Sunday, August 25, 2013

Useless Escape

I am required to do two internships in order to graduate from college. Amazingly, one of the internships I am doing this semester is to start a writer's small group. In the gap between consummation and hatching, I am attempting to put into practice on my own what would be done during the small group. This implies reading and meditating upon specific scripture, allowing God to speak to me through it, and then enter the writing process as I encounter God. This is a wonderful thing to be doing; however, it is also extremely demanding. Mainly, because it requires all parts of my being: physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual. When one of these components is off, this glorious process can become quite laborious. This is exactly what I experienced yesterday.

First, you have to realize that I was a week behind. I had just finished talking with God about being loved--a conversation through which He completely swept me off my feet. And yet, my goal was to repeat the whole process (this time discussing importance) with only two days before my self-imposed deadline. This is not a wise thing to do. I highly doubt God is a fan of deadlines. God is not even bound by time. How can I expect Him to abide by my deadline? Yeah--I didn't really think that part though well.

But I tried anyway.

The passages given were Psalm 139 and Luke 15. Now, I am well acquainted with  Psalm 139; but not in the this-psalm-breathes-life-into-my-soul-every-time-I-read-it-which-is-very-often way. Rather, I am acquainted with it in the I-know-what-is-in-this-psalm-because-people-always-direct-me-to-it-when-I-am-a-mess-but-I-can't-relate-to-or-believe-any-of-it way. So, needless to say, after reading through the psalm once, I moved immediately on to Luke 15.

The majority of Luke 15 is dedicated to the parable of the prodigal son. It is a parable I am very familiar with, especially when "You Are the Older Son" hit the top sermon charts a few years ago. Furthermore, the theme of the younger versus the older son had recently resurfaced in my life. So I decided to jump into Luke 15.

However, the process was not as easy as I was hoping it would be. I felt like I was forcing the process--which I was. I will include what little progress I made:

“What did he say again?” God asked, He was stroking His beard.
Stereotypical, I thought, biting my finger nail. I glanced at Him over my hand. “He said, ‘Perhaps you are the older brother.’”
“Ahhh,” God replied, nodding His head with understanding. “And what do you think he meant by that?”
I turned my head away and rolled my eyes. “Probably that I have had access to You all this time, and yet I never ask You for anything.”
“Why not?”
“Geez!” I exploded. “You sound just like him! And her!”
“Well, what do you expect?” God shot back.
“Maybe to actually have a decent conversation with You. To not be treated like a child who knows nothing!”
The contrasting decibel of God’s response magnified my preceding outburst: “Well, you’re not exactly acting as an adult.”
I took my finger out of my mouth and gaped at Him. “What do You mean?” I asked. The genuine nervousness in my voice startled me. I don’t think I want to know His answer.
“Jaime, you are sitting there complaining and whining; thinking about Me stroking My beard; accusing Me of being your counselor—which, by the way, is one of the sacred roles of My Spirit. And this is not even to mention that you had your finger in your mouth.”
“I was biting my nails,” I mumbled.
God didn’t hesitate: “Why are you avoiding what you really want to talk about? Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. You desire and do not have, so you murder—”
               “I haven’t killed anyone recently,” I murmured under my breath.
“Jaime!” God snapped.
I opened my mouth to say some pithy remark, but any thoughts dissolved when I saw God’s face. I let Him continue: “You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
My passions?! I challenged in my head.
              “Don’t bother, Jaime. I can hear your thoughts anyway.”
               I gave God my best glare. He didn’t appreciate it. “Jaime, you are not even listening to Me!”
               “Yes, I am. That is exactly why I think I am the older brother. I have access to everything that you have, and yet I don’t even ask. I don’t ask because I don’t trust You!”
              I lifted my head to look at God. He was resting His chin on a closed fist, watching me. “Yes, we are back to that aren’t we?”
             I nodded solemnly. “Yes. But I don’t understand why. Because I’ve done the prodigal son path, too. That was what my whole struggle with anorexia was.”
            “I am not so sure of that,” God cut in.
            “What do you mean?”
            “The prodigal son asked for his inheritance and then left Me. But you were never near enough to Me to even ask for your inheritance. Therefore, you simply could not have been the younger son.”
            I let my jaw give way to gravity. "I've never thought about it that way."

As you can see, God still got though to me, but I fought against Him and my responsiveness was mud. I was quite agitated while writing this. So much so, that after I reached this point I stopped working on everything. My mind and my emotions were shot. I tried talking with a confidante. I tried walking. I tried sleeping. I tried chatting with friends. I tried eating. When I finally tried praying--God broke through.

God: Jaime, you're not letting Me in.
Me: Why would I when I am in this state?

I don't know whether it was me or God; but one of us finally identified the state I was in. I feel alone. The realization caught me off guard. I had been fine all summer, and nothing had changed from the week before (which was still technically "summer"). So I didn't understand where this was coming from. And yet this feeling of loneliness was undeniably true--its intensity pulsed through me. Being back at school had to have some role to play in this. I just wasn't sure what it was yet. I didn't have the answer, so I simply packed my bags and went home--shoving the feeling away.

Fast-forward to this morning. This was today's entry in Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence
"I am all around you, hovering over you even as you seek My Face. I am nearer than you dare believe, closer than the air you breathe. If My children could only recognize My Presence, they would never feel lonely again. I know every thought before you think it, every word before you speak it. My Presence impinges on your innermost being. Can you see the absurdity of trying to hide anything from Me? You can easily deceive other people, and even yourself; but I read you like an open, large-print book. 
Deep within themselves, most people have some awareness of My imminent Presence. Many people run from Me and vehemently deny My existence, because My closeness terrifies them. But My own children have nothing to fear, for I have cleansed them by My blood and clothed them in My righteousness. Be blessed by My intimate nearness. Since I live in you, let Me also live through you, shining My Light into the darkness."

All I could think: Psalm 139. And of course, the suggested reading was that same psalm. 

God is telling me something here. He is telling me something about my loneliness. And He is telling me not to avoid Psalm 139--there is something in there He wants to show me. 

Psalm 139

"O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, 
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,'
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain!
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!"


  1. Jaime,
    You are so honest in your blogs, and I appreciate that. I love your line, "When I finally tried praying-God broke through." He really is the only one who can change us. But change is scary and hard. You will do great as a small group leader! I will pray it goes well!

    1. Thank you so much, Andrew--for your encouragement and for your prayers!

  2. I like that your internship is essentially writing for the writer; The writer working out questions/challenges/God/relationships in their own life by writing about them. All good.