I'm thinking that vulnerability is a good thing. Especially when someone in your gathering says that if there is something on your heart that you have thought about saying but aren't, you should go ahead and say it. I think vulnerability is a key to the lock keeping God back--probably because usually that dead-bolt is pride. It can be other things too, like fear or discomfort, but I would guess those are rooted in pride too. Of course there is a place for everything, and some might say a blog isn't one of those places--but to each their own. And if I would share the struggle I sure as shit better share the joys. And damn well curse while I'm at it, just for emphasis. I choose my words carefully.
So it turns out that God is good--go figure. Even when it seems like he isn't very nice. I don't think this season is necessarily over, nor does this feel like a brief respite like I have had in the past. No, and I'm glad it's not joy for that. Because then that would be just about how I am feeling and that I am out of it and all about me. I wouldn't be glad for what God had done, just that I was feeling better. This is a different joy. And joy is something I have been thirsting for and asking for in prayer. And here it is--at least a taste. Did I say yet that God is good?
I suppose I should tell the story now. So we have prayer meetings most weekdays at 4. Have had them in some capacity for several years now. They are one of my most absolute favorite things. Perhaps nothing has changed my life more than beginning to pray regularly and communally. Not because prayer is amazing (though it is), but because it is how you find the heart of God. But that's a tangent. So prayer today was pretty low key. Just 3 of us there, pretty quiet, happy in the silence with God. After awhile someone got a picture they felt like sharing.
The picture was of a lake, tranquil but covered in fog and lots of clouds. The trees around were dulled grey by the lack of light and everything was just a little muffled. But above the picture was the word "beauty." And then a picture of the same scene, only now the fog was gone and light broke through and the leaves were illuminated into gold and green. The lake was a deep blue. And above the picture again was the word "beauty." Did I get all that right Jenna? I had the sense that it was for me, then Jenna said that she thought it was for me. This place is a place of beauty, though tranquil and somewhat desolate in a way. But not desolate--the things are all there, they are just covered in fog and lack light. And there is still beauty and goodness in a darker time, just as there is in a colder season. It affirmed the goodness of this time even in all its pain and struggle.
That was really great. And then lifegroup tonight. Man. It's cool when you as a leader are able to be ministered to by people in your group, without setting out a time for that sort of thing even. Isn't that how every group should be? with that freedom? Anyway, I like I mentioned earlier I was encouraged to share, even without her knowing it was me she was encouraging to open my yapper. Two side notes: I get uncomfortable when I feel like I am taking up too much of the time on myself. Everyone should have a prophet in their groups/bible studies/churches--something about God speaking to people. I heard somewhere that's important. Anyway, so I say my thing, not too unlike my entry a couple back along with more past details. And then God opened His mouth. Nicolle saw the image of my silhouette with only the heart visible, and there was a bunch of wax melting off it. Then she could see a light in my eyes--not a bright shooting out kind of light, but a gentle light that conveyed depth and strength (kinda weird to write about myself like that). It was not an overt power or prowess, but one for a subtle use by God--though for the greater goodness. Or so it was said. And then God was telling* her to tell me that I am beautiful, which she did, but not in an awkward way or with anything more than that coming from God of course. We laughed off the potential awkwardness. I know my beard is a beautiful thing, but more than just that? Really? No but seriously, these words were such a blessing. I told some more of my sense of connection to the Lord of the Rings story about Gandalf falling into shadow, and it seems like I might have some demon to fight--literally or figuratively. I don't know what that is but God give me strength, for I am weak. Though I get the sense that perhaps it is not that sort of battle, but one in which victory is found in surrender. Life is found in death. And God may do a lot of the fighting for me. I will have my part though I suppose. We shall see. But for the first time in a long time I feel perhaps somewhat able. I know God is near though I don't feel Him. I know this is good though its effects of feeling are not. I am learning something of faith.
All of that feels way personal and a little daunting to share (not to mention self-inflating). So it's back to vulnerability. And while the whole world wide web maybe doesn't deserve my trust, fortunately I don't have that many readers. And I'm pretty sure you all have it. Besides, who am I to hoard the blessings of God? Would I not share joy? To what purpose would I close my heart? I mean really, what is truly the value in such privacy?
This quote from OKC also comes to mind: John the Baptist said 'I must decrease that Christ may increase.' But the church in America says 'I must increase so that Christ may increase."
Ok well i'm sorry for all of these (super) long posts--really putting a strain on you. I promise to post a few shorter entries next with just a song or something entirely shallow. Or at least entertaining enough to get you to laugh. I'll consider it a duty. And if you say the word "duty" out loud and don't laugh, then we haven't much hope now do we?
*I realize I don't really question whether or not God was truly speaking through her or not. I have no doubt personally, but if you question...well, chalk it up to coincidence but sooner or later all those coincidences add up to either conspiracy or faith. Either one has an author. There is also a really fun story of verification involving her specifically, but you'll have to get that from me in person.