The Road Ahead – Introduction – 7/14/15

I’m well along in the process of writing a book. I’ll include a few excerpts from it in my email/blog. Here’s the Introduction, and an annotated table of contents.

I speak about God  here. If that offends you, use “Love” instead. Its one of God’s primary names.

C.-

The Road Ahead – Introduction

I wrote a my first book (“The Walk of the Eagle”, self-published 2002) because I felt that God was taking me on a new part of my journey. I had just read the book of Isaiah 12 times (or so) and felt that God was highlighting verses throughout the book saying, “These are for you.” Particular verses jumped off the page as I was reading and grabbed me by the throat. So, I wrote them down and worked on their meaning for me in poems (because that’s what I do). I knew if I didn’t write these things down, I’d forget later, what the early part of the journey felt like. So I wrote “The Walk of the Eagle” to capture my early working through of things I felt God had promised me. I figured either they would come to be because God said them, or I’d find out I was wrong and was making the whole thing up. But in any case, how bad would it be to meditate on fragments of Isaiah and see what walking out these verses would do.

Its now time to write a second book to take another look at where I’ve come in walking with God / The Holy Spirit / Love / Jesus (who prays for me).  (A triune God with more than 3 names – how confusing is that? J )

“The Road Ahead” is that second book. It’s more than a rehash of old promises, but a new description of the road(s) I find myself on and how I got there.  Walking with God is not a binary on/off experience. It’s a growing up and into who God sees me to be, and I see no end to this growing. God always seems to be a whole lot bigger than I thought. Indeed “we know in part, but then we will know fully as we are fully known”.  “Knowing fully” is no where in sight for me, and I’ve learned to enjoy (mostly) the road.

Annotated Table of Contents

Here then, is my annotated table of contents for the book, which is very much in progress. I’m hoping to provide book excerpts on my poetry list / blog every few weeks in order to do final edits all through the book in process.

And I delight in any replies / comments / questions / alternative views you care to send back my way. I think its in these little conversations that we can see the different ways and giftings God has for each of us.  May you find your own road/mansion with Love and come to appreciate such a large gifts.

Clark – 7/2015

The Road Ahead

contents

1. Home (THE PHASES / ROOMS / PLACES I GO THROUGH)
 
I come
to discover
my home
with Love
with God

I’ve gone through learning I was asking the wrong questions, to expect answers and believing they were answers, to learning to allow the Holy Spirit to tutor me in prayer, and watching God work in people through prayer as an intercessor on spiritual retreats. I developed a desire to take a tour through the mansion Jesus said he was creating for me. And now I delight in my explorations and in bringing people alongside on this journey.

2. Doors of Entry   (BRAND NEW)

I pass through a door
I didn’t know was there
and find a way
forward
things and ways to explore
I had not known

Frequently my prayers start out down familiar paths, only to find an unexpected door, a surprise ending,  an answer I don’t particularly like, and I’ve come  to see that this is a consistent aspect of the Holy Spirit’s conversations with me.

3. Gifts (REACHING HIGHER) – who is the God I can see?
 
New territory
I didn’t know existed
but I turned a corner
someone spoke a word
and all was new

God gives gifts that turn out to be larger than my asking. Often I feel disappointed in a gift given from God that I don’t quite understand. I’ve learned to live with that disappointment for a bit as I do my initial stumbling about walking into each new unknown. A recurring “thank you” from me to God when I’ve been given such a gift is, “Um.. thanks? It’s not what I expected, but I bet in 2 years time, I’ll think it’s really cool. So, be patient and show me into this gift.”   Turns out I gave the same kind of gifts to my kids. They were sometimes beyond what they currently wanted. But, I heard a year or two later, “I really appreciate what you gave me”.

4. My Mansion (DEEPENING / HEALING) – who am I in Christ, Christ in me
 
buried deep within
I find hard rock
calcified routines
and treasure

God’s “too large” gifts to me deal with knowing and walking in more of God and Love. I’ve also had experiences of going deeper into myself for discovery and healing. Some talents emerged in such things as poetry and music which had been buried for years. These too are part of my journey. Discovering and walking through the Mansion created for me has been a large gift that keeps on giving. My prayers have largely centered around what I find there.

