Saturday, September 17, 2016

Hallowed Over Every Part of Us

For a brief time this morning I engaged in what some call "breath prayer." It simply involves taking a basic phrase with a few syllables and riding it like a wave, in and out as I breathe. It is quite calming and helps internalize what I'm praying.
"Father" (breathing slowly in)
"Hallowed be Your name" (breathing slowly out)
 As I prayed this for a while, I felt the strain of my story weighing on me - all the painful memories and experiences, times and seasons of desolation, abandonment, self-hatred and despair. I asked silently, "is it even possible that something good can be wrought out of so much pain and chaos?" I felt the absurdity of the question.

Then I returned to my phrase, and re-imagined that standing over my chaotic, messy and often painful life was this phrase and the reality it represented: 

Hallowed be Your Name.

Could it be that the practice(s) of fixing my eyes and heart on God and treasuring his goodness, somehow unites and heals my story? Is it possible to regularly focus on Jesus as the One above, beyond and Lord over all my stories, and that this is the means by which God harvests good?
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30 NIV)
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. (Col. 3:1-2 MSG)
What if the "good" God brings out of my life is the person I become? Further, what if the person I become has everything to do with whether or not God's Name, His person, character, goodness and glory - is hallowed over my life through my heart and mind? What if the practice of hallowing (treasuring, adoring) God's name can become my fixed point of reference to a different, far better, world - the world of God?
God made my life complete
    when I placed all the pieces before him.
 (Psalm 18:20 MSG)
The chaos I feel in my story is often, if not always, tied to me trying to get my own way in the world "without hope and without God" (Eph. 2:12). This is the way I've learned to run my kingdom, how I've learned to "get by" in life. From childhood, I learned ways and habits of trying to get my own way and avoid risk and further trauma. Sometimes it works, but usually it doesn't. But it is very important to realize (and most Christians miss this) that there is a very significant part of me still dead set against the rule of God. I don't want to hallow God's name, I want to hallow my own name. I am committed to worrying about my own reputation, managing my "image" in the minds of others, arranging outcomes and processes for my own ends. This is my kingdom, and it's not going very well.

By positioning my eyes, heart, mind and body toward treasuring God's name - over a lifetime through various practices - I can anchor the various parts of myself in God's Kingdom, where I am forever safe, loved and known. This is the good news that Jesus came to preach!
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15 NIV)
As usual, Henri says it better than I ever could.
How can we not lose our souls when everything and everybody pulls us in the most different directions? How can we "keep it together" when we are constantly torn apart? 
Jesus says: "Not a hair of your head will be lost. Your perseverance will win you your lives" (Luke 21:18-19). We can only survive our world when we trust that God knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. We can only keep it together when we believe that God holds us together. We can only win our lives when we remain faithful to the truth that every little part of us, yes, every hair, is completely safe in the divine embrace of our Lord. To say it differently: When we keep living a spiritual life, we have nothing to be afraid of. (Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey)

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