immersed in the practice of creating, all things that exist were birthed in Him. His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light–a light that thrives in the depths of darkness, blazes through murky bottoms. it cannot and will not be quenched.”
– john 1:3-5, the voice
last week i was out on a walk by myself, trying to get some sanity back, pondering why certain simple things at the refuge seem to sometimes “work” better than others. what i mean by that is why are certain gatherings easy to pull off, filled with wild and beautiful surprises, and compelling? why do other things sometimes feel like more work?
this simple thought popped into my mind: “when we start with real life and open ourselves up to seeing God in it, it works. when we try to start with our notions about God (or what-we-think-we-should-be-talking-about-because-it-counts-as-“spiritual” ) and try to fit life into it, it sometimes feels contrived.”
it doesn’t mean real life first, God second.
it means when we feel the need to lead with ideas about God, many times we never get to real life. (i know so many people were in small group bible study after small group bible study but no one actually knew they were depressed, addicted, lonely, or on the verge of divorce).
but when we start with real life, God can always, always be found (even in the honesty of acknowledging we don’t feel or see him right now)
God’s kind of amazing that way.
but there’s no question, we have to open our eyes and hearts and eyes and ears and hands and feet to notice.sometimes it’s in a language that we’ve never heard before that doesn’t at all sound religious. sometimes God smells and tastes and looks differently than we’ve ever experienced before. sometimes it’s a clear–here’s where i’m seeing and feeling Jesus–and other times it’s not quite so evident. sometimes it’s in the beauty of the scriptures that bring life or hope and challenge in a moment or in a poem or song or moment that stirs a soul. but goodness gracious, is it pretty when the Holy Spirit blows through a room where people are talking about their real lives, no matter how simple or complicated those lives are.
it’s so much easier for me to think of a Bible verse that stirs my heart after i hear a good story than to think of a story that goes with a Bible verse.
it’s so much easier for me to experience God’s healing, freedom, hope, peace, mercy, compassion when i am tangled up in a real-in-the-flesh relationship with other people, engaged in my own story and their story than when i am sitting in a room abstractly talking about God’s healing, freedom, hope, peace, mercy, and compassion or reading a book or a blog about it.
it makes me think of why 12 step groups are incredibly transforming. there’s a desperation for God that has nothing to do with head knowledge. it’s about real lives in need of God’s help. it’s about the unplugged rawness of the good, bad, and ugly parts of our lives shared out loud with others who are trying to become better human beings, too, and become less divided.
when i think of all the crazy little spaces where i see God in my week, where my faith is somehow renewed, where my soul is somehow stirred, where my belief in the crazy wild ways of Jesus is re-born yet again, it is always always always in organic wild and incredibly simple moments of people sharing about or engaging together in real life.
i know some are already thinking the “but what about’s” and how important it is to keep God at the center of everything.[quote type=”center”]but what if we started with the premise that God is already at the center of everything, God is and was and will always be. and the best way for him to be revealed is through real life. through our stories, through our friend’s stories, through the world’s stories.[/quote]
through flesh and blood in desperate need of spirit and hope.
if we’re not careful, we’ll always default to wanting to talk about God first instead of talking about our real lives and noticing and honoring God-alive-and-moving in them no matter how small or big. we’ve got a default to want to stay up high and in our heads and in our biblical interpretations and our spiritual language and in our protect-ourselves-from-how-vulnerable-it-is-to-share-our-real-lives-with-others-and-be-brave-enough-to-notice-God-in-the-midst.
i keep realizing it’s not sacred or secular, sacred vs. secular, or sacred better than secular.
it’s somehow about honoring the sacred in everything.
ps: here’s a picture of the refuge’s new space, which will hopefully be a place where real lives and God’s hope collide in all kinds of beautiful, natural, and simple ways. thanks for your love and support for our little crazy dreams; it means more than you know.