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Journey – Souvenir Hunting

15 Apr

Desert CaravanWhen I was a child my father engaged in business all over the world and took many trips. He would always bring something special back for me upon his return. Each was unique, quite characteristic of its country of origin, and often went with a story.

In recent days I have felt a need to assemble some “Pearls for the Box”. There are several things, simple things, gleaned from Scripture and from prayer and pondering, that I have discovered to be True and godly, but do not readily lend themselves to simple “proof texting”.

These are truths I should like to communicate, over time, to my grandchildren. “Souvenirs of my Travels”, so to speak. They are not scriptural texts, but insights synthesized and gleaned from text, prayer and experience of the journey.

I share them with you here, with the understanding that these are not scriptural texts themselves, and are not presented as representing what is universally true for all people. These are things I have discovered to be true for me, in my universe, to my conscience. Thus, if they bless you, wonderful! If you disagree, or they do not speak to your spirit, please cast them aside with my thanks.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Pearls

God created man as His child, to love him.

Love Himself, Alone, transforms, changing what is not like Him, into Him, His very Self.

People are sacred… ALL people… altogether holy. Not because of who we are, or what we do, or what we believe, or how we live. None of that. But people are sacred because of the Holy God who fashioned us from, by, and with His Love… by His will.

There is no handy dandy crib sheet report card checklist of sin. Sin is to deviate from the will of God, to violate the conscience and act in defiance or disobedience to Love Himself. Sin expresses itself in dealing with any other, God or man, as less than sacred.

All of Christian life could be simplified to one verb and two virtues: “To Love”, “Righteousness”, and “Holiness”. To exercise righteousness is to love all others as sacred children of God. To exercise holiness is to love God as sacred family. To love, to receive grace from God Alone as Source, and flow it through onwards to ALL that surrounds us, is Life Himself. Anything other, whether thought, word, or deed, is death, illusion, shadow, empty and meaningless.

Words are transcendent, eternally begotten from the Mind of God, flowing through us and uttered into Creation, penetrating others.

We are judged and held accountable to God, by exactly the standard to which we hold others. The words we generate through our minds and hearts, return to us as we stand before Him in His light inescapably.

To recognize the need of another, to assess its magnitude in order to meet that need, is necessary in order to love one another as Christ loves us. To assign a “value” to that neediness, relative or absolute, positive or negative, is to “judge” In the manner forbidden to us by Jesus.

To desire to fulfill the will of God with what we do, to act in a manner determined to honor and love God, IS to fulfill and honor His will in love for Him. It is not whether we turn left or right at a fork in the road that gives God joy. It is pausing at the fork to ask Him which way He prefers us to go. The moment we ask, because His pleasure is our basis for deciding, we give Him the fullness of His pleasure.

Our adoption as joint-heirs with Christ is our investiture to exercise the authority vested in us by the head of Our Family, as we now function in the fullness of the authority of the Father.

God blesses, empowers, calls, and pours grace upon all His children identically… infinitely… which is the only way He can be. People sort themselves out along a continuum according to the degree with which they will relax, receive, perceive, experience and embrace that infinite flow. God is fully and entirely present, intimately connected, totally “wired in” to Himself. Spiritual disciplines, devotions, prayer, and worship are all exercises of “turning down the background noise” in order to allow us to perceive what is already there.

Every person on earth has the same call and mission in Christ, to be vessel for Him that He live within us and walk among us again building His Kingdom. We are all the same rank. But each of us play out that mission and call on a stage “uniquely set” for the single actor, with the singular background, that we have. It is all “perfectly redemptive”.

We are frail. We are created to be loved by God, and it is His will that we come to enjoy that by returning that love in trusting relationship with Him. He knows our frailties and faults, and they do not limit His love or forgiveness or grace. He does not condemn us for our frailties. We need to learn to do the same, and embrace our frail selves as enthusiastically as He does.

We receive all good things from the Father without hesitation or qualification. We are to reflect those to Him, and focus those outwards to others, without expectation of return or condition from others.

