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Reconstructing Faith In Ephesians

Reconstructing Faith In Ephesians

I am in a season of deconstruction.”

It is likely that you have either read, heard, or said these words in recent months. The deconstructing of faith is a popular practice these days. But what is it exactly? For some it is an opportunity to live their authentic life free of all moral and religious authority. For others it is a sincere attempt to determine if their faith has been formed by the words of Christ or by cultural ideologies. Regardless of the motivation, it is clear that we are in serious need of reconstructing faith. 

 

Deconstructing Faith

With that said, it is important to ask ourselves what it is precisely that we are deconstructing. And perhaps even more importantly, why we want to deconstruct these beliefs and ideas in the first place. It is absolutely healthy and even wise to deconstruct a belief or set of beliefs, especially if those beliefs are toxic, heretical, harmful, and downright false. As long as the motivation and desire is to pursue, understand, and embrace truth, then there is a goodness to the work of reevaluating, revisiting, and even reconsidering what we believe and why we believe it. But if our aim is to deconstruct for the purposes of liberating ourselves to live free of any and all authorities, then we are clearly not interested in remaining yoked to Jesus.

Thabiti Anyabwile makes the distinction between deconstruction and demolition. It is absolutely possible and often necessary for someone to pursue the work of deconstructing their faith with the aim of reconstructing a true, unadulterated, and biblical faith. When the goal of deconstructing faith is to properly and purely pursue Jesus for who he truly is, then it can be a beautiful and sanctifying process. Deconstruction for the sake of demolition is an entirely different story. In order to discern the difference we need to be clear on the intended direction that our deconstruction is taking us. Listen to how Anyabwile puts it.

As I watch the conversation, it seems to me a crisis of confidence often travels with deconstruction. Some boast about this; they see their deconstruction as a commitment to ambiguity, not knowing, taking a journey being guided mainly by questions or doubts. I don’t think such boasting is healthy. As G. K. Chesterton once observed, “The purpose of having an open mind, like an open mouth, is to close it onto something solid.” But others who are deconstructing have a more specific destination in mind. They can identify the particular issue(s) that need re-examination in light of scripture, history, practice, etc. I’d suggest specificity actually helps with knowing whether you’re making spiritual progress toward anything healthy or toward anything at all. 

 

A Better and More Faithful Approach

During a time when many people are deconstructing their faith with the goal of deconverting from their faith, we need to implement a better and more faithful approach. We do not need to throw out the deconstruction baby with the deconversion bathwater. So what do we need in order to properly deconstruct and reconstruct our faith? We need a solid foundation to build from. And that foundation is the cornerstone of the Lord Jesus.

The apostle Paul penned these words to the church at Ephesus who were themselves being compelled and coerced to compromise their faith by capitulating to the pervasive pagan culture around them.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,  Ephesians 2:19–20

 

Reconstructing Faith

It is this foundation that we need to return to and reconstruct our faith upon. This is precisely what we plan to do together in our sermon series Reconstructing Faith as we explore the foundations of the Christian faith through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Whether you have been following Jesus for years or you’re ready to call it quits, we want to begin reconstructing our faith together. 

The Gospel According to Twenty One Pilots

The Gospel According to Twenty One Pilots

At the end of each concert, the two frontmen of the musical group Twenty One Pilots stand together on the stage, put their arms around each other, and smile at their fans as the cheers rise. Throughout the crowd, people lift signs with “Thank You” written on them. After a while the lead singer lifts the mic and gives them his parting words: “We’re Twenty One Pilots, and so are you.” As the duo walks off, the crowd continues shouting out their thanks for their music, performance, and, for many, their witness.

Yes, witness. Witness to what? What are the crowds gathering at these shows so grateful for

I believe the reason the fans of Twenty One Pilots are so profoundly impacted by their music is because through it, whether we realize it or not, we are getting a glimpse of, even becoming participants in, the good news of Jesus Christ. 

 

The Art of Our Everyday Work

I need only one song to show you an example of how this duo embeds the gospel into their artwork. They become a witness and a guide for us as we embed the gospel into our “artwork,” that is, the art of our everyday work.

“Trees” is the song Twenty One Pilots always performs to end their shows. Its basic flow traces the dialogue between God and a man who is hiding in the trees, silent and afraid in the face of his impending death. And yet God comes after him, initiating a conversation and showing his heart’s desire to be with him. 

