Monday, February 19, 2007

"I can't get no satisfaction..."

Get a cup o' coffee cause this post is deep and wide - or maybe it is only that way to little ole me...

There is a question that has been lurking in the depths: Why did God create man? I do believe that He created us but I just want to know why? Why didn’t He end it at the Flood or the tower of Babel? Why has He kept creating life so that we can toil on and on in this world and in these bodies - both of which are so messed up? I get that things are messed up due to free will and our choice to sin, thereby causing separation between God and us. And I understand that our sin causes harm to others as well, which is why the world is so broken and full of acts that are horrific.

Unamuno says, “Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.” I have certainly had my share of anguished thoughts about God lately.

So often my thinking seems more dark than light. I want to get away from my self. I want to move out and leave this person behind whose thoughts can be so dark or who sometimes says regretful words that are unkind or hurtful. I realize that this is partly my depression talking and partly my own proclivity toward sin talking. I also recognize, though, that I truly have come to the very end of my self – I have reached my finite end. My finite thinking can go no further. I’ve reached the sheer cliffs and there is no bridge to cross the ravine. “Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (I Cor. 13:12) It’s as if I have been wandering around and around clutching my one little puzzle piece crying, “I don’t see anything in this picture I’m holding – it doesn’t make any sense! It’s not beautiful, it’s ugly. Not only that, it’s totally unframeable because the edges are not straight. Why would Someone give me this terrible piece of art and say that there is purpose in it?”

I begin to see that faith without hope can only lead to despair. Hope can be described as a groaning, a yearning, an aching for something that we desire. Likewise, love without faith and hope is worthless. My puzzle piece is worthless without the context of these ideals. I will not be satisfied with some cheap imitation of faith, hope or love, either.

Having reached my finite end, I am convinced that I know next to nothing about God. I will spend my whole life fiercely groaning and straining to understand just one word in the Bible: LOVE. I do not exaggerate on that point. I know beyond my knowing that I can never hope to understand LOVE while still on this earth. In my suffering, I need the work of hope in order to look beyond life here on earth instead to look towards the continuation and completion of life with God in another dimension.

When the band, The Rolling Stones, wrote the words, “I can’t get no satisfaction…” they penned a truth that was beyond their knowing. While they may have been referring to sexual satisfaction, it is only one of the facets in the human experience that we may or may not attain satisfaction in.

Gerald May writes about satisfaction:
“In our society, we have come to believe that discomfort always means something is wrong. We are conditioned to believe that feelings of distress, pain, deprivation, yearning and longing mean something is wrong with the way we are living our lives.
Conversely, we are convinced that a rightly lived life must give us serenity, completion and fulfillment. Comfort means “right” and distress means “wrong.” The influence of such convictions is stifling to the human spirit. Individually and collectively, we must somehow recover the truth. The truth is, we were never meant to be completely satisfied.”

If we were satisfied and fulfilled in this life would we even continue seeking God?

For me to put my hope in God is for me to set aside my earthly notions of security and comfort and to instead set my sight upon the unlimited expanse of possibility that lies within the person of God. Where I have found comfort in my finite ideals in the past, I find no comfort in them now. I used to describe those things as the “pat answers” that people love to give in order to seem like they have a handle on who God is. Why do we live on a surface level with God? Why are we so afraid to trust Him? For me, it goes back to my original question as to what His motives were in creating us, knowing how crummy life in this world would be; knowing how many pitfalls there are and how many atrocities we will inflict upon each another in large ways and in small ways. I don’t have an easy answer. Even if I say “LOVE” it is still an answer that doesn’t make sense to me because I don’t have a handle on it. The finite realm of human thought and reasoning has turned to cacophony in my head. I am not satisfied with those answers. Going back to Unamuno, he says, “There is no true love save in suffering, and in this world we have to choose either love, which is suffering, or happiness. Man is the more man - that is, the more divine - the greater his capacity for suffering, or rather, for anguish.” To me, this is the awfulness, the dark side of the mystery of God.

Aeschylus writes, “In our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

I cannot even begin to explain the meaning of that; nevertheless it speaks to me and I comprehend it deep down, the way I comprehend God to be wild and untamable like C.S. Lewis’ lion, Aslan.

The “awful grace” of God is beyond me to behold. I’ve heard so often that God hates sin and that He won’t come near to sin. And yet, and yet, isn’t grace a part of God, a part of His character? And doesn’t He reach down to mankind and touch us in the midst of our sin - the filth and scum and degradation of our human choices - with that “awful grace”? I cannot explain how God does this for us. I don’t know what the mechanics of His actions are while He is offering this part of Himself to us.

It does not seem as though fulfillment or satisfaction are realistic goals to grasp for in this life, in light of these ideas. How can I ever claim to comprehend this LOVE of God? And how can my heart ever be satisfied or fulfilled until I meet God face to face?


Sydney said...

WOW, I'm glad I had a cup of coffee =-) for this one...deep, girl, deep!
This post I was nodding, yes, yes, the whole time. I struggle with feeling that "satisfaction" in my life. For me, it becomes a rebellion from the things of God, like "He's" the one holding me back from feeling good in my life. It's such a trap, and I agree that we are all searching to "feel" good on this earth, to escape. Maybe, depression is apart of our make up, we experience low points to know what high points, spiritually and emotionally can feel like?!?
Maybe it's not something to dread, that we're feeling low, it does for most, make us look up...look up to the One who loves us, as un-comprehensible as LOVE may be!
We HAVE to come to the end of ourselves to really feel God, I'm glad you are there! I'm still trying to get there, well, I've been there a few times as of late, it's just a matter of staying there now!
I love you...keep up these posts, I so enjoy hearing your heart, it makes the distance tolerable ... since we can't be sitting across the table drinking coffee together! (smile)
Happy day to you!

CGA said...

Collette speaking:
I found two great verses that talk about these same feelings:

2 Corinthians 5:4

4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

Hebrews 11:13-16
13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.