Sunday, October 7, 2012

Of Poets, Pointed Prayers, Prisoners and Personal Poverty...

If you know me, you know that I believe I am one of those people who was probably born out of time and out of place.  Most of the things i love to read are 400 years old or more, and are probably rooted in cultures or times where love, valor, passion, courage, sacrifice, simplicity and faith were virtues to be courted and cultivated as well as lived out in practical ways every day at all costs.  Not that those things aren't still necessary today (Indeed, what could be more necessary in any culture at any time?), or as valuable, but they were able to be verbalized and pursued with a purity and focus that i think sometimes gets lost in the dizzying whirlwind of complexity, volume and velocity in which most of us live our lives.

At any rate, my prayers of late have had a sense of deep frustration in my soul, a longing that seems to cry out for God in a way that seems in some ways to even be despite myself.  It is as though there is a passion to Know and be Known, but an endless litany of red tape and bars and bodyguards that i don't want that prevent my Beloved from getting to me.  So i cried out today with the borrowed words of an old friend from the 16th century who seems to have had the same problem.  As he is more eloquent than i, i just let my heart cry out with his words even though the sentiment is a nearly perfect match for my own.  What follows is one of John Donne's Holy Sonnets (number 14):

"Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend;
That i may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is capitv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me."

If you've ever felt that the soul inside you was a captive in some ways to your own life, body, choices or decisions, i urge you to recognize like I am that thankfully, there is a God who can indeed break down our doors, smash our chains (even ones of our own making) and take us back off to belong to Himself, regardless of what enemies or slave-traders we've managed to sell ourselves to along the way may dispute His claim. He is gentle and kind, and will never force that transaction, but make no mistake, He is able to do so if we ask Him.

Sometimes i forget that.  I think it's my job to barter my way out, negotiate with my captors or even fight my way out or overtake them.  But I can't.  So like my friend John Donne, i sat today and simply asked that God would batter the gates I have constructed against Him, and flood my city so as to take it back for Himself.  I think i'm beginning to get a better picture of what Jesus meant when He said in Luke 4:18 at the outset of His ministry, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the Poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and to set the oppressed free."  In my life, i have worked hard to construct the belief that i am none of those things.  I'm not Poor.  I am not in Prison.  I am not Blind.  I am not Oppressed.  But I am.  So are you.

In Missional Moves, we talk in chapter five (From Center to Margins) about the fact that "Everyone is Rich, Everyone is Poor".  It is when we allow God to take our own Wealth into places where He is at work that our own Poverty is both exposed, but filled up by the Wealth of others.  If you're going to experience true personal transformation, recognizing your own Wealth and Poverty is the starting point.  

1 comment:

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