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…