From a Hillside Overlook Rest Stop

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There was a time in my life, after I made a full surrender of all of who I believed myself to be to all I believed I knew of God, that God began to show me great and wonderful things in the Word. I was humbled and awestruck by the things God would speak to my heart through his Word, by his Holy Spirit, through anointed and prophetic individuals and organizations he placed in my path and by what were, at times, very every-day and, other times, very extraordinary circumstances. Even when they didn’t appear to be desirable or feel very comfortable those circumstances somehow eventually played out in a way that was better than I could have imagined.

It would take me several years to realize that God was guiding me in ways that I could never have anticipated, had not sought out, and that were not the kinds of things I had been trained to expect or even knew could exist by my religious traditions and experiences. Nevertheless, once I began to recognize that God was actually giving me guiding directions and, furthermore, giving me glimpses, or sometimes only shimmers or subliminally intuited nudges, of a bigger purpose behind the changes he was making in my life, I was always enthusiastically on board. I had already given God my full self – heart, soul, mind, and strength. I was ALL IN for Jesus Christ. There were a couple of rough passages along the way when he clearly did a check-in and asked if I was still on board. Without hesitation I responded, “I am yours, Lord. Lead on!”

Did I know where I was headed? No, most of the time I just knew I was trying to follow Jesus.

Were there times when I questioned if I’d gotten ahead of God or taken an unmarked dead end? Yes.

Did I cry out to God at times for help in bearing the load of the baggage I carried or in teaching me to travel lightly? Yes, most definitely.

But now, at the early-old-age of 65 I have arrived at a scenic hillside overlook where it appears that God has given me a glimpse of my future and, I must say, I’m excited and happy….. joyful even!
At key points along the last 15 years, whenever anyone with a need to know asked me what I expected to be doing in the next 3-5 years, the answer had pretty consistently been, “Pretty much the same as I’m doing now!” I had finally “found my calling” and have been mostly content with the assignments given to me by God. It isn’t that am complacent. It is that I am constantly stretched and challenged to grow and it is never boring or mundane, just the way I like it. Every day is an adventure with Christ. Though some things change from year to year, many things have settled into a fairly manageable and satisfying, productive pace. That pace has slowed a bit with each decade, but I have confident hope that I still happy years and more than a few surprises still awaiting me this side of Eternal Rest.

There are periodic minor redirections or the occasional tectonic shift, however, that can be unsettling. I may have ignorantly and rebelliously skipped along behind Jesus, with little serious care for where he or I were going, for the first twenty years after my youthful profession of faith. But I’ve been disciplined by the basic training, advanced field survival courses, and special ops intensive assignments of my latter decades. I’ve gained enough experience with God’s guiding and with his faithfulness through the instability of major changes that I have not merely survived. I have thrived. I may not have always been comfortable or necessarily a “happy camper,” but I can persevere and adapt well enough to get from “The Beginning of the End of Life As It Was” to “The End of the Beginning of Life As It Will Be” with my faith in The Almighty God intact and my determination firm to serve him to the best of my puny ability for all the rest of the days of my life.

Those migrations from one side of that desert/mountain/ocean abyss/rocky shore/gentle riverside/grassy plain or whatever the latest incarnation of The Place of Change looks like might take days, weeks or years. It generally depends on what God intends to teach me along this particular part of The Way. So how long it takes is often a function of my readiness and willingness to learn and obey and not particularly a function of the ease or difficulty of the landscape itself. How hard it is to me (or on me) is determined more by how much of the effort and timing I will leave to God and how much I feel necessary to retain in my own hands. But then, that is the point of engaging a Guide, right? To benefit from a Guide’s superior wisdom. In my exuberance and love for journeying with Jesus, I sometimes want to take on too much too soon and find myself chastened by the result, having missed The Guide’s instructions by anticipating and racing ahead. Even when I have believed that I was leaving it entirely in God’s hands and timing, sometimes it has been a long, dark, and treacherous path. I tend to learn more by personal experience and reason, testing it against what has been testified to by others and clearly presented in the Word. So when I’m confronted with something that is contrary to all reason that my knowledge and experience can apply, I resort to clutching at God’s Spirit and his Word so tightly that it is my own pulsing lifeblood that can be strangled by the pressure of it only to discover that God is holding me so firmly within his arms that my death-grip upon Him has been entirely unnecessary. What a relief…….. to simply relax and rest in God’s arms through such passages!

