“God provides minimum protection, maximum support–support to help us grow up, to stretch our minds and hearts until they are as wide as God’s universe.”― William Sloane Coffin
Today I met with Rev Matt instead of JW. I needed a session to dive into some theological questions. Here are some takeaways:
My job is to “Enter into the mystery.” Meaning, know that human questions around matters of God cannot fully be answered, but there is joy in engaging the mystery of God — much like the joy in reading a mystery novel. Most of the time we receive an answer at the end of the book (Person X was the culprit!) but the rewarding part of reading the book comes in the engagement of the story. We can think about our faith journey in a similar way.
We battle with reconciling these 3 basic Truths:
- God is all-loving
- God is all-powerful
- Evil exists in the world
One possible answer: God has chosen relationships over power and manipulation. His power to intervene is self-limiting – and we also lack an understanding of his power.
God’s power is in our powerlessness. Out of powerlessness (symbolized in the Christain crucifying narrative) comes transformative life.
If we say God gives person A or B special protection (I prayed and he saved me during 9/11) then we make judgments about the people he didn’t save during the same event (that might have also prayed).
On questions about the afterlife: I wonder if I will get to hold Baby Tinsley as a baby in Heaven. Will she still be a baby? Will she be older? I realize these are silly questions because I know that time and age is not measured in the afterlife the way we measure them on earth. We will not even be in our human form. But it is upsetting to me to think I will not be able to hold her. Rev Matt said imagery is extremely important to use during grief — so yes, imagine I will hold her again. It’s okay not understand that’s not literally what will happen when we meet again. But since I have no way of knowing what that will look like, use my human experience and human imagery to find peace in imagining our reunion.
We are not either sad or happy. We experience both at the same time. It’s part of our humanness. So when I see a picture of my beautiful sons, I can feel happiness that I have two beautiful children while experiencing sadness Tinsley is not here. I should expect that my sadness over Tinsley will tint all my experiences to come — but it will not feel as overwhelming as it does right now.
Tinsley never took a physical breath on her own. Did she really live then? Did she really die? When does the soul form? Conception, implantation, after a heartbeat? Tinsley is a reality of God’s creation process. He was present during her creation. He held her first few cells as they divided. He was in the midst of her as she was forming (“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,”). And in that, is the development of her soul. We tend to think of the soul as a fully-formed intellection thing, and ask, so when does the soul form? Well it doesn’t just ‘appear.’ It develops and grows but it has always been present, as He has always been present in her life. And everything in the universe that is created still exists, it just changes form. Tinsley existed. She still does.
God cares about everything. The entire universe is held by God, and Christ is a redemption of the whole cosmic order. It’s not just about saving humans on this one planet. God cares about every single molecule in a chair, in a cup, in a human (that’s is how unfathomable He is). He is infused with all things.
Forgiveness is most transformative when it is received.
Human beings would rather blame themselves for something bad happening (I did x, which is why z happened) rather than accept the fact that they’re not in control. Blaming yourself is a way of maintaining control. We take more solace in thinking we caused something bad than something bad happening because it was just out of our control.
God is always present. What I have thought of his ‘intervention’ in my life to take away certain obsessions or addictions is really just me tapping into his presence. He didn’t intercede, I just became connected to his power.
I can and will grow in the mystery of God.