Installment 104

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Today, as I write this, is August 25, but I am publishing this on August 28. Since I wrote it on August 25, it is Five days until my birthday. But I am publishing on the 28th, so it is two days until my birthday. If however, my reader reads this after my birthday, what can I say?

But, in any event, I will talk about my prayer on my birthday two years ago. On August 30, 2014 (Month 6 Day 4), I prayed. I felt led not to offer a blessing, so I began: I am here father. The Divine responded:

Yes, you are my son, but not quite.

That is extremely difficult to comprehend. There have been so many prayers that have conveyed sonship that I am not amazing that I didn’t see it back when the prayer occurred. If I had noticed then what I have noticed now, I would have inquired about it back then. Alas, I missed it.

Immediately following that statement the Divine conveyed:

What’s missing?

What’s missing? I can think of several things, mostly insignificant I suppose, but hey wants are things that are missing. I want a Porsche 911 Turbo, I prefer certain years over others, but my heart wants one -I think- and it’s missing from my heart.

But back then, I replied the first thing that came to mind: My wife. The Divine responded:

But she’s right there.

To which I took it to mean that the Divine was referring to Mary. So I replied: Yes, but I mean my other wife. The Divine responded:

Then, why didn’t you say so?

This is the kind of thing that I don’t think I will ever understand. Look, I knew what I meant. I enter my prayer statements assuming that the Divine will work with my statements in the manner I intend them. No. Nope, the Divine doesn’t.

I haven’t bothered to look it up, but there are several moments where I intend one thing, and the Divine simply does not work with that assumption. To me, that is frustrating. Hence why I replied: I thought I did. How did the Divine respond?

You did not.

Technically, I didn’t. I spoke a generalism expecting the Divine to work with me on my statement in the same manner that I intended. But the Divine didn’t. So I replied: Touché.

For whatever reason, that part of the interaction did not continue. Instead the Divine responded:

Now, what do you need?

To that question, I replied: I need your other daughter, whom you have permitted to be my wife. For whatever reason, the Divine responded with this:

Her name?

To which I replied: You know her name.

Then I immediately offered a question: Do I really need to say it? To which the Divine responded:

No.

At that moment, prayer became silent.

So let me take a moment here to talk about something. There was a time when I felt certain that a specific woman was the one. Through the course of events, that certainty fell into the abyss. It wasn’t just doubt, but disbelief.

So, who knows what prompted me to reply in the above fashion. But I will tell you this, for me, if this is actually happening, if this path is actually being led by the Divine, then for me, it is not necessary to say any names nor to speculate, because the Divine knows not only the lady, but her name, because in referring to the concept from the Prophet Jeremiah, the Divine knew who she was before the Divine implanted her spirit into the womb of her mother.

Me on the other hand, forget it. I don’t know. I can suppose. I can draw conclusions. But at the end of the day, it is speculation. At one time, I speculated, not only was egg thrown on my face, I was summarily identified as a fool for drawing the conclusion.

Well, you know what they say: once bitten, twice shy. But another saying also came to mind: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

So I am quite hesitant to believe who this lady might be. It is far easier for me to believe that the Divine led me to a marriage with two wives than it is for me to believe that the Divine has chosen a specific woman. You know why, at that moment I became a fool, I don’t want to be a fool again.

So returning to the prayer, since the moment fell silent, I asked: What shall we talk about Father? The Divine responded:

You tell me.

I replied: Life. The Divine responded:

Life?

I replied the same way: Life. The Divine responded:

Life is as life does.

That kind of statement has truth, but seems to simplistic, so I replied: Aphorism. The Divine responded:

So?

I must have been rather testy, I replied: So. Aphorism. What about life? The Divine responded:

Life is as life does.

Not pleased with the response, I replied: That is not an answer. The Divine responded:

It is. You just don’t like it.

I replied: Fine.

And the Divine is accurate, the response was an answer. It just was not the answer I wanted or perhaps preferred, but in any case it was an answer. If I had been more aware, perhaps I should have asked for clarity of understanding.

But I didn’t, instead I asked: What is my life? The Divine responded:

What you make of it.

Again, looking back, I should have been more inquisitive, asking for clarification.

But no, I must have been somewhat snide, I replied: And? The Divine responded:

What are you making of it?

That is actually an important question, a question that should be asked of each individual: what are you making of your life? How one chooses to answer that question reveals a tremendous amount.

What am I doing with my life? I am using my life to serve my family, by helping my wife and our son. I have chosen to remain at home in order to do this. This choice makes financial life tight, payday-to-payday style of living.

There are moments of breathing room, and the Father has not allowed me to sink in the financial waters. But there are days I truly wonder if I am best helping my family in this fashion. Yet, my wife says that I am. These have proven to be uncomfortable days.