Clearly, this recalls the aftermath of human rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden, giving voice to the interchange of Genesis 3:8-9. Adam and Eve stood naked and afraid, hiding from God amidst the trees, and yet he came after them. He called them out of hiding and invited them to be known, even in their sin. 

What the song does next is repeat this scenario by repeating the same set of three verses, but building to a much bigger finish. This gives the sense that the same dialogue between God and a man happens again, but with a different outcome. 

And indeed, this is what the good news proclaims! Jesus takes on our shame and faces his impending death, fearful and exposed before his Father as he sweats blood amidst the trees in the garden of Gethsemane, pleading for the cup of the cross to pass from him (Luke 22:42). But this man, the last Adam, remains obedient to the end (1 Corinthians 15:45, Philippians 2:8). He gives himself up to make our death his own, crying out while he stands nailed upright on one tree amidst others, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). This is echoed in the lyrics from “Trees”: “Why won’t you speak, where I happen to be?… Silent in the trees, standing cowardly.” 

 

God’s Heart Cry

Then, the climactic refrain at the end of the song invites a response: “I want to know you, I want to see, I want to say, Hello.” This is God’s heart cry. God came in the flesh to be with us, which is what he has been after since the beginning. He’s always initiating, starting a conversation with us. Not from afar, but here, where we are, in the midst of our sin and shame and death, even taking it all upon himself. Then he rose from the grave to new life and Mary saw him standing amidst the trees, mistaking him for the gardener, and he called out to her (John 20:15-16). The cross and the resurrection are God’s song of invitation to know a love stronger than death. 

So when a slight, dark-haired man stands in front of a stadium full of thousands at the end of a show, he sings out the refrain of that invitation: “Hello.” He repeats it throughout the song, bending over his microphone while his friend sits behind him hammering away at his drum set. Then the hellos stop, and after another chorus and some intervening “la la las,” the beat stops. A synth interlude rolls over the crowd. They’re anticipating. Waiting. They know what’s coming. As the two men make their way down from the stage, the security workers in the front lift two large tom drums on either side of the audience from the orchestra pit. A small platform comes next, one beside each of them. Then the spectators become participants. Drumsticks in hand, the two men climb onto the platforms, held up by the people who have spent the last 2 hours singing their guts out along with them. And then it comes.

Confetti drops like a snowstorm from the ceiling as the two men pound their drums in unison. In between beats (buh buh – pause – buda buh buh buh – pause) they point their sticks out to their “Skeleton Clique” (their fan club). And the clique responds, as if coming to life. The crowd shouts a resounding “Hey!” each time, responding to the invitation sung from the stage just moments before. When the music stops, the duo gets back on the stage and says goodbye.

An Invitation to Participate

This is how Twenty One Pilots ends their show, every time. If you’re curious, you can WATCH a recording. They have designed their music and performances with an invitation for fan participation. If my interpretation is right, they have written their music to be sung out so that the singers become participants in the gospel narrative hidden in its folds. This is what Twenty One Pilots has made with their artwork. They’ve not written “Christian music,” but music that nonetheless points to Christ in story-form. 

What about the artwork of our own lives? Have we received the message that we have to make “Christian art” or do “Christian work” to be impactful in God’s Kingdom? With the apostle Paul I say, “By no means!” (Romans 7:13). 

In your home or at work, with your spreadsheets, with your meetings, with your budgets, with your coworkers, with your friendships, with your relationships, with your sexuality, with your (dare I say it) politics, with your grief, with your depression, with your trauma, with every particularity that makes up your particular story…what would it look like to embed the gospel story into your own story? Every single facet of our story can become a witness and invitation for others to participate in God’s Story. 

But we have to know our story to do this. And the best way, indeed the only way to fully know ourselves is to know the God who knows us. We have to let God in, and respond to his invitation. We need to yell “Hey” when he sings “Hello.” The deep desire of his heart is for us to know him even as we have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12). 

 

Reflect on Your Own Story

So reflect on your own story. Write it, draw it, yell it, sing it, dance it, however the Spirit leads. Then invite others to listen to your story. Allow yourself to be known before God as two or three gather around to bear witness to the work of God in your life (Matthew 18:20). In doing so you offer up your story as a prayer, giving voice to the silent dialogues between your heart and God’s, thus training the ears of your heart to recognize your Shepherd’s voice (John 10:3).  

