The Unseen Journey Beyond the Struggles

 

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now, rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT)

How do you view your journey? Is it a narrow view or wide angle view?

Sometimes I think we become very focused on the narrow view of our circumstance. In some cases, we allow this to control the things around us, affect our life in a way that may not be life giving. When we look from the narrow lens, we look at what is happening in our lives and become hopeless of what is to come in life. This may create a sense of feeling stuck.  I think we can become very stuck in a whirlwind of life. Circumstances can clutter life, creating feelings of being lost, disoriented, negative, angry, sad, and/or broken.

HOPELESSNESS

Yesterday as I was listening to the radio, they played the fairly new Christian song, “Scars” by I Am They. This song tends to bring tears to my eyes as it reminds me of my own scars. The beauty of this song is not the focus on the SCARS but that of thanksgiving. I don’t know what you may be going through or have gone through in your journey but healing is a process that is never complete. Our scars are present and always will be but it is through the scars that the glory prevails just as in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.

When we open ourselves to seeing life through the wider lens, we are able to see that these scars, although significant at some time in life, are small when compared to the glory that is produced from them. It is the unseen process of healing that will last forever. It is through a faithful relationship with Christ that these weeds will wilt and new life and fruit are produced in the garden of your heart.

As I walk my own journey, the things of yesterday are revealing the things that were not seen then but that were present. I have come to realize that the journey is not just a road we travel but it is a process of purifying us. Gold is purified by being heated to very high temperatures and the impurities are then removed from the surface of the molten liquid. I joked around with my coworkers one day and said “you know I think by the time God is done bringing me through all this fire in my life I will be as pure as the finest gold and as shiny as the most precious gem.”

The process in the journey is the glorification. The troubles we go through are what’s on the surface waiting to be purified revealing the beauty that is deeper within, behind the scars – the fruitful garden that gives life to those who desire what God has in store for them.

When you look at troubles of today, I invite you to look through the wider lens and fix your eyes on the things that you can’t see, the grace that God is giving you to persevere in hopefulness. And when you see the scars of your life, be thankful for what they have produced.

 

Love a deeper force of attraction

St John of the Cross, “soul is in God like a stone buried in the earth. The soul is attracted to the deepest center of God like the stone is attracted to the deepest center of the earth. This attraction is mutual. The force of attraction between the soul and the center of God is not gravity but love.”

Where is the anchor of your heart? What about your soul? Do you feel an attraction to something that is unexplainable? A deep desire for something bigger than your physical life?

St John of the Cross’ metaphor of our soul’s attraction to God by love being similar to a stone attracted to the earth by gravity is a beautiful image.  It reminds me of Margaret Silf’s road map of our lives in the book Inner Compass.  She explains that our lives are comprised of layers: Where I am? How I am? Who I am? The deepest center – I am.

Where I am is my connection to circumstance, the things in my environment I cannot change. This is my past.  It is my family, where I come from, the outer part of me.

How I am is how I respond to the environment, my circumstance and to others. I can love. I can be angry. I can be afraid. I can be merciful and compassionate.  I can accept things or not.  This is where I make choices and affect changes within in myself and the world.

Who I am is my true being. It is who I truly am, where I face my indifference. It’s the comfort and peace of my being and it is the challenges I face as I see the differences between the outer me and the person created by God. This is my spiritual being in the I am that lay at the deepest part of my soul. This is where my relationship with God is, where my seed of God’s love grows and produces fruit.  This is where I journey through prayer, the very essence of my journey.

In our lives, we will move between each of the layers – back and forth. Some people may never move into the who I am because of the risk and the challenges they may face by approaching a relationship with God.  Those of us who do move here may be faced with challenges by seeing the gap between life in the where we are and the person God created us to be.  In this space we gain wisdom, strength, and love.  We begin to find acceptance with joy to circumstance that we cannot change.  It challenges us to see the things where God is calling us to transform to be resurrected from.  This is where our intimate relationship with God fuels a trust in Him.

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As we continue to dive deeper the love of God attracts us to the center, to the deeper core of us. This is where our deepest desires lay. Where we are most in touch with who God is in us and who He created us to be. This is where our anchor is. And everything else should be centered and directed from this point as we transition through each layer of ourself back and forth. Processing circumstance into our action based on who we truly are in the one who created us.

Through this movement, there are times we may have an experience that is not explainable, that is providential.  It is something that is tangential to all the layers of our being.  It is a moment when we have truly been touched by God and he has moved and united all layers fusing our where I am to the how I am and the who I am, driving roots to the center, anchoring our total being to Him.  When this happens His light shines around us, glowing from our center for all to see.  This is a point of spiritual freedom, the top of the mountain in our journey.

Have you allowed yourself to be open to move into the who I am, allowing God to anchor Himself from your where I am to the center of your being, to your heart?

Are you seeking spiritual freedom?

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Have you been exploring your spiritual journey internally? Uncovering roots of the disorders in your external self?

