Awakening To A Greater Reality

Wayne's back from his recent trip to the UK, and his experiences there combined with letters from God Journey listeners, leaves him enthralled with what God is doing in the world to awaken people into a greater reality than religion offered them. You'll hear from a woman who just got her first glimpse of God's presence with her and from a seasoned theologian who is asking the kinds of question that is asking him to rethink everything he has ever known. Awakening to God's reality is an intensely personal experience, available to each of us, but it has wide implications not only in how we can freely love others around us, but also in how Jesus gathers his church to be an expression of his life in the world. It is not found by wrapping your head around another set of principles, but by learning to follow him as he is making himself known in you.

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  1. Do u really think that if you’ve left the church and r going it alone with God and have found no new friends that it is because u r an emotional leach and God needs to do some work on you? Perhaps for some this is the case, however there could be simple pragmatic reasons for your isolation. Studies show most people make their deepest friendships before the age of 40. Social researchers have commented that it is more difficult to make deep friendships in the latter half of your life. Not impossible mind you, just harder. There are many reasons for this. 40 – 60 year olds are busily trying to pay off their mortgages before retirement. Many are also busy with children finishing increasingly demanding school then university/occupational studies, and launching them into the world. This costs so that many couples are both working their proverbials off. Now maybe you’re bucking the trend, but most potential friends around you won’t be. And then there’s your kids r’ships, marriage, grand kids. A busy couple of decades. Oh and aging parents! Many people I meet in this age group battle weariness, if not stress.
    Social researchers also say that most people have established friendship networks by the age of 40 and are not interested, or not actively working to enlarge them. So if you choose to make a big change, and jettison yourself from many or all of the relationships you have made in the first half of your life, it may well be harder to start over. Don’t think you are weird.
    The other issue in western culture is that much of our socialization is formalized into institutions or clubs, of which the church is just one. People that aren’t churchgoers often are in other clubs where they have developed friends like scouts, gyms, and community service clubs. Nothing wrong with this except that I suspect people exhausted from service to church and it’s leaders are understandably tired of institutional life – any institutional life. In other cultures life is not so compartmentalised. Don’t get me wrong, I think God can overcome these hurdles. I also think what Wayne says about needing a winter season in life to recoup and learn to live with Gods spirit is true. I just think that there are also some logical reasons why many here feel isolated. Of course friendships can be explored with younger journeyers who are still building friendships and elderly people whose families are busy and whose friends are passing away. And peers, friendships obviously happen as people here attest, I just wonder if it’s harder. What do you think?

  2. It is harder, for all the reasons you stated (so well), Sharon. At least that’s been my observation and experience. I’m no longer striving (or even actively looking) to find “deeper community,” in my local vicinity, per se, but if it ever happens … if it ever CAN happen without institutionalism … well then, all the more cool. In the meantime, social media fills a gap and I’m fine with that. My motto continues to be what I heard Wayne say a few podcasts back, “Living loved and letting life unfold.”

  3. I’m so glad you shared that perspective Sharon. It makes so much sense to me especially since I am smack dab in the middle of that life/age range. A time when you are juggling a lot of balls and very often experiencing some big life changes. What I am finding during this time is that while I have fewer connections – the ones I have tend to be richer and deeper. I hate feeling sometimes like I am too busy for people, but at the same time there is only one me being pulled in so many directions – kids, parents, school & volunteer activities, a 7 month old granddaughter, etc. So I am trying to trust that I am where God wants me to be and connecting with the people he wants me to connect with.

    On a little different tangent – I have a question for Wayne and others here. When you are no longer part of a structured institution, and no longer have an agenda to push, and are willing to meet people where they are – what do you do with the following scenario? When people, who are of a different faith, share stories of prayer met or extraordinary transformative experiences that they attribute to their god/gods, how do you put that into context as a Christ follower? Especially as I, myself, have had transformative, hard-to-explain experiences and communication that are a spiritual reality of my relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Father God. I just don’t know what to do with that information. Maybe I don’t need to do anything. I don’t feel it’s my duty to deny or denigrate the other person’s experience, but at the same time it feels blasphemous to consider their reality. You know, THE 10 COMMANDMENTS, and the Old Testament worship of false gods, and the New Testament truth about Jesus being the Way.

    I would certainly welcome a discussion or response to this conundrum – for lack of a better word. I will add that I’m not worried in the least that accepting their experiences will weaken my faith, I trust Him when he tells me that NOTHING will be able to separate me from the love of God. Anyway, would love to hear y’all’s thoughts.

