Paul’s Conversion

Meditation following “Shame”, Spring Retreat, 2013

Paul, Paul,… why do you lack faith and trust in me, do not rely on me to care for you and sustain you, to have your back and lead you forward, to love you and cherish you, to give you all you are and all your gifts and to continue to give you the graces and mercy to enable you to do whatever I ask of you.  Be at peace.  Have faith.  Be My best friend and I will be with you through thick and thin.

It is hard for you to kick against the goad…it’s like the salmon swimming upstream against the rapids and dams and fish ladders, etc.  You have a easy yoke and a light burden.  I have made it so much more difficult and heavy by my totally unrealistic and illusionary envious comparisons, prideful judgments rather than being content, at peace with the me with which you have blessed me.

Who are you, Lord?…I have built up such a false image of me that I have a false image of you also, of your role in my life.  I do not believe that you truly mean all you say.  I have imagined, imaged you not as you are but as I wanted you to be, to conform to be, to box you in to my limitations.  You are not this figment of my imagination, my feverishly evil machinations.  You are YAWH, the I AM, Goodness, Truth, LOVE!  Help me, grant me your grace to let you be YOU, the almighty, the one, the True, Unconditional LOVE, who is all that I need, and give me yourself so that I may be all that I need in you, through you, with you.  Let me shed myself of my frailty, my timidity, my easily threatened ego…and use you as my bulwark, my defense, my shield,…or rather, let me progress to the point where I can be free from all such defenses and simply naked in your presence, trusting entirely on you.

I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Like Paul, I am bewildered…He was persecuting the Way.  Jesus, in his mind, was long dead, crucified some years before.  Paul knew he never even saw Jesus, just heard the stories of him from the Sanhedrin and the High Priest, wild, exotic tales of miracles and madness, fantastic predictions of destroying the temple and erecting it again in three days, of telling people they must become cannibals, eating his body and drinking his blood.  There was even some who said that evil spirits spoke to Him when they went out at his word…all in an attempt to bring down the Law and all who abided by its commands…what further proof of his vileness, his insanity, his evil origins…..and now, this voice claimed to be Jesus, who both his fellow Pharisees and the Romans themselves testified was dead, that he, Paul, was persecuting Jesus…How incredible, how unbelievable….and this Jesus answered when Paul addressed Him as Lord…was He claiming to be…could He be…Paul had heard stories about the Jesus claiming that before Abraham was, “I am”…the outlandish, irreverent way he used, no assumed the very name of God…no one could have gotten away with such blasphemy in this life and not be suffering for his sins in Sheol…the only possible explanation which contradicts everything Paul ever thought or learned about Israel’s One and only One God, that stretches his imagination beyond anything he ever conceived, that annihilated all his preciously meticulously constructed his mental constructs, is that somehow, in some unexplainable way this Jesus and the Way were inextricably linked.

So much for that Paul.  As incredible as it may seem, I believe that Jesus is saying the same thing to me.  No, I have not caused the physical death or even detention of anyone even loosely connected to the Church, Christians, the Way of today.  But, in refusing to accept, be satisfied with, indeed, be thankful for the gifts of the Spirit as given, from baptism onward, by always hankering after others gifts or belittling them when I couldn’t have them, I not only sinned against the Spirit through envy and pride, but also diminished the good that Jesus could have accomplished through me, and may even have communicated my dissatisfaction to others in such as way as to be an evil influence on their own appreciation of their gifts.

Lord, forgive me for this.  It, unfortunately, is of such long standing that it is an engrained, or rather, entrenched, sinful weltanschauung from which I peer, squint-eyed, judging the passing world.  While the revelation of it is a gift beyond all measure, enlightenment is not embodiment, understanding is not comprehension, the mind is not the heart.  I need to grok this to the depths of my very being and arise, new, regenerated, spiritually reborn, i.e. reborn of the spirit, that I may cherish myself as you made me, treasure my gifts as you so generously bestowed them on me and utilize them for your praise and glory and for the salvation of not only my soul but the souls of all to whom you would send me.  For this, again, overwhelming grace, for this new Pentecost which throws off the chains of self-inflicted fear, erases the worn out beliefs of long outdated tape recordings and creates a new me, a me that is a shining new tool for you to build your kingdom…for YOU to build your kingdom, not me.  Amen. Alleluia!!!

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