I recently spoke at a conference out in San Diego. While there I met a great many amazing people. The conference was for writers and aspiring writers and it was one of the most inspiring, practical and brilliant conferences I have ever attended. While there I met the great Savanna Hartman. Savanna has a great blog and is working on her first book- a masterpiece to be sure.
Savanna wrote me recently and asked if I would be willing to post a guest blog on her blog. What follows is what I sent to Savanna. It may be more fun to read it on her site though. That way you can learn more about Savanna and her writing and ministry. Check it out here!
There are a large number of things in life that aren’t fun. I don’t like eating peas or carrots. I never enjoyed studying. I’m not a fan of broken bones and I have a number of broken heart stories. Getting sick makes the list and so does having someone I know pass away. You get the idea. Parts of your lists might look different, but everyone on the planet can make one. Seeing as this is the case, I often wonder why we all try so hard to make our relationship with God into something painful and joyless as well.
For most of my life as a Christian I’ve been told I need to DO more, SACRIFICE more, GIVE more, READ more, PRAY more and generally BE more. I’ve often been made to feel like I’m not good enough, loving enough, moral enough or joyous enough. The thing is; if I feel even one tenth of these things in any of my human relationships, I end them pretty quickly. Life’s too short.
I think many people feel that they just aren’t enough when it comes to their relationship with God. And anyone who feels this is not in a healthy relationship, but an abusive one. This affects everything. If we are constantly worried about measuring up, our lives will be safe and boring. We will only move when we are sure its right and our choices will be more about avoiding hurt than experiencing beauty.
But when I look at the heroes of the bible I see very little caution. The Bible is packed with stories of men and women who fully EXPERIENCED life and were fully AWAKE to the world around them. They made mistakes; they failed and struggled; they experienced extreme loneliness and heartache; their lives were often messy and chaotic. Yet their lives were also filled with miracles, intense beauty, unheard-of wonder and amazing God-EXPERIENCES. They lived fully awake and embraced every aspect of their stories.
And this is the key. These men and women didn’t just embrace the “spiritual” parts of their lives. They didn’t got to synagogue and learn about God and then go back to sheep herding, blacksmithing, farming or what have you. They fully understood that God was meant to be EXPERIENCED in every aspect of their lives and was speaking at all times.
They didn’t see being “in the ministry” or doing something “spiritual” as more spiritua
l than anything else. Absolutely every aspect of their lives was spiritual. And so is yours. And so is mine. I have had some incredible opportunities over my almost 36 years of life.
I’ve EXPERIENCED some insane adventures: Freebased from a skyscraper in South Africa, spent many weeks playing in Antarctica, hung with child soldiers and some of the most ruthless gangsters on the planet.
I’ve EXPERIENCED some incredible opportunities to love: Worked in Haiti before and after the 2010 earthquake, worked with sex and child slaves throughout much of Africa, worked with young girls forced into early marriage, worked with those affected by HIV/AIDS and other diseases around the world.
I’ve EXPERIENCED some insane miracles: saw God clear a stormy sky, multiply food to feed the hungry and heal those who were sick.
I’ve EXPERIENCED God inside many churches: I learned to pray and to worship and to prophesy and to hear his voice.
The above list is merely the first things that come to mind. But the thing is, EVERYTHING listed above gave me a deeper relationship with God, brought me closer to my purpose and brought joy and magic and meaning to my life.
God is proud of every story listed above, even those stories where I felt like I failed, because he has never seen me as a failure or as “not enough”. He is my father and is desperately proud of me. And God is speaking to me in ALL things at ALL times and the “church” experiences are simply one of the ways God speaks.
God wants our lives to be filled with adventure and magic and wonder and beauty and whimsy and love and we ARE GOOD ENOUGH. You are good enough. I am good enough. I can’t DO ANYTHING to earn His love. I can simply EXPERIENCE more of his creation and find those things that awaken my heart.
I no longer strive so hard. God isn’t holding the ruler so high that we can never reach it. That is not what a good and loving father does. And when I stop striving to be more and do more and love more and try harder and instead just do my best to enjoy God in all of his creation and in every bit of my story I suddenly find myself saturated in a relationship of LOVE.
Stop working so hard and start enjoying your relationship. God is magical. Find those things that awaken you to the fullness of life. God is waiting for you in the midst of the adventure of your life. That is what life is meant to be. A grand adventure story with God.