No, that isn’t the new Lifestream plane, nor am I asking you to buy it for me. I got back last week from a delightful trip to the south. Spent the first weekend with a delightful family south of Atlanta. The whole family (seven kids and spouses) read He Loves Me and So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore one summer and all got together to discuss them and their implications on their own spiritual journeys. It was fascinating because they are all in different stages of working out what their engagement with the body of Christ looks like. We were also joined by a number of couples who had been in missions for a significant portion of their lives—in Israel, Thailand, and Honduras.
In addition, some of us played a round of golf. Then, the husband of the home I was staying in flew me up to Clemson in his small twin-engine plane for a week of writing out on Lake Jocassee. He even let me fly it for a big chunk of the way. It has been forty years since I’ve flown as pilot-in-command of an aircraft, though I’ve bummed a ride now and then since. My pilot on this trip is a senior Delta pilot as well as a general aviation enthusiast. As we made our final approach to the airport, he told me I was a natural and handled the plane so beautifully. I dreamed of flying even as a little child, got my pilot’s license when I was seventeen, but I just couldn’t afford to continue doing it avocationally. Though I don’t know what decisions I could have made, not finding a way to fly more is one of the regrets of my life. I love being above the earth in a small plane and bringing it down for a landing.
Then, we got to work on the third part of the Civil War-era novel a friend of mine has been writing for twenty years. I’ve been on it with him for about six. I talk to the author about it on this week’s podcast, as well as contemplating our own mortality. I’m hopeful you’ll get to read that book in the next year or so. But last week we had to cut the third section down significantly. It came in at 120,000 words, and we got it down to 47,000 without sacrificing the story. And in between we got in a bit of water skiing and jet ski tour of a waterfall on the lake. It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.
Then, I ended up in Damascus, VA – population 814. Seven trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains converge on this town, so it is a hiker’s paradise. What beautiful surroundings, and I got to spend some time with a wonderful couple who are friends with close friends of mine. We were also joined by people from other places in Virginia and North Carolina. We sat out on a large deck and talked the days and nights away. I love the mix of big conversations and then more personal ones with individuals who want some further insight.
One sentence came up in one discussion that I have reveled in since. “Life moves at the speed of relationships.” It immediately resonated with me, so I asked the person saying it, where he had gotten it. He said he thought it had been from a Philippine pastor. When I was talking to my hosts about it as they drove me to Charlotte I found out that my host, John Coleman, had come up with it. Since then, I’ve web-searched it to discover that others have said it as well. Think about it for a moment. Most people I know don’t live by relationships. They live by achievement or survival, often ignoring or sabotaging relationships they do have. But real life moves at the speed of relationships.
What matters most are the friends you have, not the accolades on your wall. Relationships move slowly. You have to take the time to understand someone else’s story and they, your story. That has to spark a care and concern for each other that goes beyond just using them for something you want, and then you find your way to enjoyment, laughter, and tears together. Jesus lived that way. That’s why he didn’t lay out curricula or institutional plans. The world would not be saved by books or programs, but by loving relationships that allow transformation to happen. I look back at my life and see that where I’ve lived by the speed of relationships, my life has been marked by joy and fulfillment. Achievement never leads to the same reality. I’m going to think on that statement for a long time, and rest in that reality. True life does move at the speed of relationships. The Kingdom of God grows in the world at the speed of relationships. If we think there are short-cuts that violate the relationships in our life, we’ll be sorely disappointed at life’s end. Too many people end up alone because they’ve never learned how to invest in relationships and reap the rewards of doing so.
My daughter, Julie, and I talk more about this on this week’s podcast at TheGodJourney.com.
I came back to a crazy week as we finalized all the files to get A Language of Healing to press. It has all come together so well and I’m thrilled for my two coauthors on it—Bob Prater and Arnita Taylor. It will be available on November 19 and you can pre-order at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and most other places books are sold. The e-book will also be available at the same time and we haven’t made a decision about an audio book yet.
Finally, I leave this week for Florida where I will be conducting a seminar on The Freedom to Live Loved in Miami next weekend. We are going to talk about how differently we would live if we were completely at rest in the Father’s love. We’ll be focusing on (1) Recognizing How Father is Loving You, (2) Letting Him Win Your Heart, and (3) Living Freely as a Beloved Child. If you’re nearby come and join us. And if you’re not, these will be taped and I will make them available afterwards through Lifestream.org. After that, I’ll be near Lake Worth, then over in the Sarasota and Tampa area. I still have some open time if you’re interested in connecting along the way.