Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Strange New Land



Today I find myself sitting in a small wooden boat in the middle of a vast sea – a sea named "New". The waters are completely still and calm. I threw my oars overboard months ago. The only movement is the clouds that are slowly drifting by overhead. No wind, no gentle breeze, only silence. I lift my sail in anticipation of the Wind for it is my fuel. I rest in the fact that It will come and blow me to my destination. It will be my Guide. I know It will come and I wait for It. I sit. I wait.

I'm standing in the middle of a thick forest of mature trees. Little sunlight makes it down to the forest floor upon which I stand. All that I see looks unfamiliar – I've not been here before. Every tree looks like the other. I see one small path to my right but it is barely recognizable as it is well overgrown with greenery. There are no signs, no markers, no directions. I hold in my hand an intricately carved Walking Stick, but I know not where to go. I grasp It tightly, trusting that It will lead me somehow. I stand. I wait.

I'm standing at the peak of a great mountain top. I'm at such a high elevation that I'm above the clouds. I peer down to look for land below and I see nothing but thick cloud cover, obstructing my view. The only earth that is visible is the ground that is directly beneath my bare feet. All that is discernable is the Sun that shines overhead, warming my skin. It comforts me. I trust that It will someday burn off these clouds and clear my view. I hold my head high, above the clouds, gazing at the brightness of the Sun. Until the clouds are removed, I stand. I wait.

I'm in a desert land. Sand is all about me, as far as my eyes can see. There are no footprints to be found, not even my own. There are no landmarks, just vast dunes of blowing sand. I feel something in my back pocket and reach around to grab it. Unfolded, I see that It is a small Map. How do I know where I am on It? How do I even read It? I've seen Maps such as this before, but on this one the text is written in a language that is foreign to me and the land masses I do not recognize. I calmly fold it back up tightly and place It deep within my pocket. I know that I will need It when it is time to move. I'm at peace, somehow knowing that It will direct me, guide me in time - somehow. In the sea of sand, I wait.

I'm in the depths of the earth. It is dark and the only Light is the faint flicker of a small Lamp that sits in the palm of my right hand. I hold it out and see several tunnels carved out before me. I've never been here before. I don't know where I am or where I'm going, I only know where I've been. I don't feel compelled to venture out. I grasp tightly to my Lamp for It is my Solace. It is my Peace. It will light the way when it is time to move. I stand here amongst the shadows, lamp in hand. I wait.

What I've just described is a few of the many imageries I've seen that describe where I am in this season of my life. What caused me to get riled up before, doesn't seem to shake me. What used to make me fiery mad seems like a non-issue. What I used to have to stand and declare was "this or that" seems like emotion wasted. No, I'm not just being cynical, I'm in a new land. It is a land that, when I sit and think about it, I asked the LORD for, for years. A peaceful place. A place of true rest in Him. A place where what others are doing or not doing doesn't rattle me or undo me. The odd thing is, now that I'm here, I feel lost. I feel like I've been picked up and gently placed in a completely foreign land. Little feels like it used to. Little that I walked daily doing interests me. Who am I? What am I doing and where am I going? It is a scary place, I will admit. Perhaps "scary" is a bad choice of words because it's not that I'm fearful, but I do feel a bit like an inexperienced child who's venturing off into completely unchartered territory. In the imageries that I began this piece with, I wanted to put down in writing the facets of how I feel right now – for me. I feel somewhat alone, but I am not. I feel somewhat lost, but I am not. You see, in my weakness, in my incapacity to run along at my usual break-neck pace, comforted by its "normalcy", I know that my Father promises to show Himself strong. There is some power and supernatural "something" to all of this resting. All of my identities, aside from Him are fading. My Baptist upbringing – gone. My being a good "Christian" – gone. My being identified as a "proud American" – gone as well. My being know as a fiery debater, false teaching exposer and, in some cases, finger pointer all seems to have been placed on the altar. He is seemingly recreating my identity and all that is not in Him alone is falling away. And He is doing it all ever so gently my friend. I am experiencing His compassion. I am experiencing His patience. I am experiencing His lovingkindness. I am experiencing His pain. I am experiencing His rejection. I am experiencing His longing for His beautiful Bride. I am experiencing things that I've never really experienced before, to this level. I must admit it has had little to do with me. That's why, to end all of the imageries, I stated, "I sit or I stand… I wait". What else can I do unless the LORD goes with me? Where am I to go and what am I to do unless He guides me? What if sitting under the shadow of His wings and "doing" nothing is what He desires for me right now? As "wrong" as it "feels", I wait upon Him. I sit and place myself upon His potter's wheel, allowing Him to form me and mold me.

