Here’s something I know about God; he has always and is always deeply in our lives; guiding, teaching, leading us by degrees to experience him the way we were originally created to do. Why is life a journey? Because we were created to walk with God in the cool of the evening, every single day. The journey of life is either walked in life, or to life. Most Christians don’t realize that while they think we’re supposed to walk toward God, he is within, trying to get us to walk with him.
This journey is immeasurably different when you trust God with it. I’m not talking about the change from not knowing God to saying a “prayer of salvation.” I’m talking about the difference between a dedicated, God-loving, worshiping-from-the-heart Christian, and that same Christian after a truly life changing paradigm shift, a mindset change in how she sees God. I’ve been in love with God since I can remember. He has been my constant companion since my earliest memories; but when I truly saw him…everything shifted. Every interpretation, every dream, every word, every thought was suddenly coming from a different language. God is so intentional. I can look back at my entire life and see how he has guided me to certain points of revelation about himself. I can see how the big life changing revelations came after serious, dedicated seeking. You will probably find the same if you look at your life.
One of the biggest changes was like turning a corner. I had seen life one way, and then, suddenly I saw it another way. It wasn’t like a new translation, it was as if I had suddenly learned a whole new language. I understood what he was doing. I had heard him say things to me that I was encouraged by and thought I understood, and suddenly they meant so much more. Everything was bigger. There was freedom in places I didn’t know I was enslaved. God became infinitely huge, and he keeps growing in my perceptions. The walls of thinking through religious definitions and man-made rules were blown apart by Truth revealed. The differences seem subtle, but the result is vastly different. For example, gratitude is greater than strength, it strengthens strength! I thought the best thing I could do with a problem area was to attack it with prayer, faith, and the willpower to obey, believing and fighting for change. I now understand that my focus must be on God, not the problem. I still pray and have faith, but that prayer is first about how great God is to me every day, how thankful I am for all he has done in me already. I don’t have to beg him to change me; he’s been doing that all along. I come into agreement with what he’s doing and cooperate. Gratitude and focusing on his love for me bridges the chasm of what I see in myself and what he is molding me to be.
I see this picture in my head of a master potter throwing a lump of clay onto the wheel, and as he starts to work with it, his apprentice is crying and begging him to create something beautiful, to make the bowl stable and thick enough to withstand heat—when actually he’s making a vase. And the apprentice keeps throwing clay at the wheel when she can’t see what she thinks should be there and trying to dump buckets of water on it because she heard somewhere that it’s bad for the clay to dry out. And the master is just working away, ignoring the frantic pleas and frenetic behavior because he knows exactly what he’s doing, and he’s thinking, “One of these days this poor, frantic child is going to figure this out. THEN we’ll have some fun together!” And finally, the apprentice looks up and sees the potter, and not the lump of clay, and she gets it. She sees the love in the master’s eyes as he creates something she can’t dream of yet. She can finally hear the quiet directions the master has been giving all along. She starts to learn the rhythm of the wheel. She anticipates the timing and humidity in the atmosphere and knows when to bring a bowl of fresh water for the master’s hands. She asks with excitement, “What are you making?” and then watches and recognizes the beauty as it forms before her eyes.
That’s the easiest way to describe the difference in my mindset. This new language is about how everything is different when I look at God; my perceptions of what is going on around me, my level of observation and anticipation; my ability to obey simple direction; and especially the level of peace and joy I have every day. The change occurred when I began to see that God—not my circumstances—is my everything. I had been learning this and walking in it for about four years when Doug was diagnosed. It made all the difference in how I walked through that year. Going through that and having to go on without Doug the last sixteen months has carved some painful, beautiful changes. I would never have gotten through it without knowing that the potter knew what he was doing every single step of every single day. My gratitude toward God is inexplicable. I’ve learned so much more about walking beside him through the hard times, not pleading and begging him to do what he’s already doing.
Most recently, the thing God has been working on in me is knowing that I can have the same joyful, peace-filled journey on days when I don’t feel his presence as I do when I feel enveloped in him. I don’t have to have blind faith, I just need to rely on my own knowledge and experience of him. A baby cries when Mommy walks into the next room because he doesn’t know where she went or if she’ll be back. Mommy is security, warmth, food, safety, happiness. Mommy is life! As a toddler, he may get nervous when Mommy is in the other room too long, and honestly, it’s okay if he camps out right by the kitchen doorway just to be sure everything is okay, that life is still as it should be. As the child gets older and has had reassurance from his mom that she is always there, she always comes back, and she’s patient with his insecurities, he comes to not just trust it, he knows it. A teenager doesn’t have blind faith that Mom will be home. He knows it. His experience gives him trust.
My experience during the year of Doug’s illness and after he passed was that God’s presence was more real than what was happening around me. It’s an oddly wonderful place to walk. The pain and fear of losing Doug and of having to figure out life without him was real, but above it was the presence of God. He was peace and joy. In more recent months, he’s been teaching me to rest in that peace and joy without the tangible presence. It’s hard because I love his presence more than anything on this planet, but I believe his message to me is that when I learn to trust him, to know that he is there whether I can see him or not, I can have every bit of that experience through trusting him. Whether I’m experiencing or trusting, he is there, he doesn’t change, and he doesn’t leave. If I truly believe this, I can choose to live in the same joy and peace whether through experience or trust. The change is in my perception.
God has brought about changes that I didn’t think were possible because I couldn’t picture who I was without the burdens I thought defined me. I’m living on the other side of those changes and it is complete freedom. I can’t feel the newest lesson as a reality, but one big step I’m taking is to believe that he will complete this work in me, too. I’m excited for it! I look forward to the day when I may not feel his presence, but rather than cry out for him, I trust, I know, that he is present, so I carry on in the same joy, peace, love, and strength. Can you imagine?
Where are you in your journey, this walk with God? Can you see him throughout your life, guiding you to himself? He is only ever kind and full of love for you. Find his kindness in your spirit. He’s bringing it out for you.
Here’s something I know about God. He is deeply involved in our lives, creating, growing, training, completing.