At the memorial for Gwen’s mother, I read a portion of John 14 and this was part of it:
If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?
Does it also seem amazing to you that Philip and the rest of the disciples are often unable to see what is happening right before their eyes? Contrary to all the evidence, when Jesus tells them something, they want more evidence. I wish I could not relate to that.
I have experienced so many wonderful things in the past week that bubbled with generativity! They had the Father in them. They were like Jesus showing me the Father. God has been so evidently at work! Yet in each instance of joy and creativity there was a choice to make, because there was also a whisper of judgment and a way to see the situation otherwise. I saw Jesus. But he had to ask me, “Don’t you know me? Don’t you believe the Father is in me?”
Maybe it is just me, but you might be going through similar challenges. So I thought I would encourage you to list where you have been able to soak up generativity. I make lists and I tell stories, 1) so I don’t lose track of my blessings in some morass of self-centeredness or self-condemnation, 2) so I don’t devalue God by ignoring grace. Today, I have a long obvious list. There were many moments last week that were pleasantly generative.
- Touch. 1) When Michiko came up out of the water after her baptism, we spontaneously leaned in and touched our foreheads. 2) My grandson lolled on my lap for a good part of the Love Feast.
- Retreat. I was away with the men last weekend. I had nothing to do but encourage and be encouraged, to soak up the Spirit and the energy of seekers.
- Direct address. A person went out of their way to talk to me and not about me when they were worried about what I said. This is one of the most countercultural things Christians do.
- Stories. The stone was repeatedly rolled away as people spoke at the baptism and the Love Feast.
- Laughter. 1) The cooks at Cosi crashed their tools around so loudly when our cell was talking we could not stop laughing. 2) When Oliver and Nat were dancing on the ottoman to tunes from Beauty and the Beast, that was memorable.
- Connection. Sixty or so children and State Representative Jordan Harris were at the building for a Childs Elementary art show. It was riotous and full of joy.
I think many of us gravitate toward seeing the dark side of most situations. A touch can feel painful. A retreat can feel lonely. A direct statement can be frightening. Stories can create envy. Laughter can seem like an interruption. Connecting can be tiring. We could have Jesus promising us eternity and need one more piece of evidence to feel good. Jesus could tell us he is going through death to bring us into life and we would be distressed he is dying. We are like this.
I say you should make your list and try not to even think about all the reasons your list is dishonest, tainted or troubling. Just soak in the generativity. If there is a drop of goodness coming your way, if you can see even a rivulet of grace flowing through the past week, let it reach you, get wet. I think we are in an ocean of God’s favor. It would make sense to take off the wet suit of fear, shame or whatever it is and feel it. This is me unzipping.