“Today, I will set aside time to hold your hand, instead of walking ahead while you follow.”
I wrote this today as a ‘Practical Application’ after reading in Colossians. The section I was reading had both nothing and everything to do with how I felt I should live it out today. I was reading and reflection on how lost I was, a complete enemy. The specific verse I read referred to how I am alive in Christ – after I was dead.
You know what dead people can’t do? Bring themselves back to life. They can’t even try. It’s an obvious and almost foolish statement, but really think about it. In a way that isn’t meant to be obscene: imagine a corpse. It does nothing but lay there, no life and definitely no mental activity to even let itself know, “Hey, by the way, you’re a corpse.” Do you get that? Do you get where you were, if you’re my brother or sister in faith? Dead. The Bible doesn’t have typos, I was dead. I was a corpse, I did not even realize that I was dead because…I could not do that myself.
And here comes Jesus. Vibrantly alive, strong, without a fault Jesus. God came to my dead self and He “made me alive in Christ”.
I’ve been spending a lot of my past couple of months just falling in love with Christ. I mean, head-over-heels, He-is-the-bridegroom love. He loves me more than I can imagine. I am learning to understand this love in my flesh and love Him back. (Love him back, not work back. Not pray back. But soak in a relationship where the Creator of the universe loves me and calls me His, and He is mine.)
I’ve lost you if you follow this blog for social justice or international stories instead of the why I am here, and I can respect that. I don’t at all think that everyone will understand this post & I promise you that I am not offended if you tune out or go back to your Facebook feed until my next story from a world outside your own.
So in this relationship….there’s a constant, over and over again pattern. Love God, realize how big He is and how much everything goes back to leaning into His strength, all works are nothing when I am not overflowing from a heart full of love from my relationship with Him. He wants me before my works. That’s one side, the good side. And I am constantly creeping back to the over-confident side of the teeter-totter. I’m a lot more controlling than I ever realized. I’ve got lists to check off and people to make sure I love on today. I’ve got a sermon to listen to and the discipline of prayer to work on. Don’t forget to throw up an “I love you, Jesus!” in the middle! ….Oh no. I’m back again. I’m on the wrong end of the teeter-totter, working out of myself with the stamp of “because of You!” at the bottom of each activity of the day. Dang it! Sorry, Dad.
You ever been out shopping with your significant other? You walk in after some great conversation in the car, maybe an awesome meal, and you’ve got butterflies flapping their good feelings all over your insides. You two are strolling hand-in-hand, just enjoying the time together. Maybe you’ll window shop, maybe you’ll pass a store and remember to make a small purchase you’ve been meaning to grab. Doesn’t matter too much what you DO, because it’s about who you’re with.
And then you get a phone call. Or your calendar beeps at you. An ad for an upcoming holiday triggers your thoughts and reminds you of your to do list. Hey, that’s okay! It’s fun doing life with someone, and the love grows as you get things done together. With a little more purpose, you two walk hand in hand around the shopping center and they gives you advice on the best thing to buy for a sick friend and you turn to surprise him with purchasing that perfect candle for their mom – because you love him and you love their family naturally!
You look down at your list, and your phone goes off with a text from your boss. Man, this time has been great, but there’s a lot to do. In fact, it’s really all stuff to do FOR the one you’re with….they’ve inspired you to volunteer, you’ve got a book study with them later to fit in, and then there’s the one on one time that fills up your schedule when you could be accomplishing a to do list. You pick up the pace, looking in a window and your head is spinning with ideas as you walk in the door. Picking through displays, you finish your business and move on. Okay, now it’s time to head back to the first store for some follow up on an earlier conversation. And on the way, it’d be good to stop and check your e-mail. Okay, good, that’s done. Oh, wait! Got another idea, and it’s going to make the one with me so happy! Okay, phone back in it’s pocket, time to keep walking. Well, okay, speed walking. But there’s a lot to get done! I mean, that strolling along was great with….wait. I have one hand full of bags, the other just typed up some e-mails and slid my phone away…when did I let go? And where is –
In that quick stop, they saw what you noticed. You aren’t holding hands anymore, in fact you weren’t even walking together. You let go many ‘stops’ ago as you went ahead and started to pick through items using both hands with your head going over plans. Other shoppers witnessed you on a mission with someone patiently keeping pace with you, a humored expression on their face as they watched you so intent on getting everything done! You were doing it with the best intentions, and the one that you came in with knows that. You letting go said nothing about their worth or strength, they were still right there. They never stopped doing it all with you, but they weren’t even interacted with or really even noticed as you got wrapped up in your own world and started to walk ahead.
And man….are you humbled. Why are they still here? I mean, you were kind of a conceded jerk for a little bit. Really, even the stuff FOR them…was really just you doing stuff and mentally checking off “that’s done for them now”. And actually after all the speed walking, you’re tired. You were kind of short with the last clerk, and you bet that your better half would have given you some sense or perspective to act a little better. Actually, now you feel bad that the clerk had to see you acting that way while you guys were together. And the to-do list has somehow only grown – you thought you’d finish and then slow down again…but it just multiplied with each task. And actually, as it multiplied, you made the decisions yourself and now they aren’t even really what you two imagined the original to-do’s to even be about. And man, do your feet hurt. And you’re really tired. And now that you’ve stopped…you realize you’re feeling pretty lonely. You miss when this trip was just about doing it together, walking hand in hand as you talked about everything and laughed so hard over every little thing. Sometimes it feels like you don’t even know yourself as well when you don’t have their brain to give you perspective, teach you about yourself…so here you are tired, lonely, not even sure where your head is at after all these lists and things have bounced around your head all day. And now your phone is buzzing again – probably with another like on the Instagram photo of your trip.
Instead of picking it up, you slowly turn and smile with a tear in your eye, which is looking down bashfully now as opposed to ahead and focused on your personal mission.
They smile back knowingly, “Hey there.”
You don’t even need to explain yourself, even though you want to and you start to talk their ear off. They hold out their hand and you are so glad to take it, overflowing with bubbly emotions as you start right back where you left off, just completely overjoyed on both sides to be spending time together again. So thankful that they are more faithful than you can imagine. There may be a few more things to do, and you can do them together on the way back to the car.
This is what came to mind today, as I decided what I really wanted to do with my day. Time to turn around to the one who eternally pursues me (why, I’ll never fully comprehend) and acknowledge that I haven’t been the greatest to spend time with, trying to just take control in this life again and walk ahead to get stuff done. Man, I love just holding His hand and talking. Spending time together, enjoying some great coffee, and focusing on why I even have stuff to do in the first place.
Now, please don’t misinterpret this and think that we have a passive, weak Bridegroom who falls into the background. This metaphor does not really communicate the relentless pursual of a ridiculously powerful Lord. And God does not ‘accompany’ us on our trip, we are on the trip that he has chosen – that He has DESIGNED – as we go with HIS plan. WE join HIM – too often we turn this around. We just so easily try to make it ours…which is so silly as we just end up tired, confused about why we even came, missing Him, and working endlessly for…what?
I started writing today in reflection of who I once was – dead. I wrote about how ONLY by Him coming to me (I could not even realize my corpse-like state on my own), I am made alive. He came to me then, he found me then, he pursued me then – and He has never stopped. Today, in the end, I just wrote over and over – “God….just thank you. Thank you.”