Letting Community Happen
Wayne follows up on the last podcast with some of the comments and questions that followed it on the God Journey blog and in emails. Real community is not something we can find on our own, and many who've tried have come away disappointed. Rather it is the fruit of learning to live in his love and finding space in our transforming hearts to love with no agenda in it for ourselves. Thought most won't love you back, some will and that's where community happens. It is no something we can create or maintain by human structures. He talks about dealing with the bullies who try to undermine his work in you and how to see the church in a way that will help us have a better conversation with others who don't yet see the church as the reality Jesus is building in the world.
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You read Shirley’s comment from the last podcast – in particular “Wayne was already a gifted person who has many unique opportunities. Most of us do not have those avenues of connection.” A couple things came to mind.
First, how easy it is to slip back into the idea that community is something to be gained rather than shared or given. If your status as a public figure helps you build community then it seems to me it would be more about your ability to gather an audience instead of about allowing Jesus to live through you. I don’t say this to be critical at all because I too can flip that around.
Therefore, it seems like an interesting podcast might be for you to describe connections that happen with people that don’t know who you are. For instance, a waitress that God put across your path or someone standing in line at the store or the story I have heard you tell about the woman at jury duty. Not so that anyone will know “how to” do it but just a sense for how we can let God lead naturally and in unexpected ways. These types of stories maybe don’t lead to long lasting relationships but sometimes our view of community is too narrow. These conversations and God working through them gives us a view of God’s greater community that we are a part of. When these encounters happen frequently we can feel very connected – especially with Jesus but also with the community all around us. Another idea along this line would be to interview others who have these “spontaneous” conversations that God brings about.
The other thing that came to mind was how on my journey over the last several years my core since of community is with Jesus. Therefore, it is also really cool to end up in a conversation with an unbeliever and totally encourage them with unconditional love and hope. I can walk away from these conversations with an ongoing dialog with Jesus about how fun it is to be a part of the community he is sharing with everyone through me. In addition, I know you’ve mentioned, community doesn’t require total like minded thinking. I have friends that lean heavily toward living life by “biblical” rules, principles, etc. but they find my freedom in Christ fascinating rather than threatening. So we can have substantive conversation where they are challenging me but with questions and a desire to understand where I am coming from and I can challenge back. We leave these conversations energized by the exchange because we aren’t trying to “fix” the other person.
My view of community has gotten much less defined compared to what I thought it was as I am learning to let community happen. I still fall back to trying to force it too sometimes. If God provided a great conversation with someone in a coffee shop one day, I can tend to go back the next day looking for that type of conversation again and then get disappointed when it doesn’t happen. So I step back and realize the first time I wasn’t looking and God provided and then just like many in the institutionalized church I tried to turn the experience into a “program for spontaneous community”. Sometimes I think God is lovingly smiling and saying let me make the connections John and you just rest in my love. Things will go better that way. 🙂
What you said about finding community when you give up looking for it is true. I was desperately looking. I hated the loneliness. I see now that Father couldn’t give me community until He untwisted me. “Looking for a community because of what I need out of it is a guarantee that I won’t find it.” I was so needy that people avoided me even in the meetings. Fortunately I have learned to live inside the love of an awesome Heavenly Father and have stopped looking for community. I don’t need it. Connecting with a few people on the blog has been lovely and reaching out in love to a few non-believing acquaintances is good. A little fellowship is starting to happen but I listen carefully to Father lest I lose it.
You podcasts are so timely and I could write pages and pages how they connect! I found myself at the end praying for you as you write your book. I think I have always been searching for this kind of fellowship and came very close for many years. I am untwisting and becoming freer than I have ever been in my life. Things are changing inside my head and I am finding community as a result. Just this week I have had two amazingly miraculous conversations and I am just so thankful for how much God loves us and how very real he is. I have felt that ‘nudging’ and am seeing more and more that acting on it is pure joy. There is no fear in love!
Awesome podcast! Thank you, Wayne!
I was wondering about those dozens of comments after each podcast since the forum is empty. Here they are! 🙂 same site just different place – as comments to blog posts.
like that discussed community – it exists, you just find it one day not where you thought it should be :)) and yes, dozens and dozens of people.
Big hello from Ukraine!
I was thinking about the podcast this morning and a couple of sections of scripture came to mind: The ‘wherever tow or three are gathered in my name’ verses (as you shared in the podcast), David and Jonathan’s relationship, and Ananias (the certain disciple) and Paul. Ananias’s ‘nudgings’ were awesome! He obviously was a listening kind of guy and free to act to carry out what God wanted him to do!
My husband and I have been following these podcasts for ages…One thing really struck a chord with me is to be grateful for the ones God has already placed in my path. At the moment this is myself and my husband. It’s really easy to take our partners for granted in this life. Tonight I have decided to be thankful for the gathering of two,(and with our wonderful God, three). Kindred spirits, means so much, what a blessing. Thanks for the podcast, Wayne 🙂
It’s been 5 years since I read He Loves Me and met you and Sara with Robert K. and the group from VA. What a journey of experiencing the love and fellowship of Papa, Jesus and Holy Wind! I’m a living breathing former TACL who daily finds His unique expressions of love and power. The freedom is so life giving. He has healed a lot of deep emotional wounds and allowed me to link up with others on a similar journey. Thanks again for sharing your heart.
Hi John, I like what you shared about community being something to be gained rather than shared or given. Also ‘my core sense of community is with Jesus.’
So often I feel that He is grieved when I am looking to spend time with people instead of Him.
Hi Alyssa, Thanks for the reminder to be grateful for the ones God has already placed in our path. It is so easy to be a dissatisfied woman.
