Tomorrow morning, I fly out for a weekend in Wichita and Kansas City to spend time with people in various stages of their journeys. It has been a long time since I’ve had this kind of weekend, and even though we’re in the midst of a fresh surge in COVID, we’re going to be careful not to become a spreader event.
I’m not only excited to be with the people Father has in mind for me, but I’m going to be sharing with others something that has been percolating in my heart for almost a year. I’ve not shared it yet with any group of people, because I want to see how it lives first.
In my working with people, however, I find people of faith whose spiritual journey is often marked with frustration and futility. Try as they might, they can’t seem to find that flow into the fruitfulness and fulfillment that Jesus promised us. They constantly bounce from one circumstance to the next, or one convention to the next, hoping to find a key to unlock their relationship with God. I meet others, however, who have found the “unforced rhythms of grace” that allow them to navigate the greatest challenges with confidence and rest in God’s activity that continues to bear fruit for them.
What is the difference? Some would suggest circumstance, but that isn’t true. I know a lot of empty people whose circumstances are not at all challenging, and others quite fulfilled in heart even while struggling with great pain or loss. No, it isn’t circumstantial. I’ve come to see the difference between those who believe in Jesus as a doctrine they cling to, and those who simply believe what Jesus shows them each day as they navigate the twists and turns of life. Life in him was always meant to be a relationship where it is less about believing the right doctrine, and more about believing the next thing Jesus whispers into their hearts. That’s where life is, in actually following him.
It seems to me, the most fulfilled people I know have come to rest in how deeply loved they are, enough to draw them into knowing him more fully. As they know him more fully, their trust in him grows. Where trust grows, they recognize more quickly the insight Jesus gives them and are more willing to follow him even when it seems risky or it doesn’t seem to make sense. Where they recognize his nudging and trust his work and wisdom more than their own, they follow those insights and that’s where they find joy and fruitfulness
This is an amazing process, how embracing his love leads to a greater desire to know him, which in turn encourages us to trust him, which makes us more sensitive to his ways and more willing to follow. By living in the world the way God sees it and not the way our natural mind tends to, we will find all his promises are true. I know this process well from both sides. For the first forty-two years of my journey, I was mostly frustrated that the things God seemed to promise in Scripture were rarely true in my experience. For the last twenty-eight years, it has been finding how living loved actually transforms me from inside so that I can discover God’s goodness even in the midst of a very broken world. This has helped me put new language to the work that has been going on in my heart and so many others I see finding the freedom to follow the Living Christ.
I’m going to be sharing about this process this weekend, and in most places, I go in months ahead. It’s not a new teaching, but a framework to help people recognize how living loved transforms us from the inside out. I hope to help people learn how to cooperate with his process rather than unknowingly resist it. Yes, it will eventually find its way to a recording, or to unpacking at The God Journey. As with most things, however, I want to explore sharing it with some groups first to see what communicates well and what gets in the way of people finding their way into a transformational journey.
Part of this sharing involves a flow chart to help people recognize where they have the choice to lean into the work God is doing or to resort to their own comfort or wisdom and miss his leading. I am looking for someone who does digital animation to help me put this chart into a video as I explain it. I’m hoping I have someone out there who has such gifts so that we could do this together. I’m thinking like the simple and powerful drawings in the Bible Project, that you can see here. Who knows, I may even see if those folks would help with this.
In any case, Jesus promised us an abundance of life and fullness of joy. If that’s something you’re still seeking to discover in your own journey, don’t give up. It is a process and most of our religious teaching to that end doesn’t serve any of us well. This is a living relationship that Jesus is always inviting you into. He wants nothing more than for you to come along and know what it is to be at rest in his love no matter what circumstances encompass you. Only he can do something like that.