Set me on the Rock that is higher than I

CLICK HERE & select date 9/16/08 for the source of this meditation at Forward Day by Day that I’m working with.)

Psalm 61: Set me upon the rock that is higher than I.

The most basic thing about being a Christian seems obvious even though it is frequently neglected: God is bigger than me and I am not God. I remember a young man in Alcoholics Anonymous years ago who had asked his sponsor about all the talk of God and a “higher power” in A.A. meetings. “I didn’t come here to get religion. I just came to get sober.” His wise old sponsor replied: “All you need to know about God is that you’re not him.”

In our spiritual pilgrimage we need to come to the rock, Christ, who is higher than we are, and we need to come to him recognizing that he is higher than we are. It is part of what it means to acknowledge a god. We need to come to God, without our opinions and our ready-made religious answers. We come to him as a rock that cannot be moved. There we stand with an assurance that our own opinions and arguments cannot provide. People often cherish their opinions. God does not need to hear what we think-we are not the Rock. We need to hear what God thinks.
PRAY for the Diocese of Hpa-an (Myanmar)

Whenever we approach God the contrast that exists between what he is and what we are becomes dreadfully clear.
-Anthony Bloom

This meditation in Forward Day by Day has been resonating in my mind and heart for a few days. I couldn’t figure out how to express a suitable public blogging response to it, though. A suitable response being something slightly more than merely cutting and pasting it into my own blog. A suitable post being one that shares something a little more unique, or at least more personally meaningful than that which you can read in books written by minds far stronger and wiser and wittier than mine. Here’s my best shot.

I grew up in a small town with LOTS of taverns per village block capita. I saw a good amount of “drunks.” I didn’t think too highly of them. I didn’t think there was much redemption within their reach to turn their lives around. Now please understand, this was when I was quite young, and I grew up in an immediate family that didn’t really drink to speak of, despite an extended family that had some people with dysfunctional relationships with alcohol. So my limited exposure to alcohol was varying degrees of misuse. But what I was, I was.

Insert a few years away from home, a broadening of life experiences and listening including but also going beyond the simple matter of aging chronologically, and fast-forward to my adult-entry faith community. I was there awhile, despite his openness about it, before I learned my priest was in recovery. I was naive and unprepared to entertain the notion that a priest, a highly functioning, much-loved and respected priest could be in recovery. I have since learned that clergy in recovery is rather common. That’s merely an observation, not an assessment of why. But I’ve learned as my life continues to progress more and more that indeed, some of the most influential spiritual people in my life are alcoholics in recovery. I’ve learned that there is spiritual wisdom to be digested and pondered in the Big Book, whether or not you are battling addictions.

What I’ve learned is that 12 Step groups have gotten a lot right. They understand and live out support and encouragement. They understand and live out community. They get “I ain’t God.”

I think that could well be a common factor in what is so spiritually attractive about many people I’ve met who are in recovery: they “get it” that they ain’t God. It spills over into their lives and gives off a certain aroma. This aroma is not unique to those in recovery, but I think 12 Step Groups facilitate the revealing of this aroma for those who are receptive to turning their will over to a Higher Power than our own puny attempts and initiatives. They have battled “I ain’t God”; they are humble enough to realize they continue to battle it by the grace of God and with his aid and strength. They get the notion of surrender of their sense of control to a higher power.

I could learn a lot more from those in recovery.

Heavenly Father, Brother Jesus, Sister Holy Spirit, Higher Power permeating the universe, keep me open to the lessons those around me have to give to me. Keep me from pride, knock me down when it’s needed, but if it’s possible, sort of gently? Indeed, set me upon the rock that is higher than I, and remind me as often as necessary that my pebble ain’t the boulder that is you. Amen.

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