Coffee with Jesus

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Sunday morning our pastor shared a new development in his daughter’s understanding of Jesus. For those of us who were new to the story, he brought us up to date. At first, she wanted to kill Jesus. She had a nightmare. She faced a figure clad in grey robe with a long white beard and a sword. Our pastor was thinking Gandalf, but she said he was Jesus. It scared her and she proclaimed before going to sleep that she would kill him in her dreams. Recently, she saw a cartoon in which it took her to the cross and the death of Christ. The resurrection, however, wasn’t included. So, as far as she’s concerned, he is now dead and nothing her dad says will persuade her to the contrary. It’s an ongoing journey of discovery in their household.

But there was something more. As she was getting ready to go to bed, she told her dad something like this. “I love Jesus. I wish he could be here. I wish I could spend time with him.”

For her, he is as real a person as me, or you, or her mom and dad. He truly is someone who lived and breathed that she could interact with if he weren’t dead. I wish he were that to me. To be honest, I’m not sure if he ever has been. Maybe it is simply something I’ve lost with the innocence of childhood. It’s been on my mind of late. How different would I feel about God and Jesus if I saw them, heard them, talked to them and felt them in the flesh?

I found these feelings manifest in worship moments before he shared this story. I felt disconnected and disengaged. The lyrics were uninteresting and resolved themselves to noise in the background as my mind began to wander. I tried to find something to interest me in the music by drumming the beat along the back of the pew or finding an interesting harmony. I drifted into thoughts about worship, or what it will be like when I take my place on the stage with them. Somewhere in all the distraction, these thoughts of God in the flesh returned and I saw myself sitting across from Jesus for coffee. I sat distracted, listening in on another conversation or drifting into my inner thoughts. Point is, I wasn’t present. Just as in that moment, I wasn’t present.

I believe this awareness is part of the answer to a prayer I began a few years ago. I prayed to know God. Not know about Him, but to truly know Him as one person knows another. If I want to know him in that way, it means I need to be present with Him as surely as I strive to when I meet a friend for coffee. It’s refreshing. And as I delve deeper, I am excited. I’m also hopeful for that little girl. She’s already taught me a little more about the presence of Jesus. I can’t wait until she finds out He’s not dead.

Seeing Past the Grail

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I left off last post with a quote from The Wisdom of the Enneagram on fulfillment. I would like to begin today’s thought with the words that prefaced that quote. It reads, “The key thing for Sevens to understand about themselves is that as long as they are directly pursuing happiness and satisfaction, they will never attain them.

It seems almost proverbial. An idea befitting a quote from Eastern mysticism, or some story out of myth where the hero finds his desire only when he abandons his quest. Sometimes it is a matter of timing. Other times, he discovers that his goal pales in comparison to the treasure found along the way. No matter the reason, it requires something more than blind adherence to the quest. I wonder how many treasures I’ve walked past with blinders on.

This truth for sevens is deeper than my current understanding, and I have no desire to try unpacking it here. What I would like to do is share experience I feel has gifted me a glimpse into its secrets.

In short, I set out on my own quest. I knew my Holy Grail of the moment. In anxious turmoil I plotted and schemed to acquire the object of my desire. My frustration only grew as I was thwarted at every turn. For me, most of this futile exercise happens in the arena of my mind. Sometimes I get to put my plans into practice. Most times I do not. Either way, the trials on my journey left me tired, flustered and empty handed.

Until I let go. In a sudden insight, I chose to focus on the one thing I could control. Me. I could seek to become the best me that I can be and leave the rest to God or chance.

You know what comes next, right? A miracle. Those things I had struggled so painstakingly for appeared unbidden and unexpected. And, most awe inspiring and terrifying of all, appeared effortlessly. Such that I had no idea what to make of it. The only thing I could do was say thank you to the only One I believe could orchestrate such a thing.

Later, as I sat writing these words, I thought back to the previous post’s quote. “Fulfillment is not the result of “getting”…” Yet here I am, equating happiness and satisfaction with “getting”. And to be honest, there was great satisfaction and happiness in receiving my grail. So, I wondered, how does it work? A thought came to me. What if my grail, these gifts, were destined? What if they waited in the same place along the road no matter how I came to it? If that were true, then the only difference to be found was in the quality of the getting there. Had my mind been free from trying to manipulate forces outside of my control, what would I have seen and experienced along the way? It is a significant question, especially if my grail was indeed a divine appointment of sorts.

Now, I don’t mean to say we shouldn’t have desires and goals. They set the path we travel along. But I think that we are free to enjoy the fullness of the journey, to experience satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment, only when we let go of the need to control. I’d love to control the narrative. I’d love to control the tempo and the rhythm so that everything falls into place just as I foresee it. But I can’t. And if, in realizing that, I relinquish control I can be freed from the internal battles with frustrated plans and unmet expectations. The battles that rob me of the joy of the journey. And let’s be honest, there is far more journey than there is getting.