Thursday 4 August 2011


Over the past year, as I mentioned the other day, I've been in a kind of "wilderness" place ... or so it has seemed to me.  I've felt as if I have not been "spiritual" enough, perhaps, both in "devotional" terms and in practical "doing" terms.

Did I just use four Christianese-jargon-type terms in two sentences?  And put them in quotation marks, to top it off?  Egad.  Do forgive me, please!  :-)

So anyway, Father has responded.  Well, of course He has.  He responds.  Not as we expect, much of the time, but still.  This time He used two blog posts by different people.

The first post reminded me that living like a Christian and being a Christian are two very different things.  I know that, but somehow I seem to forget and get caught up in the "doing" - or at least in wanting to "do" when life's circumstances withdraw "doing" opportunities.  So God has gently pointed out to me that when He removes "doing" opportunities, it could be He is really gifting me with space to "BE."  Deeper relationship with Jesus arising out of times of solitude in which to hear from His Spirit. 

Kurt Willems at Red Letter Christians puts it this way:

"I’m done with living like a Christian.  I’m done serving the poor. I’m done going the extra mile....  I’m done visiting the sick.... I’m done loving my neighbor....

.... doing all these things won’t change the world.  That’s because the world can’t be changed unless God changes me....

I want to BE, and in the process, become a different kind of follower of Jesus....

So, yes, I’m done with living like a Christian.  I’m trading that in for living in a deeper relationship with Christ.  I want to know Jesus.  I want to hear Jesus.  I want to be empowered by Jesus.  Not simply in theory as I do the good things that he calls us to do, but as the natural outflow of intimacy with God.  The former way “gets the job done.”  The latter way changes the world."

The second post reminded me that I am not "called" to a particular ministry, or place, or job, or any of those other "callings" we often struggle so hard so discover.  My "calling" is not something for me, individually, that I must seek out.  As a believer, my calling is the calling of all believers.  It is not something we have to discover, but something that IS - and that fits right in with the BE.  Same verb!  And the longing of the One whose name is I AM. 

Sarah, at Emerging Mummy, says this:

"But we have been set apart already, by the very nature of our allegiance for the Kingdom.... we already know our calling.
And it's gorgeous and wide and meaningful and brave - right in the context and life that God has placed us.....
We are called to follow and love Jesus.
We are called to love mercy, to do justly and to walk humbly with our God.
We are called to the big nouns - like family and friendship and Church - and we are called to the big verbs - like forgiving, loving, serving, seeking, blessing. And we are often call to live out those enormous nouns and verbs in the smallest of places, making space for the Holy.
We are called to be the Image Bearers of God.
We are called to the poor and the fatherless, the widow and the hurting.
We are called to each other."
Yes.  We are called TO BE with He who is I AM.  That totally makes sense, doesn't it?

So okay.  No fear!

Monday 1 August 2011

Overcoming my fears

Overcoming my fears?  What fears, you ask?

Primarily, my fear that I have nothing worth saying.  That there are so many great blogs out there, and so many bloggers with far more theological education, or much greater experience in church leadership, or - let's face it - just plain "better" spiritual lives.

I used to love to write about "my church journey" - and other aspects of my walk with God.  But for some time now, I've felt like I'm in a wilderness place, with nothing to write.  And yet, as you can tell with the hundreds of past posts on this blog (not to mention my website and other blogs), writing has been a lifelong passion.  And writing about my spiritual journey was center - here at the blog, in my numerous journals, in newletters and magazines.  But I've written almost nothing new for many months, other than the rare (limp) comment on other folks' blogs. And it's not just my writing on this blog that has "dried up." 

I haven't played my guitar or piano or clarinet, or even sung, for so long I can't remember the last time.  Years, at least 3 or 4, except for the odd moment.   And yet there was a time when music, especially "worship" music (hymns and choruses and all) was a wonderful part of my life.   Maybe a dangerously wonderful part, eh?

