Contending For Connection

I awoke at 4:30 this morning feeling the weight of the world...the weight of things that are really out of my control. Not able to go back to sleep I brewed a pot of coffee, grabbed my umbrella and my dog, Molly, and walked out on the beach in a steady but subtle rain. Normally I would stop at the benches on the boardwalk, especially in nasty weather, and just look out over the water. But today I felt the need to walk all the way to the waters edge. I walked as far as I could till the waves crashed around my feet. I could go no further.

I Hate Church

It was Sunday at noon and we were home preparing for the 30 minute drive down I-264 to Big House in Ghent. My seven year old son was on the couch watching cartoons on Netflix when I told him it was time to turn the TV off and get in the car to head to church. "I hate church" was his prompt and whining reply. My usual response would have been an angry word of instruction about respect with threats of consequences if an attitude adjustment did not manifest immediately. However, in this moment time slowed down and my eyelids grew heavy as my eyeballs rolled into the back of my head; I let out a deep sigh that sounded and felt like "I Give Up!" (Parents, you know this sigh all too well) The lack of an anger flare up made a nice deep quiet space in my head where I sometimes hear "The Voice." You know, the God Voice, like Obi-Wan calling out through the force to Luke on the frozen plain of planet Hoth. In my head the God Voice sounds like me...but a much more intelligent, gentle and likable version of me. The Voice chimed in with my seven year old son and humorously echoed "I hate church, too...and so do you!!!"  I immediately understood what he meant. No, I don't hate Big House, or the greater church of Jesus Christ...and I certainly don't hate you :-)  I hate the striving that comes from performing for others, performing for God and even performing for yourself...it is so much work!!!  I hate it when I allow religiosity to build a cold desensitizing layer of dead flesh around my heart. It always happens when I have failed to take time to be intimate and honest with my father about the issues swirling around in my heart. This thing we call "prayer" which is really just refreshingly candid conversation between us and our maker where we invite him into the middle of our mess.