  4. Jacqueline, I wonder whether part of our transition is to begin to question our thinking that God is the exclusive property of those who have said or done the right things to push His buttons to act in our lives and hearts?
    Since moving out of the box my husband I have come to see God is so much bigger than we ever dreamed of. He actually loves and forgives the world!! (2Cor5:19) When we have started to see His love as that big, we have a glimpse of the enormity of His grace for us and everyone else. Just because they don’t see it yet, doesn’t mean He is not acting in their lives. How could they be holding their lives together without His hand? The world – each and every one of us – were created in Christ, and in Him we live and move and have our being, and He holds all things together. It’s just a pity He doesn’t get the credit for that from everyone.
    So when you know it is right, you can acknowledge to your friend of another faith that you believe the God and Father of us all is deeply involved in each of our lives, whether we are aware of it or not, or even if they don’t know His name. Each one of us has a sense deep within (by the Spirit) of the source of life, and a creator to whom we can give thanks (Rom1). Down the track they may start to get to know the Son who came to reveal the Father. But for now, trust that the seed is there, water it when you are comfortable with that, and pray for growth.
    Wayne may have a comment. I wonder if he sees it this way?

    It is good to also see others ‘of a certain age’ coming to terms with the social implications of living outside the box. You find out who your true friends are when you leave, that’s for sure. Yes, it is an ‘age and stage’ of life, and perhaps we are biologically equipped with a willingness to live a quieter life anyway. We also live in a quiet rural area of Australia, so not a lot of contacts. We can feel a bit isolated sometimes, and thank God for the internet and so much encouragement from like minds across the world. But we are still loving life with Jesus and trust Him to bring us into contact with whomever He wants when He wants. We have had some wonderful surprises so far!

  5. A key word I heard in the podcast that I have definitely applied to my own life of late is ‘availability’. I no longer am pining for and/or working toward maintaining ‘performance-based’ relationships, instead, am making myself readily available for the relationships i do have at this point, mostly family. And the main thing, I am welcomed at any and all times. I don’t have to worry about, I just saw you a week ago, I just talked to you a month ago, if anything, the more I am in contact, the better. I admit to being a needy person in relationships, I certainly don’t need people that I realize don’t need me.

  6. Five Stars! Great Podcast, discussion, and follow up comments. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Thanks to all for sharing…great e-discussion! Sharon I agree with what you wrote. I’m in a place where a number of friends are married…so we work around schedules if we want to make time to get together. Also as I intentionally watch what Father is doing and follow Him, there’s more activities that open up than I imagined. When He brings ppl and opportunities across my path I take them and am surprised by how filled up my life gets. Also I’m slowly learning that when there’s a day that’s quiet I can relax into His intentions (perhaps time alone with me) and am seeing Him use that time as well. For me all of the practical “life” events that get in the way (children, jobs, dr appointments, elderly parents) are subsumed under the question “Father what do You have next for me?”.

  8. Thanks to those above for sharing your struggles. I love the comfort of shared understanding and experiences on this website. I like having more time between podcasts because I get more time to ponder what is said, and I actually manage to take part in the conversation.

    Ron I feel the same. It is great to just chill, and think well God where have you planted me. At the moment my life’s garden is family, neighbours, and my teenaged kids’ friends. Like Jacqueline my social network has shrunk, but it is more meaningful and certainly less stressful. It is nice to have space and time in my life for them – and teenagers are such interesting critters. It is a new experience for me to learn to interact with people without an agenda. In fact I didn’t even realize I had an agenda I have being doing the “Christian” thing for so long. Now I look back and wince. Teenagers I mix with seem to lack agenda too, and artifice. They are breathtakingly honest. So refreshing.

    I had such an obsession with being Christ it was exhausting. So freeing to realize I’m not – just a tiny splinter in a beautiful mosaic that is the people of God. That Christian guilt thing coupled with a socially-instilled tendency to over please would have me creating unhealthy dependencies in just about every friendship I had. Churches often talk of their loving fellowships but I wonder, in reality, are some just cesspits of unhealthy co-dependency and emotional dishonesty.

    You can have an agenda that seems good! I took the “do not weary of doing good” thing to the “n”th degree. Everybody’s problems were my problems. When you take that approach, guess what, every bodies problems DO become yours – people are only too happy to let you be responsible for their problems. You become burnt out and they never grow – they just become very needy. This is what I have learned: I am not God. What a relief.

    Jacqueline, I have struggled with your conundrum. For me, I think that a spiritual life-journey is to some degree a search for truth. Our God is truth. A search for truth preoccupies all sorts of people, not just Christians, and if we seek we shall find, the door will be opened – that kind of thing. Anyone of any faith can be a seeker of truth. So now, not only do I NOT have a problem with people of other religions sharing their revelations of truth, I actively listen to learn. However, if they have a religious agenda, such as wanting to convert me, I inwardly wince and lose interest – it makes me feel embarrassed and uncomfortable – reminds me too much of how I used to be.

