Why God is Giddy
Last week I explained why I was feeling a bit giddy. The Forgiving Victim video course of introduction to Christianity, a project I’ve been working on with James Alison for over 3 years, is entering what is known as the beta phase. Now we are asking folks to try the course out in their communities and give us their feedback so we can get ready for an official launch in spring 2013. To our delight, over 65 people have signed up for four retreats and so giddy doesn’t really do justice to my emotional state right now! I’m feeling giddy, joyful, humbled, insecure, confident, panicked – oh, yes, I am feeling it all!
As I reflect on my experience at the first retreat for our first sixteen beta testers, I find myself once again on the receiving end of something that’s hard to explain, though it is becoming more and more familiar to me. My experience of reading James Alison’s books and then spending the last 3 years filming and editing video of him delivering his course, is one of finding my sense of myself and my faith shifting into a more relaxed and joyful mode. Does that make any sense? I am finding myself sifted by God as I allow myself to trust what James keeps saying in one way or another in everything he does: that God not only loves us, but likes us. That means me, too. Honestly, that is tough for me to swallow because I guess I know myself too well. I am not, in my secret heart, all that nice a person and yet the relentless hum of James’ voice in my head is, happily, wearing me down.
At the retreat James used the parable of the hidden treasure to explain this idea of God liking us. Remember that parable? It’s Matthew 13:44:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
James told us that this is a parable of how much delight God takes in us. We are the treasure! The man represents God who “in his joy” acts a bit irrationally! He finds us, his treasure, then hides us again, then sells everything and buys the field where he knows he can find us. What a great portrayal of being beside oneself with joy! And the amazing thing is that we are the ones who make God so giddy he loses his head. As James described the scene of God going a little nuts over me, I felt my heart soften a bit toward myself. For a brief, giddy moment, I thought – maybe it’s true. Maybe God does like me, warts and all. Or as one of the retreat participants said, “Is it possible that the Good News is really this good?” I think so – I think it really is possible. The Forgiving Victim course is a journey of discovering the possibility for yourself, of living into the reality of being liked more than we know. It’s a great, wild, and wonderful journey to be on and I find my heart brimming with gratitude for the time I spent in Portland last week and that there are three more retreats to look forward to. Between a giddy God, a persistent teacher like James, and the growing Forgiving Victim community, my own self-critical voice is getting harder to hear, more difficult to believe in. And here’s the really good news: if I am a treasure, then so are you. How great is that!