Yesterday evening just before dinner I left the pot simmering and instructions for my husband to keep an eye on it, and I walked. I walked around our neighbourhood. I walked under the sunset and the clouds blowing swiftly across the autumn sky. I walked pushing my youngest in the stroller and thinking of my other two at home. I walked in wonder at the beautiful night descending quickly.
I walked with God. And He spoke to me.
It's funny, I've known for a long time that I often struggle to hear God. To get that peace, that knowing, that clarity, that answer that I'm looking for. I've also known that I hear God best when I'm in and around His creation. Somewhere pretty or wild or lovely. Somewhere I can feel Him in the sky and wind around me. Always outside.
I felt God telling me a few things as I walked. I was so captivated, so in tune with Him, I didn't want to go home! I was walking with God. He was so near me. I was so safe. And do you know what He called me to do? Have this time with Him as often as I can. To do my prayer and reading and journalling at home, yes. But to come outside and walk, away from my responsibilities for a time and just walk, be free, and communicate with Him. Listen with my heart and learn from Him.
Many many things have held me back on my walk with God. Big things, things I cannot even discuss on here. They remain in my journals, for my own eyes and maybe for my children to read when they are adults, if they want to. The thing is, I don't want to be held back anymore. I don't want to be distracted, waiting, anxious, in transition, immature (though this will always be a process!), etc. etc. Enough already!!! I want to embrace my faith. Live my convictions. Feel God's presence each and every day, TRUST Him entirely.
I know God wants this for each one of us, and the journey towards knowing Him fully is personal and different for everybody. For me, I plan to go walking with God as often as I can- every day, if possible. Early mornings with William, or late in the day after Stuart is home for work. No chatty toddlers allowed on these walks though, they are to be reserved strictly for the purposes of talking with Jesus, leaning on Him and getting clarity and peace from His creation and His answers.
Later after the children were asleep I spent some time reading some of Angie's words from 'Bring the Rain'. If you've never read Audrey's story, it's seriously worth the time. You can get to her blog from here, and there's a link on her left side-bar to start reading from the beginning. It's truly amazing- just have a big box of tissues handy!
Interestingly, Angie posted a few days ago about her faith and how she got close to the Lord. It's a good read, humerous and honest and inspiring. I thought I'd include some of that post here; it helped me and may be of interest to anyone seeking a closer connection with Jesus. Hope you get something out of it.
"One of the most common questions people ask me is how I got where I am with the Lord- how it is that I have this relationship with Him, and how they can do the same. I always hesitate to respond, not only because I don't see myself as the ideal Christian (do any of us?), but also because I needed for the words to be God-breathed.
I have asked the Lord for about a year and a half how to address this question on my blog and He hasn't given me the words. He is urging my fingers to move, and so my prayer is that these words will speak to you wherever you are tonight...
Several years ago I decided that I wanted to get serious about my walk with the Lord. I wanted depth and conviction. I wanted real and tangible... I think, in essence, I wanted a surefire plan on how to do this thing called Christianity.
I decided I would start reading books that would teach me how to fall in love with God, and began with a beautiful book by Jeanne Guyon calledExperiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ. I have comical memories of beginning this book, because the entire point of it is getting to a place where you can really have communion with the Lord, and a lot of that has to do with training your mind to be still, which I quickly realized is, umm, not my strong point.
I was reading the book in the bathtub with the TV on in the bedroom while I painted my nails. Todd walked in and asked me what I was reading and I started giggling because it was kind of absurd to be multitasking while reading a book on being still. I came to love the book, and it's one of my all time favorites. After I finished, I dug into about 4 dozen more. It became insatiable-this search for how to love Him, how to trust Him, how to live my life for Him. I would ask people how they did it, and I would go to concerts and feel moved, but still not "get it." I did everything I could think of to "trigger" the relationship.
When so many people started asking me the same question, I didn't know how to answer. It isn't my nature to give giant, complicated Biblical spiels or to make myself seem higher in understanding than others (quite simply, because that is not the way I see it at all). What I did want, desperately, was a way to communicate to you all how I got here, because I love Who He is to me. But I wanted something concrete because that's the way my brain works (yeah- broken pitcher, scarlet cord, clay, papyrus, hem, scarf, threshing floor....I think I may have picked up a theme in my devotional-style writings :) ).
