My oldest and his dad were planning to be off to our church's Youth Group Camp Out for an overnight and this morning my son says, "Mom, I think I'm getting sick too." By mid-morning it was obvious he wasn't well and by afternoon he was immersed in Calvin and Hobbes books on the couch while downing this special tea I got on our trip to Bend Oregon for just this sort of thing. Tonight he had the classic coughing while falling asleep. So, it looks like we're homebound for a while longer.
In the middle of all this cabin fever I had the privilege of going to the Annual Conference put on by Biola's Center for Christian Thought. Unbelievable, I know. I was supposed to go for two days, but with my youngest son coming down with this nasty sickness, I stayed home the first day and then when my husband could take over I went. It is too hard to sum up all I gleaned from the conference. It was sheer goodness - at least my flavor of goodness: lots of big words discussing lots of amazing thoughts about God and the way we grow in Him.
After "coming down from the mountain" I've been mulling over a few things. I really want to share them here with all of you in hopes they'll bless you the same way they did me:
1) God is way bigger than we act like He is.
Now I know that sounds like the biggest "duh" ever, but when you think about it, we just go about thinking about God in such small ways. As a result we relate to Him in somewhat routine and disconnected ways sometimes too. I don't just mean that we pray small or expect too little, I mean we just don't grasp at the immensity, depth, breadth and fullness of God. Sitting with those scholars through plenary talks and breakout sessions and even the closing "root beer float reception" I was in awe of the magnitude and intelligence and freshness of God. Here's an analogy (I always think in analogies): All week I've been in my home. It starts to feel like the world begins at one bedroom and ends down the other hallway. There are moments when I "break out" and step into the back yard and that expands my remembering of exactly how wonderful and big the world is. Then, one day, I go to this conference and I drive to another city and hear all sorts of thoughts I hadn't been thinking and it is expansive to say the least. That's how it is with God. We're used to walking around in our own perception and traditions and experiences with Him and we don't step out into the expanse very often. I hope somehow you get to do that as I did and you get to lift your eyes and stretch your faith muscles and get a bigger glimpse.
You don't recover from it and you won't want to.
2) God's will is good and for our good.
Again, the obvious. But, when you think about it, we live so often like we have to fear something or worry over the future or hang onto things or take control because we believe God just doesn't exactly like us and He might just change His mind about "letting us in" or whatever. We shrink back from the freedom He has given us. A friend shared this from Dallas Willard with me this week and it pretty much sums it up:
Hearing God makes sense only in the framework of living in the will of God. When our children, John and Becky, were small, they were often completely in my will as they played happily in the back garden, though I had no preference that they should do the particular things they were doing there or even that they should be in the back garden instead of playing in their rooms or having a snack in the kitchen. Generally we are in God’s will whenever we are leading the kind of life He wants for us. And that leaves a lot of room for initiative on our part, which is essential: our individual initiatives are central to His will for us.
I loved the backyard analogy. I'm an analogy girl, I guess. And, I do love backyards too. What I resonated with the most was the thought that God has this will for how we live out what He made us to be, but He isn't always so fussy over the particulars. This give us freedom and also helps explain why sometimes we struggle so over whether to buy the Toyota or the Ford wondering which is HIS will, when He is allowing us to choose either.
3) God is unchanging in His goodness and peace and we can be too.
I'd better explain this a bit. This week during our sick-fest I have been continuing to read Book 1 of the Narnia series with my five year old. In it, we see Narnia being created and C.S. Lewis dreamed up a wonderful analogy (yep, I'm in love) to Genesis 1. It is beautiful. As we are reading along and Aslan comes into the picture, my son bursts out, "That's God!" and he said it as though it was a familiar friend. It was something else. Anyway, as the book describes Aslan (who represents God) moving back and forth in this rhythmic walk, singing a song of creation, all of a sudden two of the characters walk by him. But, He doesn't change his cadence nor is He ruffled in the slightest. He just keeps on with who he is, doing what he is purposing to do - not with disregard or ill will, but because he knows who he is and his purpose is for the highest good. I started thinking about a lesson God has been teaching me for years. We can be steady in who we are and what we are about when we are grounded in Him. He doesn't change based on our mood swings, attitudes and reactions. We don't have to be swayed by those around us either. We can be constant because we are rooted and grounded in His love. We can have that secret inner place that goes deep and draws up from unseen sources. We can be secure in Him and walk accordingly.
Well, those are the gleanings from this week of unexpected rest and a feast for the soul. I would love to hear what blessed you this week - even if it was something I shared here.
Photo of Girl in Sprinkler by Au Kirk on Photobucket; Aslan picture by notlikeatamedlion.tumblr.com; Biola Photo by Hammyhammy88