God is, and is from the beginning, a letter to preston

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Preston and I write letters back and forth. We share about mystery, wonder about faith and the long walk of obedience, tell stories about Gossip Girl and God’s grace. We would love for you to join us in the comments. You can read his last letter to me here.

Dear Preston,

I’m in floundering between getting home late from work, trying to find time to run, eat dinner with my family, and watch installment 2 of LOTR with my youngest brother, Joe. I decided that it was time I immersed myself in those stories again. And they are rich, and I grab his arm compulsively as I watch, fearful for Frodo and Sam, hopeful in the wild goodness of Aragorn and I am reminded that this is a good story because it reminds us to be overjoyed at the triumph of good, and fearful of the power of evil.

I’ve been wondering about this business of trusting God every day. It is cheap and trite and silly to tell you that when I made that big promise, in the dirt of the road next to the pond, when I held my hands up against the cool May rain and gave my life to Him, I didn’t realize it would be so hard.

I didn’t realize it, though. I didn’t realize I would come home and be angry that things are still unclear. I don’t know what I thought – if I pray the magic prayer of surrender, the heavens opened and the mystery of my life is explained – but I pull on my running shoes every evening and race off down the road, pissed off that the world is still uncertain, still broken and bleeding, and my own small heart is still just as fickle as it ever was. I promised to trust Him and now He is asking me to trust Him. I wrote blog posts about how good it is to trust in Jesus, and now I am confessing that it is hard and I don’t like it.

In a conversation with a friend the other day, they suggested that our philosophy about God should begin from “God is, and is from the beginning without beginning.” I want to stray down the paths of Heidegger’s non-being vs. being debate, or question what the word, “beginning” means. I want the rabbit holes of the academic. I want to keep my mind humming with the knots of theology and philosophy, ask with Bonhoeffer about those first three chapters of Genesis. I think if I ask enough questions about who God is, and how He is, I might keep myself too busy to do the work of trusting Him. If I tangle myself up in working out what any of this means, I will not have to live out the meaning that has already been given to me.

But that is the work before us, isn’t it? To resist the temptation to hide behind our towers of books and papers, to trust that God is, and is from the beginning without beginning, and to believe in His Name. The work before me is that daily run where I yell and God reminds and I grow quiet in the reality of His presence. The work before me is the long day that I choose to end with love for my brother and the Lord of the Rings. The work before me is to open the old, beautiful Book of Common Prayer my mentor gave me, its leather cover sweetened and cracked with age, and pray.

So in this season, of the small, daily work, let’s take a rest from letters. A small sabbatical for you and me, to do our daily work. To put our hearts and minds to the work before us, where we each are. Let’s pause, in the midst of asking, “Who is God?” and “What is this life of faith?” and listen to Him answer us.

And then, when this season has passed and we are each settled into the difficult and the daily, write to me and tell me what He’s told you.

Love, and grace and peace for the next season, and may the joy of Almighty God go before you.

Love,

Hilary

So, dear readers of these letters, we are going on sabbatical for a little while, to rest in our work and ponder new things. Keep visiting Preston’s space, if you haven’t become a regular reader yet… His space is full of good things to wonder and read. 

2 thoughts on “God is, and is from the beginning, a letter to preston

  1. “I think if I ask enough questions about who God is, and how He is, I might keep myself too busy to do the work of trusting Him.” Feeling convicted! – Joanna

  2. I love this Hilary! I so often think that once I surrender something to God he’s just going to fix it. Like that prayer of surrender is some sort of magic formula. But it’s not. Like you said, it makes us actually learn to trust Him. Even when nothing we’ve surrendered is working out. Thanks for this!

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