Friday, February 6, 2009

"Q & A" time? Or maybe "Q & Q" time...?

One interesting and sometimes challenging "extra" that comes along with being a writer has been conversation with the people who read my work.

My new friend, Gil, is leading a "GET REAL" study with some men at his Atlanta Church. He sent me a great email this morning and I have his permission to share. Here are some excerpts, followed by some of my comments below:
  • In a recent small group discussion, one of the threads focused on your car ride account of your seeking God and successfully getting feedback... One guy mentioned that he knew others who had a very conversational approach with God but that he, even though fairly "connected" and committed to God with prayer and study, did not feel like he had that degree of connectedness with God. He described a "glass ceiling" effect or bounce off the ceiling feeling.
  • Others of us agreed that although we recognized moments in our lives that had divine components, we haven't had experiences that would approach the intimacy you describe. After getting to know you through your two books and your blog, I must admit that I am jealous of your ability to view even the most mundane aspects of life through a spiritual lens. You recognize God so easily, and I wonder how you do it.
  • So do we really seek God like we should, if He is something we truly desire like we say? After all, that's your point (Chs. 3 & 4); it takes tenacity, persistence, and diligence to stay on course with our spiritual growth. I think the frustrating thing is that we all feel that we have diligence in our quest (admittedly we could all have more!), but that God's feedback loop to us is not as obvious as we'd like it to be...
  • Thanks for being such a great catalyst of conversation for my small group.
First off, I really don't recognize God so easily. A book is like a photograph in National Geographic. You say "Wow - that's great photography!" Well, yes, but you've got to remember the photographer took ten thousand pictures over 10 days and they published the best three. Then again they learned a lot in the process - which is exactly what's happening with yours truly. I've been spending a lot of time working on the "learning to recognize God's voice" part of this equation and I find God's voice is becoming more familiar - credible - real...

Then, and I know this is a cliché, "It's not about the destination it's about the journey"… But you can't jettison a bit of good truth just because it's become a little worn over time. Fact is, most of the time it really is the getting there part that teaches us and reaches us most profoundly.

Another way to parse the idea is in terms of process rather than results. Now there's an honest-to-goodness spiritual principle for you - when the process of seeking God becomes our focus the results often take care of themselves.

John's gospel – which I find myself claiming more and more as "The Gospel of John for Derek" – looks at belief itself as an act of faith. I think we easily allow ourselves to become caught up in a kind of empiricism (the philosophy that knowledge derives from experience) - this is based on our assumption that life and belief should make sense in a quantifiable "one plus one equals two" sort of way, a "seeing is believing" mentality. So we tell ourselves that we're going to believe more effectively if and when we start to accumulate some feelings or experiences to bolster the possibility of belief. But believing turns out to be mostly a decision; and that - more often than not - fails to provide what we thought we were looking for.

What we end up with is - typically - something off the radar; not a "do this and you get this" result; not what we expected. But that is SO God!

That's enough for this entry.
The discussion continues...

No comments: