Sept 3, Deny-2.0

Perhaps some more thoughts on Jesus telling me to deny myself and take up my cross every day. In the Story Jesus had just told his disciples he would suffer and would be put to death and then raised from the dead. Peter did not like Jesus suffering and argued about it with him, but Jesus talked about Peter denying himself and taking up his cross. Peter wanted to control things, keep everything safe, even avoid suffering. He was focused on his own safety and comfort, and this was the lens through which he saw everything.

Perhaps some things I have to ask myself around this. What is my focus these days? A lot has been going on these last several months and my life has become a bit convoluted, much more than I can recall ever before. Everything is like waiting for the next shoe to fall, every little tingle in my chest raises concerns and wondering, some really basic life questions here. While I talk a lot about trusting, being open, etc, are these really my operational values, or are they just stated values? Am I walking what I talk, or am I just talking it? Do I practice what I preach, or am I just “ a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”?

I’ve had many surprises lately, some truly earth-shaking and life-changing, that I wonder about what is coming next and what it will cost me. What about the new areas for ministry that seem to be happening in my life? As things roll on, folks seem unexpectedly to be ministering to me whether they know it or not, something that I do not feel all that comfortable with. Is all this part of Jesus telling me to deny myself, to lay down my need to feel safe and in control? Am I willing to be available to others without conditions?

Yet, in all this I feel a sense of peace in that everything is as it needs to be right now. God (as a verb) has never been so real, and is becoming increasingly more real all the time. When will this end? Will it end? I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. I believe everything happens simply because everything happens. A lot of what is going on is due to heredity, circumstance, and my choices. Is there something I have to deny here?

Fr Michael Judge had prayer which has become pretty much a staple in my daily life: “Lord, take me where you want me to go, let me meet who you want me to meet, tell me what you what you want me to say, and keep me out of your way”. This pretty much has been happening. On the one hand I, at least on the surface, enjoy all this, but on the other had I keep wondering what it will cost me. Without getting too much into specifics, lately there are some areas where my thinking does not go along with the established way of thinking. I don’t know what I would do if I am specifically asked or told to do some things that I just don’t agree with. That possibility, along with current health issues, might put me into the position of having to make some serious choices and decisions. Is my need to control so much something else of me that I’m being called to deny? Even as I write this I’m wondering what to do with it. Do I keep this private, or do I take the chance on sharing it perhaps on or Facebook? Again is my need to protect my comfort and security something that is getting in the way and has to go?

I don’t want to be telling Jesus how to be Jesus in my life, but isn’ that what I’m doing here? What profit would there be for me to try to maintain a sense of some control over my life when I really don’t have any. As I look over my past life, something I’ve been doing a lot of lately, I know I’ve had very little control. Like all of us I’ve made choices and went where they took me, and some have led to a lot of suffering and some serious growth. I am most grateful for my Army experience, especially Vietnam. I learned a lot, grew a lot in unexpected ways, and maybe even helped some folks.

In the Story Jesus is giving Peter the chance, and the free choice, to go where he never intended to go. We know from the Gospels and Acts that Peter paid attention to what Jesus said to him, and chose to follow Jesus, to deny himself and take up his cross, which led to his own weaknesses and mistakes, and to his own suffering, and of course to his growth. Guess I have to keep trying to live Mychal’s Prayer and accepting that I don’t need to know or try to feel in control, just to keep trying to be open to the Spirit and deal with whatever is in front of me at any time. Grace is real. Denying myself ain’t easy or certain, since I don’t always know what it means. Wondering leads to growing — I hope. Just sayin . .  .  .