I just recently finished a book called “Blessed Friction” by Brad Hill. Brad brings to life that place that we all must come to where we ask, “Is this all there is?” It’s a little harder to give attention to this voice in our heads as Christians. We are taught to believe that as long as we have Christ we have everything, and we do. Greatly, it is a lack of understanding and limited perception.
Henry Blackaby calls this season, “A crisis of belief” that place between calling and pursuit. It’s a place that invariably each of us has to come to before we take on life. It doesn’t necessarily come before a great adventure or before some incredible ministry launch, sometimes it can come in the midst of all that. But, always if you will be honest with yourself and with God, it will lead you to a place of peace and an understanding of Love.
Friction is defined as “the resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over another; confilict.” I came to this point in my life 2 years ago. Suddenly I had stuffed so much crap in a box labeled “my past” that I had ceased to realize that it was very much affecting my present. I remember the day that God nudged me. I was sitting on my couch reading through some resources to help some teen girls through their pain when it hit me – I’m hurting. I pushed it away. God had seen that, we had talked about it, it was all good. But, the more I delved into the topic of sexual abuse the more I realized, it wasn’t all good. In fact, I was angry. It hadn’t gone away with the years, it screamed just beneath the surface and whether or not I recognized it as such, it was still haunting me.
It took one more fragmented shard of glass to cut before I saw it for what it was and finally collapsed into the honesty of “I’m not okay.” This gaping hole was exposed and with it came out years of pain and hurt and dishonesty and fear. Then the questions bubbled and brewed and I found myself doubting everything. Everything that I thought I knew about myself, about God, about love, and about faith was teetering at best. I was grasping at straws and praying that one of them would hold me up. My whole life was in question and my desire to live it was almost gone, and in the darkness of that place, my heart posed a choice: “Fight through this and find life, or give up and die.”
And that is when the friction became intense.
That is when the crisis became real.
That is when I found life and Love – because one does not exist without the other.
We can exist in heartache. We can exist and go through the motions and look like we are alive – we breathe, we move, we eat, and sometimes we find within us a place to smile or to laugh, but if someone were to ask, “Are you really living?” We know ultimately that we merely exist. And, at the back of our mind, when the doing ceases, we are haunted by that thought.
There are ministers, moms, dads, teachers, coaches, businessmen, business women that merely exist. Someone in every walk of life finds him or herself asking, “Is this it?” They go through the motions of doing and serving and sacrificing all the while thinking that they are pleasing God. “If I don’t do it no one else will. It’s just one more place that God can use me. I will make the time.” To stop would be a disappointment. To not achieve goals that they have placed on themselves is to fail. Somewhere, in the time that we were called and now, we’ve lost the passion. We’ve become complacent. We have accepted that this IS all there is, and we believe that there is nothing more. Work and serve and die. Only, we are dying…a little more everyday.
That’s not life.
That’s not His plan.
“Perfect love casts out all fear.” I’m pretty sure many of us know this by heart, but do we believe it in our hearts? How about “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We can quote it, rattle it off like the ABCs, but does it abide in our hearts? This is where my journey took me. This is the place where my faith found flight and my life took on meaning. These are the words that God spoke over me in the midst of the questions.
When I was on the cliff of life and existence looking down, “God is love” became real to me. In my mind, I had failed me and Him and everyone, and everything that I had ever thought I’d wanted was now forever out of reach. And as I resigned to let go of that last straw, He caught me with one last question: “Do you believe that I love you?” My answer was timid and afraid, shame-filled but desperate, “I WANT to believe You love me.” He led me to His word and there He spoke to me. Suddenly I realized that I was no different than those that He had called on before. They were no more perfect or had it all together. In fact, in someway or another every single one of them were flawed. I found an excuse, “Yeah but that’s THEM. I’m me.” And the return was, “And I love you. Just the same.”
In his book, Brad tells the story of his two dogs. They both, very different in nature, are lying on the bed, longing for affection. He, being their master and father, reaches over and simultaneously pats both of them, rubbing them, and loving on them, but they are so focused on the affection that the other is receiving that they cannot enjoy the love that he is showing them. This is so much our interaction with Father God. Maybe we can’t even admit it, yet there is apart of each of us so desperate for love and attention and we see others around us getting it and we wonder, “Why can’t I feel like that? Where is my blessing?” And all the time, Jesus’s hands are scarred He’s loving you so much! But you don’t enjoy it, because you can’t see that love is for YOU. That was me, too.
“God is love.” We say this all the time. “How He loves us so” our souls rock with passion when we sing these words. “He will never leave you or forsake you.” We tell this to one another. We mumble scriptures about good plans and hopes and future, we memorize scriptures about compassion and how they never fail, and mercy that saves us, and love that endures, but do we really believe it? If we believe it, we have a funny way of showing it.
My journey is not over. Nor is the friction. But the crisis, the questions of why and what and how and when and where, they don’t haunt me as much. My faith is strengthened, not because I am that good, but because His love is that strong. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know that He has gone before me. I can rest, when I do, because I know that my doing doesn’t determine His love for me. I can enjoy my family because I know that they are a blessing, even in the friction that shapes and strengthens our relationships. I do not merely exist. The life that I live is not my own…but the freedom that bought my life gave it back to me as a gift. And my Rescuer and Lover of my soul, asks nothing more of me than to live. He gave me life and longs for me to enjoy it, He gave each of us life because He loves us. If you are alive and breathing, you are loved. No matter what. He is just as desperate to lavish love on a prostitute with a drug addiction as a nun in a convent. There is no prejudice or preference to His affections.
Sometimes the friction feels like restriction, but that’s our perception; it doesn’t have to bring crisis. As long as I live in the flesh and have the Spirit of God living in me, there will be friction, same for you. Like Paul said, “What I want to do I do not do and what I do not want to do this is what I do.” I’m no different, or better, but when I do mess up (as I have), I know He hasn’t forsaken me. Like the loving caring Father that He is, He beckons me to try again. And, when I realize that His love isn’t asking anything of me that He won’t hold my hand through, I find myself willing, longing, and desperate to do it right. His LOVE compels me because He loves me regardless! I can’t define myself by my failures…because He never has. The greatest thing that we can learn, the greatest Truth that we can take into our hearts is this: God loves us, enough to die for us, so that we might LIVE! Then the question in our heart rises up not in frustration that God is holding out on us, “Is this all there is?” But in expectation that we what we have glimpsed is just the start of what He has for us, and squeals, “Is this all there is?!?!” knowing there is more!