It would seem that my days of exposing all of the wrongs and errors within Christianity have waned. I have come to the conclusion that, as the Bible states, it will all continually increase as we approach the end of all time. I want to be enamored with who Christ is. I want to be infatuated with becoming conformed to His image. I am being driven to uncover what is as opposed to what is not. And that, my friend is a new land for me. Perhaps this is a season, learning new facets of my Father. Be it what it may, I choose to dwell here and rest in Him. He promises me to finish this work that He started in me and each passing moment of my life is an opportunity for His work to continue. It's not easy, at times to sit and wait, especially when you're prone to be an "in your face" kind of guy like I've been. I daily have to choose to not fear these changes. Fears that I won't be zealous anymore. Fears that I've lost my passion or fervor. Fears that I'll lose my desire to write, encourage and warn. These are all legitimate concerns that I constantly have to lay down at His feet. Do I really mean what I say when I tell Him to have all of me? Do I really intend to allow Him to change me when I ask Him to? Do I whole-heartedly desire to be conformed into the beautiful image of Christ? If I do desire that, then I absolutely must rest in the results of my requests, trusting that it is all His ongoing work within me. My preferences, my identities, my comforts I lay on the altar, sacrificed, so that it will no longer be I that live but Christ in me. This is my worship. This is my surrender. This is my existence, all in and through Him alone.

So… I choose to sit. I choose to wait. He is my Author. He is my Finisher. He is truly the LORD seated upon the throne of my life.

23 comments:

NINA said...

Wow, you just described exactly where i am to the T. An unfamiliar place. I find comfort that this place, so unfamiliar, is familiar to someone else. I just drove home and cried all the way. I truly don't even know how I got here because I can't remember stopping at lights or turning corners. I guess that's kinda how my life is right now.I was telling God that I have no idea where I am or where I am going.Everything is just unfamiliar, even myself. There is no way to describe me, but quiet. I guess this is the place that was written about when it says "He leadeth me beside still waters, He restoreth my soul". I don't even know what to pray for because I am not sure what my needs are. Forward movement is at a halt,turning back is out of the question, and giving up is not an option. I have no choice but to stand still until His will is clear.I guess that all i can say is just be still and wait for your marching orders.(smile)

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi,

I detect a spiritual crisis here. It is time to get in touch with the God who lives inside of you (the Holy Spirit). He is within, and not somewhere out there. He lives in your body, and your body is His temple. It is time to love who you are as a sacred temple of God's presence. Once you get this, everything else will fall in place.

Peace and Blessings,
Hillary (Daughter of Wisdom)

Daughter of Wisdom said...

If you are interested, you can read my article Self-love as a Spiritual Act of Worship.

Have a blessed day,
Hillary

Joel Spencer said...

Nina: Glad to hear that this article hit home with you. Unfamiliarity is surely not always a bad thing. In fact, how else can we continue to leave our comforts and continually be conformed into His beautiful image?

The way I see it, if I am whole-heartedly seeking His face, I will always be in some sort of processs that is making me more like Him - and that brings me joy.

Daughter: I want to be clear to state that this is no spiritual crisis. Perhaps I did not explain this season correctly. Peace is reigning in all of this and the love of the LORD seems to be the fruit. I in no way meant to insinuate that God is "somewhere out there". I do love who I am, but not just because of what I am walking in now but also because of what He is creating me to be. I feel that it is imperative that I wholly embrace both.

I'm sorry if it somehow seemed that I'm despondent or something, because that's not the case at all. Just to make sure that I understand where you're coming from, I'll go take a peek at the article you mentioned. Thanks.

Mishi said...

Thanks for posting about this season in your walk. Not only have I been feeling more this way but there is someone else I read on the net that has just expressed the same desire to move on and "to uncover what is as opposed to what is not." I am excited about this. Be encouraged that you are one of many the Father is bringing into this new land.
We are all learning what it means to "have the mind of Christ"! It requires us to lay all things we had grasped down and to take on the nature of the bondservant. Waiting on the Lord to direct each step. It's a good place to be even though it feels foreign.

Joel Spencer said...

Mishi: Thanks for the encouragement. I believe that the love and compassion of the Father will be the beacon that defines the true Body of Christ in days to soon come. Violence, anger and judgment increase, love will endure.

On a side note, I'm not sure I'll be able to be too close of friends with you... I'm an Illini man. ;)

Mishi said...

Joel,

I won't have any problem being your friend. Now if you were a Michigan fan it would be another story. :D

NINA said...

