I was hopscotching through some of my early posts the other day when I found this quote:
“I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please” (Wilber Rees in Leadership, Vol. 4, No. 1).
First, I just sat back in amazement. What beautiful, lyrical, saber-like writing! Then I sat in conviction! How often am I satisfied with $3 (or even $1.99) worth of God. Do I even think about asking for a $1,000,000 worth of God? Do I really want God to open the heavens and pour himself out on me? If not, why not? Am I afraid of an “exploded soul? Do I worry how much responsibility asking for more and more of God will bring?
And what is an “exploded soul?” A soul that is filled with so much of God that it bursts its self-created seams? I recently read the words of Stephen, “a man full of God’s grace and power, that he spoke to the Sanhedrin. His soul exploded – and he was stoned for it. Paul’s soul exploded when he saw the Living Lord in a vision – and he ended up in prison. John’s grew and grew and finally exploded at the feet of the cross and at the sight of a risen Christ – and he ended up alone and in exile.
Martin Luther King’s mission to expose racism and achieve justice was ended by a bullet. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian and pastor, joined the plot to kill Adolph Hitler and was sent to an extermination camp and hung after the plot was discovered, A. J. Muste, peace activist, gave up everything for his cause – all of these men experienced the exploding soul. This is not to say that all who give their souls completely to God have tragic endings. But it does force the question: What about me? Am I choosing warm milk and snoozing the sunshine? Or am I available to give so much of myself to God that my soul will explode?
And what about transformation and new birth? How often am I on the brink one or both and turn back because it’s warmer in the womb? How often am I called to change myself or my world but choose not to disturb my “sleep” – my comfort zone.
Finally, how often do I operate under the well-disguised illusion that I can “buy” a piece of God? Attempts to buy God may include stellar church attendance or tithing or careful attention to looking pure or holy or even being involved in service to others. What temperament do I try to create to make God love me more? What does it cost to purchase a cup of grace or unconditional love or approval?
What can I do to atone for a miserly attitude toward God? How do I gain courage to move from bartering with God to asking for a soul full of God? Perhaps practicing surrender or detachment can lessen the fear of God answering prayers for his presence. Perhaps practicing listening will make hearing less difficult. Perhaps immersing ourselves in the life of Jesus will teach us what it means to live in anticipation and acceptance of everything God wants to give.