I leave tomorrow for a weekend trip up to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It should be a lot of fun hanging out with some people I’ve yet to meet who are on this journey of living loved. There’s always an anticipation in my heart about where our conversations might lead and what God might show us.
On my recent trip to Austin, this is how one of those who came to our Friday night meeting summed up what God did in him:
I just wanted to thank you for your time and insights that you shared with us in Austin. I really appreciated how you facilitated the conversation (without) telling us what we should/should not do and not trying to be the answer man. Much of what you shared really helped me to hear from Father in fresh ways. To be honest I came into the weekend without any real expectations, which is something very different for me. I am thankful to Father for giving me an openness that I have not exhibited in the past when I was too busy trying to control the outcomes. What I found interesting was that even though I had pretty much heard much of what you shared through your books, teachings or podcasts, I HEARD them in a different way. It was just like some things clicked in place for me that God has been leading me towards for awhile. I just could not have articulated it.
What came through to me was community/relationships are not a meeting. I think that I have always had that backwards. I can now see how even as I made the transition from traditional church to a house church and then to a group with infrequent meetings, I had still been carrying around the idea that community happens at a specified meeting. I know God has been leading me out of the mindset for a long time, but particularly over the past year and a half as we have found ourselves meeting less and less. This has been a difficult change for me and I have felt at times lonely, frustrated, angry and abandoned. But thankfully He has always provided grace for me and helped me to resist seeking after something else just to fill that void.
As I look back I know I have missed many opportunities to forge relationships, encourage others and love them because I was too worried about what I was not getting. Father has brought to mind several times over the last few weeks the Message’s translation of Matthew 7:12, “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.” I think if I had focused more on giving rather than getting, I would not have been so wrapped up in seeking “community” because I would have been helping to forge it with others. Despite my failures, He has been so loving and kind to bring about many wonderful relationships with people. You encouraged me and helped me see more clearly the road He has already been leading us down.
I love the insights that surfaced in his heart beyond anything we talked about specifically. If that’s the kind of work God does in people when I’m hanging out with them, that makes all the travel worthwhile. Learning to live in him is the real joy for all of us.