Finding God’s Will

To walk out of His will is to walk into nowhere. ― C.S. Lewis

I have come to believe that contemporary Christians do not have a good working theology for discerning God’s leading in our lives. I blame our consumer-oriented culture that is bent on selling us what we are not aware we even need. And I point my boney finger at the prosperity Gospel on the airwaves and which lines our Christian bookstores. They, in essence, say that God’s will for you is health, wealth and a career trajectory that always points up and to the right.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his execution he pleaded with God to come up with an alternative plan for redeeming and restoring creation. Heaven was silent. Yet he walked in full obedience to God’s will without the companion of joy, peace or happiness. The clouds didn’t part and the angels didn’t begin to sing like a choir at any time when Jesus was in the Garden.

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. Hebrews 5:8

Obedience is hard.

The author Frederick Buechner has a famous quote that has helped me a great deal to think deeply about the ache in my heart and the immediate need I find in my sphere of influence.

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  ― Frederick Buechner

Clearly, simple obedience to the imperatives of the Scriptures are the starting point for God’s calling and being in God’s will. But after that I feel as we grow in our maturity with Jesus he expands our field of view to look at our desires (deep gladness) and a specific unraveling of the created order (world’s deep hunger) to see where they intersect.

For instance, the deepest gladness I receive these days is when a ministry leader will join me on the sacred journey of soul care. What I am seeing in this church moment is an unraveling of the lives of ministry leaders due to the lack of seasoned guides to walk with them through the rugged topography ministry life.

Thus, I’ve found my calling. That means that in addition to shepherding my beautiful mountain church, I am privileged to shepherd a few shepherds as well.

So, what are some good guidelines for hearing from God? These have proven helpful for me.

1. Open Doors

Sometimes a door opens before me; sometimes a door closes in my face, but God often uses these to get my attention to something he is saying as he teases me to follow him into the future.

2. Holy Nudgings

Something deep inside me resonates with the open door. Some itch is aching to be scratched and the opportunity before me looks like a bristle brush. It is deeper than a want. Wants are surface felt-needs. God leads me through the deeper ache of soul-desires. I try to discern the difference.

3. Biblical Precedence

I don’t take one step through an open door or take one swipe at that inner itch if I can’t find something like it that parallels the ancient scriptures. Part of the reason we have the old stories is to give us a reliable roadmap for how God has led his people in the past.

4. Godly Counsel

When I’ve vetted the opportunity, discerned whether the itch is a want or a desire, and been informed by the Word of God then I verbally process my findings with godly people who have my best interest at heart. If they don’t corroborate the narrative I sense God writing in the first three guidelines, I slow down and rethink. I don’t keep looking for someone who eventually agrees with my narrative. Their role is to help me objectify what I am hearing. Spiritual friends always help me hear God’s voice.

I have learned that as I walk moment-by-moment with the rabbi from Galilee while listening to his quiet voice, then seeing where He wants me to go is clearer even if it’s not always easy.

But at least we will be together, and that is somewhere.

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Who Are You Hiding From?

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:9

When I was a little boy, my brother, sister, and I asked my father how God made the world. Specifically, having just moved to Colorado from Texas and living in Colorado Springs, we wanted to know how God made the mountains.

We were sitting on the front porch of my Grandparents home facing Pike’s Peak and my dad knelt down beside my grandmother’s flower bed, took his hands and squeezed a rugged line of dirt up into a small little mountain range. Then he looked up at us.

My little brother said, “Oh.”

God made this good earth and he built it in such a way that mankind could, not only survive, but flourish here. Part of that flourishing included giving us the mission or purpose to care for the earth and to have daily fellowship with God.

And then, after creation was complete and God made the first man and woman, He began to take these wonderful walks in the cool of the afternoon with them. Nothing speaks to intimacy, in my mind, then that imagery of a long wandering walk with God in creation.

From deep within the love and safety of that intimacy, our Creator basically said, “There are no rules here, save one. Don’t eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil it is toxic for your soul. You weren’t created to experience evil.”

Enter the serpent. And we’re told the serpent was more cunning than anything else in the garden. This literal serpent was a symbol of the Evil One—a perversion and intruder into the goodness and beauty of God’s world.

So, the serpent slithers up to the woman and slyly temps her. He does so by mixing a cocktail of a miss quotation and deception.