If you’re convinced, come with me and follow the path that Twenty One Pilots have laid, to imitate their artwork as they seem to be imitating Christ’s (1 Corinthians 11:1). Jesus himself told stories and lived a life that perplexed most, but for those who have ears to hear, he has spoken and lived the very words of life (Mark 4:9-13, Luke 8:8-10, John 6:60-69). Let’s participate in his life, and through our lives invite others to do the same. 

A Prayer for a New Home

A Prayer for a New Home

A few months ago I received a unique and exciting pastoral request. A young couple, Luis and Marineya of our Downtown Campus, purchased a house, and they wanted a pastor to pray for God’s blessing over their new home. Marineya is from Bolivia and explained it is typical in her culture to invite one’s faith community and spiritual leaders to do this when moving into a new house. She said this can “be a way for us to dedicate our house to God in service in front of our church community since all we have is his and not ours.”

 

I was intrigued by this idea, having never heard of someone doing something like this. Also, I was deeply honored to be asked. So one Saturday evening, their community group, some other church friends, and I huddled together in their home to pray for God’s blessing over their journey there. We used a prayer liturgy adapted from Every Moment Holy, had a time for people to pray specifically for Marineya and Luis, toasted to their new home, and then continued the celebration with food and drinks. 

 

Whole Life Discipleship

 

For me, this experience so beautifully embodied the kind of whole life discipleship we talk about so often. Jesus is Lord over every area of our life and deeply cares for the spaces where we live, work, and play. We should intentionally find ways to remind ourselves of that reality. We spend much of our lives in our homes, and it is important to mark those key transitions with a focus toward God and his vision for them. I am grateful for Marineya and Luis’ initiative to invite their church community and me into this practice. 

 

Below you will find the adapted liturgy we used that evening. I encourage you to consider using this liturgy or something like it the next time you or a friend move into a new house or apartment! Gather others from your spiritual community and prayerfully and intentionally celebrate God’s blessing in the provision of a new home. Also, take some time to peruse the Every Moment Holy website and consider purchasing one of their prayer books. There are so many moments throughout our daily lives where we can intentionally remind ourselves of God’s presence in them. 

 

A Liturgy for Moving Into a New Home

– adapted from Every Moment Holy*

 

Leader: We thank you for _________’s new home, O Lord, for the shelter it will provide, for the moments of life that will be shared within it.

People: We thank you for this new home and we welcome you here.

 

Dwell with them in this place, O Lord

Dwell among them in these spaces, in these rooms.

Be present at this table as family and friends eat together.

Be present as they rise in the morning and lie down at night.

Be present in the work here. Be present in play.

 

May your Spirit inhabit this home, making of it a sanctuary where hearts and lives are knit together.

Where bonds of love are strengthened, where mercy is learned and practiced.

 

May this home be a harbor of anchorage and refuge,

And a haven from which they journey forth to do your work in the world. 

May it be a garden of nourishment in which their roots go deep

That they might bear fruit for the nourishing of others.

 

May this new home be a place of knowing and of being known.

A place of shared tears and laughter;

A place where forgiveness is easily asked and granted,

And wounds are quickly healed;

A place of meaningful conversation, of words not left unsaid;

A place of joining, of becoming, of creating, and reflecting;

A place where diverse gifts are named and appreciated;

Where they learn to serve one another

And to serve their neighbors as well;

A place where their stories are forever twined by true affections.

 

Grant also, O Lord, that their days lived gratefully within these temporary walls, enjoying these momentary fellowships, would serve to awaken within them a restless longing for their truer home. Incline all our hearts ever toward the glories

Of that better city, built by you, O God, a city whose blessings are never ending, and whose fellowships are eternally unbroken.

 

Amen.

 

*The original prayer was written for a family to pray together when moving into a new home, so I shifted the language so that it made sense for the broader faith community to pray over a family as they move into a new home.

Afflicted, But Not Crushed

Afflicted, But Not Crushed

I am weak and weary. In the last two months, we almost had a house fire, sickness, grief on both sides of extended family, weird medical issues, multiple unexpected bills, no AC during the May heatwave…I think that’s the complete list! The last two months have been rough. Well, the last 13 months have been rough. Okay, actually the last two years and three months have been rough.

I know I’m not alone in feeling that it’s been a tough season. This is a theme for many of us. Since COVID turned the world upside down, anything else on top of that feels heavier. Then there’s the awful turmoil in the world, the shootings, the accidents, and the unending heartaches that remind us that our world is broken.