  9. Thanks for your response Sharon.

    I hope there is a difference between having an agenda, and still wanting your loved ones and friends to come to Christ, because I think that will never change for me, though I won’t hand someone a tract or try to steer the conversation a certain way. I remember in a past podcast Brad brought up the quote from St. Francis of Assisi, ‘Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.’ I believe if we are truly living this thing some people are going to catch it regardless.

    A short time ago I realize that although I cannot claim very many intimate relationships, because of the nature of my work, I come into contact with tens of people each day. Days I am away from work, many times, I simply want or need to decompress. I used to spend those days longing to maintain what I thought at the time were lifelong connections, that may be were on my end, but most likely not on the other end. But it was a process to come to that realization, it didn’t happen overnight. Denial is a necessary part of the grief process. Thankfully I can look at those relationships now and simply let go.

  10. I like that quote: Preach the gospel and if necessary use words.

    I have also tried to hold onto relationships past their use-by date. I no longer believe that everyone I get to know has to be an intimate friend for life. Some will be, I travel with for only a time. I like Judy Gale’s thought of just living loved and letting go. I sure hope that is the right path. I think the me of maybe 10 years ago would have struggled with such a idea. I would have considered that approach a tad lazy or too fatalistic, you know God gave us a brain and all that. I was very into making my own future and making things happen. But it seems to make the most sense to me now.

  11. Love the conversation. “I was very into making my own future and making things happen”…resonate with that Sharon. I find that for me the learning is very slow…grateful for Father’s patience. The idea of Jesus turning the stones into bread and “rescuing Himself” (during His temptations) seems to echo the theme here. To grow in trusting Him, actively joining with Him and seeing how he will rescue me is something that leads to greater freedom. His response to that temptation was that He trusted every word that came from the mouth of God…seeming to also mean He trusted Father’s intentions for Him.

  12. That’s cool Sue. Had never thought of Christ’s temptation in that way.

  13. Hi everybody, I have really enjoyed listening to this conversation…and the podcast, thankyou Wayne! I can relate to so much of what has been said. I think it’s true, Sharon that in those middle years we seem to be sandwiched between so much responsibility, and friendships aren’t formed with the same wide-eyed romanticism like they may have been in younger days. Maybe that is partly because as we grow we realise that we can’t journey with others so completely- we know that they may be in our lives for a time, and friendships cannot fill any voids of neediness. Maybe we start to wake up and smell the coffee as it were….or perhaps I’m rambling…I suppose I feel like I am a bit more independent than I was in younger days.

    I like what was said about not being God, and I am very glad about it…trusting Father’s intentions, even when we have the means to provide for ourselves. What a great thought…irony…my inner voice just protested “that is really hard to do”!!! I pray we can all let go and let God love us a little bit more than before

  14. I appreciate the thoughts you expressed in this podcast. In particular, not allowing others in the church or family to abuse you because you do not see things eye to eye. Also, the balance of studying scripture and being led by the Holy Spirit. Also, seeing arrogance in those who come from a legalistic point of view is a good clue to steer clear of that teaching and ministry. Thanks again for pointing us to Christ Himself. Kay

  15. Thanks Sharon, I’m walking through what perceptually feels like a lot of darkness (financial pressure, my Dad’s diagnosis, family dynamics) and the temptation to “rescue myself” is profound. Through the podcasts, thoughts shared in the e-conversations on the forum and ongoing conversation with Him, I recognize (through tears) that Jesus is inviting me to live in a much different way. For many (I know I’m not alone in this struggle) the fall back position is to question His motives. The example Jesus gave is one I’d like to follow…it seems that the pain is a part of that process as He builds that trust. I’m thankful that we can share grace with each other here….not more rules or principles but more of hearts that are hungry to experience more of His life…and the patience to walk with Him through this road.

  16. Sue, sorry to hear you’re doing it tough. Family troubles are challenging and there is the temptation to manipulate or control things to relieve discomfort, and I have found staying soft and non-reactive when everybody is upset can be difficult. Sadly families often do not function at their best during such times.

    I am also learning to be kind to myself, as well as others, during crises. We are all equal in the eyes of God. We are not more important than other members of our families, but we are not less either. Sending love and light your way today Sue.

    I have been hearing a lot via media about America’s financial woes. Many Americans on this website are struggling financially. My heart goes out to you all. Hang in there.

  17. Sharon, thanks for your kind words. Yes there are some difficult “curriculum” items Father is walking me through (easier to share detail over coffee) (smile). He is helping me in the most unexpected ways…giving grace to get through the darkness and the large picture is that nothing is larger than Him and His grace. I unexpectedly rec’d an invitation to another interview so will sign off now…perhaps I’ll “drop by” again later.

  18. Outstanding conversations as always. It seems these blogs have a life of their own.

    I can relate to you Sharon. At this stage in my life I thought things would be settled as I headed for retirement. Just a few more laps then wrap it up……. Did not happen. Business went under over three years ago. I have been wrestling with much frustration this year. My wife who needs to retire cannot and I am having trouble generating income…… Lots of pressure.