My friend Helen Presswood told me about a song she wrote called Satan’s Song about this scene and sent me a few lines:

Come waltz with me,
dance to my tune.
We could make merry
night, morning and noon.
God wants a puppet
to dance on His string.
I’ll make you a goddess;
you’ll know everything!
Come waltz with me,
dance to my tune.

When the serpent made his pitch, he literally said that if Eve would but eat of the sweet fruit she would be a god. That sounded pretty good to her. See, the sin underneath all sins is the sin of pride.

Our fundamental problem is that we want to be as gods. We don’t want to be made in God’s image. We don’t want to know God. We want to be God. We want to be the center of our own universe. And, tragically, in our effort to be God, we become alienated from God. When you and I try to be more than human, we become less than human.

As the story unfolds, Adam and Eve suddenly realize they are naked and feel exposed. They are feeling what we all feel when we realize we have seen our humanity for what it is and God for who He is—shame.

They run for cover.

Now the ancients, as well as you and I know, that shrubbery cannot hide humanity from Deity. But here is God calling into the dark of the garden, Where are you? This is the first sermon of God to a vandalized world. God comes looking for us before we even are looking for Him.

The response of God is not to rebuke us or incinerate us, but to come looking for us. Do you see the love and humility of the God who created all things, but stoops to come to us and feigns ignorance by asking Adam, Where are you?

Jesus told a sad story about two sons who tried to hide from their father. The younger one fled to a far country and hid in bars, bordellos, and pig pens. The older son stayed home and hid in the field, in the barn, and around the supper table. But both hid from their father.

There are always bushes close by in which we can try to hide from the One who calls our name. Theologian and author Richard Rohr has said, Religion is one of the safest places to hide from God.

When we mask our cosmic loneliness with deeds that produce shame and guilt, God comes looking for us. God is looking for humanity, even when we are not much looking for Him.

God keeps pursuing us, even when we run from him. Even while we are hiding in the bushes of our own shame and guilt. God pursued us until Jesus of Nazareth became naked on a tree outside the camp to undo and overthrow all of our darkness, guilt, and shame forever.

We used to sing a song when I was a kid that had these lines:

Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling O Adam come home.

So, dear friend, may you see the tree of Jesus and hear God calling you—even when you’re hiding in plain sight.

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I Am Not A Busy Pastor

When the phone rings in my study, it startles me. Our office is closed almost as much as it is open during the week. But I love this little church and I have never felt so loved and appreciated as a pastor than I do these days.

Some months ago, I was reading in my study at the church (I have a study, not an office because I am a pastor not a CEO). Since no one else was here I decided I would go home to read my book. I drove the seven miles out of town to my home, parked my Jeep and began to walk in my house when a twinge of guilt stabbed me in my heart. It felt like I was ditching school or leaving work early. I paused thinking I might go back to the church, when a voice in my head seemed to say to me, “Joe, who you are becoming is more important than what you are doing. Other than the Gospel, your well-marbled soul is the most important thing you can offer your congregation.”

I went inside and put my hiking boots on and went on a five-mile trek through the woods by my mountain cabin.

The other day a young pastor asked me what leadership books I was reading. That twinge of guilt started stabbing me again. I almost spouted out a title, when the inner voice told me to tell the truth to the young fella.

“I find myself reading poetry these days rather than leadership books,” I said.

He looked at me like a mule looking at new gate.

****

A pastor I know is struggling with his marriage and ministry. I have been meeting with him for coffee and conversations for many years. He is twenty years younger than me. I listen mostly. He has lots to say and a short time to say it. He is very busy.

He has hit a crisis and I have guided him to see a counselor. The first time to see the counselor, whose office is nearly two hours away, we went together, and I sat through the session with him. We spoke of many things on the drive home across the wide expanse of a high mountain valley. He poured out more words to me in that drive home than he did with the counselor.

The tension and his frustration were visible and hung like a vapor between us in the front of my Jeep.

I said to him, “I think what I am saying to you is that there is another way to live life than the one you are living now. I have never been more content and satisfied in my entire life than I am these days. I am inviting you to live differently.”

I told him about my five-mile hike after leaving the church early. I told him how soul-shaping that was for me. I reminded him about something the Apostle Paul said to the believers at Philippi, Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

I’ll never forget to the day I die what he said next.

