Being Careful About What You Ask For

At the beginning of a series of sermons I did on prayer, I shared with the congregation that I was praying that my prayer would lead to a life-changing experience.

Well, I got my wish!

You always hear old people say, “be careful what you pray for,” and they say that for a reason. It’s because when you put the desire of your spirit “out there,” the universe receives it. The universe definitely received my prayer request…as did God.

The experience of having such a powerful prayer request granted has thrown me off just a bit. I should have specified what kind of life-changing experience I was looking for. I knew that I felt inadequate as a pastor, I knew that I felt, actually, like a failure in that capacity. But I also knew that in the areas of being a pastor where I am good, I was really good.

Well, God has jokes. God answered my prayer. I have resigned my role as pastor. I am scared out of my mind about what my “next steps” will be. I believe that God is faithful…but I don’t know what my life will look like after November 30 of this year.

In this place of newness, I am learning new things about God, and about things I have always believed in, like, for instance, baptism. There are three symbols of baptism, as listed in the Bible: death, burial and resurrection. Certainly, in some experiences, in order to be transformed, the “old” us has to die and be buried before the new “us” can resurrect. I am convinced, however, that baptism is not a single  event, but is, rather, a series of experiences. In other words, in this life, we “die” rather frequently as we move closer to becoming who God intends for us to be and do. We cannot move forward until the “old” us dies …and is buried.

Well, the “old” Susan has taken her last breath. Burial is pending…but so is resurrection.

This dying, being buried and then being resurrected, while it sounds nice, is rather painful. While I have complete faith and trust in God, I do not like the pain of dying. It really hurts!  And yet, nothing new can come until something old has died. Even as I write this, the leaves of summer are dying and falling to the ground.

I wonder what the United States would be like if it allowed the “old”  United States, you know, the USA that was founded on a principle of equality but has moved forward in a culture based on inequality and oppression of  “the least of these.” Indeed, my reading and finding out that our own country had deep involvement in the Eugenics Movement, has sobered me. I wonder what would happen if our country would “own up” to its sins of oppression and discrimination, and ask God for that spirit which still exists to die, what our country would ultimately look and be like.

We would hurt for a bit, but we would be transformed. After death and burial, newness comes. It is inevitable. I know…because I am living it.

As we are in this 2012 presidential election cycle, I find myself, a woman who asked for transformation and who is getting it, asking God to show me my transformation means for my life, my work and my ministry. I wonder if President Obama or Governor Romney have transformation of our country and its policies on their minds.

Probably not.  Too painful. Too involved.

But if a new USA could arise out of this election, and if that resurrected USA could begin to see “the least of these” in a new way, wouldn’t that be a good thing?

Nothing new comes from something old.

A candid observation …