LIVING WITH LONGING IN THE NOW AND NOT YET
Entering into the story…
We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. – C.S. Lewis
The Good Life:
Proverbs – LIFE IS WISDOM, learning from cause and effect. Full of Meaning. God is right and just and we get what we deserve.
Ecclesiastes – LIFE IS MEANINGLESS, time and chance happen to us all. Life is Confusing and Uncontrollable. The world isn’t always fair and is hard to comprehend.
Job – LIFE IS SUFFERING, is God wise and just? We love God because He is good. Satan inflicts suffering on Job undeservedly. Devastation and anger. Job must deserved it. God takes Job on a virtual tour of the universe, the complexity and the sovereignty of God over all. This leaves Job in a place of humility and restores to Job everything he had lost and more. No matter what comes, good or bad, Job can trust God’s wisdom throughout.
Read the passage linked below and imagine the scene as if you were a movie director working with the characters. Often, we do not enter scripture with our humanity intact and we do not dignify the characters we find there by giving them their humanity in return. The goal of Lectio Divina is to meditate on the scene we find there and allow the characters to speak to us by vividly imagining the scene as if we are standing there physically too. Ask Holy Spirit to make the scenario come to life as you read using all of your senses to visualise everything in the scene…
Ezekiel 16 – The Prostitute Princess
Of course we are all familiar with the Prodigal Son, but actually the Bible also speaks of a female version of this parable that is in Ezekiel. Hosea was asked to marry a prostitute in Hosea 1 because God says “Marry a prostitute and have children with that prostitute. The people in this land have acted like prostitutes and abandoned the Lord.” This is that story of God’s chosen people. I ﬁnd this chapter heart wrenching. You can feel the pain of God in every part of it. Read through it and visualize it and you will begin to see how God rescues a baby from the mud. Who is this baby? How does this show the tenderness of God toward His imagebearers in Israel? How is His kindness repaid? She grows up and God blesses her with everything she needs, He protects her and gives her gifts. Sadly, she despises herself and turns her back on Him and she opens her legs to everyone who passes by. Some parts of this chapter are surely R-rated. She sleeps with everyone like a prostitute, and yet unlike a prostitute does not even ask for payment. God’s heart breaks. She ends up even sacriﬁcing and killing her own children. Think of the Biblical account and imagine the pain for all involved. Imagine the details and you will begin to see this epic love story of a God who loves His human imagebearers, but we have all gone astray and instead of acknowledging Him as God, have become like animals, denying our imagebearing ability and refusing to acknowledge Him.
There are a few verses that particularly stand out:
4-5 “‘On the day you were born your umbilical cord was not cut, you weren’t bathed and cleaned up, you weren’t rubbed with salt, you weren’t wrapped in a baby blanket. No one cared a fig for you. No one did one thing to care for you tenderly in these ways. You were thrown out into a vacant lot and left there, dirty and unwashed—a newborn nobody wanted.
6-7 “‘And then I came by. I saw you all miserable and bloody. Yes, I said to you, lying there helpless and filthy, “Live! Grow up like a plant in the field!” And you did. You grew up. You grew tall and matured as a woman, full-breasted, with flowing hair. But you were naked and vulnerable, fragile and exposed.
I dressed you in a colorful gown and put leather sandals on your feet. I gave you linen blouses and a fashionable wardrobe of expensive clothing. I adorned you with jewelry: I placed bracelets on your wrists, fitted you out with a necklace, emerald rings, sapphire earrings, and a diamond tiara. You were provided with everything precious and beautiful: with exquisite clothes and elegant food, garnished with honey and oil. You were absolutely stunning. You were a queen! You became world-famous, a legendary beauty brought to perfection by my adornments. Decree of God, the Master.
15-16 “‘But your beauty went to your head and you became a common whore, grabbing anyone coming down the street and taking him into your bed. You took your fine dresses and made “tents” of them, using them as brothels in which you practiced your trade.
59-63 “‘God, the Master, says, I’ll do to you just as you have already done, you who have treated my oath with contempt and broken the covenant. All the same, I’ll remember the covenant I made with you when you were young and I’ll make a new covenant with you that will last forever. You’ll remember your sorry past and be properly contrite when you receive back your sisters, both the older and the younger. I’ll give them to you as daughters, but not as participants in your covenant. I’ll firmly establish my covenant with you and you’ll know that I am God. You’ll remember your past life and face the shame of it, but when I make atonement for you, make everything right after all you’ve done, it will leave you speechless.’” Decree of God, the Master.
