Possibilities With God

In this poetic essay I engage with the idea that we need to get involved—with others—in what God is doing in our world. Will we listen to what the past and present are saying, so we can move together WITH our loving God now … stepping into the possibilities that call us to a renewed future?


WITH

When the angel said to Mary, “For nothing is impossible with God”

and when Jesus said, speaking of the rich young man, “With God all things are possible”

did they mean that God would single-handedly make seemingly-impossible things happen?

Surely not.

“With” means with. Possibilities are not actualities. But they can become so.

First, choices will be made . . . by God, by us. . . .

Choices matter in each

attraction or encounter

touch or grasp

reaction or response

intersection or dead-end

word spoken or thought silenced.

And, as in the case of Mary, life-giving choices and actions don’t happen alone but

WITH.

Whence comes this ability and necessity to choose, this invitation to respond and cooperate?

—From One who speaks potentiality, beauty, and creativity out of Love . . . connecting us as persons, relating us to all of nature, to every part of ourselves, and to God (through Christ who gives us life and the Spirit who is with us). We are image-bearers. Like it or not, believe it or not, we are in some sense

WITH.

Living here in time and space, each of our moments is thick with the past—and pregnant with the future—calling us to be creators, curators, visionaries, encouragers, healers, leaders, servants.

Will we

receive the breath

heed the voice

cleave to the nearness

of God?

Will we give birth to actions of faith, hope, and love

WITH?

Look up—attend, read, listen to the moment.

Look back—see the river of the past feeding into the now.

Look down—see that we are standing in an estuary of the potent, teeming present.

Look toward the horizon—see the future rolling and swelling. Which waves will break upon the shore?

Look around—all that surrounds us, that the river currents and ocean tides wash in, how it is mixing. At this time, in this place, what can we do to bring

  • clarity not murkiness
  • free flow not stagnation
  • sweetness not putridity
  • abundance not scarcity
  • hope that helps people know they are

WITH?

We are part of the becomingness of everlasting life!

Will we face the moment, listen to what it is saying about us, about the past that has influenced who we are, about the direction we are headed, what we are bringing into the future, and what the future may bring to us?

God—being revealed through Jesus, the Scriptures, and creation—is patient, persistent, longsuffering, even slow . . . convincing, helping, here

WITH.

Like compass needles, we seek, seek True North; and True North wants to, wills to, be found.

Yet, bent, we wobble and resist.

But God is not a faraway star. God is

  • the true atmosphere giving us breath
  • the true magnetism holding us together
  • the true dawn waking us again and again.

Does the needle think it is the true one and North should get in line?

God “strengthens the humble but opposes the proud.”—

This is to say, when we set ourselves in opposition, we cannot join hands

WITH.

No matter where we go, where we have been, where our feet stand now in time . . . we are not alone, never away from God’s influence, care, wooing. If “God with us” holds all our times past—keeps our “tears in a bottle”. . . . If God at every moment sees all the possible steps into the future. . . . If God imagines the myriad possible intersections of our path with the paths of others. . . . Then let us act, step out, take hold, clasp hands, join hearts

WITH.

Forces exist that would divide us, separate us, within, without.

God—Love—would bring us together.

In this estuary of the consequential, substantial present . . .

The young gambol in swirls of fresh water, thinking they’ll forever play among the land mammals, trees, and sunny grasses.

We who have traveled longer sense saltiness in the water and feel the undertow pulling away from familiar moorings. We will soon find ourselves in the waters of what from here appears to be dark swelling mysteries, unfathomed depths, and uncharted treasures . . . to a separation temporal, but a connection and communion everlasting.

Fresh water and salt water mingle here and now, but these waters continually recede, like breath and blood flowing in and out of lungs—rhythms of life attuned

WITH.

If we have a God who speaks and

who “holds all things together,”

then surely God is continually present to us and all creation?

And if God is manifest “wherever two or three are gathered,”

then surely God the Spirit is speaking and influencing there

WITH.

In this moment, are we thriving?

How can we continue to stand, let alone flourish, if divided against ourselves—lacking harmony in our inner lives, our families, our churches, our nations, our world?

We say we believe some form of:

“God created the heavens and the earth.”

“God called creation ‘good’.”

“God so loved the world. . .”

Then God isn’t against us but

WITH!

We may disagree on:

. . . Beginnings

a) A creation of potential, of possibilities and ongoing creation in which we participate

b) A controlled design with set time and space, limited and contained

. . . Endings

a) “All things made new” by a loving, relational, re-creating, and transforming God

b) Destruction of, and rescue from, a cursed and dying world by a just and vengeful God

But can we agree, in this in-between time, as we open our hearts and minds to the Alpha and Omega, to seek God’s reign and will “on earth as it is in heaven,” and work together

WITH?

This moment carries roots and leaves of past moments and seeds of all future moments. What we do—now—matters. Is this present mix of waters rich with life and health both ecological and societal? Jesus said, we are “the salt of the earth,” “the light of the world.” We are caretakers of creation and each other when we partner

WITH.

Why do we blindly and stubbornly waste personal and corporate energies on greedy squabbles and turf wars?

Can we

  • accept slowness; unplug, listen, “fear not”?
  • trust together in creation’s innate ability to heal and renew, and accept our part in that?
  • acknowledge our own need for healing and renewal?
  • choose a mindset of benevolence for all?
  • have faith and hope in goodness and salvation?

Surely our God of creative, gracious, relentless love, will help us to join

WITH?

We need each other.

Will we lead the way by giving up worn-out stances, protectiveness, fear?

Will we choose to hold lightly our distinctives, traditions, non-essentials?

Let us be conservative—conservers of the truly good.

Let us be liberal—truly generous and tolerant.

We can each take responsibility to do something to make a positive difference, to be life-giving, to partner with God and each other in what Love seeks to do and calls us to participate in, as co-laborers. This labor is not a heavy-ladenness, nor is it burdensome, when we are yoked

WITH.

I know some people who choose to listen to, love freely, and work with God to sweeten the waters where they stand:

  • A prosperous, conservative Christian couple who cultivate acres of gardens to grow produce for their local food bank.
  • An evangelical pastor who has organized a ministry of prayer, friendship, and outreach to Muslim refugees in his city.
  • A retired professor and writer who follows God in vulnerability, revealing her trauma and healing to help others.
  • Contemplatives and poets who listen to and articulate a language of the heart to reach and touch fellow longing hearts.
  • New theologians reaching across institutional divides with hopeful understandings of God’s essence and presence.
  • A quiet man who invites neighbors into his home, where he and his wife pray and care for them, and share life together.
  • Wounded healers who listen, love, and pray with all who come; inviting, seeking, finding Jesus in broken places.
  • My green-card holding friend who sits with people dying alone in hospital, so they will not die alone but know they are . . .

WITH.

We stand here in a richness of the influential past and the potential future

as hope enlivens the waters. Will we:

  • vision together a more healthy and happy future?
  • seek healing for wounds of the past we carry?
  • affirm the good in this pregnant moment?
  • join hands together and partner

WITH

God?

~Catherine Lawton

 


“With” (a poetic essay) was first published in the book Partnering with God: Exploring Collaboration in Open and Relational Theology. (SacraSage Press, 2021)

“With” was also published on the Web at: crort.com/essays/with.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

 

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