First, you know how some Christian traditions, the more charismatic ones mainly, talk of how passages of scripture can “convict” one — give one a sudden “this is talking to me” feeling, in other words? Well, that happens to me sometimes. Usually with me, though, these moments don’t make much difference, I’ll be honest with you. Really. They’ve been happening to me off and on for twenty-five years. I usually just savor the feeling (it is a spiritual feeling, after all) and just hope I do something about it, and then don’t really.
But it happened this morning. I was reading the Parable of the Sower (in Mark 4), especially 4:19:
Still others, like seed down among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. (TNIV)
I felt that sinking feeling or that feeling when you feel a cold spot as you walk across a room. It was as if I had been fooling myself over the last twenty-five years thinking that I had matured much spiritually. Or maybe it wasn’t that bad. Maybe it was more like a “yeah, you’ve done okay, but you’d better get serious now” feeling. It was not a pleasant feeling at all, though. It made me nervous, actually.
Anyway, as usual, I got busy doing homework, and I’d already forgotten about this little “conviction” by tonight when I received the service leaflet from our church’s All Saints’ Day service tonight back in Yakima in my email. (Thanks for sending it, Jane.) Looks like it was a particularly rich service. Anyway, the Prayer of Confession reminded me of my little experience:
One: Now is the time for turning.
Many: The birds are beginning to turn and are heading once more to the south.
One: For leaves, birds and animals turning comes instinctively.
Many: But for us turning does not comes so easily.
One: It takes an act of will for us to make it turn. It means breaking with old habits.
Many: It means admitting that we have been wrong: and ’tis not easy.
One: It means losing face, it means starting all over again, and this is always painful.
Many: it means saying: I am sorry.
One: It means recognizing that we have the ability to change. These things are hard to do.
Many: But unless we turn we will be trapped forever in yesterday’s ways.
One: God, help us to turn, from callousness to sensitivity, from hostility to love, from pettiness to purpose, from envy to contentment, from carelessness to disciple, from fear to faith.
Many: Turn us around, O God, and bring us back towards you.
I have been thinking more lately about creation, about Nick saying (at the writing center the other day) that he’s a vegetarian because, he said, “I like animals more than I like meat,” about the poor, about natural resources, about the need for simplicity, about how much happier I am the less stuff I have to worry about. And I think it is that kind of stuff I need to think about more, do something about more. And so maybe that’s why I’m blogging about this experience. Maybe it’s because if I blog about it, I’m more likely to do something about it. That would be a nice change! And it is so easy when I’m so busy busy here at school to let these little sensations pass by without stopping and letting them sink in at all.
But maybe it’s like what Natasha says about new romantic relationships: “It’s not official until it’s on Facebook.” I hope so.