Vol 3:10 Missional Journey: Lent – The Disorientation of Walking with God

As a Mennonite community, the community I pastor, we are on a journey throughout Lent in which we seek to focus on Psalms of Disorientation and Reorientation. Walter Brueggemann is the one who gives voice to this understanding of the Psalms (cf. Praying the Psalms, Spirituality of the Psalms) and expresses that the Psalms of Lament are meant to disorient us.

In being a missional people seeking to participate with God in what God is up to in the world, we are deeply disoriented from our take-charge-of-our-own-lives way of living. To live our lives guided by the leading of the Holy Spirit requires a paradigm shift in our way of thinking, doing, and being that can only be described as a constant disorientation of our lives, a constant turning-around or repentance in our lives – which is what repentance means. Such repentance disorients before it reorients.

Learning to walk with God is a disturbing thing – it is meant to disturb us. Too often we want God to embrace us on our terms, our walking with God to be comfortable – for God to “baptize” the way things are in our lives with a modicum of godliness that enables us to feel good about ourselves and what we are doing. We do not have to surrender anything we do not want to, nor take on anything with which we are uncomfortable, and so God is able to fit neatly into the space we provide for God.

Yet, being missional requires a complete turn-around from this kind of attitude and behavior. In sensing a calling in our lives to participate with God in God’s mission, it is not a calling for God to fit in with us, but rather a calling for us to fit in with God and what God is up to in the world. This requires a letting go, a surrendering, a dying to our ways – and dying is always deeply disorienting.

To be raised up or reoriented to the ways of God in our lives, to live being aware of what matters to God, to engage in what God is engaged in, to speak what God wants us to speak is something that may excite us, but in my experience is something we do not to do very well – since too often we still try to do it in our ability. We catch a glimpse of what life with God is like and then we say to God, “okay, I think I got it, I can get it from here.”

Rather, to live in ways being oriented to God’s ways requires a daily dying or a daily disorientation from with what we are comfortable. And rather than trying to create a new set of comfortable ways, what we are being called to involves us in the disorienting reorienting ways of walking with God, the disorienting reorienting ways of being led by the Spirit of God.

Perhaps, we must never become comfortable with walking in/with the Spirit – but to develop the discipline of daily giving ourselves to be open to the discomfort of being disoriented by the Spirit. In this way, we are reoriented to the ways of God, to living as disciples of Christ Jesus, to the mission of God, to walk in new ways of being human – as we depend utterly on the Spirit to lead us – to lead us in a dance of the rhythms of God’s ways.

To continue this metaphor, we may get better at dancing, but we can never take the lead if we are to remain in the Spirit – we are always partnering with the Spirit, who is continually leading us into new ways to dance, new places to dance, to dance alongside different people in different life contexts – because the Spirit is always leading us into some new thing partnering with God who is always doing a new thing.

The focus then for us in walking with God, is not how great we become at dancing, but how well we follow the lead of the Spirit in dancing with the Spirit.

The only way that we do not become overwhelmed with the disorienting reorienting ways of God, is to take our focus off of how uncomfortable our being disoriented is, and instead develop an attitude and way of being that continually gives ourselves to the Spirit to lead us in ways in which we are continually being reoriented in the ways of God.

Dare we give ourselves to the disorienting reorienting ways of God as we participate with God in God’s mission.

iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl