Makes you want to change your life...

So without too much detail, my wife and I had a health-scare over the last couple of weeks. The sort of thing that forces you to contemplate the rest of your life and deal seriously with the realities of mortality.

Lots of tears... A few moments of terror...

And the tests come back clean, and just as suddenly we're reintroduced into life-as-usual. Sort of.

How do you deal with life-and-death wake-up calls? I recently read an article in a business magazine that said 90 percent of people who go through major, "life changing" crisis situations revert BACK to their old way of living within two weeks of the situation resolving. Are we so unchangeable? So caught in our ways?

Your prayers change when death is unexpectedly knocking at the door. God becomes nearer, because God has to be nearer. And that's not a God-thing. Either God is a complex set of emotional responses based on cultural conditioning, or we simply don't allow God to break through, into the reality of our lives, in any meaningful way until crises break down all our cynicism, stress, forced-productivity and fragmented loyalties.

How many times have you told yourself or a loved one, "we've got to change the way we live" and gone right back to status quo?

I'm not even sure I'm capable of rejecting the way I've habitually (compulsively?) lived for 30 years. But it's in times like the last few weeks that I'm acutely aware: we've got to change the way we live. Now, how do I go about being a part of that 10th percentile that actually lives out its renewed awareness? God has been faithful. How do I return the favor?

In Exodus 9, God speaks to an aching, battered, enslaved people, desperate for liberation: "But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."

I'm enslaved by nothing less and nothing more than myself, and the safeties and securities I have constructed around me. I'm coming to believe that the definition of true power is only manifested in power's own surrender or sharing with those who do not have it. Thus the power of God is never demonstrated by demonstrable power, but by power acquiesced to the marginalized, the weak and the "least."

6 comments:

Peter said...

I also realize that webcasts about urinal etiquette are probably not part of that proactive change ;)

Joan Ball said...

Hi Peter. It's been awhile!

I firmly believe (by experience and not rhetoric) that sustained change is possible. I've experienced it in addiction recovery and I experienced it in the wake of my conversion to Christianity. Unfortunately for many, it does not happen by might, by decision or by will. It is by submitting to the transforming power of something other than ourselves. But that's the rub. Most people are not willing to submit and allow themselves to be changed. They want to do the changing. They want to make the decisions. They want to know the end from the beginning. They want to be God in their own lives. I know this posture well. I lived it for many years. Unlike the years when I had it all covered and reveled in being the master of my own destiny, I now revel in words like obedience and submission that are unpopular in the current spiritual vernacular and its corresponding theology. I cannot change - but God can change me. I cannot selflessly serve others by might - but God can use me if I seek him and humble myself to be used in God's service in whatever capacity I am meant to do - not by my decision but by God's will. When we live that way, life and death are the same (this from someone who had an ER visit of my own the day after Thanksgiving that left me with impaired sight and unable to speak or move my extremities, so I know where you are coming from.) That is the absolute power of this faith. When a 43 year old woman with a husband, three children and much to live for can be lying unable to move on a hospital bed in peace, confident that all will be well, even if it isn't. Amazing grace, indeed.

Rachel H. Evans said...

Wow. GREAT post, Peter.

"Your prayers change when death is unexpectedly knocking at the door. God becomes nearer, because God has to be nearer. And that's not a God-thing. Either God is a complex set of emotional responses based on cultural conditioning, or we simply don't allow God to break through, into the reality of our lives, in any meaningful way until crises break down all our cynicism, stress, forced-productivity and fragmented loyalties."

Beautifully said. I'll be reflecting on that for the rest of the evening for sure.

I'm so glad the test results were good.

Existential Punk said...

i am with you Peter. We are in this really rough patch now and some more of the onion in my own personal shit is needing to peel off and it is damn painful. i get what Joan is saying and have personally experienced change too but it takes a long time and some hard work on our part as well i believe. i don't know the answers and it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are engulfed in so much deep-seated pain. It makes life seem hopeless. Then you get these good reports that help you see good again. Not sure where G-D fits in all of this as life seems so random so much of the time. i am so happy for you guys that this health scare is over. No matter how you choose to live your lives, i love you and will always be your friend, Peter!

Love,
Adele

Existential Punk said...

'I also realize that webcasts about urinal etiquette are probably not part of that proactive change ;)'

i disagree! ;) We need laughter in our often darkened lives!

Peter said...

Joan, great to have you visit again!

I do agree that change is possible - and that the most radical, meaningful change happens in Christ. But though I am an idealist, I'm not naive. Real change is rare. We rarely allow transcendent love and grace to genuinely transform us.

Thank you for sharing your Thanksgiving experience - it must have been terrible. And yet, you had real peace. That is so powerful and encouraging!

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