Thursday, August 29, 2013

Longing to Do and Be Good

On the plane yesterday I happened to watch "42", a cinematic telling of the story of the first black Major League Baseball player, Jackie Robinson.

The movie was lovely, I thought, showing in a simple way the great personal sacrifices that Mr. Robinson made, as well as his great virtue.

I'm not writing a film review though. The important thing to me is how it communicated with me. During the flight I had been praying, wanting to feel closer to God, and wanting to feel some direction for this recording project that I am embarking on.

During the movie I found myself adoring the goodness of the the man, Jackie Robinson. I found myself wanting so badly to be good, to do well, to do the very best that I can. In those moments, with tears in my eyes, I felt God talking to me. It's natural to want to do well, in fact, very well. It's natural to want to be beautiful, to do beautiful things, to love beauty and goodness and justice.

Was God talking to me in that movie? Yes, I think so. That feeling of spiritual love, the simple love of goodness and the childlike desire to be involved with it. Yes, yes, yes. That's God, and there He is, right in the middle of my flight from Cleveland to LA. Right on time as I need to feel the love of my work hold beautiful high hopes for my new recording.

This cd is not about me! I am learning more and more that it is simply about the practical effectiveness of the qualities of God. Beauty, insight, poetry, care, gentleness, spiritual defiance - each of these things, felt, changes the life.

So, let us feel our deep natural (SO NATURAL!) desire to do and be good. Let's commit to it and do it at all costs. Let's correct ourselves when we get lazy. Let's remember our heroes and reject the notion that our lives aren't meant for white hot pure goodness.

What can keep us from this? What can keep us from striving, day and night, to be good? To get better and better and better every day such that our lives are works of art?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Minor Adjustment and a Major Blessing

Recently I received a piece of news that was inconvenient and caused me to have to make some last minute changes that I didn't expect. My first reaction to the news was to be annoyed. I quickly felt a black cloud hanging over me.

Hating that bad feeling, I prayed. I simply asked God how I should respond. Very quickly I had the thought (and feeling) that it would be ok to make the necessary adjustments and though I didn't know exactly what the solution would be, I felt there would be one. The spiritual idea that came with this thought was a simple feeling that I could love God more than I loved the self-righteousness that was making me feel bad to begin with. I felt a little burst of love. I am allowed to do what it takes to keep my heart pure of anger and hate. I really am.

On the heels of that came another comforting thought - "I will be more useful to God as I go where necessity blows me than I will if I remain stiff and self-righteous." THAT was exciting. I love the idea of being useful. So, the deal was sealed. Inwardly I felt, God, let me be useful to you!

Over the next few days, I witnessed it. Because of the adjustments that were made, I found myself in a beautiful conversation with a person I never had had a big conversation with before. He told me how helpful the conversation was, how needed. I could feel that we had connected and that his needs had been met. I thank God!

Others who knew of the adjustments I had made were blessed by them too. The whole thing was surrounded by a feeling of spiritual richness. Compare that with the spiritual poverty of selfishness!

Looking back on it, it's so simple - even mathematical. Subtract self-righteousness and receive the spiritual goodness, being in the right place at the right time, which make the every day life a garden of riches.

How foolish I would have been to stay in my rut. To be stiff and self-righteous. I want so badly to be helpful, to be useful, to be in the right place at the right time. And those are things I cannot force to be. They only happen as I am loose, agile, and pure.

Once again (and again, and again) I am saved by grace, by the presence of the Spirit. How quickly we can be saved from stupidity by a little bit of listening and willingness to do and be good.