Hi Eve-Loraine- I guess in many ways I am dissatisfied, which is why this podcast was such a good reminder. The fact that my husband and I are like-minded (and like-hearted) is a huge blessing, and it’s ok that there seems to be nobody else, it really comes down to listening to Jesus in the micro-movements of life and sharing with him in everything.
I love what you said about the Father “untwisting” you, because I feel the same way, it’s such a long process and I still feel like there are roadblocks of bitterness and resentment. It’s annoying, because I really want to live my life as completely his, but “I” seem to constantly get in the way of that.
Could it be that we don’t experience community because of how we define the nature of community? Look at the language of community as it’s commonly spoken in the church: I need to be fed. I need to be filled. I need to be encouraged. I need to be loved. All of what we expect of community is expressed in terms of fulfilling our needs.
No doubt we do have needs, but if getting our needs filled becomes the focus of our expectations for community, we’re in trouble. I’ve heard of a marriage where both spouses are seeking to get their needs fulfilled as “two ticks, no dog.” How is it supposed to work any better if you’re in a room full of ticks? (And God help the “pastor” who is seen as the only “dog” in the room).
This kind of thinking stems for our living in our fear, rather than relaxing into the reality of our being perfectly loved by God–we really don’t believe that we have a father who will always proved for our every need. Yes, I know that sounds simplistic. It also happens to be reality that Jesus lived out on this earth–he always poured out to others from the abundance he experienced from his Father–and it’s part of the inheritance that is ours in our adoption as children of the Father.
Community is really all around us–it’s just not what we think it is, so we don’t see it.
Hi Jill, I think I was a TACL. I was so very religious. It’s wonderful to be set free.
Hi Alyssa, it’s taken about 20 years for Father to untwist me. I must have been a very slow learner. I was fixated on wanting my husband to find Jesus but the fact that it has been so difficult is the reason I have pressed deeply into Jesus. I like what you said, ‘it really comes down to listening to Jesus in the micro-movements of life and sharing with him in everything.’ For a long time He said no to me every time I had an idea.
I don’t really need community but just somebody to share about the blessings Jesus gives me. I get excited and what to tell someone. Sometimes I tell my computer.
LOL! I love that, ‘sometimes I tell my computer’, Eve-Lorraine, it’s so helpful to know there are other’s out there needing untwisting and taking ages in the process. Thankyou for telling your computer (and me)!! What a wonderful Dad we have.
Hey Will I am also agreeing so much with your post- was it Larry Crabb that said that about the tick on the dog? How funny and oh so true. I was ruminating today about the movement of the Holy Spirit- I think institutional churches are somewhat like the ark of the covenant, we want God to dwell inside there (the church building) and just carry Him around…I’m sure that He is up to much more interesting things than that, everyday things, extraordinary things alike. The main thing is that the Holy Spirit can guide us and not the other way around, and He can neither be boxed in or controlled. Like CS Lewis said of Aslan, God is not safe (or predictable), but he is very very good.
Thanks so much for the opportunity to meet with you & Sara at Stamford Uk on Sat. Also a huge thanks to our hosts Malcolm & Janet for welcoming us into their home. Had such a great time meeting you guys & trust you have a great time over here. We so enjoyed the time we spent with you but amazingly Father put together a group of total strangers who really connected. We were able to share each other’s journeys & in a day spent talking & laughing together we know that surely only God himself could have orchestrated such a wonderful day.Much love to you all.
This podcast was very helpful to me. I have faced the bullying for a long time from religious people. Years ago I was in a lady’s Bible study. The leader of the study made this comment,”When someone will do anything to you to make you see their point of view, it is abuse.” I have always remembered that. I am reminded from your podcast, that I do not need to received or give that type of communication. Thanks again for pointing us back to Christ Himself.
Hi Alyssa and Eve-Loraine…thanks for sharing your thoughts. Wow I can identify with the intensity of the hunger for others to join me being the leading point of pressing harder into Jesus. The amazing thing that I’m learning is that He truly does answer that hunger. Often it’s more intuitively gained than intellectually learned so there are times when it’s hard to put His answers into words…other than to say when He speaks to our hearts, you know it’s happened. Being invited out of the religious systems is at once freeing and also continues for me to be disorienting at times. I’m thankful that He takes the responsibility for building that trust and relationship with Him.
I just wanted to follow up on your comment Eve-Loraine. When I used to feel or hear what you said… “So often I feel that He is grieved when I am looking to spend time with people instead of Him.” I used to feel like I had disappointed him or that he would be frustrated with me. Now, that might not be the way you think at all – could just be totally about where my filters were. Now I see Jesus being grieved “for” me not “because of” me. I see him being saddened because he knows that the only thing that can truly satisfy my heart longings is him so if I go to others looking for that satisfaction, then it will lead to disappointment and there is no Life there. I don’t know why I had never thought about it before, but if I was inflicting grief on Jesus by my actions then it would mean he actually needed to get something from me and I wasn’t coming through for him. When actually, his whole expression has always been about wanting to give Life to me not get something from me.
John, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I know that often I have things “backwards” (smile). For the largest part of my life I was taught “Go and clean yourself up…then come to Jesus” or the bait and switch…”Jesus will accept you…come…good now you came to Him…go and clean yourself up”. Wow how exhausting! The same with Jesus needing anything from me….it is His life He offers. I appreciated Wayne saying “If it’s fast answers or progress you’re looking for, you’re on the wrong journey”. The beauty of it is that what Jesus offers (even when it takes a long time) is so much more substantial than our own behaviour modification programs.
Great point John!
Sue said, “Often it’s more intuitively gained than intellectually learned so there are times when it’s hard to put His answers into words…other than to say when He speaks to our hearts, you know it’s happened.”
