The Living One who sees me

“She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi (well of the Living One who sees me); it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.”

– Genesis 16:13-14

This story is detailing the conversation between Hagar the slave and the “Living One” she encountered at a well as she ran from Abram’s wife Sarai.

As a slave, Hagar had been forced to sleep with Abram and then mistreated by Sarai to the point where she found it better to run away, risking death, than to stay where she was.

Desperate, alone, abused, and fearful.

At this point of extreme emotional trauma as well as dehydration, Hagar met what she deemed to be “God.” She met “the Living One who sees me.”

With all of the different titles that God has been adorned with over the past few millennia, perhaps none are so accurate as this.  The complexities that accompany the apologetics and defenses of an Almighty God that created Heaven and Earth can easily drive one to a debilitating posture of cynicism.

What if God is not only complexity but simplicity also?

As simple as Hagar’s description suggests.

The Living One who sees me.

The Living One who sees worth.

The Living One who sees beauty.

The Living One who sees goodness.

The Living One who sees potential.

The Living One who sees value beyond merit.

Why are we so caught up in the theology, terminology, eschatology, and hermeneutics of belief?

Acknowledge the the Living One who sees you as worthy and valuable. As a Living One choose to see those who have not been seen for what they truly are.

Just as Hagar went on to be the mother of a great nation, so may you empower another to see their own potential and believe in their own ability to achieve it. We all have access to a creative force. May it be used to create in others a belief that leads to life, not life that only exists after death, but life in this moment.

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Two trees. Two choices.

“The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A first look:

To Adam and Eve the garden was their world. It was beautiful, lush, fruitful, and safe.

But at the center of the garden were placed two trees. The tree of life. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Here the two trees represent a choice. A choice that has faced humankind since the dawn of consciousness.

The first is the choice of life. The choice to accept life with all of the pleasures and all of the pains. A choice to be present and involved. A choice to embrace being human.

The second, is a choice of judgment. Not to be judged but to be the judge. A choice to be the one who judges what is good and what is evil. To be a “god” of others. To believe that you have the authority to deem one person good and another evil.

To be an individual of judgment.

 

A second look:

The two trees represent the two characteristics that we believe will make us like God.

The first is life, eternal life, that we may live forever.

The second empowers us with the knowledge to judge good and to judge evil.

Both offer a temptation unparalleled by anything else. And in both can be found the beginnings of many of the world’s religions.

One could make the argument that these are the core desires of the human heart. In fact, I would say that many religious leaders (either purposefully or inadvertently) hold these desires as the reasons for following their specific religion. The right beliefs give you the “gift” of eternal life and the “power” to discern (judge?) good from evil. In effect, the right beliefs make you like God.

Perhaps it is no surprise at all that God commands us not to eat of these trees, not to spend our precious, short lives on the vain and vision blurring fruit of these trees.

Infinite, intrinsic worth

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

– Colossians 1:27

This is a packed verse, loaded with statements about who we are as people, as humans, as products of this organism called Earth. Through the development, evolution, growth of human consciousness, it has been made known to us what our true worth is. The divine nature of all things, the oneness of all things, the Christ of all things, is in us.

The divine nature of reality is no longer an imaginary ideal we strive for, we sacrifice for, we worship, and yet never attain. Instead it is a quality inherent to us as conscious, observant beings. We are the work of God in the world. We have the ability to be a creative force of good. The mystery of our glory has been revealed to us through Christ Jesus.

Now, this word “glory” is no small thing.

In Greek, the transliteration of glory is “doxa.” It can be defined as honor or renown; an especially divine quality, the unspoken manifestation of God. It is an opinion of value. Furthermore, it corresponds to an Old Testament word known as “kabo,” which means “to be heavy.” Both the Greek and the Old Testament word have been used to define God as having infinite, intrinsic worth.

Now this heavy word is applied to us in the script of Colossians. This is the hope of the believer: that we as humans have value; an infinite, intrinsic worth. That is to say, God is in us.

And what a statement that is.

For so long God has been a distant figure in human history and now God is among us (Jesus) and in us (Christ). We now have a hope that guides us, a new way of living, a new direction of striving, a new direction of evolution; to pursue that which has infinite, intrinsic value.

Which is you.

Your brother.

Your sister.

Your neighbor.

Your enemy.