I like tangible things that I can wrap my arms and my head around, and unfortunately, knowing Him and believing in Him don't really fall into these categories, so how exactly do you tell others to "Just dig in and trust?"
In the days that have passed since I went to my dad's house, I have been meditating on what the Lord is revealing to me about how I first sought Him. I read every book (minus the Bible, mind you) on "knowing God."
I was extremely well-versed in theory, but completely lacking in practice.
And to be honest, there was actually great appeal in leaving the canvas blank. I could stare at it and imagine the masterpiece, without the opportunity to do it all wrong, or worse yet, find that the whole thing wasn't even real.
As I have let these thoughts rattle around in my brain, I realized that for a long, long time, I liked the idea of Him much more than the real Him. Madame Guyon and many, many others told me how they loved Him, and for awhile that was as good, if not better, as me doing it myself. No risk. I could read about missionaries and see this amazing Savior, but not really have to invest in relationship with Him.
I just couldn't take the chance.
I loved Him from afar, through others. What beautiful potential....I would think....
So as the books piled up, the canvas remained blank.
I'm not sure of the day or even what led to it, but one day I laid down all the beautiful words that people had given me and I let Him speak.
And I heard Him.
The Bible can be an intimidating, big, tissue-ish paged book to many, but when I opened it, I asked for Him to help it come alive for me and it didn't take long. I realized as I read through Genesis that what I had thought would be boring and dry was actually fascinating, and filled my mind with the kind of images that no other book could.
Slowly, carefully, and with many eraser marks, the form of my love for the Lord began to take shape, and as I grew in confidence, I pulled out dusty oil paints that allowed me to brighten it, and I started taking the time to fill in details here and there. On occasion, I have taken a step back from the easel and I have seen things I never knew I could paint. He has given me great courage in the darkest of nights, and intense joy in the least likely of places.
So how do I answer all of those emails, piled in an inbox, asking me how to get here. I guess He just told me...and I want to tell you.
Disregard the manuals and pick up the brush.
I am sitting in front of a computer screen that I have spent most of my life leaving blank, because I didn't think that I was really good enough to be a writer. I think about all of the canvases in my days that I have left untouched for fear of failure. Do you have any of those? The ones that you leave in "potential-land" because you can't bear to have them go wrong?
I think about the greatest masterpiece of all- the God I almost missed because I was so worried about the details. And all He wanted was a daughter who loved Him and wanted to bring Him glory.
So back to the question...how do you get there?
You won't find Him in a 17th century book, nor will He ever be truly found on this (or any other) blog. He isn't found in a great sermon, or even a haunting worship song. Not even in a Beth Moore study (although she can lead you right up to His throne, it is only you who can choose to bow down to Him).
It pains me to say that even (gulp) the music of David Crowder in and of itself cannot give you the peace that comes from one, solitary moment, when you hand your life over to Him.
These things can be amazing conduits that allow us to experience Him, and can help us to grow in our faith-but they cannot ever replace the one True God.
You will find Him if you seek Him-He promises us that.
Tonight, as my eyes tempt me to rest, my heart is beating quickly and with great purpose, because I know Who He could be to you, and I am filled with passion for guiding you to Him.
Talk to Him, even if it feels crazy.
Open the Bible and read. Ask Him to reveal Himself in the pages (maybe not Leviticus right away. That one can wait for a little while....)
Listen for His voice.
Watch for the things He is trying to show you.
Dedicate yourself to seeking, and you will soon be swept off your feet by the greatest pursuer of all time.
Even if your hands tremble, pick up the brush and see what He has for you...
I am praying that He speaks truth to your heart; the truth that no human mouth can convey, and no hands can quite capture in writing. I am praying that He makes Himself known to you, and that you fall deeply in love with Him. Head over heels, turn over your life and trust Him love. The kind that urges you to live with holy abandon.
One simple suggestion, though.
Don't bother doing your nails.
They'll just get messy with paint anyway."