“But Joe, you don’t DO anything.”

I smiled and glanced at the gas tank that was getting close to empty but was full when we started out that morning for his counseling.

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The Friend Nobody Wants

Although (Jesus) was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. Hebrews 5:8

Pain removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul. – C.S. Lewis

My wife says I have more worthless information in my head than anyone she knows.  I had a friend tell me one time, “Joe, you read so much to cover for the fact that you don’t know anything.” Here is something that I know, and I didn’t read it in a book.

Pain is the best and only way some people learn anything of deep soul-value.

Abraham learned something about faith when God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac. Isaac learned something about trust on the three-day walk up Moriah. Jacob learned about the transcendence of God at a river called Jabok, and he limped the rest of his life because of it. David learned about forgiveness through the sin of adultery. John the Baptist learned about humility being thrown into prison. Paul learned about the sufficiency of God’s grace through a thorn in his flesh.

In Daniel chapter three some faithful servants of the Most High God learned that sometimes God doesn’t deliver us from a fiery furnace but he always meets us in the furnace.

And if it is true of those bright lights in the Christian firmament, it is certainly true for a dim wit like me. I learn best through the pain of my life. Don’t get into a pasture of angry rams, they will charge a five-year-old boy. Don’t dangle your leg in front of an open flame gas stove with flammable flannel pajamas, your leg will catch on fire. Don’t swing out on a tailgate chain standing on the back bumper of a pickup going thirty-five miles an hour, the chain will break and you will go sprawling and spinning like a rag doll on a dirt road.

Don’t date the school bully’s girlfriend, he will come after you. Don’t fail to show up for a court date even if it is a traffic violation, they will issue a bench warrant for your arrest.

Don’t go cross-country skiing wearing cotton socks, you will get frost bite and lose the end of your toe. Don’t cheat on a test, you will get caught and tossed out of class. Don’t quit making payments, they will come and repossess your truck.

Most of those lessons are really silly.

But I can tell you the deepest lessons I have ever learned have come on the business end of pain.

I learned how to live one day at time only after I nearly lost my family due to my selfishness. I learned that the path to intimacy is through humility and service to my wife only after almost losing the love of my life. I learned that I am a favored son of the living God and that is all I need for an identity, only after I lost my reputation in this world. I learned to be content in whatever state I’m in, only after I lost my career.

Pain has taught me my deepest and best lessons about what it means to be a man.

And yet—I avoid it these days at all costs. I eat ibuprofen like they were candy. I worship idols of comfort as if there were no God in heaven.  I avoid conflict because I want to be liked. I watch reality T.V. so that I won’t have to live in reality.

So, God comes along and splashes a little pain in my life. Like relational failures. Like professional set-backs. Like the creaks and groans of old age. Like a son who doesn’t support or enjoy the very thing I have spent my life trying to build. Like breaking my leg doing the thing I love doing more than just about anything—backpacking.

If you are feeling pain in your life right now would you hear a word from a veteran pain-warrior?  Listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and see if there might be a lesson in your pain. The lesson might be as simple as don’t text while you drive. Or it might be as deep as don’t use your vocation to validate your existence.  But you won’t know if you don’t listen.

And listening to a friend is always the sign of a humble soul.

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Jim Henry In Memoriam

By Cole Chambers…

As a kid, I spent a lot of time at grandma and grandpa’s house. In fact, the very first memory that I can reach back to in my mind is sitting at their kitchen table eating macaroni and cheese.

I had many wonderful memories at grandma and grandpa’s house. I remember playing in the backyard with my cousins, mowing the lawn, riding my bike around the neighborhood, working on our treehouse and spending time with grandpa in the garage.

When I think of grandpa three words come to mind. Kindness, presence, and curiosity.

Kindness. I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone as genuinely kind as my grandpa. He is everything that you’d want in a grandpa. Tender, approachable, knowledgable and safe. Many of my best qualities as a father come from watching my grandpa and spending time with him.

I don’t know if people would describe me as kind, but I want them to. I aspire to be known as kind like he was kind.

Presence. I can’t recall any deep conversations that I had with my grandpa. I’ve enjoyed a lot of those type of conversations with my dad and my other grandpa over the years but with Grandpa Henry, what I remember most is spending time with him. We spent so many countless hours in his garage, in the backyard, or on the road to restock candy machines. I remember always wanting to spend time with him as a boy, and I think that goes back to the kindness that he exuded. His kindness made me want to spend time in his presence.