I like the way you expressed that. Sometimes I can’t find the words to explain how He has communicated with me,
John, I don’t feel I have disappointed Him but I think you have expressed it so much better. “Now I see Jesus being grieved “for” me not “because of” me. I see him being saddened because he knows that the only thing that can truly satisfy my heart longings is him so if I go to others looking for that satisfaction, then it will lead to disappointment and there is no Life there.”
Thanks Sue, I do feel like I have turned a corner in my christian life, with the hunger for him, the real God, not just smoke and mirrors. Last night I reconnected with old friends over dinner. One made a commitment to God years ago but never could stomach the institutional church and also finds Paul’s words in the NT to be misogynistic (sad-I find Paul’s writings to be the very opposite!).
It was lovely to share with her and to feel confident enough to say it really is only our relationship with Jesus that matters in this life, it is an individual walk with God (God’s been showing me that lots lately- “Alyssa, don’t worry about this or that person- YOU follow me”)
The other two friends are Buddhists, and I found that I could take them at face value without snootiness or agendas.
I went home feeling like one more link to the chain that says: ‘there is a proper and prescribed way to be a good christian’, just fell off. Klunk! 🙂
Well, I have listened to the podcast twice now and am still in the process of formulating my thoughts. Before it becomes too late, I have decided to post them, however they may come out.
I have mentioned either here, or in the forum, that I missed the glory days of the God Journey podcasts where ‘The Shack’ was being birthed much like ‘Finding Church’ is being birthed now. In fact, though I have listened to both ‘He Loves Me’ and ‘So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore,’ I have still yet to listen and/or read ‘The Shack’, as Christian fiction (for lack of a better term) has never appealed to me. It wasn’t Wayne’s involvement with ‘The Shack’ that brought me here, though I don’t discount the fact that it is an important and vital work. But I truly believe that ‘Finding Church’ will have more of an impact on my life than ‘The Shack’ will.
I am encouraged by your comment, Wayne, that Jesus is sufficient in relationship and relationship cannot be forced. My experiences with relationships of late have been unique to say the least. I have not pursued opportunities, I have let them come to me, with favorable results. I have given up the illusion of the concept of the long-term, happily ever after relationship model. Though it may work for some, for me, it isn’t in the cards. What Ruby said about simply enjoying relationship for a time, for however long it may last, makes perfect sense to me. It is akin to a famous quote…
If you love something set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.
Though painful, I have to let several relationships wither because they simply weren’t built on the right things. Especially what was mentioned by Wayne in the podcast around the time of when ‘The Shack’ came out, how people would draw near trying to align themselves simply to catch the magic, not to enjoy relationship. I was flat out told by a once good friend he expected me to handle his finances, me having taken up that field of study in college. To his disappointment, my career path took a different turn. We are not as close as we once were.
Thanks again Wayne, for your sharings and including us as a significant part of the conversation. It has meant a lot to me and I am sure others as well.
Hi Alyssa, I’m slowly learning to see how Jesus is “untwisting” things in me as well. I loved the way you described earlier “I seem to get in the way”…that resonates so deeply with me. I think I never truly appreciated how deeply entrenched the “institutional” way of thinking was in my life. As Jesus uncovers those layers He also whispers to me, “You follow Me and let me take care of the others”. Yes I find that I often am watching what others are doing…it’s a new freedom to focus more on Jesus than worry about what other ppl are doing. Part of having a membership in a “club” or “building” is that there’s an unprecedented amount of focus on “how will I look in front of the others”…clearly freedom cannot co-exist in an atmosphere like that. I love the way you’re learning to love those who think differently than you without feeling that you have to “hide”. Like you I’m learning that the conversations become more “real”. There’s no need for me to have to agree with everything they’re saying (or have them think like me). I notice there’s more an air of freedom and then so interestingly relationships take on very rich complexions.
“I found I could take them at face value without snootiness or agendas. I went home feeling like one more link to the chain that says there is a proper and prescribed way to be a good Christian just fell off. Klunk.”
Loved this. Good for you Alyssa. Snootiness and agendas. That just about sums up my religious days.
I know I have had to let some friendships go out with the tide… But I like the times when I am sitting on the beach watching the waters…. Cause I know the tide is coming in and I will get to connect once again with those dear loved ones.
So enjoyed the podcast as it was a wonderful reminder to enjoy the relationships that do exist in my journey even though I may not view them as “fellowship”. My husband and I are on the journey together and we have several relationships that we cherish with people we love and they love us, but we do not have contact with these folks on any regular basis and may only connect monthly in a phone conversation or text conversation. Some of these folks we haven’t seen in person for 3 years. We have also experienced those relationships that were for a growing season, like my husband’s relationship with a man who was in a Jehovah Witness church. Did they agree on everything? Absolutely not, but they lovingly explored together Jesus and his teachings. Unfortunately his wife was very afraid of their time together and once she realized that we couldn’t be “converted” she made it clear she didn’t want them to meet. I have begun to accept that a Jesus connection can be as fleeting as a conversation at a yard sale or at the scene of an accident or in the process of selling a vehicle ( all of these true in our life in the last 6 months). Yet there is something in me still craving the intensity of what we experienced when we met more formally in a church cell group years ago. I liked Wayne’s example of the beautiful days in London as the reality of what he has experienced but that the real reality can be so different and so much bigger in scope. It is taking a long time on my journey for me to change and accept the reality that relationships in Christ’s Church can be so much larger than I ever imagined before. Thankfully He continues to love me and helps me explore “fellowship” in a broader sense .
Every now and again Wayne says something that I do not understand. I have been thinking about it for a week and thought I would write and ask.
I think Wayne may be saying something familiar, but has worded it differently, I am not sure. I also ponder often Wayne’s thoughts on God’s fury (which I really like and makes sense to me) and this phrase reminds me of that all though I could be off base.
At the very end of this Podcast Wayne said – Our needs are being consumed in the reality of the Father’s affection for us.
