Seeking and Finding
The podcast we did on "Letting Go" with Mike Steele, started a wonderful conversation in the comment section of the blog. Brad and Wayne pick up some of that conversation as they talk about what we might do if God seems elusive to our heart-felt desire to know him. How does he make himself known in our world and what is our part in asking, seeking, and knocking, without lapsing into the religious performance traps? God wants each of us to enter into a vibrant relationship with him. That assurance allows us to grow in learning how we can participate in that relationship and live transformed lives in the world. Brad also shares about his latest project, a book and DVD collection of the inspiring film, THE BUTTERFLY CIRCUS.
See the movie The Butterfly Circus, or order the new book/movie combination at Windblown Media.
Order A Man Like No Other from one of these three websites: Murry's website, Windblown Media, or Lifestream
Hey Guys, Enjoyed your ramblings.Here’s mine.Only with utter dependence in our Creator can we truly live in the utter freedom of who HE made us to be. If you have enough guts(fear not) go ahead live out your hearts desire. After all HE puts them there. Listen to the sweet nothings as HE whispers: Be free, be loved for “I AM” the AUTHOR and FINISHER . Again, rest in ME for you complete ME! Gman.
There certainly was a lot of conversation about Mike’s podcast. I think it unlocked some passion in people, at many different levels. There is so much low grade anxiety woven in the culture (any culture) that finding someone who can effectively express it in a life choice like Mike, or even in a response to it like we commenters, can crack open the emotional flood gates a little bit. For myself, I am preconditioned by decades of participating in well organized Christian gatherings where concepts and principles are kicked around like verbal hacky sacks or some crazy dance party where people can show their stuff. These gatherings seem to always resolve by concluding in a closing prayer where God is brought in to put resolution to any unresolved emotional conflicts that may have come from the championship of comparing spiritual experiences or opinions.
I think Mike’s story sort of crossed the line of that cultural need for a meeting or gathering or even a podcast, to resolve to some harmonious major chord. Mike’s story didn’t do that. Because of that, it re-triggered some anxiety in me that had been salved over by tidy applications of truth, principles, and pithy little sayings. Mike’s podcast lacked that familiar cleanliness to resolve the anxiety and put it neatly back on the bookshelf, rather than leave it wide open so we can mine it for more useful contents.
Mike’s willingness to share his unresolved experience caused me to look more honestly at my own as well. It’s a little like when my brother and I used to throw rocks at the roof of a chicken coop behind my grandfather’s house. It kind of upsets the peace and quiet that rules over all the incarcerated chickens.
I find this discussion very enlightening. While it doesn’t really tell you how to get out of the seeking part, at least it offers comfort that we will find what we seek, not by doing, but by listening to Him. This may be a struggle for people who are applying the rules of career success on finding God. We don’t earn a relationship with God based on how much time we volunteer to serve Him. There’s a relationship with Him that needs to be nurtured. That, I guess, I lacked. I barely listen to Him, or say “thy will be done” and mean it. Maybe this is why even if I try to serve Him, you know something’s lacking. He’s just not there. I was missing the more important part.
Hey Fellas! This podcast really spoke to me today! It made my workout go faster too! 🙂
Brad, I resonated with your story about God speakin’ to you while you were washing dishes! Keep slingin’ fellas! I’m honored to have had you guys along for the ride on my journey over the past 3 years. Did you even know you were ridin’ with me these past few years????? 🙂 Peace!
Lorraine, It is one of the most interesting conversations, or discussions I have had lately but I am not even as assured as your post suggests you are. Sometimes it seems like God is like the glasses on my head that I look all over the house to find and finally give up in despair.
As for nurturing a relationship with God , I used to know some precepts and processes for that but I ultimately flunked out on my precepts class. I hope that if there is nurturing to be done that it is God who does it with me rather than the other way around. I am more like Helen Keller when it comes to building a relationship with God. I think I am blind, and deaf. I just grab on to whatever substantial thing seems to bump into me and follow it for a while and hope it doesn’t push me over a cliff or in front of some oncoming truck.