In my position as a chaplain working with first responders, one of the most important roles that I play when I show up to a scene filled with trama and crisis is to practice what we call the “power of presence.” Often chaplains don’t have a significant impact on those in need with the words we say but rather with the calming and stabilizing presence we bring. When I think of my grandpa, I remember his presence bringing calm and safety to my young heart. I believe the power and impact of his presence on my life continues on in the way I minister to people in crisis today.

Curiosity. I know this word might sound out of place from some of the other words that I used to talk about my grandpa but bear with me. As a little boy, my grandpa’s stories of working on various spacecraft thrilled me. I wish there were a stronger word I could use than thrill – his stories ignited my imagination. I remember looking up at the night sky with him as he pointed out the constellations, I also remember watching old classic episodes of Star Trek with him and I remember the time he took me to my first Sci-Fi convention. My grandpa not only ignited my imagination and curiosity, he encouraged it. I am incredibly grateful for the wonderful gifts of kindness, presence, and curiosity that he gave me.

Lastly, I want to share a story about working on a car with my grandpa.

I graduated high school in 2004 and grandpa and grandma came up to Washington state, where I lived for the celebration. That whole school year I spent every spare moment I could up in the mountains or down by the river off-roading with my 1989 Jeep Cherokee. I loved and abused that jeep. I sent it soaring through mud puddles and up trails that I had no business taking it. My jeep had the side door panels dented from scraping up against and even sliding into tree trunks. The result was a pockmarked vehicle that resembled the surface of the moon.

Do you know what my grandpa did for me that week he was visiting for my graduation? He opened up the inside of the door panels and banged out every dent he could, then he sanded down every square inch of the surface of that jeep, and then he applied a fresh coat of paint to it.

All of this took a lot of hard work and I did far less than my fair share of the labor.

How many times do you think I took that jeep off-roading after all his hard work? ZERO times. I was on cloud nine. He might as well have given me a brand new car. I was SO happy. That jeep became more than just my first car. It represented a labor of love, a precious gift. I’d go on to take my wife out on our first date in that jeep and I’d drive it the night I asked her to marry me. I sold the jeep years ago but the memory of what grandpa gave to me is deep in my heart.

When I got to town a few days ago, my mom and grandma found a picture of the two of us standing next to the finished product after all his hard work. I will cherish that picture forever. For all of this and so much more, thank you, grandpa.

By Lynette Chambers…

I always looked up to my daddy. Even though he was not large in stature, he was always a giant of a man in my eyes.

Being his favorite child, I have many fond memories of him.

Some of my first were of him coming home from working at Martin smelling of DoubleMint gum. He always had a big hug for us and some gum in his pocket. I especially loved it when he had Juicy Fruit.

I also have fond memories of our camping and fishing trips together as a family. I remember a particular time he woke me up very early in the morning in our tent to go fishing with him, just the two of us.

We had lots of fun fishing experiences at lakes in Colorado and other states, catching trout and even catching sea-catfish and trying out sailing a sailboat together when we lived in Florida. But as much as I enjoyed fishing, I loved being with my daddy even more.

While on those camping trips he also made sure we attended a church service if we happened to be vacationing on a Sunday. Sometimes it would be a campground service in an amphitheater, and other times we would just find a church along the way that either said SBC or looked like it could be.

Sometimes that made for an interesting experience , like the time we wandered into a Mormon church and they heard dad’s voice and asked him to lead the music. He politely declined, then not wanting to offend anyone, we stayed a while, then quietly slipped out.

In our backyard on Perry Street in Denver, ever being the protective father, he climbed up our favorite tree and put thumb tacks to the height where we could climb and not be too close to the electrical lines.

Well, my brother and I thought we were pretty smart, we just moved the thumb tacks so we could climb as high as we wanted! I’m sure we were found out and reprimanded, but I don’t remember…

At that same house, dad built me my own room in the basement. He let me help plan it and help him build it. He was pretty handy that way. I felt pretty special having my own space, until one of my sisters (Cynthia), decided to come bunk with me!

