Sara and I are having another incredible time on this trip to the UK. We spent a couple of days out on the westend of London with some new friends and some we’ve met before. Then we drove up to Scotland, stopping in two different places in northern England to gather with people who wanted to spend some time with us. Now we are spending a few days in Scotland—our first time. We are in St. Andrews and enjoying a wonderful break just with each other, though tonight we’re off to meet some more folks on this journey and see what Father might have for us together. It should be fun.
I am always so inspired by the journey people take to be true to the Spirit within them when it moves them beyond the expectations and even demands of others. For no other reason than that they sense something too deeply inside to ignore, they make choices that even their closest friends and family can’t understand. And even when they are judged wrongly, or encouraged to get back in line, they continue to follow the leading within. Even if it takes them to lonely places for a season they continue to follow. It’s just unbelievably amazing to me.
But one of the hardest realities I deal with are those who want to be on such a journey and can’t find the traihead. They hear about a relationship with Jesus that is alive and vital, want it for themselves, but go year after year feeling ignored, isolated, and abandoned. Yes I’d love to give them three things to do that are guaranteed to work every time, but I know of no such things. I know finding our way into a meaningful relationship with Jesus is a work he does as we learn to relax in him. But the latter part isn’t easy for us. Our expectations and demands get in the way and the more we focus on what we don’t have and try to blame ourselves, the easier it is to miss the gifts he has given. It’s like trying to go to sleep in the middle of the night when sleep won’t come. The more we try to find sleep the more it elludes us. The more we panic about that as time passes, the more difficult it becomes to relax.
It is hard to tell people to be patient because I’m sure it sounds like a cop-out. But relationship with him is not something we control, nor is it something we have to earn. But there’s something that has to happen in us as God untangles what sin and religion have twisted in us that opens the door to the part of our hearts that recognizes him and responds to him. Unfortunately that can take a long time for some. I honestly don’t know why, but I know people get discouraged and feel as if God is either not real or doesn’t care about them. But that isn’t true. He’s no less present with them even if they can’t see it yet. Many think they are so damaged they will never see and the harder they try the more it seems to ellude them.
How I wish everyone could just embrace that reality with a few quick steps, but it isn’t so. I think God is content just to get there with us in this life, whether it takes a year or two, a decade or two, or even a lifetime. He just wants to win the day and show us he is bigger than all that this life could throw at us to separate us from him. That’s why this email touched me so deeply. I’ve corresponded with this sister before, as she alludes to, in the throes of pain and the feeling that somehow she would be passed by. This has gone on for years, but finally the light has dawned in her heart. I am so thrilled for her, and I hope it encourages somd of you who are in the same part of the journey she was in. God will make himself known to you. Don’t miss the last sentence of her letter. It is a profound truth, and one hard-won for her.
Over the last 5 years I’ve emailed you a few times in total angst about a very painful past. The messages I’ve heard from you in you’re replies and through your podcast and books; has been patience. WHAT AN AWESOME DAY IT HAS BEEN! I GET IT NOW!
(So she wrote a letter to God to express her joy and gratitude. Here it is:) I’ve begged and I’ve pleaded and bargained and fought tirelessly and wearily against you! I’ve half heartily and doubtfully prayed for you to reveal yourself to me. I see parts of you this morning and I am in total awe…..there are no words. I’m driving with my sunroof down. One arm on the steering wheel and one outstretched to feel even more of you. Tears stream down my face. I turned off the Christian radio station that I longingly listen to daily in attempts to force feed me into believing in you. Longing to feel and trust the words sung so beautifully. I can’t even describe in words my feelings. My thoughts of your greatness are beyond the most beautiful melodies.
We call you him, he, and you, but wow! “You” are so much more than that! “You”” ARE everything! You are everywhere I look. The rocks, trees, birds, people,dogs. Even the darn, little creepy bugs! Please keep revealing yourself to me! I pray to you, not so that you will know me, but that I may know you. If this is the beginning and only a glimpse of what is to be reconciled in me I am nervous and as excited as I’ve ever been. You well know my anxious spirit but I remain calm in you right now. My father….I won’t even say Heavenly. Father because you are here with me… Oh my ABBA! I got a glimpse of you today and I hear the birds singing the notes you have woven together just for them, just for this moment.
In all the business of trying to find you…. I couldn’t see you were already there.