In the past month while on vacation from about everything that has interfered with completion of my book, “Love’s Resurrection: it’s power to roll away fear’s heaviest stone,” I’ve tried to open my mind not only to God’s Spirit within me, but to the world I see “happening” around me. It sounds trite, perhaps, to say with the biblical epistle-writer, John, that “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (I John 4:4), but this is a verse that resonates with me a lot these days. I trust in its truth.
My own experience of God’s indwelling presence is that my mind hears God’s whispers even above the world’s shouts sometimes. Not always. But sometimes. The world drives me through my bodily senses of sight, sound, touch, smell, taste. It drives me in the default direction of fear in response to the unknowns of this world, and there are many. Yet, the world has no power to drive me crazy if my mind also listens for the God who draws me through my soul’s very real connection with the omnipresent and omnipotent Holy Spirit. This Spirit draws me to love in ways that cast out fear.
Talking about fear, WTH is going on with our crazy nation’s Presidential race this year?
I’ve now been around for 70 years and voting in elections for 52 of these. My first ever vote was for Barry Goldwater, a Republican whose would-be policies were somewhere to the left of today’s Barack Obama. Yep. That’s how far the ground beneath our nation has shifted in those 52 years. That’s how crazy we’ve become!
No POTUS has dropped more bombs on America’s declared enemies than President Obama. Not even close. Yet, I recall 52 years ago a television ad used by the LBJ campaign associating the Republican Goldwater with a giant mushroom cloud after an atomic bomb where this little girl was left alone to pluck the pedals off a surviving daisy. Or something like that. Anyhow, the message was FEAR!!!! The ad worked. Fear worked. Goldwater was defeated. And perhaps a new chapter was written in the annals of American political science, or at least our PR campaigns.
So today’s level of political fear is now off the charts crazy, or so my own mind has reasoned. Maybe my mind is crazy and all else is sane, but I’m just telling you how I now think. Right or wrong, I seem to hear God’s still small voice whispering “love is the only anti-dote” to this crazy fear in the world.
Love is really hard for me these days. It requires two things in particular that are difficult. One is letting go of my own assumptions, and replacing them with active-listening, empathy, and understanding (as opposed to misunderstanding the “other” in my life Jesus referred to as neighbor). The other difficult thing is letting go of control. The latter is critical because holding on to control over the “other” Jesus called neighbor means letting go of influence. And love is all about influencing that which we cannot control, and empathizing with those we cannot otherwise always understand.
Some of you know that since my retirement last year, I’ve worked at answering what I experience as God’s call to finish what I’ve now come to call “our” book. I know. It’s presumptuous for me to claim any sort of divine inspiration. Yet, I do believe we are all divinely inspired whenever we choose in our minds to love instead of fearing the world’s many “others.” I do believe that’s the Holy Spirit indwelling in every invisible soul inside every invisible mind within our visible bodies and world of sensational experience.
Asked recently to write a synopsis or abstract describing this book, which is still in the final editing stages, I came up with this:
Abstract: This book wraps both an informed psychology and informed theology into a singular thesis aimed at helping lay Christian believers reduce the health risks of high stress and anxiety within today’s “worried” western culture. This thesis, centered upon the biblical Prodigal son, builds a new paradigm in which God’s love never seeks to attain certainty of outcomes nor control over people, but rather finds purpose and pleasure only in influencing others and empowering their own preferred narratives. Love’s healing properties cast out the fear in our human minds and societies, even our Christian churches, which otherwise seek out certainty and control in ways that lead to sin’s separation from our most NON-controlling God of love. The author, through both personal memoir and scholarly discourse, offers readers a model for stress reduction based on letting go of control and its underlying fears. Noting the history of Great Awakenings both nationally and personally, the author gives notice that the movement of God’s Spirit serves to draw us in love away from wherever our world drives us in fear. Where fear drives us to take control over the “other” in our lives, love draws us to give influence. In this way, we are saved from the sin that separates us from God’s fearless love. The cross, in this paradigm, becomes the symbol of God’s letting go of fear and control that He may have the power to save us from our fearful and controlling sin. Where fear dominates human discourse, love renews the divine narrative. The lead title, “Love’s Resurrection,” conveys hope for all of humanity as, both personally and corporately, we take up our own cross, let go of our own loveless fear, and find resurrection into God’s fearless love. Such is the stuff of all “Great Awakenings” and Prodigal returns.
I would like to think of it, on this national Labor Day 2016, as my own labor of love in a world that is entombed in its own fear. In any case, happy Labor Day as you celebrate your own hard work of love in today’s world. Be encouraged! Your own labors of love will succeed in giving influence wherever your taking of control in this world has failed.
For “the ONE who is in YOU is greater than the one who is in the world” (I John 4:4).
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love” (I John 4:18).