Armchair QB


“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
   
Matthew 5:3-10


Sometimes I feel a little bipolar when I try to meld my 2 worldviews.  I straddle 2 distinct, although not incompatible perspectives-Christian and 12 step recovery.  Many say they are the same thing, which they aren't, while others say they are complete opposite, which they aren't.

I have often felt that 12 step recovery was a way for God to slip, incognito, into my life.  We weren't on speaking terms for many years so he would have to wear a disguise.  The recovery fellowship gave me everything that I thought I needed, even allowed me the permission and space to develop a relationship with a God of my understanding (however I didn't know Proverbs 3:5 at the time).  That relationship, I discovered, was very much like when my first real bike, a red Schwinn, had training wheels.  It wasn't less of a bike, exactly.  I was just missing some fullness of the experience. 

This Sunday, Kirk spoke about the beatitudes above-the blessing with which Jesus began a time of teaching.  Did you ever hear things that you have heard many times but suddenly you "really" hear them?  That was sort of what happened to me.  When Kirk was explaining that these verses refer to internal attitudes, my worldviews began to intersect, almost making me dizzy.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  The poor in spirit are the morally and spiritually bankrupt-the empty, the lost, the ones for whom there is no more pretending, no more facades because nothing works anymore.  They have hit bottom.  But then....they get the kingdom of heaven?  Really?  What does that mean?  To me, this sounds like the moment of utter helplessness when there is no more you, only need.  And in that deep need, God finds us.

And that, my friends, is step 1-I cannot do it.  I cannot fix it, control it, manage it, suppress it.  It is like that joke where a pretend snake springs out of an offered can of nuts.  My mess is out there, unconfined.

Jesus has told me that there is hope: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. When I mourn the loss of what I wanted for myself, the mess that I created trying to do life by myself or just the sight of my sin, there is comfort.  That I can be restored, recovered. While we often comfort each other at funerals in hollow phrases, "You can try again" or "He lived a good life," I haven't read anything in my Bible where Jesus awkwardly stumbles to find the right words or he leaves some interaction incomplete.  Because of this, I believe that Jesus would do nothing less for me in my pain and shame at the funeral of my old self. 

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. What an amazing thing! That I am not worthless, that Jesus' sacrifice changes me from a hopeless mess, to a daughter of God!  If he can do this for me, before I even knew him, why would I not want to let Jesus lead me wherever he wants me to go?  Why would I not want to be connected with him?  To give him my will and my life.

When you realize where you have been and how much you hate that life, that old person and her thoughts and desires, you want more.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  This reminds me about becoming entirely ready to have God remove all our defects of character.  I desire to be different.  Yesterday I was just telling a staff member how much I wish I were a more tolerant person.  Instead I am a bit of a frustrating, type A, driven personality.  I know that I have caused damage with my bulldozing personality and so I am grateful for the times when I have been able to respond gently and wisely, and that has only occurred due to God's intervention in my heart.

And it continues...blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the peacemakers.  I didn't know how to be merciful, until I had experienced God's mercy.  My heart was anything but pure before I met him.  I was a warrior and survivor, but no one would have accused me of being a peacemaker.  None of these things, these internal heart attitude changes, would be possible without the work that God's did within me.

Despite my gratitude for my God, sometimes I am still haunted by the "what ifs."  What if I had chosen this or that road instead of the one I did?  When I really sit with those questions, I hesitate.  Brokenness is not really attractive, but it is the only way he could reach me.  The only way I could hear him.  The only way I could be subdued.  I am prideful and would run on my own energy and talents as long as I could.  In my brokenness, I glimpsed something different than what I had planned for myself.  I found the kingdom of heaven.  I found a peace that I try to bring to the world around me.  I found a mercy that I share with others.  I have a focus, a purpose and an identity, found in my God.

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