A friend and I spent some important time yesterday talking about spiritual aridity. He has been going through a long period of drought and I am working hard to not take up residence in a spiritual desert. It was an excellent meal – the food was fine, too – because we were able to open our hearts up a bit and share some of our victories and some of our concerns. The good news is that we will both suvive – we are fighters. The fact, however, is that if we can’t tame the exercises of our ‘form of religion’ with healthy doses of servitude and humbleness then we will continue to struggle through dryness.
We are both mature Christians – men who have served and have worked to maintain the spiritual well-being of many others. We may or may not have been successful in our endeavors but we will leave that up to God to sort out – we are thankful and honored to have been entrusted the way that we were. Anyway, we both admit that in our past and present administration and distribution of spiritual milk – tons and tons of it – we have come to understand that we are exceedingly hungry for spiritual meat. We crave it.
And we aren’t talking about a need for academic study and theological rhetoric. Rather, we are talking about needing to have nurturing and supporting people around us who also crave more than religious motions and routines. We want to serve with others who are serving – arm in arm and side by side. We desire to have honest discussions about faith that don’t always end in some kind of hermeneutical gymnastic floor demonstration. Maybe sometimes there aren’t answers because God is too big and too amazing for us to understand. What would it be like to be stumped and wrapped in youthful wonder when talking about God? Where is the surprise and astonishment in our faith?
After a lot of good discussion, we agreed that we need to get on with our spiritual journeys. God has granted us eternal salvation – let’s take it and proceed to live heartily and with spiritual passion. Let’s not keep reviewing, routining, repeating, and revolving around the basic tenets of our faith. We aren’t babes in Christ anymore. We are hardened warhorses with many battles behind us. Let’s quit caveating and making excuses and always having to have a fall-back fail-safe plan. We need to be challenged and we need to challenge others.
And a Sunday worship service doesn’t do it.
The good news is that we are piecing something together where we will – with a few others – make an attempt to go to the places were there may not be answers. Will our faith hold up? We want to talk and consider things that our ordered traditions seem to not address well at all. Can our faith suffice? We desire to run to the horizon and see what we can see. Will our faith be challenged? We very much hope to be humble and quiet in order to let God speak to and with us. Will our faith let us listen?
My friend likes to use the analogy – it is a beautiful one – of us being the thread and God being the master weaver. God weaves a beautiful tapestry using us as his thread. We are all different colors. We all have different qualities. But somehow God – through his providence and predestination – weaves an amazingly complex but beautiful tapestry of finite life from his perspective as an eternal weaver. My friend describes an idea that God takes some of the weave and crosses threads just when the two pieces of thread need to be tied together – love, support, care, understanding, patience. Sometimes a weave will take place for who knows what reason? Until something happens years down the way and the weave comes back to mind – this was God’s intent all along. And sometimes a weave will be about a horrendous event – the death of a loved one, for example. But in the tapestry, it fits and it contributes to the overall beauty of the artwork.
Now add this to the discussion – the tapestry is already complete! God has already completed his work based on his foreknowledge of who he knows you and me to be – before, now, and later. He doesn’t make us who we are but he knows who we are and he has already created the masterpiece of what we call life from who and what we have been, are now, and will be. Incredible.
God is an eternal being who is not bound by one time, now, and someday. Rather, God simply sees it! He sees all of life in one moment. He sees the movie of life in one scene. He knows what is past, what is present, and what will be. And this single scene of earthly and finite existence is represented in my friend’s vision of a tapestry. It’s God’s handiwork. And we each are a thread somewhere woven in the piece. God has woven us all together already in an amazingly complex and detailed representation of life.
So my friend and I want to accept God’s providence, and we want to accept God’s grace and mercy through our faith, and we want to live like there is no tomorrow. God has given us a gift – both in this life and in the next – and there really is no reason for us to sit around questioning whether we know enough about God, who is God, where is God, or what does God want us to do. My friend and I know the answers sufficiently to know that we need to be about living – in God’s name – in this tapestry of life.
God knows where I am headed because he knows me better than I know me. I need not worry about what God knows. Rather, I know what I need to be about and where I need to be. After all, I am a weave in God’s tapestry.