someone else's god

“It was a curious thing. Robert had filled the bathtub and put the fish in the tub, so he could clean their tank. After he’d scrubbed the film from the small walls of their make-believe deep, he went to retrieve them. He was astonished to find that, though they had the entire tub to swim in, they were huddled in a small area the size of their tank. There was nothing containing them, nothing holding them back. Why wouldn’t they dart about freely? What had life in the tank done to their natural ability to swim?" He goes on to ask, “In what ways are we like them? In what ways do we shrink our world so as not to feel the press of our own self-imposed captivity? Our own self-imposed sense of who we are." -Mark Nepo

I was at a bookstore recently, and perusing the Christian religious section, became absolutely overwhelmed by the number of volumes available. Seriously, there is a book for everything:

There are the books for relationships, for his and her needs; books on work, finding your passion, and fulfilling your purpose in life; books for grieving and for loss; books geared to children and teenage readers, and for parenting children and teenagers; books on men and women of the Bible; books about sports stories and spirituality; books on films and spirituality; the classic 6-steps to God; or 10-steps to the life you've always wanted...

And if you still need materials, there are even books created to accompany the books- an endless supply of journals, field manuals and audiotapes designed to guide your way right to God. We live in a place where convenience and self-help rule, so these books quickly become best sellers.

Because for us- results matter. If we’re investing, we want to know what our return is. We want our efforts to be worth something in the end. And we don’t like to wait. In fact, we hate waiting. “What am I getting?” is the question we beg. The books offer a strategy form-fit to our lifestyle. We love to say that they, “meet us right where we are.”

But we’re all over the place.

When we’re young we want to be old. As little girls we dress older than we are. We put on makeup, wear high-heels and revealing out-fits, not fit for our age. Little boys use the harsh language of adults, smoke candy cigarettes, and emulate the behavior of every age but adolescence.

And while adults sit around talking about a generation of innocence lost, they too lose themselves; because once we’re old, we try to be young again. We live in denial of the aging process. We throw our money at any chance of looking, feeling, or acting young again. The advertisements promising skin that looks 10-years younger are endorsed by our payment plans- 3 easy installments of whatever it costs to be where we once were, but no longer are now.

We value quick solutions and easy answers. It’s true. Convenience, for us, is everything.

We eat fast food in the car, speeding our way from work to a massage where we can relax and ease the tension… for twenty-five minutes. Once home we microwave TV dinners, we grab a Go-gurt, or multitask at mealtime so it doesn’t rob us of our minutes. We hammer out some eight-minute abs, shoot some instant messages, and pop a multi-vitamin (with all the essential ingredients) on the way to bed, in case we missed any needed nutrition throughout the day’s duration.

And so we work away our lives in a fast-forward perpetual motion, so that someday we might afford the lifestyle we really want.

We rarely are, where we are.
We speed up just to slow down.

But do we get what we’re after? Do all our efforts lead to the life we long for? Do we have the God-experience we long for, now? Do we deeply connect with others, with ourselves and with our Creator, now?

Do you?

When the answer is no, we’re bombarded with reasons and anecdotes. And we run for the bookshelf. But the next step is not a book or an audio CD. Intimacy with God is not for sale at Borders or the Christian bookstore. There is not a formula. The next step is not guilt, shame, or finger pointing at yourself or your past. The next step is not even an emotion.

The next step is to stop and stand still. It is to be alone with you for a moment; because to be alone with yourself is to be alone with God.

Remove from your mind the suggestion of any approach. This moment is not a “quiet time” and there is no acronym to define an order of operations. This moment does not require that you begin thinking Christian thoughts, saying certain familiar phrases, or repenting in a religious pattern.

When we stand still, we stand before God. We always do. We always are before him- seen and accepted.

Despite whatever disconnection we may believe to exist- it remains more difficult to distance ourselves from God than to live near Him. Because we are and always have been God’s. He has always been nearer to us than we are even to ourselves. Right there. Right here. With and within us.

If it’s cliché, let it be. Immerse yourself with the idea.

The book of Acts says it this way, “In Him we live, move and exist.” Without Him we would not.

How we’ve performed has nothing to do with whom we belong to. Disconnection with God comes only when we come to believe ourselves to be disconnected from Him.

Where are you living?
How are you living?
What experiences have you foregone in the present in hopes of someday enjoying?

Have you been trying to purchase an experience with God or find a shortcut to the connection you already have? Are you taking the long way around a distance that need not be spanned? Or are you imagining a distance with God that does not exist?

Is your heart on an incubator because you’ve let the religious breathing machine double your work. If you’re experiencing an artificial life, hinged on someone Else's encounters with God, you don’t have to continue.

If it’s true that we live our lives in a constant cost/benefit analysis- designed to yield the best results- are we sure that the benefits outweigh the costs we’re enduring, as things stand now?

Are you sure that the experiences you’re missing now, reserving for later, will ever truly be yours?

Stand still for a moment. Stop your thinking, plotting or planning of how to return to God. Stop and realize that God is present now with you- and you with Him. Stop and find that deep experiences await you, if only you remember His nearness.

They say that 90% of an iceberg lies unseen, beneath the surface, with the exposed form only hinting at the greater reality. Dive beneath the surface and see the immensity of the God who you’ve, until now, only seen glimpses of.

No matter what your credentials- no matter your certainty- there is likely far more to life with God than what we’ve felt, thought, or believed.

Slow down and stand still alongside the God who says, “I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly.”

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