Yielding To Christianity

Patricia Hofer

Consciousness

Continuum of consciousness explored in Living Strong.

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The hungering and thirsting that finds God.

Whether we realize it or not, we do indeed all thirst for an unseen something. The challenge is figuring out what that “wholly other” something is. My sense, though, is that this thirst in our soul is not anything that can be rationally or intellectually satisfied.
And that is what I think the story of Job is about. All his life, Job’s faith had been a rational one, a doctrinal adherence. He believed and trusted that, if he were righteous, God would bless him and protect him. This was a kind of bargain, and Job was a good man who was faithful in his bargains.
So, imagine Job’s surprise when his fortunes turned and divine providence appeared to have abandoned him. He was indignant. God was in default! Job might not be perfect, as Elihu reminded him, but he had been sincerely righteous enough to hold up his side of the deal. He felt cheated and angry. How was it possible that he was suffering so? His friends’ theological speculations continued on and on, as such arguments always do. These stalwart believers examined and analyzed the disaster from every angle—what Job should have done or didn’t do or should be doing. But poor Job just kept on suffering.
We’ve all been in his predicament, feeling abandoned by God’s providence and not understanding why. At least I know I have. And, at that point, Bible study and religious practice just don’t help. That’s because true solace doesn’t come in this world’s rational or logical answers, even religious ones. During times of pain and suffering, these are just “words without knowledge” (Job 38:2). For me, and I think for Job as well, the lasting comfort and relief came from the only place it could, God.
In chapter 38 of Job’s narrative, something remarkable happened to the poor suffering man. After all of Job’s reasoning about the Lord, that very Lord appeared to him. And it was in this non-rational, “sheer absolute wondrousness” of the living God’s existence and presence that Job found “an inward relaxing of his soul’s anguish” (Rudolf Otto 78-79). In such moments, our proud protests and fear-filled frustrations turn to ashes, ashes. We experience the mystery of the Lord’s presence and that is enough. Our soul is satisfied. (Living Large 2013)

God hears our heart’s “help-needing cry”

We’re all afraid of dying, some days more than others. And the heart, the first internal organ that we become aware of, can often be the center of that fear. Its beating makes it a living thing, seemingly on a course of its own. We know it must beat if we are to live. And so we are in terror when it doesn’t beat often enough or beats oddly or skips a beat. And yet the psalmist wrote, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (NIV Ps. 73:26).
The Hebrew word that is most often translated as heart is probably most used in the Bible as a metaphor, a way of referring to our will and our intellect. But in this psalm, the psalmist directly connects “my flesh and my heart,” making heart the beating center of who we are, of our existence as a person.
What the psalmist is saying, I think, is that who we are is greater than the beating of our physical heart because God, the source of our life, is greater. And in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus includes the same comforting assurance. Right before he tells us that worrying isn’t going to “add a single hour” to our lives, he assures us that our life is “more” than any of the things we rely on for physical existence (NIV Matt. 6:25-27).
Just as our conscious individuality is greater than the body, the life we have in God is greater than the life we have here. And God’s heart is greater than our heart. As George MacDonald wrote: “There is a live heart at the center of the lovely order of the universe—a heart to which all the rest is but a clothing form—a heart that bears every truthful thought, every help-needing cry of each of its children, and must deliver them” (Phillips, Discovering the Character of God 30). In the midst of our most fearful moments, God hears our “help-needing” cry. And when we surrender all, it is God’s “live heart” that we have. Constant, strong, reliable. God’s strength is our strength. God’s confidence is our confidence. God’s heart is our heart. (Living Strong 2014)

Day-by-Day Series

Driving into the Dawn Yielding to Wonder Turning Aside to See
Linving Large Living Strong Living Calm