Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Journey Inward - Part 2

“May all your expectations be frustrated, may all your plans be thwarted, may all your desires be withered into nothingness, that you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God who is Father, Son and Spirit.”

For the past couple of years, I have been on a journey. Discontent with staying still, I committed to myself to take a journey to discover who I am. At the same time, the journey is not only about discovering who I am alone, but even more importantly a journey to discover who I am in Christ Jesus. I am on a journey to discover why I think what I think; why I act the way I act; why I say the things I say. The journey is in progress. On most days the journey is led by the Holy Spirit. The journey has taken me down a number of different paths that have all led to discovery and wonder. As there have been some recurring themes throughout my self discovery, I have noticed that the issues of being opinionated, competitive and judgmental seem to just keep hanging around. Recently, I sensed that the Lord was directing me to get some extra help on this leg of the journey.

In early March, I decided to take my said desire to change to the next level. In early March, I took a trip to Dallas, TX where I spent 3 days meeting with a very wise, very gracious Christian man who also happened to be a professional counselor.

On my first day, as I sat across from him, I spent the first 2 hours of our time explaining to him all of the things that I struggle with when it comes to my competitive, judgmental, opinionated self. I told him stories of how others irritate me. I told him stories of how I irritate myself. I told him all of the things that I wanted fixed.

When I was done, he spent the next 8 hours (over 3 days) helping me revisit my past, praying over me and teaching me about what it means to be an ordinary human being who opens himself to the life and power of Jesus in order that Jesus may indeed live His life through me.

At the end of our last session on our last day, he looked at me and said “It has been a pleasure spending time with you.”

At this moment, I could not believe it was over.

He could see a troubled look on my face and he asked me,    “Are you okay?”

With as much honesty as I could muster up, I simply said, “But what about all of my stuff? What about all of the things that I told you about 2 days ago? We didn’t talk about my issues. How do I quit doing the things I hate? How do I get better? How do I change?”

To these questions he replied, “Go home. Begin to live in the presence of God. Invite Him to live His life through you. If you do not begin to see some changes in the next 6 months, email me and we’ll tweak some things.”

To me this was not new news. I understood practicing God’s presence. I read Brother Lawrence’s book….five times. This advice, this counsel did not seem good to me. But that afternoon I walked out and I simply said, “Jesus, if there is more for me to learn about what it means to live in your presence, then I am open and ask you to take the lead and show me the way.”

Well, it has been 2 months and I have realized that I had a thorough, cognitive understanding of what it meant to practice God’s presence. (I've even taught on this subject!) The problem was I didn’t have a personal, ongoing experience of what it meant.

By no means do I think I fully understand it today, but I must say that I am learning more every single day about what it means to live in the presence of God; to let Jesus live His life through me. At the same time, I am beginning to see some changes in my heart and in my life.

My time with this counselor, along with a few very influential books (1, 2, 3), some very real friendships and time with the Holy Spirit has really begun to impact my life greatly. In no way could I express all that God is doing in me. In no way do I feel that God has even scratched the surface of what he desires to address in my life. However, in a very real way…I recognize that God is changing me and as challenging as it is (and it is very challenging and at times painful), I am in awe that God loves me enough to not allow me to stay stuck.

I am hoping that along the way, I will be able to share some of my journey. Some of it is a little too personal for this blog, but for what I do share, I hope and pray that it will be used to both encourage and challenge.