I have been reading my Bible only sporadically in the past many months, even with the hopeful motivation of a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan.  And yet there was a time when I eagerly soaked up the words of God pretty much every day. 

My prayer life has changed too.  The thing is, I still hear Father.  I still sense His presence, in some ways more surely than ever before.  I talk with him informally about all kinds of things.  Sometimes we don't chat at all, at least not with words.  Sometimes, its like we're just comfortable being together (and yes, sometimes I do get distracted, unfortunately.  Sorry, Lord...).   Astonishingly, my husband has even been praying with us.  But when it comes to formal prayer (you know, "daily devotions" and such), it's been pretty much zero.  Though yesterday I had a little chat with Father via my journal - the first time in a long while.  It was nice.  Not "deep" perhaps.  But comforting, restful, leaning on Him, holding His hand, so to speak. 

And then there's the whole "gathering with the church" thing.  As anyone who's followed this blog in the past will remember, I was once a super-duper-involved-and-committed church member.  At one time, when my kids were teens, I attended 3 services each Sunday at different churches that my various kids preferred.  Then things changed, for a number of reasons.  I realized, with great joy, that Father loves me!  That Jesus loves me.  That the Holy Spirit loves me.  That I really am a beloved child of God. 

I kind of fell into gathering with a group of Christians who mostly were living on or near the street level (you can read some of their stories on my street church pages).  I loved the way they cared for each other, helped each other, shared with each other, even though most of them had so little to begin with.  I loved our Sunday morning breakfasts, and our weekday morning coffee times.  I loved our "church" conversations and study in the word, and prayer that happened so naturally.

We still do Sunday morning breakfasts, and I go out on the streets one or two mornings a week with a friend to share Father's love in whatever ways He shows us.  I visit sometimes in their simple homes or in the hospital.  But somehow, the natural gathering times seem to have dwindled.  And while I talk with the folks at the breakfasts and on the streets and in homes, it seems like my voice has dried up too - at least my ability to say anything much that is "spiritual." 

Hubby and I have opened our home every Wednesday evening for soup and sandwiches for whoever wants to drop in.  I invite my street friends but few come.  Maybe because it's too long a walk (although I offer to give them a ride).  But others come, mostly folks who used to be enthusiastic church-goers, but aren't so much (or at all) anymore.  Folks who kind of feel "lost" but don't know where to turn.  Like me, I guess.  Folks, a lot of them, who never really "fit in" to the church environment to begin with, perhaps?  We do really enjoy our times together.  Sometimes (occasionally) we have amazing times of prayer and discussion.  Sometimes we just enjoy each other's company.  For a few weeks we all cheered on our beloved Vancouver Canucks to that final fateful NHL final game. 

(Is that church?  If it is, why do we find it so hard to get together at other times?  What about some kind of "real service?"  Etc? )  (I've been longing, so much, for REAL fellowship with Jesus and His family.)  (Whatever that means?  Dear God?)

I have to say, at one time I had great dreams, high hopes, for the "alternatives" I saw (or perhaps hoped? envisioned? planned? oh dear...) Father leading me, out of the "traditional, institutional" church, and into daily gathering with brothers and sisters and Jesus.  Maybe that's still coming.  Or maybe what's coming is something I couldn't have "dreamed up" myself, at all.  Maybe something much better.  Something that is from Father, not me or anyone else, no matter how lovely some folks' ideas sound.  Something that is truly centered on Jesus  (how far, how very far, I still have to go in that department.  Sorry again, Lord).

Maybe Father has just had to first "dry out" all the stuff in my life that I've pictured as "spiritual?"  Maybe He's had to take away those things that I "loved," those things that I was "passionate about."  Those things that, yes, I was proud about.  Oh.  I see.  Thank You, Father.  Sorry.

It's easy to say that "It's all about You."  But hard for me to see when so much of it is still about me.  And my wants.

(I suppose my fear of not having anything worth writing about, my fear that others write better, my fear that I'm not as smart or educated or experienced or ... spiritual ... I suppose those fears come out of my pride, too?  Out of my "me?)