Once I have emerged from “The End of the Beginning of Life As It Will Be” on the far side of these shifts, I can look back and, well beyond the point at which I became aware of entering The Way, I can see signs that God was at work long before I was aware of having entered the most recent transition’s trajectory. It is always reassuring to realize that even when I appeared to have accidentally wandered into a difficult stretch, it was actually a case of God having cleared the path to make it more beneficial for me to choose that particular course, not so much for its ease, but for its equipping. Additionally, at the end of it all, there is always a reward……. a payout…….. a totally serendipitous benefit that I could have never anticipated! And when I discover it and turn to God in delighted surprise, I can feel his joy and pride in having given me something so much better than I could ever have even imagined was possible! GOD. IS. GOOD…….. GOD. IS. LOVE. Never doubt how much God loves each of us!

And so, today, I find that the last few months have been preparing me to exit another passage through a transition I didn’t even realize I had entered. Exactly when it began, I don’t know. I don’t have enough distance from it yet, but I now know that my life is very different now than it was before this transition began. Allow me to give you simple metaphor:

Think: Forrest Gump. He seemed to show up regularly right at the place of the beginning of trends and events, and the suggestion was that because of the clear association of one with the other, that he was the originator of, some key cultural trends and historical movements. At the very least, he appeared to be very prescient and cutting edge when, in fact, he was pretty oblivious to much of the nuance at work around him. No matter what the obstacles before him, he persevered, holding on with confidence to the sense of self and determination he had gained from his mother’s love and devotion.

For a while I had begun to have the odd sense that my journey with Jesus seemed a bit Forrest Gumpish…… Was I, like Forrest, mostly oblivious to the reality of what was actually going on around me in the physical, just moving forward from one thing to the next clinging to my spiritual confidence that I belong to Jesus and he is taking me where he wants me to go. Actually, it seems, all of this life is spiritual, just lived out temporarily in this physical realm until God decides to lift the veil. God has given me glimpses of “great and wonderful things” in his Word over the years, things that make me excited and filled with hope for the future, even beyond that which I am likely to experience first-hand here in the physical. Instead of mindlessly moving about in the physical as oblivious as Forrest Gump of what God is about, it seems more like a situation of God gradually opening my eyes, heart, and mind to grand possibilities of how God is going to carry out the fulfillment of remaining prophecies and promises in his Word.

Today I sat in on a leadership training simulcast that included Simon Sinek, author of The Infinite Game, and listened to things that could have been lifted from my conversations with God, they were so personally affirming of my passions and sense of purpose in life. Whenever I get to the point that I am aware of emerging from a transition and “The End of the Beginning of Life As It Will Be” there is a longing for a way to express what I have been through and what I am learning from it. There was a time in my young new Christian life that I had an “aha” moment in prayer when I realized that I am ALREADY LIVING INTO ETERNAL LIFE! I am already in the midst of moving into infinity. It won’t BEGIN when I die! It began when I embraced a personal relationship with Jesus Christ! The Kingdom of God is here! I’m already “there”! I’ll shed this physical body at some point, just as a transformed caterpillar emerges from its cocoon and, after a brief adjustment, flies off in its new form. The Kingdom of God is here!

Lord, Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done!

Lord, Thy Kingdom has come in me, let me fulfill your will!

Lord, Thy Kingdom will continue to come until it is suddenly clear to everyone, everywhere and undeniable that you have crept into the world again….. like a thief, under cover of darkness and surreptitiously…….yet In broad daylight and having told us all what you were planning to do! But you will have done it, once again, in ways that have been unexpected….. through the renewal of spirits with your Holy Spirit, one at the time, more and more in each generation and with more and more boldness and revealing God more and more fully along the way until The Infinite has overwhelmed the finite and all have been given the opportunity to embrace relationship with you!

I am blown away at how loving, gentle and redemptive you are, Holy and Creative God! The glimpses you have given have all pointed to the truth of that. Even as you have been revealing more and more of yourself, you have been preparing us to look upon you, live with you, and love you perfectly! Somehow, we will all be changed in a minute and the whole world will know the truth of your Presence and Power among us!

Like Simeon and  Anna, I long to see the revelation of the Messiah’s return, however God accomplishes it! And I am daily expecting the whole world to be changed in the blink of an eye by THAT reality! All creation, was conceived to be part of The Infinite world. But the marring influence of sin mired us in the finite temporarily. But I am acutely aware that there is a change coming. I feel like a canary in coal mine…….a living alarm system……. sort of like the little boy in a cereal commercial years ago whose brothers said, “Let’s let Mikey try it”…….. or like a theater troupe or political campaign testing its production by asking “But will it play in Peoria?” Can a girl with limited experience in life, raised without extraordinary advantages for her cultural and social era actually be trusted with secret whispers of God? A better question is wouldn’t a God who has already proven he is willing to die to save his creation want that kind of intimate relationship with every sentient being in it?

I am not extraordinary, nor do I possess any special gifting. And if this girl from Nowhere Special with average ability can be taken into God’s confidence and shown great and wondrous things and actually GET IT, then maybe we’re getting close to the time when the whole world is ready for The Infinite.            CBB 12-4-19

 

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