When our church, Brentwood Baptist in Denver, relocated and renamed to Lochwood Baptist, we also bought a house and moved to Lakewood. Before our house was completed though, dad would drive us to our new schools each morning.

I had a later start time, so dad and I would go early in the mornings to help work on the church building before he took me to school. We could see our handiwork all over that building, and boy was dad proud he could help in the process. And I felt pretty special to get to spend that time working with my dad.

When I was in high school and had my first job at Woolco, dad became my knight in shining armor. One weekend I was working the manual cash register in the garden department. It was a very busy Saturday and we were told we couldn’t keep large bills in our drawer.

So, I called the office for them to bring me change. You could only open the drawer if someone was making a purchase, so I pulled out the bills, and waited for the change. Only problem was, the one who was supposed to bring my change got busy and never came. I decided to put it in my pocket until they came.

My shift ended, and I went to the High school with my boyfriend to go to a play. After the play while walking home, I put my hands in my pocket, and was devastated to discover a hundred dollar bill and a fifty dollar bill!

I quickly returned home and woke up my parents in hysterics. I think they probably thought I’d been in an accident or something. Dad calmed me down, and assured me he’d go with me to the store in the morning and it would all be alright.

Well, we got up early the next morning, and met the manager at the door. Dad explained everything, and of course, everything worked out. I think my boss could just tell by my ashen face and my dad’s calm demeanor that he should trust that what he was telling him was true. They hadn’t even discovered the discrepancy yet and dad’s honesty and integrity won the day.

A verse that reminds me of my Dad is Micah 6:8,

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”

‭‭Daddy lived out that verse every day of his life. He was a man of dignity, honor, loyalty, faith, and gallantry. I will miss him each and every day, and look forward to seeing him again in heaven.

I may not really be his favorite child, but he is my favorite daddy.

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Rise and Shine!

Talitha cum – Jesus

Jesus clearly worked from a different clock than everyone else. Instead of Eastern Standard Time, Jesus seemed to be on Eternal Standard Time. Yet, He never arrived late, and he never arrived early, he simply arrived according to his purpose.

Jesus will not be hurried.

There are a couple of stories in the Gospel of Mark that tell of a time when a prominent Jewish man came to Jesus to ask him to come heal his little girl of a dangerous fever. Jesus agreed and while on the way to the father’s  house, a woman who was afflicted with a debilitating blood flow came up behind him and secretly touched the hem of his garment. She was healed and while Jesus was talking to her, word came to the father that his little girl had died. (Of course, later Jesus went to see the little girl and brought her back to life.)

Jesus allowed a woman with a chronic illness interrupt him while on his way to deal with a little girl with an acute illness. Perhaps triage is not Jesus’ strength.

God’s sense of timing will always confound ours.

You will always give and get from Jesus more than you request.

The father came to Jesus for a cure for a fever, but he got a resurrection. He went to Jesus with enough faith to ask for a minor miracle of a healing, but Jesus looked at him after his daughter died and said, “Trust me with your little girl even now that she is dead.”

The woman with the blood flow came to Jesus for a “hit-and-run healing” but received eternal life. And part of what she had to give Jesus was a public pledge of truth and faith. That’s far more than she expected to get, and it’s also far more than she expected to give.

If you go to Jesus for anything (and I hope you do), I can guarantee he will get from you far more than you originally planned to give him, but he will give to you infinitely more than you dare ask or think, and infinitely more than you give.

Jesus reverses the values of the world

Jesus makes the prominent man with the urgent need wait while he takes his time with a social outcast of a woman. He dignifies her with an honest conversation and makes the man wait. No toxic masculinity from Jesus—just grace!

That is why pimps and prostitutes flocked to Jesus; because they understood that their past didn’t keep them from life with God.  But this is also why many of the preachers and the pious had a hard time with Jesus; because their past didn’t get them any special favors with God. Nobody is disqualified, and nobody is good enough for life with God. God’s grace can only be given to you

In fact, this woman’s faith is quasi-superstitious (she just wanted to touch his clothes). It’s of a lower quality than the father’s faith (He looked Jesus in the eye with desperate confidence when he made his request).

Yet if seems as if Jesus is drawn to people who are the most messed up and who have messed up the most.

Jesus lived the great reversal all the way to the cross

When Jesus got to the house where the little girl was dead, he cleared the house of the professional mourners and went into to see the little girl with the mom and dad. He took the cold hand and in a tender voice said, “Talitha cum.”

