Now I understand … I think!

Now I Understand … I think.
Last Saturday was October 20, 2012 and on that day two events of significance in my life occurred. The first event was the 68th celebration of the birth of this body and soul. The second event was the re-baptism of the spirit and person of “Georgia Lee McGowen.” I had not planned on taking part in the baptism ceremony beyond being there to lend moral support, but a few days prior, I was startled by an unmistakable urging to be baptized yet again. I had felt, up to that point, as if being baptized again was equivalent to saying to Abba that I wasn’t really satisfied with the degree of re-birth represented by the first baptism. I’m still not certain of why I was directed to a second baptism, but I was. So, along with 24 other people I was baptized again on the occasion of our 68th birthday.
The following day during Sunday morning worship I realized that I was recalling a feeling from out of the past. It was a feeling, a notion, an unspoken sense from many years ago that I had not thought of for a long time. When I/we were young adults and the notion that life was not interminable began to be a periodic subject for quiet mental rumination I/we had never been able to envision life beyond his/our mid-fifties. There was a complete inability to envision living to be 60, 70, 80 much less 90 years old. For someone who was able to visualize just about anything else imaginable that just didn’t compute. Maybe that’s normal, but I/we aren’t even close to normal now are we.
It did dawn on me that I was now in a somewhat unimagined future which explained some of the feelings I’d been having lately. But it did not explain why exactly I could now envision living to a very ripe old age and that “his” portion of this soul had no vision beyond mid-fifties. It had to be tied to either the birthday or the re-baptism, maybe both, but how?
While I was sporadically mulling this over Sunday evening, Pastor Jabowa called in response to a text I’d sent him. The text was something of a minor scolding about a posting I’d seen on Facebook. What ensued was a mostly political conversation which lasted more than an hour and twenty minutes and ended only when the battery in his phone died. Before that, I received something of a responsive scolding on his part. Both of us experienced frustration in that neither of us felt that we were understood.
At one point he said that I didn’t understand what it was like to be gay and the reason I didn’t was because being gay was not a choice for him but that I had a choice to be either George or Georgia. Furthermore, it was his opinion that I could still get married and he couldn’t because he was gay. That evolved into a discussion that eventually led us to realize that we have far more in common politically than we might have assumed at the beginning of the discussion. In the course of the conversation about the relationship between the two halves of our soul a light came on.
I was reminded of the evolution of my being and when the real beginning of the expression of me and who I am, the process of “George” spiritually and visually beginning to relinquish the actual use of this body began to take place. And then it hit me. “George” was 56 years old when all these changes began to take place. I began to take over and my emotions, desires and ambitions took the place of his. No wonder “George” couldn’t imagine growing old; he was still there in spirit but no longer in person. Was he was not intended to grow old? Was I the one intended to grow old? Only Abba knows the answer to those questions and they are now on my list of “Questions for Abba” when I’m face to face with Him.

Purpose vs Goals

From the age of thirteen or so, George had a certain goal. He wanted to be a farmer like our Uncle Jelly. Sure, there were some occasional variations in that aim, like the brief period of thinking the law would be a better pursuit. But, the persistent and consistent goal of being a farmer always returned to consume. When that goal was reached another appeared further ahead. The next goal was to be sole owner of the farm. That goal was reached and another goal arose. This one was to own the farm next door. When that goal was accomplished the next one was ownership of the next farm and on and on the goals stretched. And then something happened.
That something was the realization that the goal post would always be moving and the result would be a total lack of satisfaction. There would never be a point at which he could kick back and savor the accomplishment as completed. And then came the understanding that each new accomplishment would began to be less satisfying than the last. The dream just seemed to evaporate and it was eventually lost entirely. After that came an extended period of disillusionment and disappointment as each new possibility morphed into another unfulfilled dream. What goals arose never had the power to generate the all consuming interest the farm had held. Life would roll past for nearly 30 years with no real goal. There would be occasional ambitions, but that was it.
In 2003 I was encouraged to read a new book; “The Purpose Driven Life”. I did read it and I have continued to read it, again and again. I eventually came to the realization that although I’d had goals, there had never been a purpose for those goals. Goals are merely stepping stones to fulfilling purpose. Real, God appointed purpose for the gift I’d been given was a source of never ending happiness, sense of accomplishment and moment to moment, minute to minute, hour to hour and day to day satisfaction with life. To lie down at night and wake up each morning with a subtle smile in my heart is a joy I never imagined in all those daydreams of the past.

Truly Re-Born?

When the words and/or phrase “re-born” are/is uttered it’s generally a reference to a person’s decision to accept Christ as their savior, but for me it has a further and more complicated meaning. In my “Nothing” notebook, two and a half years ago I asked two simple questions. “Are we truly re-born in a truly new spirit and life, or are we just slightly re-furbished versions of the old? Have we been willing to let God totally remake us exactly the way He wants us or do we put certain parts in a lockbox that we will not open to Him?”
Toward the end of George’s sophomore year in college he turned his share of our life over to Christ in the middle of the morning one morning on the invitation of a couple who worked for Campus Crusade for Christ. He then proceeded to put virtually all of what was our combined spirits in a lockbox which he would not open to God or anyone else for many years. The reasons for that are not easily understood and therefore not easily explained. The root reason, I believe, was an extremely limited understanding of what Jesus taught. The years of Sunday school and church had done little to expand knowledge or comprehension. We went to services on Sunday morning simply because that’s what people like our family did.
I don’t remember if there was a specific expectation that since our life had been turned over to Christ that God would see to it that George miraculously aced his finals that quarter, but it had to have been an unspoken hope. When that hope was dashed what followed was apparently a sense that “Well, that didn’t work, so what’s the point? I did my share but God didn’t bother to keep His end of the bargain.” We then entered an extended period of God and Jesus avoidance, except in dire circumstances of emotional pain and suffering, before any degree of understanding or a relationship with God and Christ would be achieved. To be certain, there was no “re-birth” within our joint soul.
Of the things I’m certain, there is one which evolved from that period of our life. When you actively and sincerely turn your life over to Christ, as George did, God takes you at your word and will use whatever means and time He deems necessary to hold you to your commitment. What I eventually came to realize is that I had been using the terms “turn my life over to Christ” and “being re-born” interchangeably and that was wrong. When George turned our life over to Christ, it was merely the beginning of a “re-gestation” period necessary before a genuine “re-birth” could occur.
The answers then to the questions at the beginning of this blog entry are this: No, we were not truly re-born in a truly new spirit and life. Yes, we were just slightly refurbished versions of the old. No we had not been willing to let God re-make us exactly the way He wanted us, and yes we, more specifically George, did put certain parts which included me, in a lockbox which he refused to open to God for a very long time.