Thanks for that. I needed this blog as well as the encouragement.I felt the burden instantly lift.I confess, I haven't quite welcomed this transition as open armed as you have. But I suppose that's the difference between men and women(I can say that, but don't u try it! LOL)Along with this unfamiliar position, I've also been getting hit with some heavy stuff making the "wait" feel a little uncomfortable.This place can be a lonely place, if you don't look at it the right way.Thanks for being "that guy" who helped me carry the cross. It was getting a little heavy. But it just got a little lighter.

Yvonne said...

Good shadowing! Interesting too! I had a dream several years ago of this very thing! Just resting in a boat in the middle of a lake enjoying the sun beating down on my being! Then supernaturally a man on a white horse came, picked me up and placed me on the back of the horse with him. Our path lead us to climb a mountain! Some places were extremely hard but made it we did! At the top the glory of the Lord enveloped us! May God cause his face to shine on the path before you so your journey be empowered by the power of the Holy Spirit! God Bless!

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Joel, I pray all is well. I meant nothing personal when I said "I detect a spiritual crisis here." I was just being obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I pray that in your journey with God that He continues to fill you with His peace and love :-).

Joel Spencer said...

Nina: We're all in this together, even though not physically. A good friend once stated the simple fact that Jesus never said that in Him there would be no burden. He simply said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Praise God we are headed where He leads.

Yvonne: Your post caused me to stop and reflect on the "how I got there's" of those places. I did not go it alone as I am where I am today because my Father has led me here. Comforting fact. Thanks!

Daughter: Nothing personal taken Hillary. I welcome others opinions and views and I thank you for sharing yours. It helps me to be more sure of where I stand.

Jimmy said...

Rest after works. Totally realizing it is finished and Jesus Christ did it. Seeing yourself as finished by the work of the cross.
Entering the place of peace. Turning in your "God badge". Living eternal life now. To live or die is no big deal. Being in the world but not of the world. I belive this is a big part of the "Christ Life". Very glad to share the journey with you. I really like and appreciate the changes you wrote about.Glad to be sharing the journery. Blessings...

Anonymous said...

Right there with you Joel. It is definitely an interesting time - is it not? Will write you an email soon - look for it.

Lillium

Joel Spencer said...

Jimmy: "Turning in your God badge" is a good way to put it. I'm still trying to figure out how to balance standing for Truth without having to aggressively defend it. It will all come in time. Thanks for stopping by!

Lillium: Interesting indeed. I anticipate your email.

Anonymous said...

IT does not get more clearer then this....You have just put down on paper what my brain thinks all the time. I love the way that you can put my brain into words for me. What would I do without you? I guess I would continue wasting my brain space trying to figure out why I am thinking such thoughts. thanks joel. once again!!

Joel Spencer said...

Anonymous: Well thanks for the kind words. I'm humbled to know that the simple explanation of where the LORD has me today can "put thoughts [of others] into words". May we continue to rest in Him, whether we're in a raging storm, on a calm sea or anywhere in the vast in-between.

http://shebet.blogspot.com said...

There are groanings in my heart, welling up, with no words...only thank you for speaking your heart.

Melissa Ann said...

Just stopping by to say Thank you for this post. It really helped me to make sense of what's going on in my life right now. It has been such a strange yet peaceful knowing, that All is well even though I don't quite understand it. My sister and I were discussing this a couple of weeks ago. She had come to the conclusion that she / we have at times been too hard on ourselves when things seemed to be still or quiet. It is comforting to know that others are in the same boat.

I Thank God for those like yourself who have been willing to spy out the promised land of uncharted territory, who have taken the time to shine a light on the path for me to find my way when I may have been struggling to make sense of things. I appreciate your writings so much.
He's a Good God !! Melissa Ann

Free Spirit said...

Joel,
That's beautiful, and I agree that it speaks my heart as well. Strange place, this. I sense a connection to your heart though I know you not, because He seems to be working in similar ways in me. Thanks for taking time to put this into words - it does help to sort thru it all.

Joel Spencer said...

shebet, Melissa Ann and Free Spirit: Thanks for your kind words. May the perfect love of the Father abound in us all!

rave.n said...

i liked this

Joel Spencer said...

Raven: Well, I'm glad. :)

Harriet said...

(((((Joel))))
welcome to the "party" ;)
(waiting is the gift)

although I am sure the gift brings even more gifts..
and more gifts..and more gifts.. after we have learned how to use IT properly.. lol.. how to use it seems an oxymoron.
Uncharted territory always has BITS of things that seem familiar..I am learning to not pay attention to those things..they WILL lead me off the path.
many many blessings and prayers!
your sister,
Harriet