Really good stuff. This journey with Him seems slow and I don’t feel like I’m getting very far, so this talk was great. Read in the Message recently Mat 7:13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easy-going formulas for a sucessful life that can be practised in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life – to God! – is vigorus and requires total attention.” There is no formula. It seems you just got to stick at it, let Him do the work in you to bring you to that place of intimacy however long it takes. It does require us to be totally honest and dependent on Him. “This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need.” Mat 6:7ish
That’s encouraging stuff Aims. My “walk of faith” does seem to be almost exactly like Helen Keller’s. I am blind to the spiritual realities that the bible talks about and I am deaf to the voice of God that so many in the bible refer to (old and new testament). What I _do_ have is this deaf, blind sense of spiritual “touch”. It is awfully hard to describe but I don’t think it needs describing because most people – Christian and not – know what it is. It might be emotions or something like that – I dunno, but think everyone has a sense of where to move next or what is true. Like you say it takes paying attention. I suppose, when we stop paying attention and just let life, thoughts, circumstances and responsibilities drift, they don’t tend to naturally lead us on the course that God created us to follow. I think that is what I mean by being spiritually deaf and blind. Without some sort of non-visual guiding, and without me actually moving where it nudges, I am hopeless to simply walk off a cliff, fall in a hole, step in front of a car.
I think you are right. Paying attention and probably learning how to pay attention. Ignoring the voices in my head that I grew up with or I hear repeated in the media and learning how to feel the nudges of my invisible guide is my only assurance of safety and hope. I also think you are right in that just because I am responding properly to those nudges, doesn’t mean I have my sight back so I can see where I am going. I am still blind, but again reminded as you have done, that paying attention and obeying the nudge is about as close to assurance as I am going to get. It takes faith that the hand leading me is trustworthy. I can see how that is a very big problem for most of us at times. It’s like running with our eyes closed.
Faith is scary to me however, total freedom is even more scary. Maybe that’s why the “freedom” that Christ offers is so scary. As nice as the word sounds, unbridled freedom has previously gotten me in a lot of trouble.
You cannot put God in any sized box. He can use anyone or anything to speak to us. He is always full of surprises and adventures beyond our imagination. Faith is just “responding to Him” -those impressions or thoughts he gives us -and He relates to all of us differently, because we are all unique one-of -a -kind kids in His eyes. I encountered God while at work and that experience was more real to me than His touches at the Brownsville Revival or the Toronto Blessing in which I participated. My wife’s experiences with God were the most powerful and life changing while at home or travelling in the car than any “revival meeting”. All I wanted was His perspective on a situation in my life that was emotionally stealing my peace and joy. He led me to see that worship was the key for me. I put on my dust mask,ear plugs,etc. and started sanding the metal car bodies as they rolled down the assembly line. I just hummed the words to my favorite worship song over and over until peace came and He came down and totally immersed me in His love and approval of my life. He impressed on my mind the fact that He loved me and I was pleasing to Him – I had not failed Him or “missed the mark” in any way. That encountered changed my life and perspective on life forever. I have since enjoyed talking with Him while driving a forklift or driving home in my car. I just talk to Him like He is right next to me- and then I sing or hum and listen to hear what He says. Lately we communicate in different ways. There are seasons too where it seems harder to commit to spend time with Him. Life can bring lots of distractions. Hunger for Him is a gift of His grace, if you are hungry-tell Him and spend all the time you can with Him, if you want to be hungry ,ask Him for that hunger to really know Him more deeply.
There are many mornings where the first prayer of my heart upon waking is:
“God, I don’t have a clue who You are.”
The answer (when I get one) is usually:
“That’s because you don’t have a clue who you are.”
I’m like Ken on this one. The only difference is I’m still waiting for an answer, a nudge, a shout, anything. It’s only been a few years that I have been praying “God, I don’t have a clue who You are.” I guess I shouldn’t be so impatient and give it a bit more time.
Moses couldn’t get a straight answer out of Him, so I’m thinking we probably won’t, either 😉 All God would say about it is “I AM”. Maybe that’s enough for now.
Truth is, Moses had no clue who Moses was as He stood before the burning bush. He had no idea he was born from the bulrushes to lead God’s people out of Egypt. He had no inkling that he would write the introduction to the Old Testament. Because all his life he was told he was somebody else. A somebody that could never relate to God as Creator because God didn’t create him.
