On Sunday Pastor Rick preached on what it means to follow Christ. He spoke of it in terms of a journey, not something that is obvious from the beginning, but something that unfolds along the way.
It sounds so beautiful, a journey that unfolds along the way. It sounds poetic, scenic, spiritual. But living it? Is life really like that? Ever? In anything but in hindsight? I can make every moment sound poetic, scenic, and spiritual looking back on it. It’s the going through it that is so rough. Poetry fails me then. It’s hard to wax eloquent with sweat and fear dripping from the brow, anxiety settled in the gut--when everything feels uncertain and meaning takes its time announcing itself.
Before our pastor announced the benediction he prayed a blessing on the coming week we would walk through. It struck me that this is the week we spend in the mountains, to me one of the holiest places on earth. I had no idea then how much I would need a benediction—a good Word to go out on. All times past I have traveled up the mountain for spiritual replenishment, always taking the form of a conference, a ministry event. This week it is just me, here and present, with my precious family. I am wistful. On the one hand I love being here with everyone and free to spend the whole day on our vacation adventure. On the other hand I feel a bit lost without the meetings. Not so much the time spent away, but the content that has a way of reframing my current context and gives purpose and direction for the year ahead.
The only thing that comes to mind as I try to make sense of the lostness I feel is a conversation Tim and I had a few months ago. We were in the car (we always have our best conversations in the car, or on a hiking trail, something about journeys) talking about life and where we are right now. I was talking about how discombobulated I felt, trying to figure out how to reclaim my equilibrium. As I thought out loud, I mentioned that maybe what I needed was to go on a silent retreat. Before I had children, when I was working in a full-time ministry, I would do this, spending three days alone in complete silence. After children I would go away for 24 hours, and eventually just for the day. But I always got away and reconnected with Jesus—just me and Him without the distractions of the world butting in. As I was explaining this to my sweet husband, he looks at me and says, “I know why you can’t get away.” I replied, “I know, I just haven’t made it a priority. I just have to find a way to make it happen.” He says, “No, that’s not it. And this is from God, it’s not me talking. The reason you haven’t gotten away is because your ministry is now to those who can’t get away. If you’re really going to minister to them you have to find a way to connect to God without it.” After he said it, I knew he was completely right.
Doesn’t make living it any easier.
The Grace in his statement is that it assures me that a God connection is indeed possible. Just knowing the thing I am hungry for is possible gives me hope. God knows me. God knows I am aching for Him. God knows I need Him, here, especially. He knows. And He is available. Even if that availability comes in a form I haven’t discovered.
Oh this unfolding journey will be the life of me yet.