This podcast has given me hope just where I have been looking for it. I have a lot to chew on. I can see God healing me from the effects of sin in my life, and the ills received by institutional living. But my constant struggle is with the role the church and my own husband had in the process. I don’t think I can enter back into true community with any of them until I can reconcile what God’s doing in me with how they treated me when I questioned the status quo, and the fact that I committed social and religious suicide to reunite with them.
I have, in a restoration effort with my husband, rejoined the institution. I even feel very strongly that Abba has told me I will not be leaving it. My husband dreams of being a senior pastor, and is ever taking steps toward that goal. I believe it is Abba’s will for me, in this very broken, lonely state I find myself in, to learn to live loved by God and allow his love to flow through me to others. Where better to do this than wherever it is he has me planted?
I’d much rather be free range. But if he wants me in the system so I can shine his light of love there, then I will have to trust him to do it through me. To continue to teach me how to live loved by him. To continue to let myself love others from the flow of that love through me. Only then, as this podcast pointed out, will true community happen anyway.
It’s easy to write about hope, but it’s really hard to live it. However, I’m holding on to it for dear life. This journey started for me a few years ago, and the end is nowhere in sight. In a way I’m glad – I am enjoying Abba in ways I haven’t since I was a little girl. Broken. What a strange thing to be for such a very long period of time.
Hi Dawna, I don’t know what he means either and I am not sure what you mean by God’s fury but I will tell you what I am thinking. I think “Our needs are being consumed in the reality of the Father’s affection for us.” means that when we are secure in Father’s love the needs that seem so important to us at the moment will fade into the background. Can someone else explain it? Does that help Dawna?
Thank you Eve-Loraine,
Yes, it does.
I should have used the used the word wrath. Wayne tells a cool story about his wife and bees and rescuing her son when he was young.
Consuming, Wrath, Fury, pondering these things. I may never completely understand and I am o.k. with that.
Hi Dawna, I remember the bee story. I think of consuming as swallowing. I wrote a longer reply but the computer swallowed it. I am in a different time zone. It is 8:20pm.
What I should have said was it is 3:30pm on Tuesday 15th October.
Hi Abba’s Girl- I was very moved by what you shared. I also grew up in a very organized Presbyterian system and you’re so right in that Father does different things with different people. Part of the influence of the “club” and the performance aspect of it that became so damaging is that it extended to my nuclear family…meaning “blood relatives” (smile). It’s been helpful to hear Wayne and others explain that when we’re following Jesus there’s no formula “You were there, now do what I do and get out” or on the other hand, “I live inside the institution, that’s where Jesus wants you and now you all get back in!” To be continued…sorry got to run.
Continued…Abba’s Girl…had a computer emergency and had to send before I lost everything (laugh). Like you I’m surrounded by people who are still in the “building” and Father has given me areas to have relationship with them while moving slowly and surely away from the performance trap of those institutions. I am no longer there every Sunday and apart from a few relationships He has brought that can be continued…there’s only small involvement on my part. My extended family is mostly part of the institution and sees their involvement as part of “being fed”. Father has opened my eyes to see that Jesus will feed me spiritually and the other relationships are under that reality. Yes it’s painful and my heart resonated with your hurt in the sense that you understand He’s called you to show His love in your situation and like you I feel very alone at times. As we follow Him I find that His grace is given in unexpected ways and learning to relax that illusion of control is also helpful. Thank you for sharing.
Abba’s girl, it was never about being in or out of an institution, it was about being in or out of him. Free range is not a comment on our circumstances, but the freedom of our hearts. I think it’s awesome that you love your husband enough to walk with him in a place that isn’t your preference. But you can live and love in that environment as freely in Christ as anywhere else. It may be difficult to ignore some of the performance-based messages but he can grace you to do so. Just live in his love and love others freely and be sure to only do what he asks of you and don’t get caught up in all the drama and expectations of being a pastor’s wife. You can live free-range even in that environment if you don’t let it control you. Blessings and all grace to you as you grow in this new challenge…
Wow Abbas girl..I love what you said about being broken, for a while & that is ok because you are in His care…. Much of what you and Wayne said has resonated with me. I teach at a Christian school attached to the church I also attend, and up until very recently, my youngest son also attended the school…so as you can well imagine it was somewhat enmeshed :/ . God seems to be telling me to stick it out, mostly because I live in a lower-socio-economic area and my heart really goes out for the kids. I agree with you Wayne, when you said you can sit in a performance driven environment and be given the grace to handle it. I recently resigned from being Sunday School co-ordinator, because I was the only one doing it (every week! Burnout recipe, huh!), and I felt God strongly tell me not to go on any rosters. It’s hard to stay free, sometimes you can second-guess yourself in decisions, which is why it is so important to share our stories as a way of supporting one another…thanks for sharing a snippet of yours, Abba’s girl, and thanks so much Wayne for facilitating so many helpful conversations 🙂
Thanks Alyssa for sharing a little more of your story. Just when I thought I was the only one (laugh)…you’re so right..”so important to share our stories as a way of supporting one another”. This is where grace can be exchanged and He gives grace to love people who see things differently than we do.
I’m glad I came and shared here. I miss the community I once had, one that looked very much like the love several of you have showed me by engaging the way you just did. I dream of them, and I ache for them. As I mentioned above, I left them as a condition upon martial reconciliation…. Frankly, I can’t figure out how to get over it all.
The fallout I had a few years ago with the people I’ve since returned to wasn’t about performance, but I think control had a lot to do with it. And fear. I was questioning our shared beliefs, thinking we were missing the way of Jesus. And it didn’t go well for me. Especially when I got sick of their crap and rebelled: I began to demand the way of Jesus at the cost of actually doing it with Jesus himself. At the end of it all, I was a train wreck. And in a humbled, broken moment of desperation, I committed social and religious suicide in one fell swoop. I renounced everything I believed but Christ crucified, and gave up my loving community – people who loved me for who I was, and accepted me, validated me, were there for me. I loved them so much. They were my faith community like none I’ve ever had before or since.
I thought it would all work out okay, but it hasn’t. Not by a long shot. I want to forgive, to reconnect. But I can’t. I can’t find a way. I just choose to let go, but the fear of them, resentment of them, the understanding of their role in the sell-out I have become, and the fact that they’d lynch me all over again if I had another heretical thought ….
Wayne, you made a point I must engrave on my heart, because I keep seeing past it and missing it altogether: “Free Range is not a comment on our circumstances, but the freedom of our hearts.” If I can’t embrace this, I think I will surely remain dead. All I can do is focus my energies on letting myself live loved by Abba, and try to let his love flow through me from there. To find silence and solitude with him as much as possible and become a child of his again. Only in the past few months have I felt his presence again since I tore my heart out, and only in the past few months could I even say I have an inkling of love for him. I didn’t have it for so long after I fell apart. I was one of those “lucky” people who got to experience the “dark night of the soul”.
I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have unloaded like that.
Dear Abba’s Girl. Don’t apologise for unloading. Father often has us in difficult places. That is where I have grown the most. We all need to unload at times. I pray that Father will love people through you. I didn’t even criticise people when I saw the truth but people were offended by me just the same. I just had to nestle in to Fathers love and go and sit with Him in heavenly places when the hurt became too much. He is enough and blessed me in those dark places. Revelation too came in the moments of greatest pain.
Abbas girl, you sound like you feel absolutely trapped and suffocated, but perhaps I misread the situation? I’m sorry if this is the way you are feeling, it can’t be pleasant to live like that. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced feeling trapped like that. Not by people anyway, circumstances maybe. I have found freedom in handing my affairs over to God where I see no way forward. In some areas of my life I am still in the process of doing this. I have always done life on the assumption that any problems I face are my responsibility to deal with, and few if any want to hear about them or help. That’s a sad comment for someone raised in “loving churches,” but it may not be a indictment of those churches. People are complex critters aren’t they, who knows all the forces and choices that converge to create the person we grow up to be. Anyhow, realizing that it is alright to admit a relationship or situation is beyond my abilities to fix and that it is possible to literally give that worry to the Father was a profoundly liberating experience for me. Many of you might think “duh!” but I was just so used to trying to anticipate and control everything myself.
I remember when my son was 6 years old, I was helping out in his classroom when he burst into tears. I had no idea what it was all about. The activity was for the children to spell their first word and illustrate it. Most kids were spelling words like “cat” and “dog” and having a great time. I took my son outside and asked what the problem was. He was a bright kid but said the task was too hard. When I enquired what word he had chosen he said “stomach.” I must admit I was amused. He seemed relieved when told what a hard word it was and that it was too early in his learning to spell that word correctly, and that the other children had chosen simpler words with only one sound/syllable to them. I told him how to spell it and explained why it is hard to spell.
It strikes me that I can do that with God. In fact I believe he wants me too. I can say, this is too hard for me, I don’t know the answer, I give it to you. He is a loving Spirit only too happy to help and help he will, whether it be an answer or strength to persevere. For me it was the giving up of the problem and the resting in Him that was the revelation. It is alright to be weak and vulnerable.
There is no overt or hidden advice for you here Abbas girl. I am trying to empathize though. These are ruminations on my own journey stimulated by your post. Life ain’t easy. We are all struggling with stuff. Thanks for sharing a bit of your stuff. It would be interesting to see how God works with you on these difficult issues.
The affairs between Abba and woman and man in the final analysis dissolve down to romancing the heart ! Jesus passionately woos us, lovingly bids us join him heart-to-heart as we head towards the great wedding feast in the sky ! In between this spectacular scene of final union with our heavenly groom and life as we experience it, lies a riveting drama of epic proportions — a continual contest for the heart ! Jesus entered our world to win our hearts so as to able to save us from ourselves !
Good morning Abba’s Girl! Thank you for your brutal honesty. I am glad you felt safe to share here, for you are.
Unlike others, unfortunately, I am able to relate to your story. I am that pastor. My first wife ended up depressed, hospitalized, suicidal. I ignored and hurt my children. I was so focused on “God’s calling for my life” I ignored His most important gifts to me. I live with that pain and regret every day. To those of you who wish to be kind, I do not live with shame. Jesus took that for me. I am eternally grateful. But consequences of sinful actions…… those will sear my soul till the day I die.
So from that perspective, Abba’s Girl, I have some thoughts. Suitable for framing or wrapping fish, as always……
God is at work. He never stops. Even when He doesn’t pick up the mitt to play catch with you. In the still of the night He can awaken His beloved. He is relational, and wishes to restore not hurt and destroy. Prayer can change hearts. Your spouse is wrapped up in the “fireworks” of senior pastoring. He sees other’s errors. He will lead it differently. Under his direction, God’s man for the hour, church will look different. He may be on a power trip, in which case the pain will be greater. Yeah I know. Been there done that…… Ouch……
You will be fine. Our Father, my Father, will be with you. Through the furnace of much affliction He has shapen thee, behold! Keep your heart with Jesus. Sinful, hurtful, mean people need love. Their love cups are empty. Only He can fill them. Sometimes He will use you. There is much joy in that. There is an old saying “You can shear the sheep many times but you can only skin ’em once.” Keep your heart with the Father. He will love others through you.
