“I miss when I felt that way.” The other day, a young man talked to me and some others about missing the way he used to feel about his faith. He hears other talk of Jesus as a personal friend, seeming to feel Jesus’ presence all the time, a very personal faith. This young man has not lost his faith, but he did seem to feel somehow removed from that personal presence of God. Perhaps he was going through a “dry time,” as I hear it called in Jesuit circles, a time when you feel far from God. You may have doubts, questions, wonder if you can believe any of it. We know now that Mother Teresa herself suffered those dry times. Many of our heroes of faith did, and so, of course, do we. In the conversation, someone brought up Jordan Peterson, who is known for saying he “lives as if God exists” (emphasis mine).
It reminded me of something my dad said. He had seen me walking with my son, who was around 3 years old at the time. We encountered a dog, and my son was quite afraid of dogs at that time. In spite of that, he tentatively walked up to the dog, held out his hand, let the dog sniff it, and he lightly pet the dog. I said to my dad that my son had pretended he was not afraid. Dad said what I and probably you have heard from others, “That’s what courage is, right? Doing something in spite of your fear.” Or, in other words, acting as if you are not afraid.
For me, in a dry time, the way I can continue to live and act as if God is walking with me is to remember. When I don’t feel it, I remember the times I did feel God’s closeness. I remember the times during meditation when I saw Jesus reach out his hand to me as I, imagining myself as Peter, began to sink in the water; I remember Jesus’ arms around my shoulder as I pictured walking and talking with him during my prayers. I remember the many, many verses where God talked about remembering -- both his own remembering and when he reminded us to remember. (I did a search for “remember” in the Bible Gateway site. Wow!)
When I talked about this deep remembering with another friend, she expanded it even more.
What if our deep remembering went deeper than our lives and our parents' lives? What if it went all the way back to Genesis? I think if we "remembered" Abraham and Sarah, Job, Jacob, Rachel, Leah, Joseph, David, Ruth and the rest as we do our own experiences, if we read those stories with empathetic hearts, like those people are family members, it might lead to comfort and trust.
C.S. Lewis wrote about a type of remembering or nostalgia for the future -- remembering and longing for something that hasn’t happened yet and does not exist in this world. He wrote of “‘sennsucht,’ a German word meaning ‘longing’ or ‘desire’” (from “C.S. Lewis’ Ingenious Apologetic of Longing” by Daniel Motley, in LogosTalk). When the children in Narnia travel to Aslan’s land, they look around at the mountains, sky, water, and all the landscape and remark that it looks familiar, wondering if they could have been there before. But yet they know such a place could never have existed in our world.
Lucy said, “They’re different. They have more colors on them and they look further away than I remembered and they’re more … more … oh, I don’t know.…”
“More like the real thing,” said the Lord Digory softly.
And one of the first things I thought of as I pondered “remembering” was our communion service. Each time we celebrate communion (or Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper), the pastor speaks before we eat the bread, “Take, eat, remember and believe that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ was given for the complete forgiveness of all our sins,” and the same with the juice, to “take, drink, remember and believe…” As we munch that bread and swallow that juice, we remember Jesus’ great love for us.
Thank God for his love that we remember from all he did and was in the past, all he does and is now, and all he will be and do in the future.
What about you? What are some times in your life where remembering helps? Or hurts? What do you think of the idea of “remembering”/feeling nostalgia for something that doesn’t exist, or something in the future? What about living or acting as if?
What can I pray about for you?
What is this?? A while back, I had an idea. I was thinking of some friends I wanted to pray for, but I didn't have a specific thing to pray about on their behalf. I decided to pray that they would feel God's love. I decided to send them an email when I prayed, so they'd know and be encouraged. Then I thought about my many other family and friends who I would like to encourage with prayer, and decided to start this email.
Two things I try to do:
-- Encourage you with a reminder of God's love. My goal is to avoid anything where the response is "I should..." Just a short reflection of God's love.
-- Pray for you. I'll pray with each email, and please reply to me with anything you'd specifically like me to pray for you. I'll keep it confidential, don't worry..
. If you would like to send me specific prayer requests. I will gladly pray with you. Email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential.