By: Rick Tobias, YSM Executive Director
Who controls the agenda when you meet with the Divine?
I just finished reading Luke’s story of a wealthy businessman who set out to encounter the Divine.
Zack, as he was known to his friends, made considerable effort to control the encounter. This meeting would happen, if he had his way, but only on his own terms.
Those terms are familiar to me: Zack wanted a glimpse, a taste, and no more. He sincerely wanted to behold Divinity, but did not want a significant engagement. He would be satisfied with a confirmed sighting, and profoundly wanted to avoid an actual meeting that might result in some intrusion into his life.
Many of us have some desire to encounter the Divine, especially during holiday seasons such as Christmas. Holidays or Holy Days are common to all faith traditions and have the power to tap into that deep and often hidden longing for the Divine.
We also seek such encounters in times of fear or crisis or deep need. Then we desperately want a sense of Divine presence and care, or even a supernatural intervention to solve our perceived problem or meet our need.
Yet even during our most heartfelt cries to the Divine, we, like Zack, still want to control the encounter. We want to sneak a peak at Deity without making eye contact – because eye contact might lead to entanglement. Just as though we were setting up a business lunch or board meeting, we cite the mantra: “Control the agenda and control the outcomes”.
But the Divine is not a follower of business strategy and does not respond as we expect. Such attempts at control leave us feeling mostly empty and disconnected.
Zack was fortunate: the Divine sees the control grids we set up as the prison bars they really are, and chose to break through. Now, with the rules in pieces, he could be freed to genuinely encounter more fully what he both feared and desired. The event shook him to the roots of his being.
With the new, Divine agenda, there were new outcomes. First the businessman was overwhelmed with joy. Pain and sorrow may persist and our problems may not diminish but there will be joy in the presence of the Divine.
Second there arose in the businessman a powerful compulsion towards compassion and generosity; in fact he gave half his wealth to the poor. When our lives are touched by the Divine we become generous, as it is in the nature of the Divine to be generous. I have witnessed this hundreds of times in the lives of people who have supported YSM.
During High Holy Days such as Christmas, our hearts often feel drawn to the Creator. Shall we take the risk and learn to release control and open ourselves to Divine agendas. Then it truly will be a season where our joy is overflowing and our generosity touches the most needy of our city.