We will have troubles in this world, and Jesus himself reminds us of that truth in John 16:33. As followers of Christ we are not promised protection from loss, death, or crushed dreams. We will feel sadness and grief. We will feel the weight of the unknowns. We look forward to heaven when everything sad will come untrue and pray with great desire “Come, Lord Jesus.”

But what about today when the weight of it all is so very heavy?

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 offers beautiful hope for us when we feel like we have nothing left. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

There are many pieces of good news here! Let’s break it down:

1) The treasure is Jesus and his power, not me or my abilities. Imagine a clay jar with a little candle inside. Put the lid on, and that light is dimmed. Now imagine there is a crack in that clay jar. Even when you put the lid on, the light shines brightly through that crack. That is me … an imperfect, broken clay jar. It is his power that does anything good in me and through me, not because of anything I do. When I am at my weakest, his power shines through the broken vessel that I am.

2) We are afflicted, perplexed (oh my goodness, yes), persecuted, struck down … but NOT crushed, driven to despair, forsaken, or destroyed. Wow! I am so much more hopeful when I live in the tension that we will have hardships, but it won’t take all from us. What is our all? Well, that leads to another point in this little passage.

3) We carry with us the death of Jesus, SO THAT the life of Jesus may also be manifested in us! Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection is our hope in life and death. Every day we can live as free sons and daughters because of what he did for us, and absolutely no one can take that away. And WE are doing this together! As a family of believers, we come alongside and cheer one another on to live for Christ. We support one another when life is joyous and when life is rough. We are the body of Christ and we carry these burdens together (Galatians 6:2).

How do we get rooted (and stay rooted) in Christ? First, we cling to Jesus. Read the Bible (ask a pastor or community group leader how to do this!) and pray daily. Second, say yes to being part of a community of believers. Do this by committing to going to church weekly and get into a Bible study or community group. No one is meant to follow Christ alone!

My last suggestion is one that I learned from my sweet Grandpa. Pray that the Lord would give you a verse or a song in your heart each day. Especially in moments when we are weak we need to repeat truths to ourselves. Pray back the Scripture to the Lord or sing the song to him. Proclaim it! Some excellent verses to start with are Psalm 62:5-6, 1 Corinthians 15:58, and Romans 8:28-29, and, of course, 2 Corinthians 4:7-10. Keep the verse close by writing it on an index card and keep it in your back pocket throughout the day. And some favorite hymns are “I Need Thee Every Hour,” “My Jesus, I Love Thee,” and “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.”

This world will try to take our joy and our hope, and it will if we are not rooted in Christ and allow him to be our only hope. So, my dear brothers and sisters, let’s give our weak and tired selves to the One who offers life, and allow his light to shine through. Without him we will be crushed. With him, we have hope!

Where Does It Come From?

Where Does It Come From?

Behind every product is a person. Behind every purchase, every consumable, every dish and drink, garment and gas tank, car and cell phone — behind everything we use and abuse and cherish — is a person who made it. A person just like you.

 

But, where does it come from?

I certainly didn’t care about this question for most of my adult life, mostly because I didn’t think about it. That started to change when I got to Kansas City in 2019 and found that everything’s about supporting local business! 

 

Then my world was blown open when I became a small business owner of a coffee company. 

 

Now my first question became: where does my coffee come from?

A couple of friends approached me about becoming entrepreneurs. We tried a bunch of things — exercise programs, creative services, website design — but our constantly evolving mission statement kept coming back to the same thing: we wanted to help people. Whether it was solving a problem or growing a brand, we felt we had a skill set that could benefit others. 

 

Then we started talking with Ervin Liz. He took entrepreneurship classes with my business partner back in college and then went back to his home in Colombia, South America to start a coffee business. 

 

Ervin had seen first hand the poverty of Indigenous coffee farmers and the brokenness of the coffee industry. His parents are farmers, and they were forced to cut down their coffee trees in 2010 because they could not make ends meet. In fact, many in their native Nasa community struggle with this burden due to unfair coffee prices and large coffee producers. So, Ervin built a business selling directly to the consumers in Colombia. By taking out the “middleman” and providing fair prices for high-quality coffee, he was able to pay farmers more.

 

Ervin ultimately had a growing demand from US consumers, and he needed help expanding. We suggested doing some marketing, but instead he invited us on as owners — people with a real stake in this thing, and Native Root Coffee was born. Plus, the coffee was really good, so we couldn’t say no.

