gratitude that I'm no longer part of church-as-institution.
·                     I could never go back to non-charismatic worship. I love the dancing, shouting, arm-raising, banner-waving worship environment at Redeemer. This is amazing for me, since I come from statuesque, emotion-controlled, anti-physical worship. My roots are Finnish Lutheranism. Need I say more? I grew up with that. I was instructed in its virtues and warned about charismatics. Now, in my heart, I have become one. Even with its particular problems I remember that it's easier to teach a bucking horse than raise a dead one. 
·                     I could never return to Christian Deism. Which is: Christianity sans the miraculous. I am less interested than ever in collective, non-miraculous human abilities. Of course we must think as best we can. But our best thinking will not and is not bringing in the Kingdom of God. I want God to move in our midst. I'm not so threatened by this as I used to be. The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power. Correct?

This is about "leaving." Whenever Jesus calls and says "Follow me" there are some nets to be left behind. Peter could never go back to fishing for fish.

Long ago I said "good-bye" to the non-Jesus life. My life has become a series of farewells. Currently I am leaving the non-prophetic life, and heading to yet another point of no return.

I write about how praying has changed me in my book - Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.