I believe in stories more than advice. In other words, I believe that a light is shined on our way forward, not when we finally hear the exact, right piece of advice, but when someone shares their story with us.
True stories contain all of the messy, untranslateable details of a life. Somehow, they also point us toward the maker of life.
I wish I could tell you how to live without the kind of community I described earlier this week. I wish I could tell you how to get it back. I even wish I could tell you that developing that kind of community in your own setting is the most important use of your time. But I can’t tell you these things.
If this whole Jesus-following-way-of-life is truly a relationship (as I’ve been hearing all my life) then we need to stop comparing our circumstances with everyone else’s. My marriage to Jonathan is fifteen-years-old (or fifteen-years-good), and it makes no sense for me to look at those still-awkward newlyweds and wonder why our lives are so different. Other than the fruits of the spirit, I’m not sure there are many things we can point to in order to say “that is a good Christian life” and “that is not.” At times Jesus walks us through joy and other times he walks us through trouble, but we can be confident in both that he has not and will not abandon us.
I lived in community for ten years, and it was good and it was painful, and I hope I haven’t said goodbye to that way of life forever. I could beat my head against my Bible wondering why my life no longer looks like that and how to get it back, or I can accept that when God empties our lives he also fills them up again. Not with the things we are missing, necessarily, but with himself.
In this world, we are wanderers. And that is not always a bad thing, not always a sin thing. We can wander quite a distance pursuing the good things of God’s kingdom on earth. Still, there’s little rest in wandering, and God knows we need rest. But where to find it?
God’s people “wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place” (Jeremiah 50:6).
Sometimes we need silence and emptiness, loneliness and barrenness in order to remember. We need winter.
The four walls of my suburban existence can feel like a prison, but they have been just the thing for feeling the heavy, holy pressure of God’s hand on me.
“You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”
Psalm 139: 5-6