In other words, ditch the judgement. Sorry to be so direct. Having done every sin I can think of I have discovered I am not so much different from those I judge. Two people are never closer than when they are criticizing a third, but I’m not sure Jesus is in their midst. Yep, I’ve been pretty good at that one as well. I tell ya, sometimes it would be nice to discover a sin I haven’t committed just to try out something new………
Find a safe place to share your pain. I have no idea what that means for you. I do know it is not helpful to have someone who reconfirms your pain and anger. For me I have had a few honest men who walked with me through all my stuff, prayed for me and my family, loved me. Unfortunately my ex did not have that same support. Plus her health has not been good which added a double burden for her. My loving daughter who works for the government discovered that she could make her mother her dependent, thereby allowing her mother access to her medical benefits. That helped tremendously. Of course her actions legally made my ex-wife my 7th grandchild………… Just one big happy family…. Holidays are awesome…..
Okay, enough systematic advice. Hope this helps. Chuck any or all of it. But remember, Jesus loves you and there is nothing you can do about that. (Plus He loves all those others as well. Can’t think of one that isn’t His favorite…….The Shack)
PS For those of you who have read some of my previous posts, I have been busy. I am a life insurance agent by trade. My first death claim was one of my best friends. The last few weeks have been busy. Our men’s group is helping the widow, as is our women’s group. Much pain for us all. Thank you for the prayers.
Thank you all for your continued love. It’s really soothing. I’m on the brink of explosion. It’s a miracle I haven’t gotten drunk the past few days – it’s all I can do to not go buy a bottle to make me feel better.
I keep hearing God tell me, through things I read and hear through other people, that I am responsible for what he has given me, despite other people’s reactions to it. But I can’t reconcile that with my situation. I’m half-berserk under the surface. I talk to my husband about it, but he just tells me he can’t handle it and to be true to myself. That he doesn’t want to be my defeater and hates that I think he is. It’s confusing and it makes me feel crazy, because he still reacts to the manifestation of Christ in me with days-long lectures about God’s will and morality, etc. We live so isolated from each other because we can’t take the pain of getting close anymore.
I noticed, reading back over this, that I’m not typing Abba this time, but God. Abba is a name for God I’ve received through all this, as I try to love him again. The harder my marriage gets, it seems, the harder it is for me to live loved by God. By Abba. And I’m really freaked out a little bit about God right now anyway, because yesterday I was reading the footnotes of my Bible (this time I was in the NIV Archaeological Bible) in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 that the “overseer” in the text refers to someone who oversaw a local congregation, taught and preached, directed the affairs of the church, shepherded them and guarded them from error. Sounds like a senior pastor to me, and here I’ve been telling my husband he shouldn’t even prepare Bible Study sermons, but rather allow the Holy Spirit to oversee his own church. It would seem I don’t actually have the leg to stand on that I’ve been standing on, which makes me wonder if I’m even walking with God. Am I being deceived like everyone said I was when I was in the Emergent Church (a similar brand of reformation to this one, that I had to leave behind for being a heretic with them as part of reconciliation). I had to admit then that I had not been walking with God (not because the Emergent Church wasn’t, but because of the rebellion I mentioned in an earlier comment) and now I’m terrified to find it out again. If God isn’t leading me to feel so strongly that the institution isn’t Biblical, then who is? Why can’t I just live a simple life with my family and who cares if we have to be part of the institution? What’s driving me so hard in this thought process, that happens to be very divisive when you consider my husband, who I gave SO MUCH up for, dreams of running an institution? Why can’t I actually achieve my goal of living loved by Abba and loving others through that love?!
I’m freaked out, and I’m certain this forum isn’t the place I’ll find resolution. I can’t find it in years of therapy with my husband, or a humbled life on my face before what I’m assuming is God. But I can’t resist talking about it here, anonymously, because it feels safe… and because it’s a bit of a lifeline for me at the moment.
I can almost hear how frantic you are over this.
Many years ago I used to be booked for small local speaking at churches. As our family began going through trials of all sorts I was forced to start questioning everything I believed and was telling others. I became frantic in my searching for answers, but everyone and books just led me to the same things I had been telling others and writing about. When I read the Bible and looked up word meanings of what Jesus was truly saying, I was so confused because I was so stuck in O.T. thinking.
It took the Lord of course to help my mind. And He led me to an old fiction book by George McDonald a Scottish minister. The book was The Baronet’s Song. I always stayed away from all fiction books. Now I read it and The Shack yearly.
There were other things that the Lord used to keep me sane until I could embrace the peace he was trying to give me. I am sure he uses different things for everyone.
I have also had peace about that former life we led. God uses everything. I do not think you are deceived. It may be that while the Lord wants you to look at everything with news eyes and a new language, it takes time. When you feel those glimmers of overwhelming love for people you know and think about the amazing things God does in the world, really stay in that space. Don ‘t push it away.
When I first was given a copy of The Shack I had a look at it and thought it was dodgy not because it was fiction, rather because I didnt know it was fiction but thought is was someone’s real account of meeting with God! Actually I liked what I read but thought it wasn’t probably a true story.
However, when I found out it was fiction and read it my life was touched in a profound way.
I believe it’s depth and ability to touch a life are because it was written as a collaboration.
Waynes new book will be great and will be used by God mightily I’m sure but it won’t touch people at that deep healing level that the shack can because its a different kind of book. It’ll do things the shack could never do (will probably upset a lot of people, not that the shack didn’t upset a few people!)
If anyone has never read the Shack I whole heartedly recommend it. I’ve got it on CD now and I listen to it about twice a year.
Speaking of collaborative writings: I wonder if the book of Hebrews was a collaboration?
One could argue that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are collaborations, Mark’s contribution certainly can’t be denied. These days he’d be sueing for breach of copyright!
Hi from Beijing Wayne and Sara
Blessings to you Abba’s Girl!
I sense your pain and feelings of hopelessness. My prayers are with you. Yes, you are safe to share here. Things happen to us. Sometimes we bring them on, sometimes we don’t. Hang on Abba’s Girl, hang on!