Back in 2014, I was home, and our daughter was still residing at home as well. So back then I was helping three individuals, those three have become two.

Yet to the Divine’s question “What are you making of it?” I replied: Nothing it seems, feels. To which, the Divine responded:

Then time and life is wasted.

So let me be clear, I was not feeling like my life is wasted in helping my family. I didn’t. I don’t. But the concept of being the primary income is so engrained in my psyche it is a part of me, just like my style of music is a part of me, just as my faith is a part of me.

Remaining at home, becoming completely dependent upon others, is something I never envisioned. I envisioned working, being independent, financially supporting my family, not them financially supporting me. For me, it tears at my core. I feel like I have let them down. Yet they tell, Mary specifically tells, me I haven’t. But that doesn’t resolve my internal turmoil.

However, as for the prayer, my thoughts were not on that thought, but another. I replied: I cannot build where I have been told to stay away from. The Divine responded:

True.

So let me illuminate that. That is the egg on my face moment. Believing that I was following the Divine’s leading, I dialogued with a woman about marriage. The results left me dazed and confused, and left me confused for many months.

Was she? I thought so? Was she? Not according to the moment? Was she? Who knows? Life moved forward into 2016, now I am looking back at the prayer from my birthday of August 2014.

So the Divine agreed, assented to what I said. Then the Divine responded:

But where are you permitted?

Today, here in 2016, the response is clear. I can build elsewhere. I should have been building. I wasn’t. What does that mean? I am not certain.

But back in 2014 I did not understand that, I replied: What is your point, if I may ask? The Divine responded:

Where can you build?

The Divine was leading me, but I didn’t see it. Blame it on being dazed and confused. Blame it on trying to get family to accept me. Whatever. Blame it on myself.

Point is I didn’t even see that. That is why I replied: You have not indicated, as far as I know. To which the Divine responded:

I have.

Perhaps that should have opened my eyes, but it didn’t. So the Divine immediately added:

Do you need more?

To which, I immediately replied: Yes. Because I do not understand. I understand how to read…

Then the Divine interrupted my statement, by responding with:

Do you?

Whoa! Sit up! Take notice!

I have just explained how I did not understand, but I claimed I could read, but as I just showed, I couldn’t read what was being given to me. Back in the prayer, I replied: I thought so. The Divine was emphatic:

You don’t.

Then the Divine immediately added:

You have skills but you do not know how to read.

That was, and still is, difficult. Look, I don’t like being told I don’t know something, especially when reading has become my life.

So back in the prayer, I replied asking: What do you mean? The Divine responded:

Look at your recording from tonight. You. Don’t. Know. How. To. Read.

Those familiar with a modern grammatical adaptation recognize that “You don’t know how to read” is punctuated with periods, and done so to emphasize the individual words. Each word is not its own sentence, but the periods do reveal emphasis on the word along with an emphasized vocal pause.

With that, I went and re-read the prayer. Then replied: I am missing something, but I don’t see it. The Divine responded with:

Hence, why you don’t know how to read.

That is a brutal, candid, forthright statement. Directed directly at me. The Divine then continued with:

Will you learn? I’m uncertain.

Back then I immediately replied: What do you mean? The Divine responded:

You don’t need to know, not tonight anyway.

What?! I mean think about that.

I am scolded. Then told I don’t need to know. Perhaps telling me, me being someone who doesn’t know how to read, how to actually read might have been a worthless endeavor given my disposition that day.

However, as I have gone back through this prayer, I have done a somewhat better job at reading, but I imagine there might be something else I didn’t see and thus didn’t read.

Back during that prayer, knowing that the Divine seemed to have directed me away from that topic, I replied: Then is there something else for tonight? The Divine responded:

Yes.

Okay. Well, whether then or now, I can read that something else is about to arrive. The Divine continued:

Shema.

Okay. A word I recognized, both then and now. I have to listen with the intent to understand, in this case understanding is dependent upon learning how to read. So consider that the Divine continued with:

You my son work too hard, think too much.

Not sure if others would be told the same thing, but that is what I have been told. But notice that I was referred to as ‘son’ where as in the beginning of the prayer sonship seemed to be in question.

In going through this, sonship was not a question of me losing my status as a son before the Divine, but son as a son who could read and understand. Two years later, I think I did a better job at reading and understanding.

So I work too hard. That is directly related to my study of the Scriptures, as is the think too much.

Look, that doesn’t mean that we should stop working to understand the Scriptures or stop thinking about the Scriptures. No. We continue on.

But here’s what I have learned. There are more questions than answers. Religions are built by providing the answer. Sometimes the very best thing you can do is let someone investigate, run the path of query, find the end, and let them be. That is NOT “life is a journey” thinking.