1) Prepare: Close your eyes, breathe, focus your mind, and ask God to enter into this time of prayer with you. Ask God to speak to you through this image.
2) Lectio (read): Open your eyes and scan the image. Note what draws your interest, but continue to scan the whole image. Close and rest your eyes a minute.
3) Mediatio (meditate): Open your eyes and let your eyes be led. Focus on just the part of the image that caught your eyes and name it. Close your eyes, seeing that piece of the image in your mind.
4) Oratio (pray): Open your eyes and look again at the piece of the image that caught your eye. Allow it to bring forth a word, image, or emotion. Close and rest your eyes.
5) Contemplatio (contemplation): Open your eyes and gaze at the whole image. What is God speaking to you today through this image? How will you respond to Him? Spend time processing that with God. Pray or journal about it.
Embodied Spirituality in Practice
A DISCIPLINE OR PRACTICE TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR LIFE.
INSPIRATION AND PRACTICAL APPLICATION FROM A CREATIVE
DISCOVER HOW TO TURN YOUR GROANING TO INTERCESSION
Assignment: Do an inventory of what you groan about as you go through your day or weeks or months… Is it aches and pains? Relationships? Concerns for your family? Financial difficulties? Community pain? Something else? Write some of these things down and then read Nehemiah 1. Write down each thing that is giving you pain and repurpose it into prayer, action or service. How does pain cause you to pay attention in your body? How should you respond in prayer? Every time you groan try to hear where God also groans in the midst of your agony. Be mindful of this and practice turning pain to prayer on a daily basis. Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-24 and Submit a response here.
This is a chance to express yourself creatively. Perhaps something in this part of the timeline has challenged, excited or inspired you. You may want to think about how you could express that through drawing, writing, painting, filming, designing or photographing something to share with others here at creativeimagebearers.com.
Optional: In addition to the assignment above, please write a haiku, poem, song or create a piece to express yourself and share it with us!
Final Take-Away to give context…
PROVOKE THOUGHTS, QUESTIONS…
t is in our humanity that we can identify with one another. The key to communication is identification. This ability to empathise, to feel compassion, and to have our hearts broken by each other’s stories, as well as see rifts mended, wars cease and needs met, comes first from broken hearts for one another. Jesus all through the gospels looked over the crowds and had compassion on them. “Jesus wept” is the shortest verse in the bible and in many ways, it sums up God’s heart for His imagebearers throughout scripture. That He washed His disciple’s feet sums up how God elevates our humanity by placing himself at the dirtiest end of it. Jesus became the lowest common denominator for humanity. He was born in poverty, fled as a refugee to egypt, suffered the loss of His father, and His mother became a widow.
aul says that He gloried in His suffering, fulfilling in His own body the suffering of Christ. He has a long list of beatings, stonings, imprisonment, persecutions, robberies, shipwrecks and trouble. Not to mention the constant thorn in his side that He asked God to take from Him. To which God replied,”My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 8-10). This is the power of a Tri-Une God expressing Himself through the frailty, vulnerability and brokenness of a human imagebearer. The family of God and the family of Man working together in unison. We should expect suffering and pain and also the grace of God to bear it. The disciples watched their saviour die a brutal death, and they were willing to suffer the same. The gospel is about God being good, but He is not safe! If you want safety find another religion!
here do you groan? Where is creation groaning? Where is the world groaning? How do you hear the Spirit of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit groaning within all of it? We need discernment to know how to pray, how to intercede and how to ask for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus heard the same groaning of death all around Him. From the tomb of Lazarus, from Mary and Martha and He sat down and wept. He hears the groaning of the little boat as he woke to find creation storming and He silenced the storm, raised Lazarus and comforted Mary and Martha. We are the body of Christ and we will carry wounds just like Jesus does, but we will need to comfort others through them as Jesus did too. Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered. As He is the template for all imagebearers we should expect the same.
WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU
Henri Nouwen’s Secret Journal