Routines and Plans

It’s my day off.  I was planning on riding my bike, but it’s rainy.  I was also kind of planning on doing some organizational work for school and my bank statements.  I want to eat part of a chicken Thai pizza from Papa Murphy’s and go see Divergent at the cheap theater, but right now it’s quiet except for the mourning dove on the electrical line outside my window. The world is fresh and clean and new and ready to start. I am enjoying not starting at the moment and planning my first cup of tea, Earl Grey, brewed with two bags in my new thrift store teapot and carried to my basement office on the old Coke lady tray with my breakfast. Tea and breakfast. A routine. Days off and work schedule. A routine. Bible reading schedule. A routine. Isn’t it funny how some of us, meaning me, find such comfort in everyday routines? I like routines because they help me get things done without a list.  I can get the most important things done. I can pretend that I am in control of life and derive a little false pleasure from that sense. The truth is that God rules in the affairs of men and He allows me little routines because they make me happy, but every  once in a while, He interrupts them, you know, with rain or something, just to let me know who is really at the helm. I like my Bible and breakfast routine best.

Years ago, when I was told I was no longer welcome to be a part of my church by letter, I was devastated. Because of what I believe about the body of Christ, I believed that I was pretty much cut out of God’s kingdom too, even though I knew the pastor was a sociopath and had misled the elder board. Knowing people are screwy does not change the reality that you are out. I mean, after all, doesn’t the Bible indicate that if the local church throws you out that you are all done unless you repent? The problem was that I did send a letter of repentance and apology, but no one wanted me back in. Double whammy. What does that say about me and God?  I mean, I am not Martin Luther.

What I discovered is that Martin Luther didn’t know THAT HE WAS MARTIN LUTHER EITHER. I put that in all caps because famous people don’t know that they are famous when their screwed up life is happening to them.  They just have to deal with it.

One verse brought me through that whole long drawn out tearful ordeal. One verse that some would say was horribly misapplied by me, but it kept me from walking away completely from the church. It was this: Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

I was spiritually totally dead of any conceivable or believable essence of God’s presence.  I would open my bible and read that verse and then sit there and eat breakfast, telling God that I was opening the door again today and if any of this was true that I was waiting there for him, but not to expect much from someone who was so totally spiritually dead that even her repentance didn’t make any difference to any of the someones who were making the rules.

It was years before I felt anything, anything at all, which reminded me that God spoke personally to people or anything. No Holy Ghost goosebumps or touching anything. Well, except for church. Every time I went to church I cried somewhere every Sunday. One week I would cry in the bathroom; another week I cried during the offering. They weren’t tears of repentance because I knew that my repentance didn’t really matter to anyone.  They were just tears of grief and sadness and incredulity that this could happen to someone who was so totally committed to what she thought was God’s plan.  I didn’t believe much either.  I just kind got up everyday and walked along because I didn’t get to choose whether I woke up everyday or not. Eventually, you just wake up even if you wish with all of your heart that you would never wake up ever again.

After a year, the sociopath was finally recognized, at least in part, by a handful of leaders,  for what he was, and was dismissed.  I reconciled with a tearful elder board who actually repented.  I never thought I would have lived to see that. I never planned on ever attending that church again. They moved and changed their name, trying to recover from their own mistakes and became a much smaller church.

I went to other churches for several years and then a funny thing happened.

I went back a few weeks ago. I promised a friend that I would come and listen to her lead worship.  It was a one-week event.  I haven’t committed to anything, but I get up on Sunday and eat my breakfast from my tray in the basement and I find myself driving over there and feeling at home. I learned some of life’s most painful and worthwhile lessons in the interim about who I am and who God is and what determines a person’s worth and why forgiveness is more essential than breathing and how to avoid leaders who cause the red light in my soul to blink, but I feel like I am back home at least for now. I just have a routine at this point and not a plan, but that’s okay.

It’s like spiritual rain that changes your plans from what you thought you wanted to do into what you are really supposed to do for that day. Someone sent that rain. Someone who likes people more than Coke trays or basements or Earl Grey tea or routines.

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