After spending a few days with a group of people in Florida, a newfound friend observed, “You’re a repository for thousands and thousands of conversations you’ve had all over the globe with all kinds of people who are discovering what it means to live the life of Jesus.”
I had never thought of it that way, but it does express what my life has been like. I’ve talked to some of the most amazing people on the planet caught up in their own Jesus journey. I have gleaned much from them as we have processed our journeys together to look into the mysteries of God.
So, for everyone I’ve ever had a conversation with, I’m grateful that you took the time to engage my life and add to my story. I hope I’ve added to yours as well.
These are the first paragraphs on the Acknowledgment page of my newest book, Live Loved Free Full, which is set to release in a couple of weeks. As I worked through that book I could remember specific people with whom I was talking when the truths of that book became cemented in my heart. At its end, I wanted to express my gratitude for people all over the world who have enriched me with their insights, experiences, and even questions we wrestled with together. My heart is a marvelous tapestry the Spirit has stitched together over thousands of conversations with people in all stages of the spiritual journey—from seasoned ones who have explored the realities of living loved for decades and from people just starting out from the trailhead.
Relationships make us rich. The reason I’m sharing that now is that I’ve never been more grateful for the people God has put in my life than I have over the last few weeks. Leading up to my writing A Fresh Wind Is Blowing, and for the week after, I’ve been in a constant stream of conversations with people all over the world, which have thrilled my heart, opened my eyes to things God had been preparing me to see, and put a fresh sense of his leading and his hope in my heart. All of that has been mining a deep vein of precious thoughts from the heart of God. Most of those conversations are still going on and I have no idea where they may lead yet, but I am grateful for the manifold wisdom of God he makes known through his Church.
His church really is the network of friends and friends of friends that he knits into our lives over the course of our journey. Some of those I talk to frequently, others come in and out of my life after great gaps of time, but the conversations are rich with the wisdom and life of his Spirit. This is a fluid way of seeing his Church because it isn’t a programmed reality we can identify, but the result of following those nudges to connect with people and then allowing them into our lives as our mutual affection grows. These are people who love you where you are on the journey. They don’t manipulate you to fulfill their expectations or try to convince you of anything they think is true. They share freely out of love and wait for the Spirit to make sense of things.
As these conversations persist, the insights added by others continue to snowball until the reality Jesus is inviting me into becomes clear. It’s a marvelous process, one Paul describes in Ephesians 1 when he says the Church is “the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Each of us alone only gets to see a facet of who God is, but in our growing connection with his family, we get a wider grasp of his nature and purpose in our hearts and in circumstances around us.
A few of those conversations I’ve been able to share over the 781 episodes of The God Journey. Most, however, went unrecorded except in the recesses of my brain. Like a giant jig-saw puzzle, each of those interactions has blessed my life and spilled out in things I’ve said or written. Tomorrow on The God Journey, I’m sharing a conversation that I had with an old friend from South Africa who has explored some elements of living in Father’s love that delights my heart. It is probably one of the most important podcasts I’ve ever released and I hope you can find time to listen to it even if you no longer regularly check in there.
You’ll hear how the maturing of his love in us will set you free from the suffering that resulted from our self-centered thinking and allow us to be a better reflection of him to people around us. I’ll warn you now, the road to that reality is not an easy nor a popular one. As we taste more deeply of his love it will challenge our affection for the world’s way of doing things and put us on a path less traveled. However, no one who has gone down that path, however, has ever lived to regret it. Whatever he changes in us he only replaces with something far better.
I hope I’ve spurred you on to celebrate the relationships Jesus has given you. Who has touched your life with words that encourage and enlighten you? Who has provided you a living example of what it means to live in growing trust in Father’s faithfulness? If it’s been a while since you’ve talked to them, consider connecting with them again, even if it is just to express your gratitude for what they’ve added to your life. Healthy relationships are some of the real treasures of this kingdom.
Give place to them. Enjoy them. Let love be at the heart of all you do.
One final note, we are still recruiting members for the Living Loved Free Full Launch Team. If you can help us, check it out and get an advance copy of the book.