Oh dear reader, my wish is that you and I could sit down together over a slow and nourishing meal and unpack our hearts and minds as we savor each bite. I would ask you about the state of your soul in this historically tenuous moment…are you carrying the weight of social unrest? Are you fighting an internal battle? Are you trying to make your way through a haze of confusion? Trying to find clarity of vision for the way forward?
If this describes even a little bit of your current experience, you are not alone. Read that again: you are not alone.
As for me, I have been on a journey over the past year of walking with the Lord in a way that I’ve not known previously. That isn’t to demean the quality of our relationship before, because it was sweet and bore good fruit. But sometime last fall, I sensed a clear shift in the way Jesus was dealing with me. It is difficult to put into words, but the best way I know how to describe it is to say that He was becoming more serious with me, or maybe it was that I was becoming more aware of the seriousness of calling myself a disciple of Christ.
It was as if I could sense His piercing gaze on me, on the deepest parts of my inner life, and His gaze cut through me like the sharpest knife possible. Nothing was off-limits to Him (which is always true, but there was a new acknowledgment in my heart of this truth).
But even still, His gaze on me was not unkind. Indeed, He reminded me of David’s scripture recorded in Psalm 18:19, which I wrote on an index card and kept directly above my computer at eye level,
“He brought me out to a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”
This new way of relating to one another was like a daily tethering–whenever I felt myself beginning to drift away from my Lord in worry or stress or feelings of defeat, I would remember this verse and picture Jesus as the Good Shepherd (and myself as the needy sheep) and become grounded once again to Him as my Reality.
There is much that I could say right now about the state of our nation, or even the state of the Western church, (and if you’ve been a long-time reader, you know I have strong feelings about ALL OF THIS) but the reason that I wanted to share what I did (above) is to say this:
Jesus has me in a space of being quiet right now. Of stillness. Of seeking His voice above the fray. Of waiting on Him. Of rejecting the impulse to SAY or DO anything outside of what He is directly asking me to say or do at this moment.
I know this sounds radical, and might even offend some of you, and for that, I would just ask, why? If you are a Christ-follower, why would the practice of waiting as long as it took to actually hear the voice of the Spirit be offensive? Does it challenge your need to fix the immediate situation? Does it prick the tender skin of your fragile pride?
I don’t say this lightly, because friends, these are exactly the questions that the Spirit has been challenging me with and I know how uncomfortable it feels (even painful at times). But if you are wrestling with similar issues, let me say it again: you are not alone.
This is the way of the Spirit of God–as the Apostle Paul put it in Romans 2, the “circumcision of the heart,” is a cutting away of the humanistic morality of our flesh to reveal a heart that truly beats for God alone. If we want to go deeper with the Lord, to truly understand His love for people and the Father, we must allow the Spirit to do this work in us.
Just yesterday, I found myself back in the Psalms, this time in Ps. 32:7-11.
I want to share this with you as we wait, together, on the Lord to lead His body. Here is abundance (look for it!): we are promised protection in times of trouble, joy in the midst of trial, instruction and counsel on the way forward, and faithful love to surround us.
“You are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance. Selah
I will instruct you and show you the way to go;
with my eye on you, I will give counsel.
Do not be like a horse or mule,
that must be controlled with bit and bridle
or else it will not come near you.
Many pains come to the wicked,
but the one who trusts in the Lord
will have faithful love surrounding him.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice,
you righteous ones;
shout for joy,
all you upright in heart.”
In a society that is obsessed with it’s own voice, with making noise, the counter-culture way is quiet, still, patient. And the best news is that we are not alone because the Lord IS our hiding place! He is forever trustworthy, even during the darkest of times. May we find ourselves in the center of His gaze.