We need not work to merit spiritual awareness or enlightenment. We need not “climb the mountain” to see the face of God, or persuade Him to bless us with His presence, or earn our way into His intimacy. He is already there/here. He already infinitely fills and pours all of that onto, and into, and over us, at each moment. The only “effort” needed is not to drag, or persuade, or beg Him to come. Awareness of Him does not depend on how effectively we can importune Him to make Himself known. Rather, awareness of Him depends on how effectively we can still the self, quiet the mind, calm the heart, quell the appetites, release our “stuff”, and calm our fears… that WE PERCEIVE and EXPERIENCE that which He has wrapped us in all along, from before the beginning.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

These are the items in my pack that I am to retain. Grace to thee, Gentle Reader — The Little Monk

 

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8 responses to “Journey – Souvenir Hunting

  1. vwoods1212

    April 16, 2014 at 3:20 AM

    Great material; I kind of get thrown to and fro in some of the statements; not sure if you have the desire to expand and it is quite well if you don’t, but if I understand the establishment Jesus laid down and which was outlined by Paul and the Apostles, there are different callings and blessings and giftings all provision of the grace of God, but you indicated, that:
    “God blesses, empowers, calls, and pours grace upon all His children identically… infinitely… which is the only way He can be”.

    also,

    I believe some act is required, just doing nothing points to an individual not having an intention of getting into that deeper place with Him will open up room for all types of distraction, I might have misunderstood what you mean when you wrote:

    “We need not work to merit spiritual awareness or enlightenment. We need not “climb the mountain” to see the face of God, or persuade Him to bless us with His presence, or earn our way into His intimacy”.

    You caught my attention with your box of trinket. thanks for sharing. vw

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    • Little Monk

      April 16, 2014 at 8:52 AM

      Hey VW, good to see you! *cheery wave*

      So happy you are commenting on these. Bear in mind that I make no claim here of being “authoritatively right”, so we can happily disagree without a bit of problem. But I’m still so pleased you’re poking at the places that raise questions.

      You mention, ” but if I understand the establishment Jesus laid down and which was outlined by Paul and the Apostles, there are different callings and blessings and giftings all provision of the grace of God, but you indicated, that:

      ‘God blesses, empowers, calls, and pours grace upon all His children identically… infinitely… which is the only way He can be’.”

      Perfectly reasonable place to raise a quizzical eyebrow. First though, let me repeat the NEXT point, that kind of addresses this:

      “Every person on earth has the same call and mission in Christ, to be vessel for Him that He live within us and walk among us again building His Kingdom.”

      ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

      So, not to get too tangled up here, what I mean is a simple thing (coming from God), that then diversifies and plays itself out among His children with great variations of expression. God’s “one call” upon us is to be His, be transformed, become vessels for Him, as He then builds Kingdom through us. That is a singular embrace of Love from “His side of the relationship”. He is One, He is Infinite, He can only be and do in a singular infinitude. Now, having said that, each of us… individuals… different in nature, history, context… EXPERIENCE that call, that blessing, in our own unique ways… and we respond to that infinitely blessed call, in our own unique ways.

      Like, imagine 100 souls, different people, wearing all different clothes, wearing all different sun hats and colored sun visors, and all different colors of sunglasses. Now, imagine all of them walking around in a beautiful courtyard plaza on a day of brilliant sunshine. They are warm and comfortable, well lit and healthy. Each of them are surrounded by perfect sunlight flowing infinitely over them like a waterfall of light. Yet, even if all turn towards that source of Light, respond, enjoy, and embrace that experience… what each of them see, feel, and experience, will be unique. Why? Not because the Light has any variation from one to another, but because the individuals are diverse.

      What I’m saying is I never see God being a respecter of persons, or assigning limitations to relationship with Him, or being changeable from day to day, place to place, or person to person. God seems incredibly stable. He loves His children infinitely and absolutely. He bestows grace infinitely. But PEOPLE now… people do, indeed, differ one from another, and we respond with more and less fervor, more and less faith, more and less trust, more and less love. We are each called to the same “mission”… to be transformed in Christ, to be indwelt, to love one another as He loves us… and God allows us to execute that calling and mission in whatever time, place, culture, and context we find for our lives. “Same script, different stage and settings.”

      Not sure if that makes my meaning any more clear…

      ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

      Second:

      “We need not work to merit spiritual awareness or enlightenment. We need not “climb the mountain” to see the face of God, or persuade Him to bless us with His presence, or earn our way into His intimacy”.

