a) By myself when no one is there to witness it
b) I am completely exhausted to the point that I have no mental resistance
c) When traveling away from home for several days
d) If there is a witness there, they are either in that same state or they are at a point where they feel hopeless
Unfortunately, given these limited access points for my state of grace, the only way it looks like I can make this state last is if I become a traveling salesman–not happening. So what can I do? If it is as easy as I said it is, why am I not doing it? Well, one theory is from the Jesus in Nazareth story when he went to his hometown after traveling everywhere healing and doing miracles only to find himself incapable to do much around the people who “knew him”.
The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth – Matthew 13:54-58
54 He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.”58 And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.
The other theory–which is likely the one that is true because it will take the most work on my part–is that I am selfish. I am a kid who doesn’t always want to share my toys with people who I think won’t appreciate them. I suggest this because sometimes I find myself identifying with the big brother in the prodigal son story. I assume you know it, but the short version is:
- Rich Dad has two sons
- Younger son asks for his inheritance early and goes out and wastes it trying to be a big shot
- Younger son becomes beggar and then decides to go home and try to to work for dad
- Dad sees him walking toward house and throws party and gives son ring
- Older brother who always stayed home and worked for dad gets pissed
- Dad tells older brother that he should understand why he is celebrating the return of his once lost son
Sometimes like the older brother, I get annoyed with people who I consider to be wasting their inheritance but then want me to share mine with them. The thing is that I believe that, like the two brothers, we are all equally children of God and that God is providing fully for each of us in the direct proportion to what we need on every level–that is spiritually, mentally, physically, psychically, and emotionally. How that manifests is different for everyone. But I believe that if we acknowledge that we are recipients and participants in a Life that we ourselves did not cause, that very Source of Life that I call God, will continue to expand our lives–a perpetual inheritance. However, if we cut ourselves off from the Source then we will eventually run dry and feel and in fact become empty. Despite this, I believe that, through Christ, God will even do a rescue mission to heal and restore us and bring us back home. All we have to do is call for a rescue and accept the help that comes. But we have to be mindful that it may come in ways that we cannot imagine and that it is not forced on us. It is just available. The catch is that we cannot take the credit for it. After all, it is through thinking that we are the self sustaining source of our own lives that we usually get ourselves in trouble.
My challenge is dealing with the people who won’t admit their own failure to do it on their own and refuse the help or advice they solicit while simultaneously wanting to be the source of their own lives and be the recipient of the perpetual inheritance at the same time. I know that is a mouthful, but I trust you get it. It would be as if the younger son came to the older brother and asked him to take care of him while trying to hide from their father the fact that he had squandered his inheritance. Does that make sense? This is where I get hung up because I feel like if I get too engaged with a person who can’t admit that they are not the source of their own lives but who simultaneously wants to receive an inheritance then they will be tempted to make me be the source of their lives i.e. codependency. So I step out of that state of grace so they can get away from me. I give up my inheritance too just so they won’t keep begging from me. My thought is that they will then go back to the true Source. But usually they just find someone else to latch on to.
Just to be clear, I am defining inheritance as something one receives without having to work for it. And somehow my mind tells me that each of us has received the inheritance of life from the Infinite Source of all life and that all we have to do is receive (Check out Isaiah 55). I have to admit that this simple definition can get a little complicated when we try to limit the gift to our own ideas of what is good for us and what we think we need. I am not using human criteria to determine this nor am I limiting it to a single incarnate experience of life, but am considering it more from a place of eternity. That is to say, I believe that God gives to us fully in a way that nurtures us in a holistic and Universal Way that never ceases to reveal to us more and more of who God is and who we are in God. God gave us God in us. But for some reason that has never been enough for us.
1 John 3:1-3
1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.3 And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
And the challenge with me is that I do not know how to deny the Presence of God in people and cannot stand for them to deny it in themselves and beg of it from me. The younger son in the prodigal son story at least could admit that he messed up and went home to his father humbly. And like the jerk older brother, I’ll get annoyed at first. But then I’d listen to the father if he told me to accept my younger brother. But if the brother or sister comes to me, I ask them if they talked to our dad before coming to me and if they so “no” I tend to tell them to go away and talk to our father first. But the fact is God is not like that. Jesus told his disciples to give freely because they received freely (Matt 10:8). That was the mistake of the older brother and I’m admitting that that is mine. When I stop giving I stop receiving. That’s the rule. Knowing that I should figure out some better way to assist my brothers and sisters in God.
Any suggestions? How about?
Judging Others – Luke 6:37-38
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
Moral of the long story. Give as you would like to be given to. What you hold back will be held back from you.