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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hearing God

pipecutter, originally uploaded by use2blost.

Perhaps we do not hear the voice of God because we do not expect to hear it. Then again, perhaps we do not expect it because we know that we fully intend to run our lives on our own and have never seriously considered anything else.
Dallas Willard, Hearing God, p71.

     I read this after returning from the Tuesday  morning Men's Breakfast, where the host royally pissed me off. The man who has provided my breakfast on most Tuesdays for several years aroused my anger after announcing  that his political opinion and God's were in close parallel (yet again!). I should mention that I had resolved  to quit smoking the afternoon before, about five thirty (yet again!). I am grumpy, and unforgiving. Dallas's book is a reread for me. The last decade has had a kneeling effect on a camel desperate for refreshment. I'm rereading some of my favorites, hoping for fresh insight. My life has seemed dry, in terms of God. I am sharply aware of character deficit, both my own, and society's. It has taken a conscious act of will to maintain my faith, though perhaps what tattered remnants* remain are a divine gift. Conventional Religianity in my neck of the woods, teaches that faith is a gift of God...and that pleasing God is impossible without faith. Hmmm. That sounds like a spiritual protection racket, but I digress.
     I am angry and desperate for a cigarette.
     I go to the store. I get cigarettes.
     Sin. Disobedience. Bondage. Right?
     I've been taught God does not speak to those wallowing in sin. There is that verse in Peter about hindered prayer, after all...
     In spite of this, I am seeking with a greater diligence then usual. (another issue here is the "All your heart" verse...our hearts are pretty screwed up, according to God, so doing anything good with all our hearts is pretty much impossible isn't it? we do things "with all our hearts" for brief shining periods, or (hopefully) briefer periods of depravity, not as an ongoing state of existence.)
     Anyway, I am looking for a tool and pause to read a snatch of theology... this is the drudgery of the attention deficit, a man diagnosed as a retard in childhood, as he shuffles about attempting to function, prior to seven in the morning. He is struggling with nicotine, depression, and a drastically reduced income during a time of life when he must concentrate as never before...My morning 'on task' quotient is less than mediocre today, I suspect.
     The tool I seek is an adjustable assembly of tiny rollers and a little blade, for cutting copper line neatly without crushing it. This is the kind of tool that painter/carpenter may purchase and not need again for years. I know I have one. I am also a little too broke, working a job I underbid, to throw away ten or twenty bucks on a new one. And, for about two years I have been actively angry/dissappointed with God. (Now that I think about it, thats kinda like being a bitchy bride.) This is getting better, but it's still there, so I am talking as I migrate from the kitchen junk drawer to the patio shed. I inform God that finding this tool would be a perfect miracle. Not death-defying enough to rob me of an opportunity for faith, but strong enough to give me a DAMN good reason to see his hand.
Cause I am never gonna find this pipecutter.
      I fix stuff for a living. At your house. When I show up, I am pulling a 10x6 trailer fulla tools, and I have two rooms and an outbuilding of assorted saws, wrenches, levers, rusty junk and odds an ends.
I know I'm not gonna find this six inch tool I've used 4 times in 30 years. Not before I have to show up for psychology at 11. I  am finding a lot of other stuff. In the bottom of a five gallon bucket, I find an ultra tiny crochet needle I got when I was learning make fishnet lingerie ( It's good to have me as a boyfriend). I am amazed. I go so far as to tell God :
This is what I'm talkin' about, Papa. If I prayed about this crochet hook and then found it...that would have been perfect! Why can't you show me where the pipecutter is?
At this point, it occurs to me I used the pipe cutter last summer...fixing my exterior faucet. Then I set it on rough shelving unit that leans against my brick under the kitchen window. Or did I? I have been chain smoking at this this point, and chain smoking after a period of abstinence produces extreme lightheadedness and can be quite disorienting.
     I stumble to the shelves. There is nothing. Okay. Thanks alot, God. (I am childish. When I am pleased, he is Papa, Father, or Lord. When I am disenchanted, he is God. Do y'all do that?)
Something else occurs to me. I gotta dog. Suzie is big, black, and not the brightest puppy in the litter.  
     These shelves are not attached, and frisbees get thrown back here. 55 lbs. of Black hairiness has been known to jostle things. She is a bull in a china shop.
     So I start to brush the leaves aside. I get down on my knees. This kneeling, and this brushing are conrete. The substance, if you will... of what I hope for. The evidence of what is not apparent. It's all about the pipecutter. Or is it? I find an old spray can, some bungee. A tiny precision flushcut saw...I should be spanked for leaving out here to rust. No pipecutter.
I give up. Thanks alot, God. As I raise from my kneeling position, I place my hand on the little bricked up well that ventilates my crawlspace. It has a piece of 1/4" wire mesh in a wood frame, to catch leaves and debris. My fingertips dislodge one more large leaf as I push myself to my feet. The pipecutter gleams in the early sunlight.
     Oh, Papa. was that you?

* "The Tattered Remnants" was Larry Underwood's old band in Stephen King's The Stand. They once opened for Zepplin. :)


  1. I loved this so much. I cant think of anything else to say except you made me smile - a big, wide smile!

  2. Was something wrong with Blogger recently? I could've sworn I left a comment on here, but it might've been the day my computer zoned out on me. In any case, I really, really enjoyed this post, Chris.


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