      It’s just that I realized one day that so many of us spent all this time trying to “repent enough” to be worthy of God showing us grace, or begging Him to make Himself known or seen to us, or trying to beg, reason, or argue Him into blessing or healing those we pray for… It’s just all so desperate, so intense, so passionate, as we try to beg Him or persuade Him… to do what? To show us love!

      And suddenly, quietly, sitting with Him… embracing Him and being embraced BY Him… suddenly I realized, that simply made no sense at all! I dawned on me that every moment, cover to cover in the Bible, each instant of being… GOD is the one actively seeking relationship of love with His children. That’s the overwhelming story of the Old Testament… God’s desire to be our God and we His people, without His very holiness of presence killing us. New Testament, the entire journey of Jesus. After Pentecost, the nature of Indwelling and the immediate and intimate presence of Christ with us, in us, surrounding us, at each and every moment…

      It dawned on me how unutterably SAD we must make God. So many of His children see Him like we were neglected lonely children, faced with a narcissistic workaholic abusive neglectful God… that we have to beg and whine, kneel, try to overachieve and make Honor Roll all the time, pay off with gifts or adoration… constantly begging, whining, crying, or trying to persuade this neglectful parent for a handful of love, attention, and cuddling.

      I’m a parent. How would I feel if my daughter had ever thought she had to placate me, beg me, or persuade me, to be with her and show her my love? And if I, “being evil” can understand how to love my child, how much more is that true of God? There just came a moment where I could feel God’s heart on this! And it was so unbelievably sad that we do this to Him.

      Imagine instead a bountiful Father of gift, love, and grace! Imagine Him being ever-present. Imagine Him loving and raising His children perfectly at each moment. Imagine now Royal Children, each being raised perfectly to exercise the fullness of their authority and power to care for and grow the Kingdom. The Family Mission being the rescue of lost and abandoned children in dangerous wilderness, and their adoption into the Royal Household.

      Imagine that this Parent, this Father King, is Perfect. Children being raised have chores, rules, learning assignments, boundaries, all of that… BUT… None of it, NONE OF IT… is to “condition” their relationship with The Father. They are not “requirements” or “criteria” for the Father’s acceptance, love, or presence. He is about the task of raising them responsibly to represent Him, and carry Him and His authority throughout creation. He is always there. He is always involved. He always loves. They never ever have to act out, or beg, or plead, or argue Him into giving them His attention. Now, growing up, maturing, learning to graduate (to “be perfect” in the Greek sense), all that takes time, care and effort on the part of the child. There are good and bad days in this journey, and it is hard to learn to wield such power and authority with “perfect touch”, with finesse, with self-restraint and tireless love.

      But the bottom line I try to make in my “Pearl” is that all those disciplines, devotions, rules and seeming “requirements”… are NOT conditions we must fulfill to “lure God to be present or bless us”. That is already and ALWAYS the case. He can only be as He is, Our Father God Infinite Love. Those “requirements” are His gifts to US, to help us develop the awareness and perception we need to have, in order to EXPERIENCE His presence and blessing. So often we think we have to “work our way up to Him”, as if we have to pay Him off somehow to appear. He is NOT a “peek a boo” God, coming and going at some neurotic whim. He is always there. He is unspeakably stable.

      Far more effective in our growing up process, is simply to realize that He IS already and always there. That He is ever and always about our absolute good. And that we can trust and embrace Him always.

      The ultimate irony is that what most keeps us apart from our experience of the unconditional love and presence of God, from feeling His embrace… is the innate mistrust of His agenda… our unexamined belief or suspicion that we somehow have to earn our way to that embrace.

      It is the enemy’s great joke, and ultimate strongest means for alienating and weakening the joy and authority of Royal Children.

      ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

      So glad you made your comment. I hope this has been clarification. Sometimes I struggle to wrap words around something I see to be very simple, but my fingers just somehow make it seem very complicated.

      Bless — LM

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      • vwoods1212

        April 16, 2014 at 6:43 PM

        Great explication on the first question; I get the angle which you are dealing with it. The second part I get your view and agree, but I think what just came at me is that I am looking at it from a human perspective, in that each individual will have a million different ways and emotions in which they get to the point of union with Him, but God is still GOD. Saying that to say, He changeth not,but He appreciates the difference in His children and deals with them on that level.

        Although His grace is poured out and covers us, can we just sit and do nothing with that grace? It will be like giving your pearls to swine; the swine have no appreciation for pearls, they would just chomp on it and splatter it with mud and et al….