The Triple Bottom Line 

In 1994 entrepreneur John Elkington coined the term “triple bottom line,” which stands for people, planet, and profit.

What he may not have realized at the time is that valuing people, planet, and profit actually aligns really well with our faith. 

 

People

As creatures made in God’s image and charged with His creation, we have incredible worth and responsibility — not only to our own bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) but also to others, especially the vulnerable (Matthew 25:44-45). Businesses have power through money and influence, and it’s a decision maker’s responsibility to do right by humanity.  

 

Planet

God made humankind stewards of the earth (Genesis 1:28) but everyone and everything in the universe still belongs to Him (Psalm 24:1). Just as we are made in God’s image, His creation clearly bears His signature (Romans 1:20) and it should be honored in kind.

 

Profit

While the Bible says a lot about money and greed, it also makes it clear that those who sow bountifully will also reap bountifully (2 Corinthians 9:6) — it all depends on what you sow. The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) describes investing God’s gifts as a way to create greater things. If a business uses profits to invest in people and the planet, it sows goodness. 

 

Meeting the people behind the coffee

So, where does our coffee come from? Before Native Root, I thought I was fancy by buying the imported German coffee at Aldi for $5, as opposed to the breakfast blend for $3. But the focus was inward — I wanted yummy coffee for myself; that’s it.

Then, Ervin invited us to meet the farmers — first through photos, and then in person.

Our team made the trek to the Togoima Reservation in Colombia, which is about 10 hours south of Bogotá by overnight bus. We got to experience the farm and meet the people first hand. Ervin’s parents, Ana and Isidro, greeted us with limited words — because they spoke the native language Nasa Yuwe — but with unlimited hospitality. 

I have so many stories about our visit that I’d love to share with you if we meet in person. When we left Colombia, we could not stop thinking about the people we’d met — how they interacted with their environment, the hospitality they exuded, and the ways we hoped to help them. 

 

Native Root + the Triple Bottom Line 

 
Profit: 

First and foremost, we pay our farmers. They work the hardest, they produce the coffee, and yet so often they can’t make enough money to live on. Our model pays them higher prices for high-quality beans, and then an additional 10-15% more. Ervin’s parents had to chop down most of their coffee trees because they couldn’t make a living. Now, his parents are thriving — they’ve nearly finished a new house with processing capabilities.

 

People: 

This business model was built with people in mind. When unfair trade is the basic business model, entire communities suffer. These Indigenous farmers are vulnerable to dips in the market, big middlemen who swallow profit, and a lack of resources for major infrastructural improvements. In many ways their community is their strength. Native Root pours into this community with both relationships and resources. We get to know each of our partnered farmers. Our founder Ervin, along with our Colombia CEO, Alcides, physically meet with each farmer to instill intentionality and dignity across the mountain communities. Some of the funds are also used to build up members of our network. Our company raised funds to build an elderly woman a home after her kids left. We also formed relationships with farmers in a nearby reservation who have historically encountered poor access and political turmoil. It’s our goal and our dream to continue building relationships and pouring into more Indigenous communities.

 

Planet: 

Coffee prices shot through the roof recently due to a bean shortage in Brazil. Unusual and extreme weather decimated their coffee crop. The earth’s wellbeing is vital, both for the grand scale of humanity, and for the micro scale of our coffee farms. That’s why we employ sustainable and organic practices. For example, when the seeds are extracted from the cherry, the fruit pulp is reused as a natural fertilizer. The parchment, which is the thin, papery coating around the bean, is usually considered another “waste” product. We use it as fuel for bean drying machinery. Finally, we use a software program to counter our shipping carbon emissions. Shipping is calculated as a monetary number, which is then paid toward conservation efforts. Our contributions of this effort are set up for the Acapa – Bajo Mira y Frontera Forest Conservation Project in Colombia.

 

So, where does your coffee come from? 

Take a deep breath. It’d be nearly impossible to know who made each and every product you use — and less so the motives behind their actions. You’re not a bad person if you don’t know the person behind your soap dispenser (but now I’m curious).

My goal is to increase intentionality. To increase awareness of the products I interact with daily, like my morning coffee. 

Where does it come from? Ask, and find out.

