land of rest

Land of Rest is a blog of Peter Jenks. Poems, quotes and photos are by Peter Jenks (unless otherwise noted or I miss noting an older post's photo) and are copyrighted, you are free to use these if you acknowledge their source.

Friday, February 24, 2012

God in our life or we in God's?

Oftentimes I pray that God would help me or guide me or protect loved ones. It is like an invitation that I offer, hoping for a positive reply. It would be nice to have God at my disposal, like knowing someone famous that would be willing to stop by when I needed to impress people, or a rich uncle that would help out when I called.

Not as often do I pray that I would more fully know and surrender and serve what God has planned for me. Where do I fit in and am needed in the eyes and activity of God. It might not be in the center, where I chose to be oftentimes. Whether it is vacuuming or clearing dishes or being still, am I where the Lord wants me?

The mission field is ripe for workers, and I am here in the one beneath my feet; yet so often farther places look more appealing. Yet the love is before me, not beyond me.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

giving and receiving

No matter how hard I try, I cannot receive by giving. I can hope that I might receive something in return, a reciprocal gift or attention. But for my giving to be giving it needs simply to be for the joy and behalf of those to whom I give. And ultimately that is why I give. But the deep longing, wishes, or perceived needs will never be met by giving and giving. Perhaps asking might get me what I am seeking, but to simply give and give and hope someone will know what it is I am seeking is probably not going to happen.
Sometimes I think that if I do enough for someone, they might love me. This way of thinking even applies to my relationship with God. Somehow, I need to simply receive, because others wish to give, most of all God has already given. If it is something that I have earned than it is no longer a gift, but a wage or an earning. And in holding onto an earning I feel justified and have power. Love is not about power, and it is love or connection that I ultimately seek.
Receiving is being vulnerable enough to let someone else be allowed to be intimate or connected with us and not having to control everyone and thing. There is much to let go of in order to receive.


There is an old joke about a monk coming out of the archives crying to his fellow monks, saying, “We mistranslated something! It should read celebrate, not celibate.” How do we know when we have made a mistake? When driving somewhere new with only written directions, I find that there is always a moment when I ask if we have gone too far, or if this is the right road. Oftentimes, the location is just a bit further ahead. But there are times when I have gone many miles in the wrong direction.
Could there be aspects of our institutional faith that has been mistranslated, or now misunderstood? What if we have been doing something for thousands of years and that a prayer, or understanding is misguided? Would we have the strength and courage to change? The rethinking of slavery was one moment when we rethought and changed the way we had always understood something, but it took a civil war to make the change.
What got me thinking about this possibility was hearing various Christian leaders speaking out on political issues in regards to what was right and wrong. A group of Christian leaders were speaking for political action to be taken, speaking on behalf of their people as people of power. Speaking from a political authority, with the mantle of righteousness, is always problematic for me; especially as a Christian. To do such always has an air of we are right, we are better and we know what others need to do. My experience has always found that we all have problems, shortcomings and have fallen short, and still God offered unconditional love and by doing so, transformed my life. This has changed everything for me. A law, a mandate, or an edict by an authority, rarely makes such a change in my life. It might modify my behavior, but only so as not to experience the consequence.
Not insisting on political dominance but witnessing to the experience of faith is where I sense and have experienced the effects of faith most profoundly. Being right might not always open the door for evangelism as well as simply witnessing what we have heard and seen. Advocating a position of political authority opens one up to the scrutiny of examination of one’s own history. To tell someone else what to do, how to behave and not have a very good record oneself tends to leave one open to ridicule. It is important to speak against injustice, yet raising questions, speaking from one’s experience, and trying to shine light seems to me to be more reflective of our faith than dictating doctrine, dogma and legislation. Having been the dominant political religious force, oftentimes as ruling head of state, our history is checkered with a clouded arena of actions that might be seen as more for political gain than religious renewal. Perhaps our need for power is a thing of the past that we need to get over. Perhaps it is time to rediscover where our true power rests, and it might not be in earthly dominance.

Friday, February 10, 2012


It has struck me how much of my prayer time is spent in intercession, praying for others, and in being silent, trying to calm my soul to listen and let go. What I am not engaging much in is adoration. These other aspects of prayer are the shell, the outer pathways in which we move deeper in relationship and intimacy with God: the great power of love, life and light. But in offering my intercessions and quieting my soul it is then time to move to the place of adoration and worship. This is the place where art is grasped and enters our deep soul. When the music touches us deeply or the dance moves us or the image is etched within our soul. To be one with God is to know the beauty of adoration, awe and wonder.
What an amazing day, what amazing people with whom I live, there are mysteries beyond my comprehension and so much more to learn. In my haste I blind myself, in my need I refuse that for which I desire, in my longings I so often fill myself with the appetizers of convenience and am so often then unprepared for the banquet of deep love waiting for me.
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