Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Religion is to be connected: Part 4

The kayak that I've been paddling the Oconee was used when I bought it.  The hull was not badly damaged but it was scratched.  It’s hard to paddle anywhere in this part of the world and not scrape a gritty shoal or bump a boulder every now and then.

I am not worried about my recreation on the river.  It is exactly that, recreation not competition and so I do not require a pristine streamline to make my way with high efficiency.  Still I've thought about the hull slipping through the silty runoff into the lake to our east.

When I lived in tidewater Virginia there always be a boat or two lifted out of the Rappahannock at the nearby marinas so the hulls could be cleaned of the barnacles that had attached in those brackish river waters and the even saltier waters of the Chesapeake and Atlantic.

One might be inclined to see some virtue in the clinging of those accreted crustaceans.  "Oh that we could hang to God as fervently."  "Oh that our faith were as constant as the cement they secrete."  "Crafty little creatures to make their lives so simple."

But it is worth being reminded that not all connections are healthy for the "connected." There is only a less than ideal benefit for one part in those connections and the other just suffers. Barnacles are carried through the water from which they feed but the boat's hull is slowed by the loss of its streamline.

You might want to say, "Take it easy FrDann, they're just barnacles."  But the way these varmints connect can be a caution to us all in our lives of faith.  Our relationship, our connection to God always risks our being the barnacle.

We are the dependent ones, we have needs that we most often meet at the expense of others, we are limited by our self-image, our fears, our lack of trust and so we attach in ways that put others at risk.  We attach in ways that seldom go beyond survival.

I'll admit to failing to "give it all to God" on most of those occasions when that felt like the right or the good thing to do.  I always have found some compromise so that I can stick around and at least look faithful.

I'm sure God appreciates the attention but I'm just as sure God intends more in our relationship than clinging.   The connection God has won for us calls for something other than my resolve or my strength or even my ingenuity.  The connection God has won for us calls us to trust and not to cling.

We say "Alleluia, Christ is risen!" because our connection is perfected for us, not preserved by us.  God raised Jesus from the dead after he -- with trust in God -- let go.

The model for us is not Jesus hanging in there to avoid dying like a barnacle but his trusting in the One who knows us and has promised us to be there when we – obedient unto death -- do our own letting go.

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