What do you most long to hear from God these days?

Last week, I posted about a fresh new beginning for this blog, with posts based on questions. Questions I hope you respond to as well, on your own blog, in the comments, or just in your journal at home. I hope it helps this blog become more of a conversation than a monologue. I also hope it helps us all wrestle through the important stuff of life and faith, the kind of stuff we might ignore if left to our own devices. You can read more background and hopes here.

The first set of questions will come from Steve Wien's book, Beginnings, which I highly recommend you buy and read. However, you are welcome to participate even if you haven't read it, just by tackling the questions.

Our first question comes from page 25, at the end of Day One, when God says, "Let there be light." It is a chapter about God ushering us into new beginnings. 

long to hear from God

What do you most long to hear from God these days?

What do I think I should want to hear from God? What would it sound good to say I wanted to hear from God? What do I wish I wanted to hear from God? What do I  actually long to hear from God? 

If you're like me, you had to wrestle through the first few questions to get to the heart of the actual question for today. It's amazing how difficult it can be to stay in touch with our own desires and needs. We slip on people-pleasing and religious posturing like the comfortable sweatshirt from high school we can't bear to part with, even though it's full of holes and does nothing to keep us warm. Then, wrapped up in that, we convince ourselves that's what a sweatshirt is supposed to feel like, and it's truly what we want and need.

I'm taking off that tattered sweatshirt today. I'm not even taking it to Goodwill- I don't want anyone else to pick it up and think they are stuck with it, too. Nope, this baby is going straight to the trash.

What do I most long to hear from God these days? That I can be free.

Free from people-pleasing. Free from the swirling questions about what others are thinking about me that seem to be my constant companion. Free from using food as a drug to ease my pain, soothe my boredom, or reward me for my hard work. Free from answering questions about how I am doing with how everyone around me is feeling. Free from the shaming voice that instantly notices all the things I could have done better. Free from working to try to earn my belovedness. 

Free to be fully present to the present moment. Free to walk confidently in my calling without fear of how others will respond. Free to laugh and be ridiculous, even if people are looking. Free to embrace the strength of my vulnerability and the reality of my neediness. Free to love and be loved without trying so damn hard. Free to be me- the messed-up me, the extraordinary me, the regular-ole me, the creative me, the compassionate me, the whole me, the true me.

I long to hear God say that freedom is possible, freedom is coming, and freedom can be my new way of being. I long for affirmation that the hard emotional work I have done over the last few years has led me here, to the cultivated soil now ready to sprout with free and reckless life.  

"Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand!" -Gal 5:1 (The Message)

I'm ready.

- Steph

P.S. I've been thinking about what my OneWord 365 should be. Sounds like I found one: FREE.

(Keep reading to enter the link-up, to see next week's question, and to find out who won the free book from the post on New Beginnings.)

Your turn: What are you longing to hear from God these days?

If  you are a blogger, link up with your post below. If you are not a blogger, you can also link up to an Instagram post, how cool is that? Or, maybe now is the the time to step out of the shadows and respond with a comment. I promised I will reply to all comments left. 

There is risk, but there is also great power, in sharing our longings out loud.


Now, it's time to reveal next week's question, from page 44 of Beginnings, "What are some things you think you may need to let go of in order to expand into who you need to become?"

Finally, the winner of a copy of Beginnings is... Crosby Kuehl! Congrats. I'll email to figure out details of getting you a copy. There were only 5 entries, so I went old school and literally wrote out names and picked from a hat. :)

Grow Your Leaves

Grow Your Leaves

The trees of Nicaragua grow their leaves in anticipation of the rain, not in response to it. They know the rain is coming because of the changes in the sun.

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The Space Before Life

In the beginning, when there was darkness and chaos, God was on the cusp of doing something new and wonderful. He was about to make a world out of nothing, a creation brimming with life, beauty, and possibilities. 

If I were God, I think I would have snapped my fingers and made it happen all at once. I would have been weary of holding the wonder of waterfalls, sunsets, and galloping zebras in my imagination. I would have wanted to bring them into being yesterday.

Yet, even in the beginning of all things, even before sin entered the world, even before the need for forbearance existed, God was patient. 

God didn't create life until day three.

First, our Creator was present to the darkness and chaos. Then, God brought forth light from within the darkness. After light, it was not yet time for life. It was time for the separation of the waters. 

Before God created life, He made space. 

Chaos-darkness-light-space-life. It's a cycle that is repeated time and again in our lives. Whenever I find myself in the cycle, I want to shortcut the process and jump right to life. After all, space is the wide open feeling of vulnerability and exposure. Who likes feeling like they are standing naked in the dirt?

Yet, despite my objections, God patiently walks me through the space each time. Or maybe more accurately, God holds me tight while I kick and scream and try to bolt through the discomfort. He won't let me shortcut. 

Our patient God values process as much as product. He did not simply thrust full grown plants into being. Our Creator tenderly fashioned lilies and strawberries, cacti and redwoods into seeds, seeds He then called the earth to birth into plants. 

The earth was exposed and ready to partner with God in bringing life because God first created space.

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There is an oft repeated word in the Genesis account of creation: good. In Hebrew, tov

There is a long description of the creation of plant life before the word tov is used to describe it. The vegetation is not tov when it is seed, nor trees, nor trees with fruit on them. The vegetation is only tov once the seed has become a tree bearing fruit with seeds of future life in it. Seeds ready to start the process of new life all over again.

This, perhaps, is the best way to understand the word good. Life that brings life that brings life that brings life. This is good. This is tov.

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Here at the beginning of 2015, I find myself in the space of transition. Jobless and wondering what is next. It is space that feels vulnerable and frightening, but also, important. It's time for new life to be born and this is the soil from which it will grow.

In these days, trust is less of an abstract theological concept and more of a daily necessity. And as I reach for it, I find myself returning time and again to the word tov.

The tov of this space. Good for what it is and for the potential it holds for the future. 

The tov that is coming. Not just life, but life with the seeds of future life in it. 

The tov of God. Tov for what He does and, most of all, for who He is.

Tov is the beautiful process of birthing something new. It is the life that brings life that brings life that brings life. It is true and deep goodness. 

Tov is my word for 2015.

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I could think of no other way to illustrate this word but to create an original art piece. It begins in the darkness of the lower right corner, and moves into light and life and tov dropping seed to start itself over again. The page also has an uncomfortable amount of space, in my opinion. Which felt frustrating, but also just the way it was supposed to be.

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