23 September 2016

pursuit in the wandering

I saw a quote by Lisa Bevere the other day:  "His pursuit is greater than your ability to wander."

For some reason it brought to mind Psalm 139: 5-6, "You hem me in, behind and before, you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain."  I chose these as my life verses when I was baptized at 18; little did I know!

To be hemmed in or enclosed (NASB) could lead to feelings of entrapment and claustrophobia.  But oddly, as I traveled the long valley toward healing, it fostered a feeling of shelter.  I remember feeling terribly afraid that I was beyond God's hand.  There was so much wrong with my grid:  I was terrified of God; I thought he was standing over me just waiting for mistakes; I pictured him as an angry and capricious deity; I was sure he planned harm for me; I didn't believe he cared about me as an individual; I didn't trust him; I didn't believe in his goodness; I feared being known by him.  But at the same time, I loved him so desperately; I longed for connection with him, and a deeper, richer, living relationship with him.  Somehow, those verses spoke of God's pursuit in my wandering - that he had set boundaries in place for me and that I wouldn't ever be able to go far enough to overstep them.  I discovered a curious feeling of safety, of having permission to step outside my rigid set of man-made, me-made rules and expectations for Christian living and see if I could truly taste and see Jesus.

In comparative terms, I didn't step out very far.  I didn't go off the rails in behaviour, didn't do anything wild or crazy.  Rather, I gave up pursuing the God I knew, abandoned my empty Christian living, and waited.  It wasn't a sedentary hold; I wrestled furiously with God in the tarrying.  I threw my rage at him in buckets, and accused him with my pain over and over again.  I stopped praying, singing, reading scripture.   I prepared to abandon Christianity completely.  For a terrified perfectionist, my valley was a dizzying, panic-inducing walk on the wild side!

But God pursued me faithfully, relentlessly.  He loves completely and is not willing for us to live in our brokenness, but longs for us to find healing and freedom in him.  He never left me in my wandering, and I suppose, in the end, his fiercely gentle pursuit of me is what drew me into the Real.

He loves me.  I'll never be the same.

09 September 2016

ripples

My dear friend,

I just need to tell you...I'm not sure I can find the words to describe the beauty of the thing that's happening.  It's just how God means his family to work, I think.  It's amazing, and I'm so, so thankful.

So many years ago, you saw the raging anger in me, saw how lost I was in it, and you spoke into that chaos.  You spoke of your own journey through anger.  You told me I was allowed to be angry at God.  You told me he was big enough to handle it and that he loved me and that he wasn't going to strike me down for just getting into it with him.

Then you hung on, walked beside me in the terrible, ugly, painful, long process, and you didn't give up.  You didn't judge me; you loved me in my ugly state.  You didn't preach to me that I would eventually need to repent of sin, but prayed and trusted God to bring me there; you just let me be where I was and stayed beside me.  In relational breakdown, you were quick to meet in reconciliation - not just in person, but in spirit...and you waited and prayed for what, a year? until I was finally able to come back to true relationship.  You have been a faithful prayer warrior, battling for me continually.

Lately, I find myself walking with friends who are where I was:  angry, hurting, shattered, broken-hearted, disillusioned with God...and I'm telling them things, like "God can handle your anger" and "God's grace for you is huge" and "he loves you, right here!"  Like me with you, they know enough of my journey that I am credible.  Like you with me, I try to listen, to love, and to send them back to Jesus.  Their journeys are different from mine, just as mine differed from yours.  But somehow, God so beautifully knitted yours and my way together through our individual experience with the same Lover of our souls, himself.  Now here he is, in the ripples, doing the same thing, with me on the other side this time.  I guess I don't have to explain, you'll be able to see the beauty in this.

I wanted to show you this ripple of you, and Christ in you.  You are dear to my heart.  I am so thankful for you.  I love you.