5. Uncharted Territory – ENDINGS & BEGINNINGS
 
endings
become beginnings
each carry treasure
uncovered
nowhere else

I find that I learn a lot about myself and what I do, through endings and beginnings. These transitions force me to consolidate what has been familiar but is now ending, and then to start to think differently as I come into a new situation, job, or life phase which starts out pretty much a new unknown. And since God is both new every morning and the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, we can expect many times when our familiar gives way to something completely new that feels like we’re starting over.

6. The Me God Sees (SEEING WITH OTHER EYES)
 
Love
has a better idea
of who I am
and am becoming
may I see me
with such eyes

Much changes come when we learn to see something from another’s point of view. I first strongly noticed this after 2 years teaching in Kenya. Before when I read news stories about East Africa, I had to take the story at face value and I collected a set of standard stereotypes. After I returned, I knew some of those people and suddenly the stories took on a more personal tone, and I could better feel what my friends there would think of the story. A similar thing is true with God in my experience. If I’ve just read about something God has done that’s a very different story than if I’ve experienced something similar. Now I know what it feels like both the joy in something new and the fear of the new and unknown that accompanies the knowledge that God has much bigger designs than I know. As someone said, “Aslan is not a safe lion.” [Chronicles of Narnia]

When we get to know someone very different from us, news stories about them  and issues affecting them, take on a very different cast.

7. Coffee Chat w/ God (ABIDE, REMAIN CONNECTED)
 
idle chat
over coffee
getting to know Love
in a myriad of small ways
as things come up
in our presence with one another
I in You and You in me

When I was younger in getting to know and grow up in God, it seems I learned mostly through study and hearing from other people.  I knew I was loved (sometimes) and I was gathering experiences, and getting to know about God and how these things all worked. But as I’ve gotten older in God, I’ve started to have coffee chats with God. These are mostly about just hanging with God. A few things come up, but mostly its about being present with each other. Just like coffee with a close friend.

8. Legacy – (My Future Hope)
 
promises
I’ve learned to take as my own
given by love
received and grown into
as I walk through
my given room
house
estate
place in the world

As I age (gracefully, I hope) I wonder more about what I’m leaving behind for my kids, my friends.  My thoughts turn more towards things people have told me that I have given them, for me that’s mostly in new ways to think about  software, the world, and God.  I’d like to leave more than a house that needs cleaning out and stuff that no one really needs.   I expect that I leave more to individuals I’ve talked with or shared a book or poem with. I’m not a teacher of large groups. I’ve taught, but the focus for me seems more on an individual level, more like coaching, mentoring or just walking alongside for a time.

9. Doubt, Fear, Lost – towards the Dark Night
 
doubt
fear
wondering if I’ve misplaced my way
gotten lost from God
in my desire to walk the deeper pathways
further into my true and full self
the me God sees
and loves into being
I feel lost and alone
sometimes

Each new step I’ve taken with God has felt as full of doubt and fear as the last one.  Stepping into the new doesn’t seem to ever become familiar for me. I’ve had a number of times when I’ve come face to face with an ending that appears to be going nowhere. I may have an indication of a next step, but am I sure? No, I doubt, and worry that “this time, it won’t work”. I know I think I’m walking in the promises of God, but perhaps this time I’m completely fooling myself.

10. The House of the Lord – experiential, pictorial prayer

I come
in prayer
to the door of the mansion
I’ve been promised
to catch a glimpse
of the work of God
in progress
in me

As my prayer has become more about holding people before God and asking how to pray for them, I have increasingly used the House of the Lord metaphor to give me guidance for myself and those I pray for. I pray by bringing people into the Mansion God has built for me and seeing what they do in various rooms or with people they meet. I’ve found that this is also a way others can pray and experience God’s scripture and plans for them as they come into the house.  It’s a great way for me to experience scripture that God brings to my mind, from gifts given, to thoughts on worship, to becoming a spring of living water, and to being with God in me and me in God.

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About Clark W Johnson

I am a poet, interested in using poetry to explore my interactions with the spiritual. I find poetry captures tension, paradox and flow well enough so I can hold experiences at arms length and reflect on them from multiple vantage points. As I walk deeper with my God, I'm finding such a record invaluable for myself, and I find that pieces and parts touch others as well. I love and long for more points of contact along those lines.
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