Rich Paxson

“God isn’t finished with me yet!” This phrase implies that God and I are separate and that God has some goal or end-state in mind for me. “… isn’t finished with me” suggests “failures and imperfections,” so also there must be successes and perfection. Apparently, both God and I are working on me. What separates us? I can fail, or succeed. What is my proper role? and God’s role?

In the Introduction to Essay Eleven James writes “… everything that is, is shot through with what I might call ‘secondariness’.” James goes on to say “This “secondariness” is not a form of diminishment, or being put down, but an accurate and objective sense of createdness, something which can in fact be relaxed into with gratitude.”

Rather than a mindset of “God is not finished with me yet.” I like to think of ‘relaxing into acceptance of secondariness.’ God is primary. Humanity is secondary. Gratitude is the key to relaxing into a relationship with God from our secondariness. And yet, what is gratitude? In a recorded lecture I once heard, Brother David Stendl-Rast http://bit.ly/2kQU4bb said that gratitude is ‘thankfulness in advance.’ Relaxing into acceptance of secondariness means being thankful in advance for new, fulfilling relationship with God and therefore our neighbor.

Relaxing is an iterative process. That is, we don’t move from the tight muscles of defensiveness to a willing acceptance of God’s gifts in one leap. No, gradually, over time, we drop our defenses, and in so doing we relax. Slowly we awaken to the beauty of the Lord in our surroundings, to our secondariness, thankful for God’s unceasing gifts to which we previously had been blind.

Rather than “God is not finished with me” a grateful, secondary life observes its surroundings and orients itself to God’s reconciling love. As we relax, we accept God’s love. Then as naturally as the falling rain, God’s love flows through us quickening the love of neighbor. An alternative to the phrase “God is not finished with me yet” could well be: Where now am I most loving toward my neighbor?