It’s Not About The Container

First, an announcement. For those who want to listen to an interview I did on the The Drew Marshall Show on April 12, you can click here for the audio link. We mostly talked about So You Don’t Want to Go To Church Anymore.

And then I wanted to share this letter with you. For many folks the combination of a few of the following: The Shack, He Loves Me, So You Don’t Want to Go To Church Anymore, The God Journey and Transitions has been a bit of a ‘perfect storm’ to help them catch the reality of living in the love of the Father. I am so blessed by that. Because the reality isn’t really any of those things. We try to describe it in various ways in each of them, but it is in knowing him and how he works in us and in the world that helps us discover how to live in him, not just talk about.

A couple of weeks ago I received the following email from a sister in England that captures that perfectly. More than anything I don’t want people reading or listening to my stuff, but finding the freedom and joy of just living in the Father’s reality every day and watching him make a difference in them and through them every day, wherever they happen to be living, working or playing. That’s the gospel!

Thank you so much for Lifestream – and thanks for the Jake book and the God Journey as well. And The Shack of course.

My husband and I left our charismatic (originally a house but now an organisation) church after 18 years there, being in church leadership and both of us on staff in responsible positions in the past. You don’t need to know the reasons but it was a very painful process involving betrayal and control. I never wanted to go near a church again – but thought (now I see erroneously) we would be in a dangerous place if we had no “covering”. So we tried a few but for some reason God seemed not to give the green light. Instead we bought a small flat by the sea and spent our weekends and Sundays walking the cliffs and on the beach, listening to worship, reading books (Christian and otherwise) and enjoying each other’s company. We also invited friends down and once a month had a get together when we ate together and just rested in God’s presence for a couple of hours.

However, I still felt guilty that I hated the organisational church, loathed the thought of house groups, never wanted to darken the doors of a conference ever again, and enjoyed good teaching on the web but only as long as I closed my eyes and didn’t watch the church bit. After all the Church was the Bride of Christ wasn’t she – so really I shouldn’t hate it. Guilt… Guilt… Shame.

Then extraordinarily (well not, of course) two things happened. My husband went to Spring Harvest 2 weeks ago to man a stall for work (not to go to any meetings though, no way man!) and he discovered the book The Shack. He is not a great reader but he could not put it down and he wept his way through a large part of it.

While he was away I discovered So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore, read it on line in one sitting, found it totally liberating and then discovered the podcasts and the other stuff on your site. And of course saw the link with The Shack.

So when he came back I read it, also wept, and something has happened to me – I have been taught about God the Father and Daddy God until I know it inside out in my head, but the penny has never really dropped in my heart. Reading The Shack made the connection for me between the two but I didn’t realise it at the time until I emailed a friend and my jaw dropped when I realised I was talking about what Daddy wanted to do. I have NEVER felt comfortable referring to Father God as Daddy before although my husband found that heart relationship about 2 years ago. What a miracle. What freedom to know that all I have to do is let Daddy love me, and from that I will be able to love others. I DON’T HAVE TO PERFORM ANY MORE!

It is clear that God is shaking up organisational church all over the place. When praying the other morning he gave me a picture for the church I left (since then many others are exiting as well) but which I think is applicable worldwide. He showed me a glass beaker punched all over with holes and water was pouring out of the holes. But what was so amazing was that as the water landed on the table it did not remain in little droplets separately but it made a pool which was held together by the surface tension. If more water came near it and joined it then it became one with the first lot of water so you could not tell which was which. God is far more interested in the contents than the container and those contents do not need a structure to keep them together. (emphasis mine).

Gotta love that last line! It really says it all! God is more concerned with people coming to know him than he his preserving our religious institutions. But that is nearly impossible for those who manage institutions to understand. They are used to sacrificing individuals for the good of the whole, thinking that is God’s heart. If only they could see…

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6 Comments
  1. Barb May 2, 2008 at 10:41 am

    I love the fact that you can click on a page on the web and practically read your own story…but it is written by someone else. All except moving to the ocean front (which I would love to do) could have been written by me or my husband. We read “SYDWTGTC” the week we had the “meeting” with our leader and it began to set us free in ways that you will never know. It gave us a year of rest instead of a year of guilt. The other books and audio series followed and they too kept us sane. The great thing is it set us free to the Father and his grace and did not give us another box to encase ourselves. We will never be “Jacobsenites” or start a Lifestream church but that was never the intent of your writing. You truly have tried to set people free to let God do it.