Truth is, there are some things the Bible cannot answer. For example, whether or not Israel in the days of Joshua and the conquest affixed Mezuzah’s to their doorframes. For example, whether or not synagogues (including what I might label messianic synagogues) of the first century AD/CE had copies of Scripture in the actual synagogue.

Those are questions that archaeologists try to answer.

The Scriptures tell Israel to write the commandments on their gates. But how was that done in the time of Joshua and the conquest?

The Scriptures reveal that they argued from Scripture that Jesus was the Messiah. But what Scriptures were available in the synagogue during the first century?

We have a Bible and religion that has been transmitted through the centuries. We are two thousand years after Jesus. Any one, with relevantly small amount of study of the Scriptures, should be able to understand that what we have is not what was available to the first century AD/CE. For example, English Bibles did not exist in the first century AD/CE.

The questions go on and on because of Bible transmission, textual variants, translation questions, et alia.

So after that information, the Divine added:

Slow down

That is something that I think everyone can understand.

However, in the context of the prayer, “slow down” means for me to slow down from working too hard and thinking too much.

But the question is working on what and thinking about what?

I devote a considerable amount of my life to working hard to understand the Scriptures, the Divine, and life. I then devote a considerable amount of time to thinking about those things. I have dedicated a tremendous amount of time to learn these things, and there is yet more to learn.

Are those things valuable? Beyond measure.

Do they help me understand the Scriptures and my relationship to the Divine? Without doubt.

Those things can help resolve religious tension. But they also cloud religious issues. The study of Scripture, its development, redaction, and transmission along with contextual historical study supported through archaeological work can bring clarity to Scriptural study. Oddly though, it can also cloud the ability to draw distinction on some things.

I do NOT advocate ignorance. To the contrary, study to show yourself approved, a person who can truly study the Scriptures.

But, and this is a HUGE but, study when performed through a specific lens does not always lead to correct Scriptural understanding. So consider that there is a common aphorism that goes similar to this: The Scriptures cannot be studied properly outside of community. To that aphorism, I say blech. It’s simply not true.

The core of the statement is that one community reserves the right to have better interpretation and understanding the Scriptures. But have you noticed the same as me? No two congregations of the same protestant stripe can agree on the Scriptures and interpretation nor can all the Christians in any given community come to the same Scriptural understanding and interpretation.

Study in community?

The Scriptures reveal that we are a community and we have communal responsibilities. But the Scriptures insinuate that each person has a responsibility to study the text (Luke 10.26).

Whether directly inside community or as a loose orbiting person of the community, the questions go on an on and on, ad nauseam. Much to the chagrin of some believers, harmony within the body is not more important the determining the truth of the Scriptures and asking the difficult questions that sometimes have no easy resolution.

I am not certain what prompted that, but in the context of the prayer the Divine may be indicating that I was spending a tremendous about of time working to understand the direction of my life regarding two wives, and giving myself over to thinking about that matter.

If so, I still think about it. I still work to understand it, just as much as I help my wife and family, just as much as I study the Scriptures and seek the Divine.

But “slow down” the Divine said. So let me resume discussing my prayer. The Divine continued:

and drink in the wine, the sweet cherry wine, have your fill, drink till full, the heart, my son, is your goal, not your head.

That might cause some to have lots of consternation, thinking that the Divine is advocating drinking. May be the Divine is, after all a strict study of the Scriptures reveals that the Scriptures do not prohibit the consumption of alcohol, the Scriptures simply teach accountability and responsibility when drinking.

But notice the context of the prayer: my heart is the goal, not my head.

I spent umpteen years filling my head with knowledge, from Kindergarten to High School, I graduated when I was 17, I began with I was 5, so that is 12 years. I spent 6 years in university, so that is a total of 18 years. I spent the equivalent of 4 years in Bible School, so that is a total of 22 years. After Bible School, I devoted myself to continual study, so add even more years.

At this point, I have around 30 years of study for my 44 years of existence. It’s the one thing I know how to do really well. I gave my life to study. I aimed to fill my head. The more I learned, the more I needed to learn.

But the Divine tells me to fill my heart. Heart is merriment and drink. Is it any wonder the Divine used that analogy. So take it as a metaphor.

The Divine wants me to live life with my heart, merriment, joy, and slow down to enjoy it. That is part of the work that I should be doing, along with helping my wife and family, along with my continual study of the Scriptures and seeking the Divine.

My heart wants a marriage with two wives, my brain tried to figure it out: Who? When? To what extent?

My heart knows it will happen.

When? I don’t have a clue.

Who? The one who the Divine referred to as Rachel, whoever she is.

Blessings and Shalom

2016.08.28

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