My whole community has been sick since Christmas. Like many, the flu has battered us all, knocking us down and putting us in bed for days upon days. During my own time being sick and in bed, I have thinking much of my brother Dan, and how for so much time during his life, he spent it in a bed, sick, weak, and unable to do to much. I remember the last months of his life and how he became weaker and weaker, and the physical life was leaving him, and how hard at times it was to witness. His suffering was great at times, his pain was evident, his desire to leave it all was sure. But what I also remember was how there was a steady parade of people who came into his room in those months, and then would leave changed. People where saved, ministries began, lives turned around, and focus was brought to Jesus in his room. Where God had brought Dan was to a place of brokenness, a place where he became mostly focused on heaven, a place where there was nothing left to hide, no need to judge others, no way to hide anything. Dan enjoyed others coming in and sharing words when possible, but mostly sharing love for each other and God. It was a powerful time, it changed my life. I left that year changed, but also scared and having a deep desire for the intimacy with God than came in the form of togetherness that I experienced in that time. I have experienced over 2 decades of "Spiritual discontent" to quote author and pastor Bill Hybels. The experience of church, togetherness, His family, or spiritual community, whatever you call it, has been disappointing for me in many ways. I know that sounds so horribly arrogant, but I beg you to hear my heart that it is not. I dare not blame the church, leaders, or anything or one. I believe God has given me this discontent in order to move deeper into Him to fill the hole I feel so deeply. I yearn for a deeper closeness to God and people. I cry for the opportunity to be in better communication with Him. I ache on the inside to be free of the my torments of the mind and the flesh that bind me and enslave me. Yes, I know this all sounds a little dramatic, but it is the daily wrestling match that goes on in me, my mind whirls and heart is troubled, and I have again sought out counseling to move towards some point of decision that would help me be better focused on the path God is leading me. So I begin this new year not resolving to change anything, but rather to figure out what it is I am searching for, find where I am on the map so I can begin the journey to the destination God desires, and then be able to take part in the loving fellowship with others and Him to full extent that He has called me to.
So I begin by sharing what I want, a vision of where I believe God wants me to be. This will sound selfish and probably will elicit questions as to my mental stability, but I am sharing it anyway... I desire to be in spiritual community with people who want to be honest about where they are. I want to hate my garbage and my flesh more than I hate the same of others. I want my moral failures to be not so easy to hide. I want to be free of the slavery that the church I grew up in, bound me with, in the idea that my sins will get found out, so I better stop them on my own. I want a community or at least a few people where I am able to admit who I am at my worst, without leaving out anything. I want to have integrity. I want loving response to my admission of depravity and sinfulness. I want the festering, left over garbage, inside of me, that has been given a less than loving response, so I held it back from my confessions, to be released. I want to love and build relationships with other broken, battered people, who grab on to each other because they know they cannot make it alone on this sinking ship of a world we live in. I want to be relentlessly honest about whats in me, and ok with that I am broken beyond recognition. I want move forward with others who have failed, been rejected, and been let down. I want to approach others knowing in my heart we all have been hurt so deeply we made the decision to never let it happen again. I want to be with people like me who have been so criticized that we have felt useless and not willing to get involved, and understand that is why we live life so defensively. I want to stop the lie that "I can protect myself by preserving my wounds" as a famous pastor once said.
Where I am at today, I feel like I am in a log jam, or stuck in a dam that is holding back the water, the living water, that God has for me and for others. I want to flow in Gods spirit from one person to another and join together in little creeks, streams, and rivers and then pour into a raging torrent of a river that finally dumps into the giant sea of Gods love. My good friend Jill named her blog, "Rivers of Joy". I think of those words often. Thats what I want, to live my life in a river of joy knowing I am flowing with others in Gods purpose, moving closer to him on the current of the living water He provides.
If you read this, I ask for your prayer, I love you, Happy New Year.