    Exactly one year ago today we were driving to another city to meet with a friend about our decision here. We read “SYDWTGTC” as we drove. We remain grateful. Thanks

  2. Tammy May 2, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Wow! I am loving hearing myself through others voices. (Well, that sounded conceded.) I can only ditto what’s been said. Actually I could write a book about it. I am not the same person I was a year ago. Freedom is the most beautiful thing!! I am a 37 year old stay-at-home mother of 4 children, under age 7, who is finally learning to use these wings I’ve been given. I am thrilled to be leaving behind life in the cocoon that religion taught me to build. I am realizing I can fly! Although I have not found much in the way of support for my newfound freedom; amazing the determination of others to defend their confinement. Maybe you’d enjoy reading some of my process on my blog. It’s almost all that I talk about. So I don’t feel the need to repeat a lot here. But, suffice it to say that, after reading The Shack, SYDWTGTCA, listening to God Journey, and viewing the Church Outside The Walls, I will never be the same. Religion has lost its luster and has been seen for the deception that it is. I have often said that once you see truth, you can not un-see it! (try as you might) Thank you for giving me a voice!!!!

  3. Dave Aldrich May 2, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Wonderful letter. Loved the vision of the water coming together. And that last line of that sister’s was awesome. Although I know in my heart this is what’s happening all over the place I cannot help but the Body is so fragmented… at least from my view point. Finding real “deep calling unto deep” fellowship is not an easy thing. Seems like Papa is saying to first be content being just with Him and then wait, watch and listen. I don’t do those three very well!

  4. Barb May 2, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I love the fact that you can click on a page on the web and practically read your own story…but it is written by someone else. All except moving to the ocean front (which I would love to do) could have been written by me or my husband. We read “SYDWTGTC” the week we had the “meeting” with our leader and it began to set us free in ways that you will never know. It gave us a year of rest instead of a year of guilt. The other books and audio series followed and they too kept us sane. The great thing is it set us free to the Father and his grace and did not give us another box to encase ourselves. We will never be “Jacobsenites” or start a Lifestream church but that was never the intent of your writing. You truly have tried to set people free to let God do it.

    Exactly one year ago today we were driving to another city to meet with a friend about our decision here. We read “SYDWTGTC” as we drove. We remain grateful. Thanks

  5. Tammy May 2, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Wow! I am loving hearing myself through others voices. (Well, that sounded conceded.) I can only ditto what’s been said. Actually I could write a book about it. I am not the same person I was a year ago. Freedom is the most beautiful thing!! I am a 37 year old stay-at-home mother of 4 children, under age 7, who is finally learning to use these wings I’ve been given. I am thrilled to be leaving behind life in the cocoon that religion taught me to build. I am realizing I can fly! Although I have not found much in the way of support for my newfound freedom; amazing the determination of others to defend their confinement. Maybe you’d enjoy reading some of my process on my blog. It’s almost all that I talk about. So I don’t feel the need to repeat a lot here. But, suffice it to say that, after reading The Shack, SYDWTGTCA, listening to God Journey, and viewing the Church Outside The Walls, I will never be the same. Religion has lost its luster and has been seen for the deception that it is. I have often said that once you see truth, you can not un-see it! (try as you might) Thank you for giving me a voice!!!!

  6. Dave Aldrich May 2, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Wonderful letter. Loved the vision of the water coming together. And that last line of that sister’s was awesome. Although I know in my heart this is what’s happening all over the place I cannot help but the Body is so fragmented… at least from my view point. Finding real “deep calling unto deep” fellowship is not an easy thing. Seems like Papa is saying to first be content being just with Him and then wait, watch and listen. I don’t do those three very well!

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