An image of the woods
New Hampshire, October 2008
After I stood up from the ground and basked in the brilliance of the sun with Jesus by my side, I knew what Jesus and I were going to start doing together. We were going to walk and talk. I was going to share my heart with him, and he was going to talk with me and share his own heart, too, especially as it relates to the heart of himself that he has placed inside me. I sensed there would be an ease of conversation, an honesty, a care, and a mutual understanding of partnership as he prepared me to offer himself to others through my life.
I didn't expect that the humiliations were over. We weren't yet out of the woods, and I didn't know what else our time in the woods would hold. I only knew that something about this walking and talking was different than it was before. It held a subtly different quality to it than the ways I had walked and talked with Jesus before. This walking and talking was more about learning to bring each area and decision of life before him, making him my primary object in view. It was going to be about real hiddenness in Christ -- that initial prayer I prayed in July 2009 that took me on an almost-two-year journey of twists and turns to arrive here in this exact moment, learning how to truly live in him and make him my life's essence and source in each moment.
On the first day of walking and talking with Jesus in this new place, I noticed that it was like a floodgate of thoughts and concerns had opened up in my mind and I could not get my mouth to stop telling Jesus all about it. I talked to him about the way he made me and how the current pace of my life runs counter to that native way of being in the world. I talked to him about my graduate research project, as I was in the midst of choosing a subject and saw that there were many different directions I could go in the selection of my topic. I talked with him about my upcoming silent retreat and the questions I'd considered holding before him during that time. I talked to him about all the many questions I had about how various aspects of my work life and home life fit together in his mind.
It felt a bit like talking to a best friend who wants to know every single thing you're thinking and feeling and carrying around in life with you. He just listened and listened and listened. And I found it interesting that so many words tumbled out of my mouth in a jumble of energy on that first day of walking and talking after having kneeled in silence before him for so many days on the ground. There was a sweetness to this walking and talking for me, knowing that through it, I was going to be learning more and more how to make him my whole existence.
I had such a strong sense as the walking and talking started that he was the place to bring all my decisions now. And when I was initially presented with some concrete opportunities and decisions to make, I noticed an awareness in me to stop, slow down, and take the decision to him. However, I wasn't faithful to this each time as it began. On two separate occasions, I can remember saying yes to specific projects with a full awareness that I needed to first take the time to talk to Jesus about them but moved forward with saying yes before having done that.
That was hard. I'm still on a learning curve.
I've been encouraged as we continue to walk and talk on this path in the woods together, though. I've noticed how much stillness is a necessary component to living a hidden life in Christ. I've noticed, too, how much living from this place that makes Christ my focal point of direction and decision removes all the difficulties and obstacles I used to face when holding those directions and decisions on my own.
I'll share more about these two discoveries -- the helpful quality of stillness and the relief from the burden of carrying decisions on my own -- in my next posts in this series.
PS: I'm leaving Sunday for a 5-day silent retreat and will not be accessing the internet while I'm away. I look forward to returning here to share more of this story and what emerges in my time away. Until then, take care. xoxo