Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On Being Pursued

Reactions are always different when I tell people about the gifts God gives me. The reactions are not the reason for the story, but they come along like an aftershock you can’t help but notice: not the focus, but big enough that it gets your attention anyway.

Those who have experienced what I have are joyous with me, knowing the deeper sense of being pursued, of being loved that comes with the sheer awe and belief-yet-disbelief.

Those who yearn for what I have experienced, but have that longing left unfulfilled ask how. How do you know? How do you hear? How do you bring that about?

And those who think what I describe can’t possibly happen, can’t possibly be true, have a very difficult time co-existing my obviously genuine joy and very real gift (laptop... boots... whatever) with what their world deems would never, could never happen. Because God doesn’t work like that. There are only coincidences, and those have nothing to do with a distant maybe-there-maybe-not God.

Still there are those that have, on occasion, laughed with a mixture of disgust and pity for this girl they think sadly simple. Because for them there isn’t even the possibility that a God, a God who could be so personal, so intimate, even exists. For them all is foolishness, and those who claim to experience such things are foolish and simple. To them there are much greater, more pressing needs of society, of the world. With all the urgency around us, we need not consume our time and energy on something as antiquated as a crutch of belief in God.

Eugene Peterson, in his introduction to Nahum in the Message Bible, says, “If we are conditioned to respond to noise and size, we will miss God’s word and action.”

Read that again.

“If we are conditioned to respond to noise and size, we will miss God’s word and action.”

So often people’s unbelief comes from the root of a wrong perspective. We expect God to show up with horses charging and guns a blazing. And if there isn’t movement in a big, grandiose way then God must not be doing anything. Because that’s our perspective. It’s either big or it’s not at all. In our society there is, we think, no in-between.

And it’s not that He can’t, or that He hasn’t. We can see time and again throughout history where God rescued those who seek Him, or where He has brought punishment on those who have purposefully hardened their hearts. (eek!)

But, “if we are conditioned to respond to noise and size, we will miss God’s word and action.”

I want to be conditioned to respond to God.

My heart seeks to hear what He says, no matter how quietly or how loudly… to see what He does, whether the struggle I’m facing is defeated with the bloody sweat of battle or the quiet breath of prayer.

It’s a matter of our perspective. What are your eyes open to see? Can God be a God of the details? Or can He only be a God of noise and size? Who is He in your everyday?

Or is He in your everyday? Is He only in your holidays? Is He only in your Christmas and Easter? Is He only in your daily life when you’re up against something you know may break you?

Are you touched momentarily by Something that feels familiar, that your heart knows is Something out of your ordinary? And then are you swept away by the noise and size of the world around you on Monday? When you step out of your car? The morning that comes after Christmas Eve?

God is an intimate God, an all-consuming God. He’s an always-meeting, an ever-faithful God. He’s a pursuing God. But our perspective limits our view.

What you see is what you have allowed your heart to see.

If, in your world, you feel you don’t ever see God intimately, don’t ever receive gifts from Him, are unsure of His heart or if you can fully hear His leading, I would ask what you’re looking for? Are you looking for noise and size? Or are you open to the small breath of prayer? Because when we refocus our perspective to notice the intimate, to focus on the everyday, those small breaths actually become quite loud in our hearts. When we condition ourselves to respond to details, we’ll realize we won’t be able to STOP responding to them. Because God is as much a God of the details as He is of the big picture. You can’t have the grandiose beauty of the latter without attending tirelessly to the former.

If, in your world, you know of God, but a God such as this sounds so foreign to you… then ask Him to show you who He really is. Look for the details. He will show up. Actually, He’s always been there… in the quietness that greets you when you close the door, in the smile from across the counter the other day when you realized you looked more stressed than you meant to, in that encouraging email that came when you least expected it, in the bird that paused and looked your way… it’s just a matter of your perspective.

And if you have read to here and are thinking me a simple-minded girl prone to foolishness and great imagination, then I congratulate you on still reading. And I wonder if you see the noise and size for what it is. Be careful of assuming something is the center when it is actually not the center at all.

Because history proves to us that noise and size have nothing to do with sustaining power. Its pages are littered with the rise and fall of rulers and politicians trying to have greater bravado, the loudest voice, the biggest impact. Who give us no rest from what’s pressing, what’s imminent, the latest and greatest solution to the world’s wrongs. We can get caught up in the never-ending swirl, whipped wildly around the farthest reaches of the non-stop whirlpool. Thinking we know where we’re at, thinking we’re at the center of what’s going on, thinking we’re rooted in what’s right… but only realizing too late in our years that our footing is never solid, is always slipping from one thing to the next.

At the center of it all is an Everyday God who desires relationship with us. Who reaches into our details and whispers for us to refocus our perspective. Who holds out His hand and calls to us to come stand on solid ground. “You don’t need to be whipped around wildly by this world! Come stand on My foundation. Come rest in the center.”

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me -- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~Jesus, Matthew 11:28-30 (msg)

**Last photo lovingly stolen from Amber at Joyful Life Photography.**
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1 Comments:

russpetcoff said...

Angela,

This is really good. I liked the line:
"What you see is what you have allowed your heart to see."

There's a reason God gave you a laptop.

Russ