    Yet just this last 3 months…….. I have had a clearer vision as to what I am to do. I have spent this last year training myself (when I haven’t been complaining or depressed) and in several conversations just this last week things are becoming clearer. I am seeing what can be done, what I am able to do, and how it will benefit many others. God appears to be putting people around me with pieces to the puzzle I am unable to complete. At this point, to my knowledge, I don’t know anyone else doing what I am proposing. Still limited income but a much more hopeful future.

    I am not certain as to the why of everything. I suspect I may never know that. But I am being thrust into new relationships, new contacts and new ways of service I did not know existed. FYI, in case I am being monitored by my government, it is all legal…….I certainly would not want any government surveillance person to think I would support a TERRORIST ORGANIZATION, AL-QUAEDA, or had anything to do with helping OSAMA BIN LADEN…… (That oughta peg somebody’s monitoring needle…..) If somebody comes knocking at your door Wayne just send ’em my way……

    So, to my great surprise, I am on a mission from God to borrow a movie line. I have no idea how this story will play out. And although I am the driver there will need to be others around me or it will not work. Or will certainly work much better. I get to have many contacts. Who knows where this will all go. Hang in there Sharon. Our Father is not done. Daniel Boone put everything in a canoe when he was about 79 and had lost 16,000 acres of land, paddled upstream….and started over. James Michener came home one day and told his wife he had made a donation to the University of Texas. She asked how much. He said all of it. She almost fainted as it was over $10 million. She wanted to know what they were going to do. He said he have would go back to work. Which he did. At 75. Started over. Wrote until he was 95. Ronald Reagan was 70 when he became our president after starring in movies with a chimpanzee. Then he started over. You can too! Never give up! Never!!!

    The greatest act is yet to be written. And I believe it will continue for all eternity. Hang in there!



  19. Wow…just when I thought I’d heard it all….(smile)…how I also appreciate this e-conversation. Mark, thanks for your encouragement with your story. Although I’m not ready to retire, the financial pressure combined with family dynamics sometimes feels overwhelming. Like you Mark, I’m learning to live with eyes watching what Father is doing rather than trying to rescue myself. This means diligence (invitations to interviews…I go) but the difference is that the diligence is done with a deeper awareness of His leading. The process is very painful at times and then there are other days where He gives much grace and encouragement. Also it’s interesting you mention age….some have heard of Corrie TenBoom…lived a very quiet life until the war (she was in her 50’s) then after the war Father invited her to speak all over the world and she travelled and shared until she was in her late 70’s or early 80’s. Love your comment about Him not being done. I’m thankful for what I’m learning in this “curriculum”. When doors are closing and I don’t know why…it seems the only option is to lean harder into Him. Appreciate the wry humour that comes through your writing and the encouragement of everyone in on this conversation!

  20. Thank you SUE! I of course got the names mixed up. Gives you an idea of my age……..And my ADD……..Or as it’s called A-D-ooooo- shiny…….



  21. Hello Again.
    Sharon thank you for sharing your perspective on my conundrum. Your thoughts about it being a search for truth really resonated, and makes it easier to not feel a need for control. Because it is my belief that the search for truth is something hard-wired in us by our Creator. Yes, we all have free will and can choose to believe, not believe, believe in something else – but I think the search begins with that need and desire for relationship with our Creator.

    The running thread of the conversation that is popping out to me (I never leave this forum without a new perspective or something to ponder!) is a letting go of the need for control. I hear it in the struggles that have been shared, the growing ability to trust Father and to lean into him, allowing Him to provide people, resources, opportunities, etc. It can be difficult and uncomfortable when you stop trying to control outcomes or whatever. My relationship and richness of connection with Father has come out of some very dark and trying times. And now, looking back, I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. I have grown to love Father/Son/Spirit so much because of the way I have been loved!

    And Mark – hello my fellow ADDer! Maybe it’s a blessing to see so many things as bright and shiny. HA! Before I was diagnosed I was lamenting to God about my screwed up brain, and why?, why?, why? did he give me a brain that thinks in circles. Here is what he said to me, “If I had wanted a world full of linear thinkers I would have created a world of linear thinkers. The world also needs people who think like you.” I broke down in tears, knowing that God valued my brain and the way I think.

  22. Thanks Mark (laugh)..quite a gift for humour! (smile) Jacqueline thanks for sharing….seems that for many of us this learning that He loves us comes out of dark places which He knits together to bring something so beautiful (His relating to us). Although my pain is not erased (magic wand and all that stuff) over and over I see that the awareness that there are others who walk the same path (I’m not crazy) also draws me closer to Him. Perhaps it is that in others we see a little of His heart reflected.

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