Last night a group of women gathered in my home for dinner. It was such a sweet time of entering into each other’s story. The idea was to come together and answer the question “What are you captivated by?”
As the evening unfolded the stories became richer and deeper as experiences were shared and hearts unfolded. Most of us could relate to being captivated by the beauty in nature; a glorious sunset, a majestic mountain, the quiet of a forest. Yet it was the boldness of one woman to share her story of receiving forgiveness and the restoration of relationship that opened the treasure of venturing further into each other’s lives. Blessing, peace, and experiencing the Lord’s presence all are places where our hearts are captivated.
Then I asked when have you experienced when the Lord has been captivated by you? A hush fell over us and the weight of that question just lingered in the air. The idea of the Lord being captivated by me???? Could that really be true. Of course we sat there knowing intellectually that is what He says in His Word and yet the idea of truly believing that and its implications hung there. Sweetness and freedom lay there waiting for us to believe.
As we pushed further into that idea I had a chance to read one of my favorite stories. You are Special by Max Lucado. This is what captivates me. That my creator would be so loving, kind and generous with me. That He patiently waits for me to come to Him and just spend time in His presence.
I delighted in an evening of women sharing their stories and look forward to another time of story.
Looking back, reflecting, evaluating. There are so many aspects to retrospection. Lately I have been inspired what Gordon T. Smith in Courage and Calling wrote about this aspect of our faith journeys. He states that “[t]hrough retrospection we interpret how our identity and our call have unfolded in the whole of our life experience thus far.” Isn’t that so true of our Lord. To not waste any experience but allow all the trials and triumphs shape us into who he created us to be and also how we get to enter into his Kingdom work here on earth.
He also states that “[r]estrospection also includes coming to terms with the difficult moments in our journey.” Throughout studying 2 Peter we are reminded that we should not be surprised by suffering and trials here on earth. I am not sure if that is always consoling in the midst of great pain and heartache but I do know it has been a part of the conversations with younger women I have been having lately. Just the recognition that life happens and it doesn’t seem to always turn out they way we anticipate or desire. That we experience hurt both from our own sin but also from the sins of others. In this retrospection and looking back we can allow Jesus to enter into that pain and bring a healing that comforts and also allows us the freedom to enter into the hurting places of others.
Smith continues by saying “[w]e must look back, but we look back so that we can be fully present to the current situation, to the current moment, to the real circumstances of our current life situation. Everything in our lives is a prelude to the present moment, to the present event, to the opportunities that are before us now.” So that challenge exists to live in the present. To not long for a past that may or may not have existed or a future that may or may not be. But to just allow those moments that have shaped my past be a catalyst into what the Lord has for me in this present moment.
It is there that the tension lies. Am I willing to listen, to engage in relationship with my Lord in such a dynamic way that I hear what He has for me? Am I willing to embrace the present and be fully available to live into the moments now?
Recently I have been devouring the book You Lost Me by David Kinnaman. To say that it resonates with my soul is an understatement. He proposes that through their research at the Barna Group that there are some common themes of why amongst many of the young generation of Mosaics they are leaving the church. Yet within that I love how he suggests how each story is individual and nuanced. As a church we need to re-think how to come alongside someone else in discipleship and relationship and how we relate to the next generation. These are some of the same thoughts I have been burdened by over the years as I have sought to engage with younger women in their faith journeys.
So as I have read the pages and listened to the stories of heartbreak, doubt, and alienation that many have felt I want to see us bring about restoration. To bring back to the forefront this idea of relationship and journeying alongside of another. I continue to think of the amazing women God has placed in my own life and the ways they have sought to love, care, and pray with me. I am sure that I have scared so many with my failings, fears and doubts. I also am so grateful for the way I can trust that the Holy Spirit uses my humble attempts to listen to another’s story and give some insight along the way. So grateful He can take my fumbling words and translate those into something life-altering in the life of another.
I love how Kinnaman writes that a new way of thinking about relationships is “The church is a partnership of generations fulfilling God’s purposes in their time”. Oh how I long for this to happen. It convicts and challenges me to see how can I be a part of bringing this to reality in my sphere.