AUTHOR BIO:

Travis Meier attends Christ Community’s Downtown Campus. On Sundays you can usually find him playing bass on the worship team with Aleah Eldridge or sitting with his fiancee, Sarah. He also writes for a local publication called KCtoday, and plays the saxophone in a community band called the Kansas City Wind Symphony.

 

For more information about Native Root you can visit nativerootcoffee.com

 

The Holy Spirit Points Me Back, Even When I’ve Lost My Way

The Holy Spirit Points Me Back, Even When I’ve Lost My Way

I’m a runaway. When I accepted Christ at the age of thirteen, I recall the pastor celebrating my decision and describing its impact on my life. He spoke of how my heart would long to hear from God. The pastor told me that I would seek God in the Scriptures and that my kindness, forgiveness, and thoughtfulness would reflect Jesus. The pastor’s words should have given me confidence and hope about my relationship with God.

 

However, his words fueled me to fear disappointing God and meeting His expectations. I was not trained in spiritual disciplines, and my faith was immature. Sunday school stories made God feel angry and judgmental to me. As I entered the baptism waters before our congregation, I tried to put all of my worry behind me and clung to the promises the pastor described. I had barely made it through the car ride home after church when bickering and frustration with my siblings bubbled into anger that burst from me. Immediately, I was so full of shame and grief over not pleasing Jesus that I ran away. Ran away from my family. Ran away from God. Ran away from believing there was anyone who could guide me. 

 

This was the first of many times I would run away from my faith because I felt alone, lost without understanding spiritual disciplines, and lacking guidance to draw me home to the Father.

 

The twist and turns of the human heart are filled with our ancestors’ amnesia for forgetting our God knows our hearts and paths. His plan is for the Spirit to help us, intercede for us, and bring us back to the Father.

 

Never Alone

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.” John 14:16

 

We are never alone. The world applauds autonomy, but God designed us for dependence. Maturing followers of Christ must be aware of modeling dependence on God when we put on display seeking God with the Spirit in prayer, the study of Scriptures, handling our emotions around disappointments, or supporting others. We can counter the world’s celebration of being self-reliant and independent, where Satan can stir up glory in our minds and greed in our hearts. 

 

Jesus knew his apostles and followers were anxious to be left alone. So he spoke the words of John 14:16 as a promise that through the Spirit, we have a helper and guide on God’s narrow path.

 

Word Warrior

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26

 

When we lose our way, we can also lose the words to describe what is occurring in our hearts and minds. Romans 8 is a powerful reminder that the Spirit intercedes where our words and emotions fail. We can find it hard to process our feelings and frustrations into words. The Spirit takes the raw groanings of our hearts and emotions and communicates to God on our behalf. I’ve learned to create stillness before God by repeating aloud, “Be still and know I am God.” I focus on my breathing and drop one word from the phrase each time I repeat it until only the word “Be” is left. Then I sit and let the Spirit comfort and speak to me.

 

Abba Father

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6

 

The Spirit leads us to move toward God, our perfect Father. We know we have arrived at the destination at the end of most paths because there will be a home, park, marker, or person who lets you know you made it.  

 

The first time I ran away, I recall crying so hard that sobs caught in my throat. Words couldn’t escape, and my mind raced with distorted thoughts of being unlovable, unseen, and unworthy. I was messy, dusty, tear-stained, and worn out from imagining God’s disappointment when I knocked on the door of the house at the end of the road. 

 

The Spirit never left me in my sadness. Instead, it directed my feet to a path that my mind didn’t recognize until the door opened. Blinded by the sun and eyes almost swollen shut from crying, I was welcomed inside, invited to sit, and given a cup of water to refresh me. A cool washcloth softly wiped away my tears as my grandma whispered, “Child, you have walked a long way.” My grandma comforted me, listened to me, and prayed for me in the minutes that followed. Then, I was surprised as my mother came through the door with a suitcase and sat in the chair across from me. I could not have anticipated what happened next.

 

She laid the suitcase down, opened the locks, and revealed clothing packed for her and me. She knelt before me and took my hand, saying, “Wherever you go, I go too. I have been searching for you and love you. We can continue on this path together or go home.” 

 

Home. The work of the Spirit can feel so mysterious, but reflecting on this memory, I see the beauty of God in the person of the Spirit. A faith journey toward God is through the power of the Spirit, who is always with me. The Helper guides me toward God, whether the path is through valleys or on mountain peaks. And Abba Father receives the prodigal wanderer at the end of the journey.