(This comes for a devotion I shared with kids at a preparatory meeting for VIDA Nueva on Jan. 31, 2009. Reading it again today was a good reminder to always invite Jesus into all that I do, into my life circumstances and into every other aspect of my life …)
I want to tell you about Wednesday. It was a good day in the end, and I was reminded in a powerful way about two of God’s lessons. They weren’t new lessons for me, but I was shown them in a really cool way.
The first lesson was this:
When Brittney, Francis, Amos and I met this week to prepare for today’s meeting, it came to me that I really needed prayer against distractions. I was feeling like everything was getting in the way of my time with God. I really thought that if I could make a greater commitment to having more quiet time or being more focused on my relationship with God more often during the day, things would be better.
And, so, we prayed for that specifically.
And God had an answer to me for that prayer… the next day…
In October, I read an amazing book that I know some of you have read called The Shack. It’s a great book that has shown me so much about the nature of God. I gave it to my best friend, Helen, to read and she just returned it. As I was flipping through the pages, I came across a section of the book with my typical underlines, circles, highlights, lots of exclamation points and stars. I read it and had a ‘eureka’ moment. In the novel, the main character is having conversations with a personified God.
Here’s the section that interested me:
God and the main character are having a conversation about this very topic and the main character asks God, ‘Don’t you want us to set priorities? You know: God first, then whatever, followed by whatever?
And God Says: The trouble with living with priorities is that it sees everything as a hierarchy, a pyramid. If you put God at the top, what does that really mean and how much is enough? How much time do you give me before you can go on about the rest of your day, the part that interests you so much more?
You see, I don’t just want a piece of you and a piece of your life. Even if you were able, which you are not, to give me the biggest piece; that is not what I want. I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day. I don’t just want to be first among a list of values; I want to be at the center of everything. When I live in you, then together we can live through everything that happens to you. Rather than a pyramid, I want to be the center of a mobile where everything in your life is connected to me.’
WOW… it reminded me so powerfully that this was exactly what I have been doing… I was making lists, setting priorities. Yes, I was trying to make God my priority, but I was actually getting it all wrong. I should not be worrying about distractions from God. I cannot stop the distractions from coming… life is so full of distractions. We are busy. We spend time reading and watching TV and doing other enjoyable activities. We spend time in prayer. We go to church. But, he doesn’t want us to spend an hour on Sunday, or certain parts of the day in prayer or in quiet time with him, etc. He wants the joys, the laughter, as well as the tears… even the times when we are ashamed of ourselves. He wants to be our constant companion for everything. I’ve also learned that nothing will ever disappoint Him… He already knows every single thing I will do, every single day of my entire life. He’s not surprised by anything. He simply wants us to include Him… just like a lover wants to be included in everything concerning the beloved… the good AND the bad.
OK… great, sure… I want that too… but how do I do that… with a bracelet, an alarm, what… ?? How do I feel an intangible presence all the time? I’m a really touchy/feely person, so this is very hard for me. My love language, if you’ve heard of the love languages, is physical touch and God’s seems to be quality time. How do we broach our differences?? And yes, I do feel closest to God when I am surrounded by beauty, etc… I am reminded of His glory, but what about in the mundane of life?? While grading papers, or washing dishes, or simply lying around doing nothing? It’s even harder to feel close to God then.
The ONLY answer I came up with is to pray for it, to pray that God creates this in me, does that work in me, because I know that I can’t do it by myself. So, my prayer has changed from God protect me from distractions, to God come with me into the distractions, to be with me in everything … please help me to feel your presence in all aspects of my life… I want you there for everything… the good, the bad and the ugly!!
The other ‘lesson’ is this….
That same day, I was perusing a book for English classes about writing, called Writing toward Home. One section of the book talks about finding your ‘querencia’. Now, apparently querencia comes from the world of bullfighting… the bullfighters want, above all else, to keep the bull from his querencia… the place in the bullring where the bull feels most at home, a place where he derives his strength… it’s a dangerous place for the bullfighters because now the bull has the upper hand… they’ll do everything to keep the bull from that place. They study the bull to learn this about him.
So the exercise in the book calls for writers to find their querencia… the ‘wanting place’ where they feel most at home; a place from which they can garner inspiration for their writing.
This led me to contemplate my own ‘querencia’… yes, I am inspired and feel at home in nature, with a camera in my hand, when I listen to music, when I sing, when I am surrounded by beauty, when I journal, when I write. And it also came to me that these are also the very places where my desire and my longing for God are most palpable. For me, it’s the same place.
Well after reading about this and contemplating on it, I went back to The Shack again and thought more about priorities, etc… and I came across something I had written on one of the pages. In Guam, where I initially read the book, at a cross country meet that I was coaching, I had to accompany a runner to the hospital after she was injured. While waiting for her to be treated, I read the book, and I wrote this in a margin….
(A baby is crying here, saying over and over ‘I want to go home’- she knows it’s safe there… much like we long for that somewhere safe…) Whoa!!! I read that and was so amazed… I wrote underneath that statement… ‘querencia!!!’ … so ironic!! Or was it… )
That night as I lay in my bed feeling sad and sorry for myself, I began to contemplate this ‘querencia’ idea. That’s when both lessons of the day kind of came together. I was crying… feeling really miserable. I remembered how God wants to be a part of everything, so I invited God to share in my pain … I was reminded of times when I would just cry, never sharing it with God… instead, just feeling incredible loneliness.
As I lay there crying, praying, and talking to God, the ‘querencia’ idea led me to imagine where my ‘querencia’ really was. I wanted strength and I wanted peace. In the desire to share my pain with Jesus, an image came to me. I was lying on my side on my bed, in a fetal position, hugging a pillow to me… But, in my mind, I saw myself lying in the same position, but now at the foot of the cross, with Jesus hanging on the cross above me. It was a very vivid picture in my mind and heart. I was lying there, gathering strength and sharing my soul with Jesus. I could smell the dust and feel the hard ground, the air was warm, and I could feel the blood and tears fall from Jesus onto my body… grace rained down upon me in the form of blood and tears… and understanding. He knew first-hand my pain… and he comforted me there, in his own pain…
I felt safe there. I felt entirely myself there. I didn’t have to pretend like everything was alright and I didn’t have to put on a happy face like I do much of the time. He knows me. He loves me. I’m safe there. He’s my ‘querencia’… there at the foot of his cross.
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
My prayer for all of you is that you, too, begin to invite God into all aspects of your life, not just relying on the QT’s, or praise times, or VIDA meetings, or church to be with God, (mind you, these are all VERY important) … but to bring Him into everything you do because…He’s there already…
He IS your Querencia…