 

To “love God and love others” is to treat all things as if they have infinite, intrinsic value. The energy which makes up the matter of all things and allows us to experience each other is infinite, it is neither created nor destroyed, it is not extrinsic but intrinsic, and it makes up all of us, all things, it is in all things, through all things, and it gives us not only equality but value; infinitely.

The universe proclaims the glory of God.

 

The universe is the infinitely, intrinsically valuable manifestation of the Great Existence.

And both you and I…

Exist.

 

 

Grace and mercy ⇒ Love and peace.

The compost pile called the Bible

I recently listened to an episode of the podcast “The Bible for Normal People” in which they interviewed Walter Brueggemann. At a point in the discourse, Walter referred to the Bible as a “compost pile.”

 

At first this may come off as an offensive statement to anyone who holds the Bible to have authority and worth.

 

But I think it might of been the best description of the Bible I’ve ever heard.

 

According to dictionary.com, compost is defined as “a mixture of various decaying organic substances, as dead leaves or manure, used for fertilizing soil.

 

When it comes to composting the important aspect isn’t so much what you put into the pile, as long as it is organic. But the real impact of it has to do with what it is used to fertilize.

 

Both thistles and flowers grow better when fertilized.

 

The impact of composting is not about what goes into the pile. It is about what results.

 

Now, in the case of the Bible, the issue shouldn’t be as much what stories, myths, or facts are present within the text as long as they are authentic. When I say authentic, I don’t mean necessarily true, although it could be that. Rather, I am referring to the author trying to reveal something true about his or her experience of the world, of God.

 

Authentically a believer.

 

Authentically a non-believer.

 

Authentically happy.

 

Authentically angry.

 

Authentically atheist.

 

Authentically doubtful.

 

Authentically arrogant.

 

Authentically joyful.

 

It doesn’t matter so much what they are openly and honestly trying to get across but rather that they are open and honest.

 

God is openness. God is honesty.

 

I’m sure I’ve written it before on this blog, but I am not taken with the Bible because I believe it happened thousands of years ago. I read the Bible because I believe it is happening now.

 

The abuse of power.

 

The neglect for the poor.

 

The deification of certainty.

 

All of these things can be seen (pretty easily I might add) in our lives today.

 

So, for me, the Bible is a compost pile of authentic stories, written by real people, at real times, about some real experiences of this life, some experiences of God that they are trying to communicate to others.

 

Just as a compost pile is foul and offensive to smell, the Bible can be offensive to read. There are stories that definitely should cause us to be angry, to doubt, to question, to contemplate, and to grow.

 

And that is the key.

 

The Bible should cause us to grow.

 

But just as compost can fertilize thistles, so can the Bible be used to inseminate hate, anger, injustice, greed, racism, blindness, and fear.

 

Yet, that same fertilizer causes flowers to grow and bloom.

 

It can bring forth plants that bear delicious fruit.

 

It can bring life and life to the full when used to fertilize the right ideas.

 

I personally believe the compost pile that is the Bible is made up of stories, poems, and myths that, although they seem outdated and foul to some, hold the potential to bring new life to this world.

 

They hold the potential to evoke mercy and inspire grace.

 

When implemented properly, they have the vital nutrients for feeding peace and growing love

Sometimes…

Sometimes the first candle doesn’t light.

The wax has built up over the wick, depriving it of oxygen. 

Sometimes the first shot misses the target.

The mark was in view but the shooter unskilled or confused. 

Sometimes what was thought to be, isn’t.

The data extinguishes the belief, the belief revealed as insecurity.

Sometimes in a crowd of many, one can’t be. 

The ignition of the others is the darkness of the one.

Sometimes we force it.

The force is met with opposition and pressure.

Sometimes what is needed most is to not be needed at all. 

The expectation of the other crushes the will of the self. 

Sometimes forgiveness comes before a fall and sin before elation. 

The grace of the moment is the judgement of all.

Sometimes the practice kills the performance. 

The masks of shame and guilt removed. 

Sometimes justification comes by death. 

The loss of that which was held as essential, viewed as sacred. 

Sometimes the clouds part to reveal an empty sky. 

The security of knowledge is the sin of the certain. 

Sometimes authenticity is found in a lie. 

The truth is the enemy of the deceived soul. 

Sometimes the need is met with the void. 

The contemplation of deprivation creates the abundance. 

Sometimes the first candle doesn’t light. 

An effort wasted,

A bitterness tasted.

But there hope lies, just to the right.