I apologize for my relative silence around our blog lately. (Although Derek’s been writing some great poems!) It’s been a busy year, full of maintenance of all of our existing projects and life’s busy-nesses (is that a word? now it is). I’m making no huge promises here, but I have been writing a bit more and am working on a new blog with my own non-Bearable Light writing and art. I’m also at the beginnings of another book. I’ll let y’all know when that gets off the ground.
In the meantime, we were thinking of opening comments on some entries on the blog. We’ve never done that before, but sometimes it’s fun to get feedback. I guess we could experiment and see how it goes.
I had a topic on my heart this week that I felt like exploring here. It has to do with new resources, and this is something that Derek and I have been struggling with and through lately, but somehow I think it is relevant to more than just our own lives. From just speaking with other friends and observing some trends in the church, it seems like many are in a period of transition.
Now, personally, I am always a bit tempted to get cynical when I hear people talking about transition and breakthrough. “You’re about to have a breakthrough!” is a fairly recurring word in prophetic circles. And for the last year, it seems like I’ve had at least three different months where I’ve been told that I’m in a transition month. What makes it even more poignant is that it’s been God who’s been telling me this. But I have a kind of relationship with him where I like to bug him. Why do you keep telling me this? When is it going to end? He knows I feel like I keep starting new things, new ideas or new relationships with great hope only to find myself spluttering the minute I leave the runway.
So for the last year or so, while there have been some good moments and minor breakthroughs, never this major life breakthrough that sets me on a new course where I feel satisfied. Last month, Derek and I took a long-overdue holiday away from home, and one of the first things I wrote in my journal was: I feel inefficient, about everything.
Sounds kinda heavy, but I am trying to be honest here. I think that what I might share from this is important to others as well. For us personally, one of the things that consistently wears us down is our inability to manage all the practical details of our life. The more we have to manage, the more it has started to feel as if we are being inefficient at it. So for a long time now, we’ve tried to implement a lot of good ideas and new action plans on how to manage our lives better. We’ve refined our work schedule, tried to keep ourselves to better regimens that balance friendship and work and travel and ministry. It’s all a bit like when you decide you need to get in shape, and you join the gym and give yourself a diet and exercise plan but the whole time you’re applying said regimen, your phone is ringing off the hook, you throw your back out, your previously well-maintained car falls apart, and it takes you twice as much time to walk to the gym. It seems like no amount of efficient planning gets you to the goal of getting in shape.
Somehow, in the middle of our vacation (which helps if you have an unruly perspective on your life!), I was able to listen without all the competing voices in my head. And what I realized was–I’m trying to reach a new season on last season’s resources. The way he put it to Derek was–you’re running on exhaust fumes.
And that one little revelation was enough to give me a big breath of peace. There is a plan, and there is a better way.
But it has not been completely revealed.
I’m okay with this, because I know I love a God who is not silent and who has an eternal, spilling-over abundance of resources for me–resources of peace, joy, fulfillment, relationships. I hope in this and I have seen it fulfilled before. But while I am waiting, I see Him working and I am coming to understand the nature of transition more. I thought I might share some of the key things I am seeing in both my own and others’ lives.
The number one thing that God puts in us from the time that we are planted with his seed is a desire for him. I wrote in my book that desire is the atomic energy of all of creation. It is the exploding energy of love. When we see something we want, we truly, truly want, there is no hurdle huge enough to keep us from going after it.
Desire for the Father’s love and will is what gave Jesus the power to suffer. And the worst enemy of desire is religion–the shoulds, coulds, woulds of life. We have a constant filter that tells us–well, I can’t have that, or I shouldn’t have that, because I don’t have enough resources, or “the man” won’t let me have that, or I don’t deserve it. All of this thinking is totally based in our old man nature, the dying part of us that he took with him on the cross.
If we are truly on a journey in the spiritual life, it will be filled with constant desire, all the way to the end. Desire ebbs and flows, but if we are truly growing, throughout our life we’ll come up against the aches and pains of need and desire. There will always be seasons in one’s life where we feel unsatisfied with the status quo–where the things that filled us, or even overflowed, no longer have the same effect.
If you have ever read Song of Songs, this is the one thing you can take away from that beautiful book. It is tense with the appearance and reappearance of desire, the coming and going, the satisfying and then the intense longing and back again. It’s not just about the romantic, courting phase of love, but the entire spiritual journey, until we are one with God.
The Song tells us that He recedes so that we chase him more. He veils parts of himself, so that we long for more fulfillment. We can never get to the bottom of Him, it will take eternity to do so, but He craves us to know Him, deeply.
We have to learn how to be okay with the ebbing and flowing and the periods of our life when things remain unrevealed. They are a natural part of the spiritual journey, but there are certainly dangers when we feel that God has disappeared, especially when we are feeling intense loneliness.
Sometimes our lonely transitions are not so much a matter of God disappearing or veiling himself, but the reality that our desires are for a part of God that is different than the part of Him we are accustomed to. We are usually unaware of it but we have a need or desire for intimacy with a part of Him we have never known.
In my generation, there is a deep craving for the love of the Father, but most of us don’t know it yet. Often when we first become Christians, we experience the intense love of Jesus, the savior, the best friend, the brother, and often for women, the lover. These are the parts of him we first encounter, but one’s spiritual life cannot keep momentum forever on these parts of Him alone.
Our relationship with Him is usually mirrored in our relationships with others. A person can gauge their relationship with God by his or her marriage and intimacy. Our friendships can also be a barometer. Often we get stuck in certain stages of intimacy with people and have trouble reaching new levels of intimacy or making new types of friendships if we are missing or seeking an intimacy with a a new part of God.
Most people I know feel very safe with a lover or a buddy, a best friend, but their craving for fatherly love and acceptance remains unmet. And with good reason–so many people I know didn’t actually receive a father’s unconditional love, praise and attention as a child. But there is a danger here in our relationships. People in the church often get stuck in certain relationships, or certain spiritual activities and groups; they depend on them for their security and spiritual livelihood. This is often where people are in danger of idolizing others, their giftings or ministries.
I want to pause and explore this topic of relationships more in my next blog, because I feel this is probably the biggest area in which people struggle, even leaders, on the path to transition. If we want to get through to seeing and desiring the next season of our lives–if we want breakthrough–there is a certain growth and death in relationships that we need to understand and accept.