I’ve been reading Paul’s letter to the Romans. At first I just loved the vigorous energy of his writing and his cheeriness, and good humor, and the jocular assurance that somehow he would find a way to lay aside all that was demanded of him and to actually make the voyage over to Rome… Then come 10 chapters of fundamental Christian theology, about the knowable nature of God, the act of God in Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit; about the fundamental change in the spiritual equation between God and human brought about by God’s gift of Jesus; about how that relates to Jews and how to non-Jews; about how the difference is obliterated and how it is not; about the mystery of grace and predestination… At this point I am slogging. I am reading 3 translations. Paul’s discourse is pretty organized, so at natural pause points I retrace what I have read in the other 2 translations. I am seeking God’s revelation to my understanding. I am hoping to not be snared in the particular wording of a particular translation and thereby to be led away from what a passage actually says. Predestination, because of Calvin’s theological interpretation which I find totally unchristian, has so much emotional freight; It was very hard to get through chapter 11. But I know the Quakers did battle with the Calvinists using these same passages. In the 4th, 5th, and last 4 verses of the 11th chapter, the Quakers clearly had a better grasp of Paul’s whole message. I will need to go back reread many times the sweep messaging Paul transmits about… what we can know about God…those last 4 verses say ruefully= NOT MUCH! And that corresponds exactly with my experiences of God….
But by this point I was slogging because what I most urgently want to know was= How do I DO this walk day-to-day? How do I let God loose in my life and freely manifest what He wants to manifest with me? And suddenly, in chapter 12, Paul turns to exactly that question. When I saw that, I had to stop and write all this, because I need to acknowledge the encounter with the miraculous, mysterious way Jesus shepherds me, negotiating me past all the pitfalls I have built into my nature, leading me to nourishment, and the still water my nature requires, until I am ready for the answers to the questions which pick at my peace. And just in time too.
AND JESUS SAYS I GIVE LIFE, NOW LIVE….