Thursday, August 11, 2016
We're not alone.
Some days, more than others, I am reminded of this.
The first non-denominational pastor who churched this young Catholic girl turned atheist in the year I fully turned back to God went AWOL a few years ago. It was 2002 when I met him and he was young and avid with a house full of children and a wife who ruled us all with an iron rod. His church had moved out of their home into an old small white chapel in the country. The church--as a living, breathing entity--first came alive for me within those walls.
It forever came to represent for me what church could be when church was done right.
When I found my first pastor again, 13 years later, he was no longer a pastor and his life had changed dramatically. My heart broke. The wife he'd had when I'd been in his church was finally remarrying, and his old life would be truly gone soon. I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out how this had happened.
He didn't have much interest in the faith. No matter how I tried, I could not revive even a smattering of faith or interest in the things of God.
But I just knew God wasn't through with him, and he would still be a mighty force for goodness before it was over. I told him so, and he found that humorous.
It seemed impossible. But I knew that I knew that I knew. We had a short-lived correspondence on Facebook and via email then it died away. Months passed. My news feed on Facebook alerted me to important moments in his life. He seemed to be spending lots of time with his kids. Amazing how you can follow people's lives on Facebook even when you hardly ever speak. It comforted me to watch over him and pray for him--as he had once prayed so fervently over me.
Fast forward just six short months, and today he told me he thought God might still have some work for him to do. He'd been up all night pondering some spiritual puzzle, he said, talking with other spirit-minded men until late in the night. I told him of course God still had work for him to do. I wondered when the tide had turned. My joy was unspeakable.
And then these words poured from my fingers as they clacked on the keyboard in response to him:
We always gravitate back to who God intended us to be when he created us, don't you think? The world pulls us one way, but God's pull is a force of nature, like gravity or the pull of the tides. Incessant, eternal, pulling us home to who we are.
I read the words after I typed them and I marvelled at them. Those words didn't come from me...they came from an entirely other dimension. That was God-speak, I think. I wrote them before I thought them. I never thought them, actually. I just typed them and read them as though I were reading them for the first time. Beautiful words, aren't they? I can't take credit for them. I can only admire them.
Those words gave me hope too. Not just for me, but for all of us. All of us who are stuck somewhere we don't belong, in a body that is not our intended body, a mind and a life we didn't plan on, a spouse who cheats on us, a boss who abuses us, habits that are killing us, a hopelessness that has paralyzed us.
But those words reminded me that we are not alone, even though it looks that way from our little rickety boat on that still ocean of pain. There is a force of nature, a pull of the tides, a form of gravity that is incessant and eternal and pulling us home to who we are. The us that was supposed to be, all along. That is who we are becoming even when we don't know which direction to row or don't even have any oars. The tide of God's love is pulling us safely to shore.
Sometimes--most often actually--it is happening even when we cannot do it for ourselves.
I ate a Big Mac today. It was a rough day in many ways, and the Big Mac was just the ugly little cherry on top. I was feeling like I will never change. I will die this way.
Then out of the blue came the chat with the pastor and the words that were not my own.
Clearly I am not alone in this battle. Neither is he. Neither are you.
There is hope.