I’m no Moses. But I can certainly identify with that…
Loved hearing Mike’s story. Could hardly believe how many aspects I resinated with – put words into my mouth of feelings and behaviors I’ve experienced… esp trying to explain myself and the words coming out wrong or misunderstood.
Sometimes I wonder why I try to defend myself and this relationship I’m growing into. Perhaps its still the old mechanisms kicking in as if I need to protect it (and me) as I did in the past, though would that mean I’m trying to hold onto the relationship instead of letting God do the work?
Having come to the “end of myself” during a horrible time in a mission organization, the best thing one of the leaders said to me was “I wouldn’t think any less of you if you step down and cease from all responsibilities.” The permission begun the road of healing and with this freedom I discovered a God of love.
Now looking in from the outside, I see the religious views that demand service as a demonstration of faith to be toxic and oppressive. There is no way I would ever go back to this performance based lifestyle!!!!!
Freedom in Christ… you know when you know that you know. Its something God gives, not anything I can do myself.
KEEP SLINGING MORE FREEDOM AROUND!!!!!!!!!
Immediately I can think of at least five other men who are going through withdrawal from “the system” (whether corporate, governmental, or corporate church) and sho have been unable to put their thing together. Many if these men, me included, have not been able to find gainful employment or re assume their previous identities as “husband and provider”. We are all struggling to “let go”. I have been ‘home” now for six going on seven years, learning how to properly serve God. I was always looking for what validated me, with respect to work, and was tied to the success tread mill. Whether it was :church: or business the only system I understood was “pay for performance”. It has been as though at may ripe old age of 64, I am learning how to let go and let God. My whole life it was always about me. What i wanted. What i thought God wanted. Like job, I lost all the crutches and props that held me up and like Humpty dumpty my life lay shattered and in pieces.
For a total of eleven years now, my wife has lovingly held those pieces while god was putting me back together again…minus all the baggage.
Oh yes, even now I still have days when i struggle with having no worth and long for “gainful employment”. it is not an easy road but at the same time I know i can finish the course because i have had to lay all my burdens down
i would not trade thus new life in the spirit for all the security and praise and success this world holds dear. Walking daily with my Lord and living loved and learning to truly be a servant has revolutionized my life. I have really lost nothing…but i have gained all
Nowi count it all joy.
I so very much enjoy reading all these perspectives. You people all have such wonderful and relatable stories. A lot of them (and mine as well) seem to be about facing failed expectations of a system that we believed in at one time or another. It is kind of unnerving to me that so many of these stories of ours are about returning to much the same “working” expectations of God as we had before we ever even determined to find Him . It seems like we had our honest, practical “working” relationship to/with God figured out far better before we set out to figure it out. It seems like we brought in a lot of equipment, lots of machinery and theory, sort of like one of those archeological ‘digs’. With tents, refreshments, tools, endurance, sweat, self sacrifice and books full of theory. We set out to find this God and what he wanted, thinking we could apply our own mental processes and sequences to the task. The longer we looked, the more we had invested in the search. But here we are, rather lamenting the fact that we really aren’t much better informed about the truth of who God is, what God wants and what we can expect than when we started. It almost seems like we are applying some of the same systems and sequences to getting out and letting go of the ecclesiastical world that we did when we were getting out and letting go of the secular world.
Letting go of our disillusioned experience in the churches has to be more than simply picking up different tools (or the same ones) and continuing the search for God outside the previous systems. With all respect and reverence to the life of Jesus and the billions of hours of work done by subsequent disciples of his (myself included), it seems like we can quite simply stop talking about the whole thing and go about making our beds, sanding car bodies (per Jeff Monroe), visiting lonely people, flying on airplanes, painting pictures, walls and toenails, and all the other stuff life is. It almost seems like we need permission now, to just be human, without any religion at all.
Remember when we all were so offended by John Lennon when he sang “Imagine no religion”? Doesn’t it sometimes feel like we almost agree with what we used to call “the world”? Is it frightening to go there? Do we still fear that God has rejected the world and we should never return to it? Is it okay not to “say grace” before a meal? Are we returning to our heathen life style if we just forget the entire pursuit of who God is and just live in Him in everything we do?
