Looking at God in a New Way

From the time I was a child, I always felt closer to God when I was around nature. I wrote poems to God in my journal while I was by a lake, in the woods, or on the beach. I adored mountains and forests. And I enjoyed such nature-inspiring awe of God in solitude. My time growing close to the God of the universe was exciting when in large conferences as a teen where thousands of us worshiped together -- but my favorite and most thought-provoking times were alone.

But God began to change me. It started when I got married. Suddenly there was this guy I lived with and he was ALWAYS AROUND! What's up with that?! Plus we lived in a one-bedroom apartment at first, meaning we saw each other often! In all seriousness, I struggled. How could I spend quality time with God when I couldn't be alone? Even though the husband I chose happened to be a minister—you'd think I'd find some spiritual solace in that! But instead, I was frustrated.

People continued to keep coming into my life. First I was a youth minister's wife. Then we joined a small church where we helped lead worship and I helped start a drama ministry. And it was a small congregation where everyone knew everyone. People were always around! Going to a mega-church after that just added to the mega-schedule of ministry and hosting Bible studies and going to church services on Saturday and again on Sunday. People, people, people!!!

Pregnancy certainly changed my solitude. Suddenly a little person was now constantly attached! It didn't stop once she was born either! She now follows me around, even when I try to go to the bathroom!

What has all this done to me? Through ministry, but also through these other aspects of life, God has shown me that He is not just found in the rippling waters or high upon a majestic mountaintop. His ultimate design is to be present in the lives of the faces I meet every day. And those lives He's not currently a part of, He LONGS to be. And this transformation that's been happening in my own heart over 9 years has been fitting me more and more into ministry. Which I recognize is not just Steve's calling as "the pastor" but has been mine as well -- ever since I was a teen, connecting with Jesus in my solitude and begging Him to use me to change the world. Well, He's been answering, and He's showing me that to impact the world for Him involves people! :)

I explain all of this because I was reminded of my transformation tonight. As I thought about our recent vacation to the beach, I recall that I had a different reaction to our time at the ocean than I usually do. The ocean was beautiful and an amazing tribute to God's power and creativity -- as it always is! But while I was there, I didn't feel some super closeness to God as I used to when I was younger. I felt the same closeness as always. In fact, I felt closer to God during my conversations that I had throughout the week with Steve, my mom, my dad, my aunts. I felt closer to God when I saw the wonder in Kaelyn's eyes over every new little thing she discovered.

I am closer to God because of the people He has placed in my life. And I see that's His design. To live in a relationship with a three-in-one God is already a community! And His desire is that our time here on earth should reflect that community and give us a glimpse of our eternal community up in Heaven. And I want to do as much as I can in my role for the Lord on this earth to make sure that Heaven is crowded with people! :)
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