In just an hour I leave for the airport to begin my 32-hour door-to-door journey home from South Africa. I leave my 2.5 week stay with fond memories, overwhelming gratitude for all the care extended to me, and so many newfound friendships with people I’ve come to love whose journeys I admire out of the rigors of religious obligation and into an endearing relationship with Father who loves us all. It is not an easy journey to reconsider the things you’ve been taught that turn out not to be so true, and to reshape a way of living around the Father’s work in us, rather than what we consider to be our work for him.
One theme of this trip has been learning to enjoy the presence of God and let him enjoy us, taken from this story I told on a recent God Journey Podcast. It has really found its way into my heart and how the Father wants us to enjoy the reality of his presence and how we often settle for knowing about God or following his principles, than actually knowing him.
I have held conversations with groups as large as 150 and as small as one person, a couple, or a family of five. I spent four days with a group of young people whose passion to discover how to live loved was infectious and rewarding. I’ve had countless conversations celebrating God’s love and helping people consider the ways God works. This is where religious obligation gets it so wrong. We think God responds to our human effort to find him, rather than his work to find us. We were never intended to carve out a journey with him by our own wisdom or will. It is his to do and as we learn to recognize him as he is pouring his life and love into us, the relationship begins to grow.
This is my prayer this morning for all I’ve met on this journey, and for me as well:
Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works… As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work.
I love discovering the ways in which God works and simply following along with him. It yields such amazing fruit far more than anything I could accomplish by my own strength. Last night I sat and listen to some people give me feedback about what my time with them had meant. I heard things like, “taking the complexity out of a life with God”, “being so real and being so gentle”, “how restful you are in exploring this journey”, and “where have you been the past 56 years?” I was deeply touched to hear what had communicated to them. Only I know how much of a miracle it is for his life to take shape in me. No one knowing me 30 years ago would have said such things. Learning to live inside his work is just the best and I am so grateful for how he is taking shape in my life.
It has all been such a joy, but my heart has already turned toward home and a much longed-for reunion with Sara, my family, and those crazy pups! There’s nothing like being “at home”, both in the Father’s love, and in Sara’s presence.
Next stop…. Sara!