Love the discussion about seeking God. In my experience those times when God seems so far away end up more the problem on my end. The “noise” of this world takes all of my attention. I am distracted silly. Then in that moment when I finally slow down and close myself in with Him, I hear Him say, “where have you been? I’ve missed you. You’ve been far away from me. Come to Me now and I will give you rest.”
It’s much the same in my marriage. I can allow myself to get pulled away from my husband. I may not “feel” close to him. It takes getting away with him and spending time with him to bring back the closeness.
God is always there waiting for me. He longs to spend time with me and speak to me. I’m so thankful that He always woos me and draws me.
God’s breath, His Spirit, is IN us all….whoever abides in love, abides in Him….the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love….there is no fear in love. Think back to your youngest memories of life before anyone starting telling you doctrine….what did you understand within your being…hopefully you experienced love and you felt its goodness….the Spirit of God within you and all of us from the beginning….in Him we live and move and have our being.
I’m going way off the reservation on this, and perhaps due to copyright laws I shouldn’t even post this but I won’t be offended if you delete this comment Wayne.
Speaking of “letting go” and simply being in the presence of God, how well do you think this describes life in the kingdom of God?
Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
One last thought before this trail grows cold by virtue of the overshadowing of the next podcast… (and if anyone is still reading)
My point is that this quote is from John Lennon who the evangelical world considered to be almost an anti-Christ. Yet while it isn’t an entirely correct theological description of the kingdom of God, it is a lot better than many of the ones I have heard through the organized church.
I guess my real point is that when we were in the institutional church, we valued the ‘voice of authority’ on topics. When that voice began to override the voice in our own head, it lead us to question that voice and finally flee the system. The “voice of authority” or the “authorized opinion” mindset, not “religion”, seems to be the root problem. We trust authority, or at least seek out some validation by authority on a topic of faith, and we are right back in the trap of “religion”. When we venerate voices like C.S. Lewis, Frank Viola and even Wayne Jacobson we diminish the common ordinary, unauthorized Voice that is speaking all around us all the time. We may even diminish or at least seek validation the random thoughts that simply enter our own minds. We all need some guidance but after a very short while, we had better start trusting what God is causing to be our own words and thoughts, or we are not going to be free from religion, even if we don’t attend any church.
Wayne and Brad can easily get placed in the position of “a voice of authority” but not because they know something more than every other person in the audience. They are just great communicators of the words God is speaking in _everyone’s_ head. We enjoy Wayne and Brad because they say the same things God is already saying to us. Great communicators tend to become icons in the religious world because they mold the thoughts the rest of us have in our minds, into verbal clarity. The problem is that we become fearful that the “wrong” person may clearly state what God is telling us so we dismiss it simply because the communicator isn’t authorized in our minds. God was speaking to John Lennon as clearly as he is speaking to you, and as clearly as he is speaking to Wayne & Brad. If we “authorize” one voice and not the other, we have just recreated the religion we escaped.
Just because we have left the institutional church doesn’t mean we have corrected anything. If we are still looking for the authorize communicator, we will certainly wind right back up clustering in small groups of “safe” people who validate our own thoughts. If we can be validated by _our own confidence_ in the truth we have, we will be better able to abandon these frustrations with the institution or the anxiety so frequently expressed here that we can’t find God. If God is who we think he is, then he has already found us and all we have to do is have to confidence to believe what we already hear without validation by anyone else.
I venerate C.S. Lewis. Just saying.
His is a venerable voice Kiel.
Haha, I just think he’s a sweetheart. It was through him that God spoke to me in some very dark hours. From my early 20’s I can remember putting on the audiobook of Mere Christianity just so I could sleep. There are some of these authority figures that for me are more like Fathers. The two big ones for me are Lewis and Dallas Willard. In them I recognized someone that I wouldn’t mind growing up to be like—unlike every other Christian man I knew at the time. I now see that what I recognized was Christ. The generosity of Lewis and Willard is the generosity Christ.
Sorry to get off topic, I realize this wasn’t the point of your comment.
There is no one point in an ever expanding conversation Kiel.
Just two real guys, talking about CS Lewis. 😉
I am still at the place where I want God to “show me the God stuff” like what was mentioned in the podcast. Although I believe and trust now more than ever before, trying to have a relationship with a person I can’t see or hear or sense physically still feels crazy and unfulfilling.