Tuesday, September 24, 2013

On Freedom

I wrote yesterday about my intense stillness and extraordinary joy. You know what's weird? For the first time in my life, I really wasn't looking for either.

Don't get me wrong - these are precisely the kinds of things I think I've always been looking for. I know I've always been looking for. I can't think of a single experience I've ever had, a single adventure I've ever gone on, a single step I've ever taken prior to this current experience that I wasn't thinking, "This is going to make me stronger" or "This is something I have to do" or even "This will be good for me." Because I have only given myself to things in this world that were meant to answer any of the deep questions I have been asking. I have always been looking for answers. If it couldn't answer me, it wasn't worth doing.

Somehow, I've always had the questions.

Here's the thing about answers, and I didn't understand until well..until now, but I'm not sure it has anything to do with anything that now is the time: when you go searching for answers, what you find is a specific response for a narrow question and then you find yourself broadening the question because this answer doesn't work anywhere but here. That is...for a long time, I was a student and I used to wonder what it might be like to have just one normal day. Normal was defined by the student experience. One day not fighting my demons or my darkness or my doubts, one day just to be like all the other kids who sat in my classes. I'm not sure I ever achieved such a thing, but think if I had. What would my new question have been? It would have been, "How do I have a normal day not in school? How do I have a normal day somewhere else?"

Our questions are generally limiting in this way. We're willing to settle for a specific smallness for a chance at an answer, but the answer leaves us aching for the bigger things. It's incredibly frustrating. And to tell you the truth, I've spent more than 20 years looking for answers, dedicating my life to responding to my questions, and I probably could have spent the rest of my life asking the same things. Every moment is new. By necessity, it has to be. Unless you have an answer that envelops a dynamic reality, you'll always be asking questions.

I didn't want to ask questions this time, with my chaplain program. With this awesome opportunity God has opened up for me, I resolved early on that I did not want to waste this time asking questions. I didn't want to go just to prove that I could go. I didn't want to do just to show that I could do. I didn't want this time to make me stronger. I didn't want this time to answer me. I didn't want this time to heal me. I wasn't going to waste this time trying to make it work in me in some magical way.

For the first time in my life, I went...because I wanted to. Because I still want to. Because this is the thing that God has put on my heart to do, the place He has called me to be, a portion of the purpose with which He has endowed my life. There's not a day that goes by that I do not feel how blessed and holy this opportunity is - not because of what He's doing in me but because of what He's doing with me. Through me, if you want to say it that way. I don't walk into work in the mornings wondering what awesome new truth God is going to unfold on my life today; I walk in praying for what He will use me to unfold in others.

For the first time in my life, it's not about me.

Yet I am infused with purpose and joy, with comfort and confidence. I have a stillness in my spirit and a spring in my step that is undeniable. Without even asking, I'm finding my questions answered. And you know what? I kind of don't care. I'm just loving this. I'm not going to analyze it to death. But when you see me smile that simple little smile, you'll know I'm thinking about the awesomeness of my God. You can count on it.

All the questions in the world would have never gotten me to this place. All of the answers would not have brought me here. In fact, had I resolved to keep asking, I might have missed this altogether. But God is certainly here and here's what I think it is. I think it's that when you live life asking questions, you've always got your hands full. You're carrying your doubts, your fears, your insecurities. You're carrying your limited understanding, your hopelessness, your helplessness. When you decide for just a moment to stop asking, when you take one bold step of faith into the adventure of God, you drop it all for the chance with one empty hand to touch Him.

And that answers the question. Even when you've decided not to ask.

That...sets you free.

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