My first posting is impossible to do. In case you wondered. I’ve always said if you find it easy to love your neighbor as yourself come on by and I’ll introduce you to a few of mine……Sounds like you might be there…..It takes a miracle of Jesus to accomplish these things. Fortunately, that happens to be the business He is in. I’d like to pray for you.
Jesus, take Abba Girl’s pain, fear and sense of hopelessness. Show her a way. Fill her heart with Your love. Hold her close in a way no one on earth can do. Love covers a multitude of sins. Cover her with Your love, cover all those who have deeply wounded her, bring light, bring life, and especially bring hope. We can live without a lot of things, but we can’t live without hope. Help her to pray honestly, knowing You are there. And please, please, please, ….do a miracle for her today! Amen.
PS My wife and I will pray for you this week. Also, been in AA recovery for over 20 years.
Hi Abba’s Girl…thank you again for your brutal honesty. It’s encouraging to see that when Father does not make it possible to be together for coffee or meals…grace can be shared and extended through a forum like this. I’ve also been thinking that the reason it helps so much when we share our stories is that in our pain we actually resonate with other people. I too am walking through pain with respect to loved ones being in the “building” and performance modalities and Father gently inviting me out of that space. In my case He has not asked me to leave them all…I do have a few relationships I’m still connected with. The lonliness comes from being limited in what I can share in such a setting…and yet still seeing that Father asks me to love them….and I get relief from the pressure of having to change them. Hearing your story is an encouragement b/c I/we know we’re not all alone in walking through these kinds of pressures. (Yes I’ve also felt pressure so intense that at times I too felt like I would explode.) It’s encouraging to read how others continue to look to Jesus, to let the pressure be what it is and know that He is bigger. When others have shared that my story encouraged them…to be truthful the pain still didn’t go away. What it did for me was shed a little bit of light in a place that was very dark. Continued blessings to you.
I meet with a group of businessmen Monday AM. We prayed for you today, Abba’s Girl.
Abba’s Child, I’d just say this about the 1 Tim 3 encounter with “overseer”. What you’re reading in the dictionary is a 21st century interpretation of what an overseer is, retrofitted to affirm the Senior Pastor of our day. We do not have any biblical information that this was true in the first century when this was written. Overseers at the time were not management people at all, but simply older brothers and sisters who encouraged those in the life of Jesus. They didn’t “oversee” like the district manager oversees his employees, but like my father oversaw his vineyard. He watched over and nourished it, he didn’t lord over and manage it. Given what I’ve read from you both here and in personal email, I’m certain the Spirit is leading you. You are seeing things that are true and in a religious context it is difficult to trust that. I am also a bit surprised that the depth of distress this all causes you is not making a dent in your husband’s plans. Is he from the wife-ought-to-shut-up-and-serve-her-husband’s vision? Is he aware of the pain in your heart and wants so bad to be a senior pastor he is just willing to overlook it? I’m not saying you should control the outcome any more than him, but as a couple you’d certainly want to be communicating clearly and finding a way to something that is US, that which reflects both of your hearts and journeys. I don’t see how he can be a senior pastor without it, especially if his actions are so crushing to your heart. You have my love and prayers.
My heart goes out to you, Abba’s girl. It sounds like an intolerable situation. You can share here what Jesus is showing you. Jesus has always met me when I have screamed, “I can’t stand this any longer”. Jesus told me to leave the Sunday meetings. At first I argued with Him thinking I must be listening to satan but eventually I accepted it was Jesus. I didn’t know why He told me to leave and I never criticised the people but they were mightily offended. I believe many people have a religious spirit so it’s not the people who are reacting but the spirit. I found that helps me to love the people. While I am writing to you there are many people in different situations who read this so they may be offended by what I say.
A wise lady said to me that seeing the truth about the meetings comes by revelation and there is no way we can explain it to anyone so ask Jesus if you should be telling your husband what to do. (Sorry if I misunderstood.) She also said that Mary hid all these things in her heart. When I saw the truth Jesus told me to keep my mouth shut. It wasn’t easy. He allows me to love people but say nothing about my discovery unless He opens the door. Listening to Him before I speak has become important. I am learning to speak only the words Jesus gives me. I have prayed that what I share with you is what Jesus would have me say. You need to be listening first to Jesus but I hope it helps to know that there are many others who have seen what you have seen.
Living loved was one of ye best things I learned from Wayne. Learning to sit with Jesus in Heavenly places has helped me survive in intolerable circumstances.
I don’t know what you mean by ‘ I am responsible for what he has given me, despite other people’s reactions to it. ‘
I, too am praying for you.Take from what I say that which Jesus quickens to you and spit the rest out.
Well said Wayne and Eve-Loraine. My wife and I are praying for you today, Abba’s Girl.
Thank you to all of you. Mark, I could feel those prayers. I haven’t checked this thread (or my email inbox which contains all the lovely comments in it) since I last wrote. When I came here today I planned to start with, “someone here must have been praying for me….” Now I see that indeed, prayers have been made. My biggest struggle through all this is with my marriage. The rest is secondary, even as I try to make my actual walk with Abba primary.
Anyway, what happened is this: For months I’ve tried to just force myself be intimate (NOT talking about sex here) with my husband externally despite the great chasm internally. It’s been impossible. When he’s gone, I want him here and can imagine being close. When he’s here, I just can’t do it. (He’s always available if I come to him, but he also fears getting close to me.) But yesterday, I was able to sit cuddle-close to him on the couch, even sit on his lap while we watched a movie with the kids. And it’s been getting better and better. I still struggle with resentment and seeing him as the man who defeated me, but I’m actually feeling internally a lot of the love I don’t allow myself to feel for him, since making myself get closer externally.
