Rich Paxson

What parts of life in “prison” do you find comforting? In what ways might your longing for the stability of the familiar prevent you from experiencing the new reality that is opening up?

I think the discussion question’s “longing for the stability of the familiar” highlights a significant aspect of the faith journey. God reveals God’s self to humanity, which exposes our prisons of self. Only within the context of God’s revelation can we recognize the false security of the familiar.

We don’t seek tightly restricted lives; it’s just that much of the time God seems absent and the danger of getting bound up in the self, “longing for the stability of the familiar,” becomes ever more present. God appears close and intimate at times, but then come long seasons when God seems far off and distant. It’s then that we feel alone, perhaps abandoned by God, or imprisoned by the social other in the confines of too small selves.

Unbinding our lives from the false balance of the familiar requires the gift of faith to observe thoughts, actions, and expectations, to re-orient to changing circumstances. Understanding life as a process where we observe, orient, decide, and act reframes longing for stability into taking the time to reconnoiter, to reestablish the equilibrium necessary to birth the gift of an ever more faithful self.

The ability to observe, orient, decide and act develops through persistent prayer. Exercising that ability ripens life with understanding and opportunity, as we relax through prayer into the love of God.