When I began my spiritual journey, like most, I was seeking God to help me with things in my life that were on the surface, my external self. At the time, I didn’t see this as being an easy journey, very difficult in fact. As I continue to grow after scratching the surface of my life challenges, I am diving internally and uncovering the roots of the external feelings that seem to continue to circle me and feed sin and pain in my life. Walking my internal feelings, the ones I buried deep within that stir up the feelings externally, is ten times more challenging than dealing with the emotions and circumstance on the surface. I think that’s why there are psychologists and therapists.

To better understand your external and internal feelings envision an iceberg. If you are in an industry that focuses on safety, you are very familiar with the iceberg analogy.  Above the surface there is a narrow triangle and all this is what you see externally and deal with daily. Below the surface lies the base of the iceberg, the internal emotions and feelings that no one can see not even you that are the base of all the things on the surface.

I think that these things externally that continue to show up in your life through confession or repeat offenders in every struggle you deal with in life is God inviting you to take a deeper look, to begin discerning the root of these disorders.  For God to transform you completely through Christ within you, you have to look at the internal life and uncover the source of the sins and the pain on the surface.

Do you see patterns of sin in your life or patterns in the pain you feel or the struggles you deal with routinely?  Name these disorders and ask God to help release you from them.  Let Him help you unpack them and reveal the roots to you. Just like weeding your garden, you have to get to the root of the problem to fully remove it from the fruitful garden within you. You can’t just pull the top of the weed and expect it to be gone from your garden, you have to pull it from the root.  The same is true with dealing with things on the surface in your life. If you don’t search internally and determine where the sin and pain are coming from, they will continue to surface in the things in your life and you will not have spiritual freedom.

These disorders come in many packages, wrapped with various layers from your life. They affect our relationships with others, ourselves and God.

Are you repeatedly saying things to a loved one out of jealousy that affects your relationship?  If you peer within, you may uncover that throughout your childhood and adulthood that you are afraid of not being loved because you have always had to compete for love in key relationships.

Do you find yourself always afraid and passing up opportunities that you feel God is asking you to step out of your comfort zone and do? Look deep and you may realize that in your childhood, when you stepped out of your comfort zone, you were made fun of or rejected.

Do you find yourself confessing often your anger towards those you love? Search your inner core and you may discover feelings of hurt from emotional, physical or sexual abuse as a child or an adult that you thought you dealt with on the surface but the residual of this anger, the roots are still dug within.

I have learned through my walk on my own spiritual journey that looking within, although challenging, uncovers things that are binding me to sin and pain.  As I discover and begin to deal with the internal sources, I begin to reach a freedom, to unravel the chains binding me.

I sort of see it as God purifying me into a gem. Just like purifying gold, I am purified. He helps me to bring the impurities to the surface to learn from them and seek Him at a deeper level in removing the impurities from within so that my relationship with Him and myself is as pure as a precious metal.

Are you seeking spiritual freedom? Have you searched within to discover the internal disorders that are roots to those disorders that are external?

Take the challenge, search your internal being and discover what God is inviting you to pay attention to and learn from that has been tucked away in a little crevice within.

Freedom

Imagine you are walking along the beach.  The sand is sliding in and out of your toes as the ocean brushes over your feet ever so gently.  The sun begins to rise on the horizon.  The sky is painted in an array of orange and pink hues.  The view is breathtaking.  As you breathe in the fresh air, you smell the newness of the day that has been placed before you.  As you continue to peer across the ocean embracing all the beauty before your eyes, a seagull flies nearby, sweeping near the ocean surface.   What a delight as you imagine the freedom he has in the open sky.  Just as you imagine soaring free in the beautiful skies, the wind blows across your face and through your hair and you feel an immense freedom.  Peace sweeps through your entire body and you know deep within that there is a presence within you whispering “I am within you and will never leave you”.  At this moment, you experience the greatest freedom from the things that bound you in the world around you.  You want to stay in this place.  You soak up all that you can to experience it as long as you can, walking freely along the beach shore engaging all your senses.  The world feels as though it has stood still and it is just you, the beach and all that has been placed before you in the peaceful scenario by the one who has loved you from the beginning, your first love who “formed [your] inmost  being and knit [you] in [your] mother’s womb,” Psalm 139:13.

In this moment God meets you where you are.   He meets you in this pivotal moment of your life as you embrace all he has laid before you.  Do you feel His encounter?  Have you wondered where he has been lately?  Have you been spiritually starved, caught up in the busyness of life?  Are you restless and feel like you never have a chance to sit down, let alone pray?  Or may be you just feel there is more to your life, more to you, God is calling you but you don’t know what for?  Or perhaps you are afraid to be still and listen, afraid of what you may hear?  May be you are afraid to surrender control of the things in your life, afraid of the unknown?  Whatever it may be, in this moment when you let go and let His presence sweep you into the solitude of you and Him, feel the freedom of knowing He is with you as He guides your hands, feet, eyes, ears, and thoughts.

So often we feel stuck in the mundane of life.  We check the boxes on our to do lists and even the boxes in our faith.  One day, we wake up and feel something is missing in our life.

Each of us was born with a desire, a desire for God.  We fill this desire or longing, with money, sex, status, material things, etc.  There is always something missing, something more.  That something more is God.  He is the only one that can fully satisfy that desire.  He created us to desire a relationship with Him.  If we never establish it and try to fill this desire with other stuff, we will never be full, something will always be missing.