“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
Gray blankets the day. The rain is steady. I sit and look out on my garden and ponder what I will do on this wet day. My thoughts turn to the future. What will I do to continue my work of sharing God’s love? I have more questions than I do answers. But deep inside I know that whatever I do, I want to follow Jesus’ wounded feet. I want to volunteer to serve Him.
As the rain tumbles from the sodden clouds, I hear myself say the words that the prophet Isaiah said: “Send me.” I don’t know where I will be going, but I know it will be the journey of a lifetime. Won’t you come along? Volunteer. Follow the wounded feet of Jesus. See where they take you.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
I looked at my watch for the umpteenth time, hoping to hurry the train to the station. But the train was having none of my impatience. It lumbered slowly from its last stop to where I was waiting.
“Why the rush?” God asked me.
“I’m not in a rush,” I said, not wanting to talk. I had things on my mind.
“Clock time isn’t my time, you know,” God said. “You created that to measure units of your life. An hour here. A day there. You rush about trying to make things happen in those units, instead of living in the fullness of time.”
“What’s the fullness of time?” I asked.
“It is where you are patient,” God explained. “Patience allows you to enter the truth of life: the pain, confusion, sorrow, or joy. Impatience, on the other hand, is about getting away from things that are uncomfortable. You can’t embrace someone else’s pain if you can’t stay to feel your own. Patience is what allows you to be united with others in compassion. In that unity, you experience my grace.”
My train arrived and I boarded. I sat at a window seat and watched the scenery pass by as we pulled away from the station. I realized that time wasn’t like the scenery. It wasn’t rushing by me. It was standing still, right here with me. I could practice patience. I could stay with that which is uncomfortable inside of myself so that I could be with others in their pain.
I took off my watch and put it into my purse so that I wasn’t tempted to measure my life by clock time, but instead, measure it by the fullness of time—God’s grace.
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
~1 Corinthians 3:16
“Tell me about happiness,” I asked God in a particularly unhappy moment.
“Oh, yes, happiness. One of the most misunderstood emotions,” He replied.
“I don’t misunderstand it, I just miss it,” I grumbled.
“There, there, my little Sparrow,” God said softly. “I’ll explain happiness to you.”
“I’m listening,” I said, as I focused my attention on God’s words.
“People search all over for happiness as if I made it hard to find. They look for it in relationships, in their bank accounts, in the way their body looks. They even look for it in mac n’ cheese,” God chuckled. It’s not in any of those things. No, you don’t have to go looking for happiness. I made it easy to find. I put it inside of everyone so no one could lose it. But people don’t think I made it that easy. They don’t think to look inside of themselves. So, they keep looking outward,” God explained.
“But where is it inside of me? I can’t find it in me,” I said honestly.
“It’s in your heart, not your head. You can’t think your way to happiness; you must feel your way there.”
“How? All I feel is chaos today.”
“Take a deep breath. Can you smell the hints of spice from the cedar next to you? Can you feel the comfort of the sun on your skin? Listen. Hear the birds on the telephone wire singing? See the flowers in your garden dancing on the breeze? That’s happiness,” God said. “Happiness is life. It’s a beating heart. It’s breath in your lungs.”
“But…” I started to argue.
“No buts, Sparrow,” God stopped me. “Happiness dwells inside of you because I dwell inside of you.”
I took a deep breath as I put my hand over my heart and felt its steady rhythm. I exhaled into the moment. Finally, I understood. God put Himself inside of us and that is where our happiness resides. In Him. In the gift of being alive.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time
we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Wind lashed the trees. I buttoned my coat and leaned into the gale as I went out on my morning walk. The sun had not yet broken the horizon; my feet struggled to find their way in the dark. “Where are you, God?” I begged. “I’m confused and I need your help, but you feel a million miles away. I need some guidance. I’m exhausted, my heart heavy. I’ve been trudging this lonely road too long.”
“I know,” God said.
“And you let me keep going like this?” Tears stung my eyes.
“Why? Why would you willingly let me feel this confused and lost?” I demanded to know.
“Because it is only in the darkness that you realize how much you need my light,” God answered softly. “You can’t know the fullness of my love without having felt the fullness of your despair. In your darkest moments, I am there, waiting for you to turn to me, to trust me.”
“I’m turning to you right now, I need this confusion in my life to end,” I said.
“See that glow up ahead?” God asked.
I squinted in the dark. I saw nothing but the dark of the pre-dawn sky. I shook my head.
“It’s there,” God reassured me. “Soon, you’ll see a shimmering light, a glow that covers the horizon. That’s your next chapter. It is waiting patiently for your arrival.”
“You promise?” I asked.
“I promise,” God answered.
“I’ll keep going,” I said. “One step at a time.”
“That’s the spirit. Remember, I’m always there with you, even in your doubts and fears, and your pain and anguish. You are never alone,” God reminded me. I looked down the long road ahead and there, way down at the end, I saw a soft light, a faint glow. I picked up my pace; my feet suddenly light and hurried to embrace my next chapter.
“Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might…”
“I want to feel healthier,” I told God as I sat under the early morning stars.
“Keds,” God said.
“Shoes? That’s the answer?” I asked, scratching my head.
“Yes. Put on your Keds and go for a walk,” He insisted.
“No excuses!” God interrupted. And so, I pulled on my shoes and started out in the soft light of dawn. Three miles later, I was tired but happy.
“Do it again tomorrow,” God suggested. When tomorrow came around, I found a million reasons to avoid the long walk. “What you are feeling is the biggest barrier to a good life.” God said as I rolled over in bed, pulling the blanket tighter around me.
“What’s that?” I mumbled, still sleepy.
“Resistance,” God explained. “It stops so many people from claiming the abundance I’ve put on the Earth for them. “It’s a very powerful force. It takes a lot of love to break past it.”
“Love?” I questioned.
“Yes, love. If you love yourself enough, you’ll break past your resistance to exercising. If you love yourself enough, you’ll break past the resistance to anything that is in your way to a good life. You’ll be able to do the things that you are afraid to do.”
“I’ve never thought of resistance that way before,” I confessed.
“People resist all kinds of things that would help them to have a fuller, richer life. It’s not so much that they are lazy, it’s that they don’t understand that My love inside of them is a very powerful force. It can break through any fear, any resistance.”
I kicked off the covers and dressed quickly in the dark. I went out into the crisp morning air, out past the resistance that has been holding me back.