Let me tell you something I realized yesterday. I’d known it before, but yesterday I realized it. It became real to me.
If we’ve had a good long heart-to-heart over the last 3 years you’ve probably heard me mention Brother Lawrence and his life in the presence of God. Its beyond a goal of mine, its everything. What is life if I don’t get to do it with Him?
But the walking out of this hit me with a really tough reality. To walk a moment or an hour or a day with the Creator of your soul changes your soul. Almost like a chemical reaction, the make up of your soul changes. And all of the sudden, you can’t live the way you did before. “Having devotions” in the morning won’t cut it anymore. When you walk in the garden of your soul with the King who made it, you meet a you that you won’t find anywhere else. A you who is perfectly at rest and peace, who isn’t marred by this world and its “yuckiness”. A you who is really good at being still and being a child on the lap of her Father as He orchestrates and authors beautifully.
But then you leave, and you go on about your merry way, and you realize that “you” didn’t follow. This you who lives squarely in the temporal, what can be seen and touched, is a very broken you. This you is anxious and prone to wander. This you is easily angered and keeps record of wrongs. This isn’t how “sanctification” is supposed to go, is it? (“Sanctification” is a post for another time I’m afraid. Let’s just say that word means something totally different than what I thought it meant when it was worked out in my life.)
This middle ground is an excruciatingly painful place. Torn between the spiritual and physical. Knowing who you are in His arms and also the you that is walking this broken earth; who just said hurt a friend in a way of which you never thought you were capable. Ripped in two by your desires: to wake up in the morning and go about your business or to wake up in His realm going about His business with Him. And somehow those desires fit together and are yet completely incompatible.
And on top of that you’re left with an insatiable thirst for the water only He can give. To live and breathe and have your being in Him. And yet there’s dishes to be done and while you’re doing them you somehow totally lose sight of Him and “Oh GOD what have I done? How did I miss You when You’ve been here all along?!” You know what I mean? Maybe not. That’s okay. If you have you know the ache. If you haven’t, don’t worry, you can still come along.
Ted Dekker in his book Black depicts the presence of God like a lake, and it was this imagery that God brought back to mind when He wanted me to finally realize this. This lake was extremely painful to the touch. Yet when you dove in, when you went through the pain and death, the life in the depth of that lake was beauty and peace.
There are 3 options for those of us who want to be near God. We can sit on the beach, sunbathing near His presence without touching it. We can do that horrible, excruciating thing of just dipping our toe in the lake. Or we can dive on in, fully and completely until we are so immersed in it, in Him, that all the pain is healed and all the sorrows cease.
Today I skipped the toe-dipping. I skipped the sunbathing I’d been doing to avoid the pain. Today I dove straight on in.
And today was beautiful.
[photo from The Warden and The Wolf King, illustrated by Joe Sutfin]