Open Your Eyes to the Light

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Diana Trautwein -Eyes to the Light3

“However, late, then, it may seem, let us rouse ourselves from lethargy. That is what scripture urges on us when it says: the time has come for us to rouse ourselves from sleep. Let us open our eyes to the light that can change us into the likeness of  God. Let our ears be alert to the stirring call of his voice crying to us every day: today, if you should hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Benedict of Nursia

The root of lethargy is often fear. And this is what I know about fear: it slams the door on the light. When we are afraid, anxious, worried, and preoccupied with all that is wrong, evil and difficult in our world, there is no room for the light to shine.

So let’s talk about fear, shall we?

I see it everywhere these days—on the news, in the headlines—spreading its tendrils all across the internet. Some days, it is downright palpable. Even more alarming, I see it creeping into conversations within the broader Christian community. It often takes the form of suspicion, accusation, bullying and labeling:

How can you call yourself a Christian if you believe ________?
If you welcome those kind of people, then how can you be true to scripture?
The sin of person “A” is so much worse than the sin of person “B” that Person A must be excluded at all costs.

Words are flung around like darts, leaving wounds wherever they land. Lines are drawn and battle cries sounded. And curling around every shout, every barb, every accusation, is the acrid smoke of fear.

We are afraid that the Bible will be mistreated.
We are afraid that our standards will be lowered.
We are afraid that our doctrinal stand will be softened.

Most of all, we are afraid that if these things happen, our image of God will be forever altered. The bottom line, if we’re really honest, is that we are terrified that our understanding of who God is and how God behaves and whom God loves will slip out of our ‘control.’ We have given in to the fear that our foundation will be shaken beyond recovery and that the slippery slope will lead us all straight to hell.

Whoa!

Can we take a breath here? Can we step back from the precipice and refocus our attention on the God we meet in the work, words and person of Jesus Christ, the one who is revealed to us in the pages of our scripture and in the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our world?

“Let us open our eyes to the light that can change us into the likeness of God.”

Read that line out loud, would you? Several times.

If you breathe in those words, focus on them and meditate on them, you will discover them to be the antidote for all the fear we carry. Because here is what fear does: it flips that sentence on its head, doesn’t it? Instead of concentrating on opening our eyes to the light—the LIGHT that can change us into the likeness of God—we insist on looking at the darkness, thereby expecting God to conform to our likeness. We get it backwards.

Over and over again, we fall prey to the besetting sin of creating a god in our own image, based upon our fears, rather than looking toward the image of the God Who Is God, the One who is revealed in our world, in our scripture, and in one another. We want God to fit in a box that feels comfy to us; a box that matches what we think a right and proper god should look like. We want that god to agree with our politics, to hate the same people we hate, to exclude those folks that make us uncomfortable and to condemn those with whom we disagree.

Here’s the thing: it doesn’t work that way. God will not be contained by our ideas, our prejudices, or our fears. The only antidote is the one suggested by Benedict, strange old monk that he was. Look for the light. Turn away from the darkness of fear, lift your face to the radiance of God’s love and grace, breathe in the powerful goodness of the Holy Spirit and place your footsteps firmly on the path of Jesus

Follow the light — it’s our only hope. But also? It is our sure and certain hope!

“God, make us bold enough to question tyranny, impassioned enough to submit   ourselves to good teachers, and discerning enough to know when it is our turn to lead.” – The Book of Common Prayer

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Diana Trautwein
Married to her college sweetheart for over 50 years, Diana is always wondering about things. She answers to Mom from their three adult kids and spouses and to Nana from their 8 grandkids, spread over a 19 year age range. For 17 years, after a mid-life call to ministry, she answered to Pastor Diana in two churches where she served as Associate Pastor. Since retiring at the end of 2010, she spends her time working as a spiritual director and writes on her blog, Just Wondering. For as long as she can remember, Jesus has been central to her story and the church an extension of her family. Not that either church or family is exactly perfect . . . but then, that’s what makes life interesting, right?
Diana Trautwein

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