Friday, July 29, 2011

Prayer Reflections on Romans 1: 18-32

Romans 1:18-20
"The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.  For what can be known about God is evident to them.  Ever since the creation of the world his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made"
There are passages in scripture that always cause my heart to tremble a bit, and I can feel a surge of passion welling up in my soul.  This is one of them, and as I read it, I remember some of the times that I have seen the power and majesty, beauty and mystery of creation.  I am not a world traveler, my travels have been confined to the United States and Canada; but the majesty of creation never fails to stir my heart.  The fearsome power of nature leaves me, as a humble observer, with the knowledge of my frail humanity and provokes terror at how truly insecure I am in this world.  How easily I could be snuffed out by cold, hunger or any number of calamities that could befall a city girl out in the wilds of nature.  Perceptions of divinity and eternity are there to be sure, but how easily I am reduced to insecurity, instead of humility and how susceptible I am to allow the surge of passion in my heart to be the subject of servile fear instead of pious Fear of the Lord.

There is power in this world that I can perceive; I can stand next to waters surging against stone with such force the I can feel the cool, misty breeze stirred up by it.  I have looked out a car window as we have driven through the vast and seemingly endless Great Plains and I have been at once overwhelmed by it's immensity and thrilled by it! The mountains never fail to impress me with their majesty, and their unyielding might. I am frail ,and in these moments the illusion of security that I normally enjoy in the comfort of my modern lifestyle crumbles, even as my heart surges with passion. What if I ignore the passion that surges forth from my heart towards the power that I am overwhelmed by; or worse, I subject it to finite things or fear? I have done this often in the fears of lesser things, such as the fear of being rejected and ignored.

I have so many times let fear distract me from the True God; the fearsome power and majesty of nature, it's fickleness and cruelty create insecurity that as human beings we long to escape.  The banality of our modern existence often floods us with fears of the ultimate futility of all things around us. To reach out and, by some supplication or incantation or even by some possession of beauty or position of prestige, render the outcome that  will insure our prosperity or even just our survival is grasped at, and the passion that is so powerful in the human heart, which wells up in us for the glory of God, so as to make us ready to have Him enter our hearts, is so easily diverted to things of this world that we long to have some control over.  The fear that we then allow to direct our passion directs it in superficiality and vanity. And now my passion is muted and dulled, pointless unless it provides some tangible pleasure. Does this sound unfamiliar?  Are there not distraction in my life that divert my strength and energy toward things that cannot fulfill my hearts passion and desire? Toward things that ultimately drain our passion and replace it with slavery, and we so willingly make the exchange!

But St. Paul's verse is a warning that we must not allow those fears to prevail, for the very things that stir up feelings that should provoke our intellect to ponder and search for God, have a tendency to become the object of our passion and our fear becomes servile, our passions become degraded, and it is because we have not used our passion to energize our intellect to fully discern that God  is the Creator of the power of nature.  God is the Father of me; of all of us, even those of us who remain invisible and unseen by the finite power of this world.  St.Paul warns us that the wrath we experience is not just some where far out in the future, but here and now in the perversion of our intellect and the degradation of our morality and dignity.

Romans 1:21-24,28-32
For although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.  Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.  While claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image for the likeness of an image of mortal man, or of birds or of four legged animals or of snakes. Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies.....And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper.  They are filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite.  They are gossips, and scandlemongers and they hate God.  They are insolent, haughty,boastful, ingenious in their wickedness and rebellious toward their parents.  They are senseless, faithless, ruthless.  Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

The consequence (wrath) of our actions are terrifying!