Ever been in that place where the prophecies haven’t come through? Those moments when you’ve felt like you went in all in with God, and now you’re left standing by the side of the road wondering what happened? You’ve watched others name, claim, and receive their promises and still wonder what you’ve done wrong.
Ever felt that you have been sold a lie?
I have sat with more people than I could count telling me these very words; indeed, I have even been the author of those words for my own life. In a world of high performance, high expectations, and a zero-failure, we, people of faith, have created a high bar for us to jump…
I have watched disappointment tear the heart out of many people of faith. They have felt they have done all that has been asked of them and even done many other religious things, not asked of them, to ensure a good outcome for their prayers, life, and family.
When I think of these conversations, I can easily see Job in the Bible; I think he would be a great guy to talk with about this… but in saying that, I think I am a great guy to talk with about this as well.
I haven’t lost my entire family to a fire or lost all of my herds and crops to thieves and forces of nature, but I have lost many things in my life. I’ve lost friendships, relationships that I once held dear. I’ve lost opportunities and career possibilities and have more regrets than I would want to count. For many of these, I sat and prayed through them all and pleaded with God for another outcome that looked more like a rescue and less like the mess I had gotten myself into.
I fasted, prayed, cried, worshipped, served, gave, and even felt I gave up my life for God. While each of these may be beautiful in its own way, when they became duty… well… that’s when I lost the plot. I got myself into a spiral of wondering if I had prayed the right things, or was I cursed, or if I even hear God? Then, what have I done wrong? And then finally… I don’t deserve this…
It began to sound a lot like karma… and it definitely doesn’t sound like any relationship I want to be a part of. If the sum total of my relationships is based on what I do for someone rather than the love I have for that someone… well… I’m just not signing up for that one anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I love helping people, and I love supporting people. But this relationship thing is a two-way street, and as much as I am designed to love, I am also designed to be loved as well.
My thinking has changed a lot since the days of running a local church and doing all I could to make sure everyone was finding and choosing God. Those were times when I often felt I wasn’t doing enough to “win” people to Jesus or what should I be doing that I wasn’t already. Those were times when my concept of love was based more on a performance and outcome rather than a presence. There were times when guilt and shame drove my desire to strive, which in some strange way, in my brain, helped me feel I was atoning for all my poor choices.
Well… now, I’m settled in the place where Jesus is the one who searches for the lost. That sounds nearly heretical to where I’ve come from in my experiences of God and church…
Here’s another way of putting it: Jesus came from heaven to find us, and now He is the one who has found me. He found me lost and alone in my karma-focused religion that had no real answers for many of life’s hardships. I struggled to connect to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I could go through the motions and repeat practices I had done before… but it just wasn’t cutting it…
There were times I would tell people that Jesus is the answer or Jesus is the one who rescues them. Often they would walk away with a hope that lasted as long as it took for the next hard moment to rob it from them, and then they would be back again. It wasn’t lasting, and it wasn’t transforming. It had to be more than words and more than a theory. Something was not adding up for me, and instead of despairing about my faith, I went in search of the One who told me, “Seek, and you will find.”
It was He who showed me that love is not a transaction. It was he who told me that love could not be taught; it needed to be encountered. It’s a power and a force I still know so little about, but it’s one that I am on a quest to learn more and more about. Discovering this love, in a strange and mystical way, has helped me be at peace with some of the hardships of my life that I do not understand. It has helped me heal and discover who I am. It has helped me understand God and all the stories I learned by heart as a child from the Bible.
In short, it has also helped me find Him too. The lost sheep needed to be found, and it needed to stop hiding. The prodigal came to the point of understanding that life cannot be lived alone and outside of relationships. And it’s in those very revelations I discovered I did not need to understand all things; I needed to rest in the knowledge of the love He shared for me, the love others have for me, and finally, the love I have for me.
For here is the secret of all secrets… fullness of life is discovered where you rest, which is where I do love.
All of the things I have wrestled with above are things that I viewed through a lens of religion and not through love. When I view them through what I have done right or wrong, I’m always worried about being punished for doing something wrong. When I view them through love, I know that love will carry me through every hardship, failure, and disappointment. It worked for Jesus… even when his friends who loved him walked away from him, he knew His love would draw them back again. Peter got to feel that firsthand when Jesus asked him if he loved Him. It was a beautiful moment of all the hardships, confusion, and disappointment being healed with the phrase, “Do you love me?” Right, there is rest for Peter’s spirit, and right there is rest for mine.
Fullness of life is discovered where I rest.
There's more to come from this revelation, stay tuned 😊