You know how you can be talking to someone and think everything is good; then they say something and inwardly something inside you kind of pings? It might feel like the reverberation of a gong that’s been struck, or sometimes it feels like your equilibrium suddenly shifted. Or maybe it’s more like a kind of quiet unrest that you’re tempted to set aside because nothing seems immediately wrong except you feel a vague unrest, and you don’t know why.
That’s where I found myself today.
I would love to say that I didn’t create scenarios in my head, or that I very cleanly and humbly sought God’s wisdom and presence to work it through. I didn’t. After much thinking, inward shenanigans, multiple movements of repentance (for the shenanigans), and snatches of peace before starting over again, I thought it might be good to get an outside voice in my head.
“As I enter prayer now, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly, to re-center my scattered senses upon the presence of God.” (Lectio 365)
Re-centering scattered senses felt particularly pertinent. I needed that. I paused, I stilled. It lasted about 5 seconds.
Slowly I began to realize something else was driving my feelings. If that weren’t the case, stilling would come. Re-centering would happen. But it wasn’t.
“Living Lord Jesus, as I draw near to You now in prayer, would you draw near to me?” (Lectio 365)
I hit the pause button and sat with that for a minute. Sure enough, the energy churning through me sprang strongly from an old assumption: “Something’s bothering me; I’m not handling it in a ‘godly’ way. I need to get everything thing aligned again and then God and I will be good. Then I can get on with sorting this out.” That assumption pretty much boils down to, “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it!” This is fine if you’re not human or if task rather than relationship is the point. It’s not so good if you’re trying to learn about loving wholeheartedly in your humanity. Sitting with this further, I came to a place of genuinely asking God to draw near and to open me to his movement.
“Surprise me again as You surprised so many others in those sacred days.” (Lectio 365)
That’s where the proverbial penny dropped. All this time I’ve been thinking the direction my situation could go was based on what I recognized, what I could see. But in His God-ness, with His all-options-available, creative-in-ways-I-would-never-have-thought-of Full-ness…He could surprise me…as he did with his close friends in those days between resurrection and ascension.
Mary, the Emmaus friends…Jesus stood right in front of them, conversed, and they didn’t recognize him. How ironically and easily I’m appalled by that.
I realized as I was driving my car and thinking my thoughts, I did not recognize Jesus. The image I saw was not who he is.
That made me pause.
I just get so sure of myself, so certain of my perceptions, so confident of my outcomes. As if I, with God’s help, am the bottom line of what’s possible.
Until God surprises me; helping me recognize him in my garden, or on my road, or eating my supper. When I recognize him, old perceptions and assumptions fall away, like sight restored to a blind man. Suddenly, all the old possibilities are swept away in the vibrance of Jesus’ presence. They are replaced with more generous, open, less grasping options.
“Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NIV)
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5 NIV)
Still behind the wheel of my car, I noticed the inward energy had changed from “Get it done!” to “Will I let go?” Will I let go of the old to walk with Jesus into new? Into transforming? Churning had changed to calm. Reactive became thoughtful. Worry turned into peace.
“It’s for freedom you have been set free.” (Galatians 5:1 NIV)
It’s a wonder…really.
How are you surprised by God today?
“How amazing are the deeds of the LORD! All who delight in him should ponder them. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails.” (Psalm 112:2-4 NLT)