Right before this happened, a great physical fatigue came over me and is still in place. It’s been almost 24 hours. It’s not peace. It’s really fatigue. I can’t help but think it’s related. And I’ve been thinking from the start, “someone is praying for me!”
As for your question, Wayne, he is ultra-conservative and traditional. Submission, “follow me” and the whole bit. We’re trying to work through that, since in my opinion it is the root of our issues. We see a psychologist who, even though he is rather conservative as well, is helping us forge a path of mutuality. It’s taking years.
Praying again today. Met with a group of brothers last night and prayed for you. FYI I showed another former minister who is in recovery with me your next to last posting. He said the same thing I did. “Sounds like what I was”. Sad commentary. But.. Jesus brings change. Change is the heart of the gospel message. Miraculous change actually. Whenever Jesus showed up things changed. Hang in there!
Appreciate so much a forum like this where grace can be shared b/t different people. Mark appreciated your sensitivity and insights into a “former pastor’s” position. Eve-Lorraine value so much your words about Jesus inviting us to be quiet about what He shows us unless there’s something He clearly is inviting us to share with another person. It’s His love for us and other broken people who cannot see some of the things we see and he’s gentle about how He opens spiritual eyes. Abba’s Girl your sharing has resonated with many….so glad even without meeting for coffee or meals this kind of exchange of thoughts and ideas can encourage us to live more within the life of Jesus. The focus becomes more shifted on to Him and gives relief from feelings of pressure connected with self absorption. Continued encouragement to you!
I like how you phrased this Sue, “It’s His love for us and other broken people who cannot see some of the things we see and he’s gentle about how He opens spiritual eyes. “ When He reveals things to me I am so excited and want to tell the world. It’s been hard to hide them in my heart but I can see where we Christians have done so much damage with our Bible bashing!!! Sometimes when we teach people we rob them of the joy of the revelation Father gives.
I suppose many of us have been there in the submission thing. Before my second marriage I had been a solo Mum for 8 years and people said to me you have been on your own too long you won’t be able to submit. I thought I will submit if it kills me. It was a kind of competition to see which wife could become the biggest doormat. Sadly it just turned my husband into a bully and me into a nervous wreck. When the marriage became troubled the leaders said, “Obviously you are not submitting”. When I realised that we had misunderstood the scriptures and saw that it had become an abusive relationship I tried to change the rules. It was a very hard place to recover from. Through it all I learned to sit with Jesus in Heavenly places. Sometime it takes those desperate places for us to grow in our relationship with Him.
“We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8, 9)”
This is in response to the ‘submission thing’ that you mentioned, Eve- Lorraine…Just pondering, really.. “submission” is a word that kind of sums up the institutional church culture, don’t you think? More and more I am seeing the sharp contrast of people wanting you to follow a script, a person, a ministry, be “under’ some sort of headship rather than following Christ..it’s heresy when people come between us and Jesus like that. Even the way it’s assumed that husbands are the spiritual head of the family. What does that even mean? And how does it work in practical terms? Isn’t Christ only our spiritual head or authority? I like to think of marriage as a mutual submission…as we grow, each yielding more to the other and in that way mirroring the trinity in some small way. It sounds as though you have been on quite a journey with this… Words written are not the same as words spoken, they are often so inadequate…..the submission doctrine has caused so much damage and pain to people and warped our sense of God’s love. I feel so sad at the cruel words you had to endure over this, Eve- Lorraine. god bless your walk as you no doubt reach so many others with your understanding of the true heart of God.
I also wanted to say to Abba’s Girl, I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately, I don’t really know much of your story only what you have shared. I just keep thinking how much God must be smiling on you. Not at all happy about your suffering, not at all. But just how you must really warm his heart so much. His heart bursts with gladness over you
Thanks for your words Eve-Lorraine. Wow…submission….I’ve lived through a childhood like that. Both you and Alyssa resonated with the expression of how we “twist” or “have warped understanding” of Scriptures. I find it very interesting that whether it was me afraid of my Dad…his anger and how he handled all of that… or whether it’s a woman processing her husband’s mistreatment…there’s some points of profound pain and similarity in those experiences. I also resonate with missing so much the opportunity to share coffee…but I remain thankful that this forum is a place where we can extend grace to each other. As Father continues to help unravel some of what’s been twisted I can see the same Scriptures but in a very different light (smile). What a relief and freedom can come as we live with broken people, learn to love them and experience Father’s love for us. I’ve also been unpacking with Him what it means to be “in Him”. The light that shines in the midst of deep darkness is that He’s never away from us.
The best thing I’ve learned about submission is we humans see it only through the lens of negotiating power, so that one person gets their way and the other one has to be the doormat. Biblical submission is not about power; it’s about love. No one who understand who Jesus is would demand another person submit to their desires. Remember, he didn’t come to be served, but to serve. Submission is about responding to each other in an environment of love where each puts the needs of the other above their own and when one has to make a decision that affects another they do it with their best interest at heart. Anything else is just abuse by another name!
Thank you for your kind words Alyssa and Sue. All that stuff was about 20 years ago. I remember being afraid of what would happen if I left the covering of the church when we moved away. I was also afraid of what would happen if I stopped tithing when I stopped work and no longer had an income to tithe. Looking back I wonder how I could have become so sucked in. In my experience it was only the Pentecostal churches that had that culture and they were the ones that were growing. The teaching was good and I learned so much. I believe Jesus led me there and later asked Him why. He showed me that there were no perfect churches. I wasn’t meant to stop following Jesus and submit myself to the leaders. In the home relationship what really hurts is when your adult children never want to come back home while outsiders say what a lovely man he is and you smile politely and want to scream. I look at all the lovely men now and wonder what they are like at home. I am not sorry about the past because without it I would have no empathy for others who have been there let alone those who are still there.
Wayne, you have such a gift of putting into words things I understand but can’t explain.