Talitha  literally means, “Little girl.” But that does not get across the sense of what he is saying to her. This is a pet name. Probably the best translation I’ve run across is, “Honey.” This is Jesus taking her by the hand and saying, “Honey.”

The second word he uses is cum, which means, “Wake up.” This is the word of a parent who loves the child and who comes in on a sunny morning, sits down, and takes her hand and says. “Honey, it’s time to get up.”

She does!

Look at his power! He is facing death, the most implacable, inexorable enemy of the human race … death. Such is his power that if he holds her by the hand, he just gently lifts her up right through it.

“Honey, get up.”

What love! This is the ultimate parent—for the woman and the little girl.

When you can see the Lord of the universe, the one whose hands scattered the stars like so many seeds, taking you by the hand and saying, “Honey, it’s time to get up”—Why would you want to hurry somebody this powerful and this loving?

There’s nothing more frightening for a little child than to lose the hand of the parent in a crowd or in the dark. But that is exactly what happened to Jesus. The Bible says the sky went dark and He lost his Father’s hand on the cross. When Jesus touched us, He lost touch with His Father. Jesus became unclean so our uncleanness could be dealt with and we could be clean and whole.

He lost the Father’s hand so we could know, if he has us by the hand, he will never forsake us.

Are you trying to hurry Jesus? Take him by the hand and let him do what he wants to do. He loves you completely. He knows what he is doing.

It’s time to wake up.

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My Beautiful Mess

The Lord upholds all who are falling,
and raises up all who are bowed down. Psalm 145:14

In 1999, I had made such a mess of my marriage I had to resign the church I had led for thirteen years and dedicate my days to reconciling with my wife. I packed up my young family, moved to the Pacific Northwest where a little church provided us a place to live and me a job. That job was tearing down a condemned house for $10 per hour. An old lady had lived in the house for decades with about eighteen cats.

Tearing down the condemned house was a metaphor of my life. I had spent years building a resume, reputation and career as a trust worthy man.  But because of my arrogance, neglect and selfishness, I had seen my life abandoned and condemned.

Back to the cat lady’s little yellow house—I had already dismantled and hauled off all of the outlying buildings, porch and knocked down many of the non-load bearing walls—it was time to go after the bathroom. The vanity came out without much resistance, the sink as well. The only thing left was the tub and the toilet.  I decided to deal with the toilet first.

I removed the upper tank and carried it out and threw it into my truck to take to the dump. I unbolted the bowl from the floor, but it wouldn’t release. I pushed and pulled all to no avail. Finally, I wrapped my arms around the cold, slick and disgusting bowl and heaved with all my strength. It wouldn’t budge. I was frustrated, sad and ashamed of myself.

I remembered that only two months before I was on the board of trustees of a major Christian organization. I was a former president of my denomination in the state of Colorado. I was well-respected and admired and successful in almost every way.

But on this cold, gray, November day in the Northwest, I was trying to tear a toilet out of an old cat-lady’s house.  I remember wondering, “How many times had the cat lady sat on this seat I was hugging?” I fell back against the bathtub with the sharp smell of that bathroom piercing my nostrils and began to weep, “Oh, God how did I get here?”

And louder than an audible voice I heard the Father say, “You are with Me and WE are going to be just fine.”

My chest heaved with sobs of pain and unmitigated joy.  God was with me on the floor of the cat lady’s bathroom.  I mattered to him.

“Okay,” I said.

I got off that bathroom floor, cleaned myself up, went over to the house where my wife was preparing lunch, gave her a kiss and went back and took a sledgehammer to that toilet. That began a sacred journey to discover the Kingdom of God within me.

Along this journey I discovered that if I don’t pay attention to my interior life and build a strong soul-infrastructure, my life will never be able to sustain the weight of my exterior life and I will either implode again or I will lead a life of quiet desperation.

I certainly won’t live a life of abundance that Jesus talked about. Last month my wife and I celebrated 37 years of marriage and I am living the life I could never imagine twenty years ago.

Thanks be to God he didn’t abandon me, but rather led me to the place where I could find him, my wife, and my true self in the mess of my life.

Here is a verse that has encouraged me and perhaps it will you.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
    and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

No mess is too messy for God.

Not mine. Not even yours.

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