Bearing His Cross - Part 1
Reflections on Following Jesus, Culture Wars, Loving People, and Radical Discipleship

God in the Garden

It is planting season again.

It is my third year of gardening and I keep expanding, experimenting, and extending my faith.

I find that I pray differently while tending my garden, planting my seeds, pulling my weeds - Yes, MY weeds, breaking the soil, and watering, watering, watering.

I look and listen more and talk less.

My hands are too dirty to take notes, so I just try to remember the lessons and ask God to remind me later. Some things are not so much for remembering and teaching as they are for transforming us... transforming me.

As a pastor, I am sort of a gardener.

As a person, I am sort of a crop ... and sometimes a weed ... and sometimes a seed or the soil into which the seed goes.

Lord, help me not to be a weed to often and, when I am, make me good fertilizer as the weediness in me composts into something useful.

I really should be taking more notes, but I get dirty and tired and invigorated and cleansed all at the same time.

I used to hate dirt, but I just did not understand.

And this gets me on my knees, literally and figuratively.

I do pray. I pray for guidance, because this is tricky stuff. I pray for miracles because I have no idea what is happening underground. I pray for patience and patient faith because there are somethings I just cannot make happen.

I pray for seeds to grow and for myself to plant seeds in people's lives that will  grow.

I pray constantly in that dirt and it is pretty earthy prayer.

More to come ... I suppose.

This sort of comes out of it ... sort of .... but it really is a different post:

A Non-Believeing Pastor in the News

Here are some thoughts from a discussion initiated by my friend, Mark Jackson in response to the story of a pastor who declared herself an atheist. The store is HERE.

There are other good comments, including Mark's excellent observations, but they are not mine and you can read them here:  Mark's Discussion on Facebook 

Very interesting story and it will come up and be utilized as an argument. There probably needs to be a "safe zone" to discuss doubts before they develop into unbelief. "I believe; help Thou my unbelief," is a useful prayer. Also, Thomas, who would not believe "until ..." was the first to utter, "My Lord and my God." This is a very sad story. She has taken the path of least resistance. I sense that someday she may return to faith.

I could have, at times, almost abandoned my belief in deity ... but only briefly. Like Job, I have seen too much "face to face." However, what really clings to me and draws me back is my love for Jesus. If I were an atheist, I think I would still love Jesus and aspire to the Sermon on the Mount.

The problem is that without God, I would fail every time.

The things that fascinate my atheist friends, who are many and who are largely wonderful and ethical people - often very, very generous, those things that create a sense of wonder in them, touch my "God-gene," the "imageness (my word) of God in me," distorted, fallen, latent, but alive. I could not live without the sense of awe and wonder and for me, everything that baffles and boggles deepens my faith in God.

I feel for this woman, but I agree with you that the community that loved and nurtured her should have heard her confession before the world did.

Another thought ... there is an option - believing agnosticism. The agnostic is one who does not know -a(not)-gnostic (knowing). And that is fine! We don't know much about God compared to all there is to know about God. We know enough to know Him experimentally, redemptively, and salvifically. But not enough to discern His ways and cease wondering. In order for us to know Him, He had to take on skin and bone. It was a rarity in the Hebrew scriptures for a man to see and know God. It becomes common place in Jesus.

Yet, the not knowing agnosticism lingers and propels. I just think that many do not realize the worshipful power of it.

I believe. That is experiential knowledge, faith (without which it is impossible to know, please, or come to Him), and awe. Gnosticism is empirical. With Abraham Heschell, I choose wonder. With Martin Buber, I embrace a holy/wholly "Other." With Rudolf Otto, I resonate with "The Idea of the Holy."

I have no room for personal a-theism because I don't know enough to declare there is no God ... and I know too much to suspect it.

So, when Jesus comes to me and says that when I see Him, I see the Father, I am convinced enough to follow ... and have ... and will.

The "a-gnostic" part of me is pretty excited about the gnosis that will eventually get dumped on me and is drizzling in little by little.
In the meantime, for the next few months, I will be accumulating insights from the soil and having some pretty amazing two way conversations with God. I really, truly look forward to the process and to the harvest.