“Come Away With Me”

Last week, I started to wake up a couple of hours early, but resisted. It wasn’t time to get up and I wanted to get more sleep. In this moment, it seemed to me that my heart was stirred by these words, “Come away with me.” About an hour later, the same thing happened. Same stirring and same reaction. In both cases, I went back to sleep.

Then, two hours after the initial stirring, it was time to get up and I awoke to that same perceived call. I believe God was stirring my heart in that way so I woke up praying and considering, “is that You? If so, what does that mean?”

I opened the Bible and found this passage: “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)

This meant some things to me personally which I continue to process. It also meant some things to me professionally. The ministry I work for (thequestlife.com) was started, in effect, from that phrase. The founder, Richard Henderson, tells the story of God stirring those exact same words within him over 18 years ago. That invitation, met with his “yes,” took him to Riodoso, New Mexico. From that invitation and acceptance, Quest was born on the side of a mountain. Thousands of people from different parts of the world with different stories have encountered Jesus during their Quest experience.

The invitation was given by Jesus to the guys with Him and it’s given to us. Our willingness to simply say, “yes” to his call to put down our business and go away to a quiet place for rest with Him remains. Maybe that’s the true “secret sauce” to Quest or any related “freedom” ministries . . . “yes” to the rest. Yes to the communion. Yes to the meal with Him.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? I think it is, but it isn’t. In the “yes,” there is an implied “no.” That “no” is where the problem is. Most of us are simply unwilling to say “no” to the busyness. We are either too over-extended, self-important or addicted to the adrenaline that we won’t stop. Our excuses will vary, but they all result in a refusal to take Jesus up on that very simple invitation. Until they don’t, and then our quest can begin.

Trusting God . . . or Not

I’d like to say that I trust God, but I wonder if that’s true? If I truly trust Him, why do I experience so much worry, anxiety or fear? Why don’t I just pray and wait when faced with challenges?

Trust is, by definition, “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” With that definition, I must trust God. I firmly believe that God is reliable, true, able and strong so that means I must trust Him, right? Why, then, do I worry and imagine and strive? Maybe another definition is necessary.

The definition of dependence is “the state of relying on or being controlled by someone or something else.” Uh-oh, I think we’re on to something. Being controlled or even reliant are not appealing qualities to me. They don’t even seem very masculine or responsible. I can’t say that I value those traits very highly. Can I really trust without being dependent?

Allowing God to control me and my outcomes and to rely on His goodness takes faith. I have to believe that His ways are better. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

That’s quite a promise but the conditions are significant. He “rewards” those who “seek” Him. Seeking includes the ideas of searching, figuring it out for one’s self . . . craving. There is a demand in the idea of seeking that suggests until the answer is provided, the search will not cease; not even unto death.

Here’s the trick, I think . . . Hebrews doesn’t say that He rewards those that seek the answers to their problems. It doesn’t say that He fixes things for those that ask for stuff. It says that He rewards those that sincerely seek Him without any “give up” in their inquiry. For those that will seek God for God’s sake unto their own death, He is pleased with them to the point of reward.

When focused on my problems, real or imagined, I don’t seek God nor do I trust Him, nor am I dependent on Him. I want what I want when I want it. He is reduced to a tactic to try to get my way. He is kept at arm’s length for the sake of my primary attention going into the problem solving process to control my outcomes and protect my comfort.

When I seek Him for Him with faith that He exists and can be found, the reward is satisfying no matter the answer of the prayers. When I seek Him unto the death of me, the stuff in my life is secondary to the eternal hope and satisfaction found in the intimacy of finding Him.

Do I trust God? Sometimes.

Do you?

The Cost and Choice of Intimacy

IMG_0462Posting this a little later in the day than I normally do as I am thinking, writing and living on Colorado time for a couple of weeks. We are away in the mountains to minister to couples through Q1 at Legacy Lodge and the lines between giving and receiving are blurred. There is so much to gain and grow in related to how I relate that I find myself in the middle of fresh pursuit of deeper knowing.

Julie and I didn’t have the easiest flow of communication over the months leading up to this time. Expectations weren’t met and intentions weren’t appreciated. We were assuming the worst of each other at times, even though we were openly talking about it and trying to re-set that faulty lens.

Intimacy is difficult and, for me at least, it’s not a default place where vulnerability comes at the cost of comfort. Intimacy won’t happen, for me at least, without intentional sacrifice of selfish insulation. Intimacy is, for me at least, an intentional choice of investment and depth.

Intimacy isn’t only vulnerable, it is absolutely sacrificial. It is absolute in its sacrifice because where there is intimacy there will be hurt. Intimacy costs the intentional sacrifice of emotional hurt because close proximity with another, any other, will bring hurt, disappointment, misunderstanding and other unpleasant emotions. These emotions can be managed or avoided by isolation and isolation can be maintained in a crowded room or marriage relationship.

Intentionally running into hurt requires the sacrifice of our soul that is otherwise self-protective. Without acknowledgment and attention to the emotions that come with exposure, we will eventually develop habits of avoidance and callousness of the very heart we are asked to share. Hurt is temporary when we submit to the Healer. Healing starts on the inside and it is a benefit of knowing God, whose very name includes the declaration of His healing.

I spent the first part of my life protecting myself from any real exposure and the result was easy, but shallow. Marriage doesn’t negate that possibility, it simply affords the opportunity and possibility of depth and living beyond the restriction of isolation. For me at least, I can only hope to walk in intimacy when I allow the Healer to tend to my soul. With His healing and restoration, I can wake up to die to me again.