Today my thoughts are simple and somber. Today I hurt for friends. As I hurt I can’t help but feel like something is broken. And I can’t help but admit that I have participated in the brokenness.
You see, for most of my life; (the years I’ve tried to dedicate to following Jesus), I have been persuaded and influenced by sermons, and interactions, and leader meetings and ministry philosophies. I have been told time and time again that “those on the ‘outside’ looking in are most in need of redemption.” First, let me affirm that there are not many things greater than witnessing someone experience God’s love for the first time, or after a difficult season where He seemed distant and estranged. So please hear me out before you wrongly assume that I don’t think redemption for those who have been distant from God is beautiful. I just have some really honest questions….
So, here goes…..as we (me included) have trucked along, as we (me included) have narrowed the focus to “reach more”, I can’t help but wonder if we have gained a misperception along the way. I can’t help but wonder if we (me included) have lost touch with our own need for continued and ongoing redemption. I can’t help but wonder if we (me included) leave things unredeemed in our own souls and instead live in pursuit of a “holy calling” to redeem others. Honestly, it’s just very often easier that way.
“Here let me help you be redeemed because then I don’t have to deal with my own need to become someone new, someone different, someone set apart.” What if the redemption of other people always includes the ongoing redemption of ourselves? What if it is IMPOSSIBLE to separate the two? What if as we ourselves participate in the process of being redeemed that it’s actually our process, and who it is we are becoming, and how we handle different situations and relationships that speaks louder than any alter call, sermon, or perfectly strategized event. It’s time for us (me included) to part ways with the misconception that redemption is only for those on the outside. There is much to be redeemed within us, within the Church.
This post is long overdue. It’s been something I’ve wanted to share for months.
In September I had the opportunity to travel to San Diego for the second gathering of our RHYTHMinTWENTY group. My first experience with RHYTHM was in October 2008 and it was literally indescribable. Part of me worried that our time together in San Diego could only do one thing; fall short. Fortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was a life giving, challenging, inspiring time filled with deep and authentic connection. There were moments I’d look around me, moments I’d take a second to pause and realize what was happening between the twenty of us. And without little doubt I knew I was experiencing a piece of Heaven on Earth.
We spent one morning listening to the words of one of our leaders, words about the Holy Spirit…..the wind. His words helped stir something in me, something I hadn’t felt in a long time…the Spirit living within me. His words helped me remember this mysterious beautiful truth….the Spirit is alive and the Spirit is within me.
But I was overwhelmed by how little I felt like I knew the Spirit. I felt guilty for all the times I had forgotten, all the times I had deliberately chosen to ignore the wind. I approached our time of solitude feeling inspired, yet every part of me seemed completely numb. I had no fitting words to tell God how sorry I was. I had no eloquent prayer to offer that would make up for lost time. I felt lost and hopeful in the same moment. I simply had my broken, humbled, and honest self. I put down my journal and with it the expectation that I would fill this time with beautifully flowing words. I thought to myself “stop trying so damn hard and just be.” And as tears flowed down my cheeks the wind began to pick up and I found myself admitting something I was terrified to admit to myself or anyone else. I began repeating over and over “I DO NOT KNOW THE WIND. I DO NOT KNOW THE WIND.”
There! I had said it. My admission in that one simple phrase was saying so much more. One simple phrase and I was finally confessing…..God I don’t know your Spirit. God there are times I feel like an intruder, a fake, a hollow and empty representation of what it means to love you. God I feel broken. God our relationship feels broken and distant. God I don’t want to pretend anymore. I don’t want to play games anymore. I’m done trying to convince myself and those around me that I really know you, or that I really understand you. And in that moment of confession I felt free. I felt alive. I felt like God was near. I felt like the wind knew me, even though I did not know it. I felt hopeful despite the way my heart was broken to know God. And then I felt ready. Ready to pick up my pen. Ready to be honest. And here is what came out…
Every post I’ve written to this point has had an image. I’m slowly learning that there are times when images limit our ability to dream, to think beyond what is right in front of us. Today I am dreaming about community. I see the places and faces of those I am in community with now, and I dream of the places I will one day venture; the stories that will merge with my own. I dream of a community that embodies this statement…