Reflection 2: Where Are You?
As you know, I entered my Summer Sabbath with an agenda, though one I was trying to hold loosely!.
On this agenda was the task of finishing the book, “The Soul of Desire: Discovering the Neuroscience of Longing, Beauty, and Community,” by Curt Thompson.
Yes. That’s a mouthful!
I enjoy reading Curt’s books and listening to his teachings/podcasts. His books awaken me. His writings attune me to the Father as few other modern authors do.
A question Curt suggests we consider is, “Where are you?”
More than My Location – It’s a Question Exploring Head-and-Heart-Space!
The question isn’t concerned with geography. It’s more like,
“Biz, where are you in your head space right now?”
“What narratives are in play that help you negotiate life?”
“Are they narratives of fear and scarcity, or are they stories of abundance and hope, etc.?”
On page 139 he says,
“The question ‘Where are you?’ is foundational to Christian anthropology, being God’s first query to the man in Genesis 3. It is intended to be comprehensive in its scope, its desire being to draw forth what we are sensing, imaging, feeling, and thinking and the narrative that we are employing to make sense of it all.“
How often, I wonder, am I aware of the narratives playing in my head? The ones helping me make sense of life in real-time scenarios I encounter every day?
A few paragraphs later, Curt connects this question to Jesus’ question, “What do you want?”
In Curt’s mind, Jesus’ question is a natural extension of the Father’s question. “Where are you?” in Genesis 3.
Father and Son Seek the Same Thing!
“Like God in the Genesis account, Jesus wants to know what the disciples want, wants to know where they are. But like them, we heap shame and condemnation on ourselves and others, building implicitly primed defensive behavior that resists receiving God’s curiosity, keeping God at arm’s length, worried about the same thing Adam was worried about.”
The phrase receiving God’s curiosity is sticking in my gut like honey in a comb. Curt uses the phrase often. He also qualifies God’s curiosity as a loving curiosity.
I wonder how often I think of God as One who is lovingly curious about my life? As one who cares about where I am (in my head and heart space) at any given moment.
Receiving and Responding to Our Lovingly Curious Lord.
The term Curious implies an eagerness to know or learn something.
The word Loving implies an intense feeling of deep care and affection.
Intense and affectionate love – coupled with a fierce curiosity that will not relent, are a dynamic duo that can only be received or resisted. They are not easily ignored or dismissed!
These questions and phrases have birthed a prayer for my Summer Sabbath. One serving as Magnetic North, attuning me to Christ’s invitations, and perhaps His impositions, as I go!
Not Easily Dismissed But Often Quickly Deflected.
We cannot dismiss or ignore the Lord’s loving curiosity. We can, however, as Curt reminds us, deflect it. Often we keep Him at arm’s length, where we think we can safely negotiate the terms of engagement.
Why? Because we aren’t comfortable with deep and affectionate love any more than we are comfortable with eager curiosity.
Both are hard work and they demand something of us. This is most true when we are scared or when we are in conflict or experiencing difficulty.
It’s also true when our loves are out of whack – when we are loving the wrong things in the wrong order.
As I said earlier, the most likely response is to resist (deflect) but the most helpful is to receive and respond.
How do we receive and respond? By opening ourselves to the voice of God.
As He Walked in the Garden, So He Walks Among Us Today.
Adam and Eve initially ran from God. They then introduced us to the self-preservation and blame-shift playbook. We often use strategies from the playbook they employed.
Yet, God’s goal is and has always been for us to receive His love and respond to His will.
This type of action demands prayer. Moreover, a prayerful life; a life soaked in prayer. Such a life may not be as out-of-reach as you think!
My Summer Sabbath prayer is a daily – sometimes hourly – prayer. When I pray it, I pause and take a moment to become aware of where I am and what I want.
I then ask, “God is where I am where You want me to be? Is what I want what You want for me?”
The disciplined rhythm of praying and asking orients me toward a posture of reception and response rather than defense and blame.
Perhaps it will do the same for you!
If it helps, use the prayer I am using.
My Prayer Upon Entering This Summer Sabbath.
“Father, as I go through my day and encounter forces and situations I do not expect and for which I am unprepared, help me remain attentive to the question “Biz – my son – where are you?” Keep me focused on what is firing within me. Help me identify – name – all the emotions I am sensing. I want this to be true specifically when I am facing conflicts and situations that are beyond my control!
Remind me that I am your child and that your love for me knows no bounds. Help me enjoy your presence – even when it’s so powerful it overwhelms me! In those moments, help me pull you close. When I feel like I need to crawl up into your arms (Psalm 131), give me the courage to do so and to stay with you rather than run from you (Psalm 46)!
Keep me open to your curiosity (Psalm 139). I need the courage to explore and expose the narratives that I am employing – those stories or ideas that help me sort-out and make sense of the world.
So help me, Jesus, find rest in your loving curiosity and renewal in the possibility that you want to reorder what’s become disordered and reform that within me which is persistently malformed!”
Incorporating a prayer rhythm into your life doesn’t have to be too terribly difficult! As I said earlier, it may not be as out-of-reach as you might suspect.
Fixing Your Life Around A Daily Prayer Practice/Rhythm.
I do, of course, recommend extended times of prayer and retreats devoted to silence and solitude filled with listening prayer.
However, with the smallest amount of intention and effort, incorporating a daily rhythm of prayer can be woven into the fabric of your schedule.
Here’s a reachable practice for you:
- First, choose a simple but meaningful pre-written prayer. You can use mine or find one you already love.
- Use the Bible as your resource. I love prayer books and highly recommend them. The Bible is our primary prayer book. You may want to select a Psalm as your prayer or incorporate the Lord’s Prayer from the Gospel of Matthew.
- Finally, commit to a routine. Start with a simple routine like morning, midday (lunch), and evening. I like to pray during or around the hours of 6 am, 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, 6 pm, and 9 pm. Even if I only hit two or three of the six I find I am more receptive and responsive to God’s in-the-moment grace!
Grace and Peace,