        Also as you mentioned, the reason He created us is relationship….relationship takes all form especially when dealing with different personalities..your method of attaining your pearl might be quiet and contemplative and waiting but another personality will cry and sob and groan and travail and go through all the emotions and then at the crux of the emotions there comes the dove. Each of us going at it in different measures, the same dove of love responds.

        Thanks for your response, it just allows me a deeper view of how you approach your interaction with God and it is very sacred and loving. vw

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        • Little Monk

          April 16, 2014 at 8:17 PM

          Again, I’m so happy with dialogue, and grateful that you are responding. You give me the opportunity to craft the words more clearly from my heart to my hands. I was MOST grateful that you said THIS:

          your method of attaining your pearl might be quiet and contemplative and waiting but another personality will cry and sob and groan and travail and go through all the emotions and then at the crux of the emotions there comes the dove. Each of us going at it in different measures, the same dove of love responds.

          Thank you so much! Because I struggle with how to be clear that I’m not in the least talking about the WHAT of our expressions to God. I too have moments of sob, groan, trevail. Yes! My pearl does not mean to address the WHAT of how we express ourselves to Him, but rather the WHY.

          My entire point is that all that diversity of expression have EVERYTHING to do with our own needs, our own diversity, and whatever means the Spirit within us sees as helpful in our coming to accept and embrace the Intimate Surrounding Presence of God that is ALREADY THERE. My concern is that so many see all these expressions as somehow necessary or helpful to ENTICE HIM TO COME!

          That’s the “neglected child” problem… the terrible belief that I must cry, sob, groan… in order either to “suffer enough to be worthy of His attention”, or “pitiful enough to shame Him into paying attention”, or to “convince and argue Him into paying attention” to me and my needs. It’s the innate, unspoken implication that He is a neurotic and neglectful Father that concerns me. That we have to somehow “convince Him” to come, pay attention, and bless us with grace! No such thing. He’s here, He’s focused, He’s blessing as a present fact. All those exercises simply “focus OUR gaze and open OUR hands” to see and receive what He is ALREADY providing.

          It’s not the What. It’s the Why.

          Grace — LM

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          • vwoods1212

            April 16, 2014 at 8:56 PM

            Thanks for the in-depth response. It reveals your desire to give God what He wants. Searching for more of Him….vw

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          • paulfg

            April 17, 2014 at 2:49 PM

            I love these long exchanges. AlI VW and I share is the briefest of words (it’s become a tradition – and you can’t mess with tradition!) – yet scroll down to “enthralling” as a comment – wow!! That one word speaks wondrous volumes!

            Anyway – as I was reading your exchanges, what came into my mind was the picture of a Japanese garden. Minimal and ordered. Monchrome and “perfect”. Contemplative.

            And then a church stained glass window with the sun shining through. And the banquet of colour and zing. Or a full-on landscape. Haphazard yet “right.” And it struck me – this diversity and difference. If I was to create something which would I go for? Minimalist or riotous?

            Minimalist would be good for a while – yet very samey over eternity. Riotous would be a handful. impossible to control, yet over an eternity never ending fascination, new details to enjoy, different colours falling in different ways. If I was God I would go for riotous.

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  2. paulfg

    April 16, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    LM, apart from looking forward to the Monday after Sunday, the thought plopping into my mind reading this box of pearls was simply this. The mustard seed. God is that mustard seed within. And once we allow him to germinate, and tend the soil, let in the light, water it with tears of joy, that seeds grows to fill every fibre of our being.

    Your eleventh pearl … “God blesses, empowers, calls, and pours …” triggered that picture. And even as I tap out these words, I sense a filling up, feel the leaves rustling and brushing inside, my skin holding in this infilling growth. One tiny seed. Filling every space within. And I have never checked out what a mustard tree actually looks like. But, boy oh boy, does that feel good!! Thank you.

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    • Little Monk

      April 16, 2014 at 5:38 PM

      What a lovely view of this, yes, Paul. I hadn’t ever looked at it that way, but yes. I can see that we have this “growing” experience of learning to see, embrace, and fully experience God. It’s a progressive process of learning to relax, rest in, and trust Him. Like the growth of a tree from a teeny tiny seed.

      Thank you, Paul. Grace — LM

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