Thoughts: First Posts
by Jamie Upschulte
Joseph felt that he had been dull and now suddenly was sensitized; had been asleep and was awakened. Far in the back of his mind lay the feeling that he was being treacherous. The past, his home and all the events of his childhood were being lost, and he knew he owed them the duty of memory. This land might possess all of him if he were not careful.
To a God Unknown, John Steinbeck
I find it funny this is this blog’s first post.
Usually when I write a first post, I try to be very sage and ubiquitous, like I have actually some insight into what the rest of the blog will say. But I really don’t. The process of writing is like watching a growing child: you train them up in the way they should go, and then they just go, often where you don’t expect.
This blog is a very different writing project for me. I am not going to control it, and I don’t have a designation for where it will end up. I will be just as surprised as you as to what springs up and unfolds.
So there’s that.
Secondly, the reason I posted the quote above is because I am giving John Steinbeck another chance. Historically I haven’t liked Steinbeck. I think The Grapes of Wrath was a form of institutionalized punishment in high school, which I don’t think is very fair, given that many people I know really love East of Eden.
As a sort of compromise in giving Steinbeck another chance, I picked up To a God Unknown as it was 1) shorter and 2) interesting in premise. I’m only 10 pages in, but I adore it. I absolutely love it.
So far, To a God Unknown touches upon very raw elements of my life right now – a sort of allegory of what it means to engage a reality deeper than yourself, whose rules and laws and operation are so different that it engulfs you and possesses. At best you can resist until you are so worn you are just a ghost – or you can submit and let it reshape and reform you into someone different, someone new.
I am finding that God is much like that. In many ways, Jesus is an unreasonable man. He makes our healing difficult, and he makes impossible demands: he demands we declare our needs and longings publicly; he asks us to name what we want (aloud, with people), particularly from him. For a God who so wants to redeem and restore us, he sure can make it difficult.
But I am also learning that the Lord is always more eager to speak to me about healing me than I am willing to listen. And he is far more zealous about my healing than I want to be healed. (For more on this line of thought, check out Journey Church’s sermon on 10 March 2013. Done by the fabulous guest speakers and founders of the Rapha Ministry, Dr. Peter Holmes and Dr. Susan Williams.)
So to follow God is to be engulfed, consumed. And like Joseph in the passage above, lately I feel like I too have been asleep – and suddenly am now sensitized and aware of things I have never known (or have long forgotten). And I feel the treacherousness of abandoning the past, to which I owe “the duty of memory.” But what I am becoming, and what I am asked to be is truly something … great. And unknown.
To close, another amazing quote from To a God Unknown that was in the very beginning of the book, when Joseph’s father blesses him:
‘May the blessing of God and my blessing rest on this child. May he live in the light of the Face. May he love his life.’ [Joseph's father] paused for a moment. ‘Now, Joseph, you may go to the West. You are finished here with me.’
Amen. May we live in the light of the Face – and may we love our lives.