May 22, 2016

Holy Mysteries and Holy Cats!

"God works in mysterious ways!"

Maybe you've heard that saying once or twice.
Maybe you've said it when you've seen God work things out in a way you didn't see coming.

There are a lot of things about God and the way he works that can be hard to understand. For instance, Christians declare that God exists as a holy Trinity. That is, there's the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and all three are God, but there is only one God. "God in three persons," we sing in one of the classic hymns. Each of the three is not "part" of God, and they don't represent varying aspects of God, but all three are in fact God in his fullness... and there is only one God. People have tried to use various analogies to explain this, but every analogy eventually falls short.

When we receive the Lord's Supper, we believe Christ is present, but how and what happens is the subject of debate. Different faith traditions explain it in different ways, but in the UMC, we explain what we can the best we can, and we say it is a "Holy Mystery". Personally, I love this expression, because you don't have to understand everything about something in order to accept and believe it.

There are many things we don't understand about God, but that's OK.

I was thinking about this over the past week as I've been watching the kittens play.

Bruce & Wayne are a handful!
This past week, Amber brought home two kittens,
     and they're very small,
          and they're very curious,
               and they're very energetic, to say the least!

Now there's a lot about our house, and about our rules, and about Amber and myself that these kittens don't understand yet. They don't quite understand - and I know they don't - why they're allowed to climb on a chair but not on the piano... or why they're allowed to go in certain rooms, but not others right now... or why they can attack their toys, but they can't climb the curtains...

All they know is they try stuff, and some stuff they can do, and other stuff they get scolded for.

Sometimes, the things they do seem silly.
     Last night, we found one sleeping under the couch.
          This morning, one started freaking out when he saw his reflection.

They have a lot to learn!

I was thinking about it, and I thought, Amber and I really hold these kittens' lives in our hands. It's up to us to take care of them and feed them, and we will. And if we wanted, we could get rid of them or we could hurt them, but we won't. We want to love them, and we want them to love us!

This morning, they were getting into the cables behind the TV, and if I redirected them once, I did it 15 times! But it's OK. They don't understand that if they bite cables, it could hurt them, and they'll probably never really understand that, but I corrected them because I don't want them to get hurt. With time, they'll hopefully learn not to go back there because they know I don't want them to - not because they understand everything, but because of our relationship.

And here's the thing: we want them to stop getting into certain things, but even when they keep messing up, that doesn't mean we're going to get rid of them. We might get mad if they break something by knocking it off the piano, but that doesn't mean we stop loving them.

The main thing is that we love them, and we want them to love us and to get along with each other when they grow up.

In our relationship with God, I think it's the same way. He wants us to listen, and he wants us to learn, but he also knows that we can't understand everything at once. We may never fully grasp the concept of the Trinity or what really happens at Communion. We may not understand all the reasons why God says certain things aren't good for us, or why he's redirecting us away from something we want. But what he does want us to understand is, first of all, that he loves us and he's caring for us, even if we don't always understand it - that's what the cross was all about (Romans 5:8); and secondly, he wants us to love. Jesus said the most important thing is 1) Love God, and 2) Love Neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).

I don't have every answer about the things of God, and I don't have to.

I will continue to listen and try to become more and more who I know God wants me to be.

The place to start is to focus on how I show my love for him and my love for those around me.

And I'm so thankful that, even when I mess up, he forgives and continues to love!

What will you do to grow on toward perfect love this week?

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