Most of you know me well enough by now to know I read waaaaaaaaay too many books to get all crazy over very many of them. I certainly don't believe everyone who can hold a pen should publish their thoughts on anything and find classic books very few and far between. In all the books I've ever read I have exactly 12 that are on my "don't give away and read over and over again shelf." I'm sure I've put the list somewhere on the blog in the past. Needless to say I think a lot of people can write a "story" about 2 people who fall in love and a few unforseen things happen and it ends happily ever after. Blech. It takes someone with a serious gift for the english language, a gift for stringing together thoughts that are both seemless and unexpected, and a gift in Christian writing particularly to accurately and God fearingly put pen to paper with a prayer that God's heart gets clearly expressed to those whose lives are influenced by your words. And when an author can do that with a powerful Biblical story, appropriate personal life applications and an obvious heart of humility-to me a great book is born.
That said-I absolutely fell in love The Magnificent Obsession by Anne Graham Lotz. It may be that it just fell into my lap at an amazingly opportune time, but I think it's more than that. The 2 people I've given it to have both called going on and on about it after only a few chapters. Yep, it's that good!
I so love the story of Abraham. I love that he was called away from everything. I love that he had to wait for a promise that didn't seem possible or probable. And I especially love when he got tired of waiting he seriously messed some things up. I'm not a big fan of waiting by nature. I tend to mess a lot of things up when God asks me to wait for just about anything.
Most of you know it wasn't exactly my life's dream to grow up, move to Valdosta, GA and live happily ever after. I still sometimes wake up in the morning and wonder how I got here. The day I graduated from college I told my friends in Lexington that I would see them in a few months. I fully intended to move back to Kentucky, work at Eastern State Psychiatric hospital and stay active in the church that I had loved and faithfully attended for 3 years. I love Kentucky and I fit so well into Lexington. Huge bookstores, great coffee shops, open space-it was my plan for me-but it wasn't God's.
I spent that summer at camp on staff and will never forget the day in July that I had to let the hospital know if I would take the position there. I was praying about it really more for pomp and circumstance then direction. I already knew what I was going to do and those prayers are EASY. Unless they become an answer you didn't expect. All I heard over and over and over and over again for a solid week in the depths of my soul was, "No."
Lord, I want to move to Lexington! "no."
I believe this is what you have for me! "no."
I already told everyone that's what I was doing! "no."
I'm staying at my church! "no."
Are you kidding me? "no."
It was miserable. MISERABLE! I spent the rest of the summer dreading the inevitable and having no clue what the inevitable might be! The summer came and went and I went to Georgia to visit some friends and to get away from the Lord honestly. Too bad I ran smack into Him!
I've loved the Lord most of my life. And I think loving Him is easy. I think trusting Him is another story. He's for sure, absolutely trustworthy, but in my humanity I desperately want to see where we're going. Anne Graham Lotz says "Abraham made the critical coice to embrace a God-filled life, a life of obedient faith, like a hammer striking steel, he made choice after choice after choice until he forged an intimate relationship with God that God acknowledged as a friendship. If you and I ever truly know God, it will not be an accident. It will be because we have pursued with focused intentionality."
I wish I could say I told the Lord I thought moving to the middle of nowhere where I knew 5 whole people, didn't have a job or a place to live or a church was just the best idea I'd ever heard of but let's just say I didn't! :) I did not like it. I did not want to. I was not happy. But something in my spirit knew even with all those human feelings circling about that this is where I was supposed to be. There were no signs saying, "you are here! God is happy you made it!" If anything ALL the signs pointed to, "You're making a huge mistake and ruining your life. Run away!!" And all I can say almost 8 years later is - it was God.
I so appreciated Anne Graham Lotz describing the journey with the Lord at times as step by step obedience alone in the same direction. Just a few weeks ago I told the Lord that I truly believed He had brought me here and I do, but for WHAT? I get so tired of the redundancy of my life especially lately. I just get tired period. And in those few weeks I was tired of hoping the Lord had something more interesting planned for this life. I was tired of wishing He'd just come down here for a few minutes and say, "I know your story-it gets better! This is just the title page-hold on!" I get bored REALLY easily and lately I'm living bored for some reason. One of my friends said the other day, "I think you're just bored with you." She's totally right because lately I haven't been great company! I'm not a person dead set on getting married to be happy, but just in general I get really bored living alone, eating alone, working alone, being alone, etc. I know marriage is not the answer to lonliness so don't send me e-mails-that's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying I understood why when Abraham was told to leave his people he didn't want to and when he was living in a tent in the middle of nowhere thinking all of God's promises were seemingly forgotten-I get it. I've felt like that a lot lately.
I think God was gracious to still fulfill his promises to Abraham even when Abraham tried to take matters into his own hands. I wonder if on his death bed Abraham had the regret of not trusting God in the process. I wonder if he wished he would have truly waited on God and loved him when the road seemed to be headed nowhere. I wonder if he wished he'd held onto hope just a little longer. I wonder if he felt like he had hurt God's heart by not trusting him.
And maybe that's why I love this book so much right now. After a long few years in a spiritual valley the past few months have brought God back to the forfront of my life. It's so good to be back in right relationship with Him, but it also is so reminding of the fact that I have no idea what he's doing. I love being back in church. Just this morning for the first time in almost 8 years I realized I didn't miss my church in Lexington. It sounds dumb to say I've missed it every Sunday for years, but I truly have. Given the option I would never have left that church or the people there that I considered family. But for some reason God took me from there. I don't know why and I suppose I don't have to.
I wish I had some great ending-that God did A, B, C, and D and it all fell into place and now we know why I'm here! I still have no idea. On really good spiritual days I'm holding onto hope that this is an important piece of the puzzle of my life. On not so good spiritual days I think I might have missed the Lord altogether. I don't know why God would bring me to a place that is away from my "people." Spiritually deserted does not even begin to describe the feelings of the past few years. I have wonderful spiritual support from very Godly people who have spoken wisdom and truth into my life with total love. People who would and have dropped everything to pray with me and for me. And they live forever away! I think God even lately has been establishing some positive spiritual support in my life, but it's hard not to just ache for the people who know you-really know you. People you don't have to start at the beginning with! I feel like Abraham might have felt like that - a lot.
And yet there is something so strong in me that truly wants to love God in the process. To trust him when my days seem insignificant, when my life seems to be headed nowhere, when my goals and heart's desires seem forgotten. I don't want to know him when this happens or that happens-I really want to know Him now. I've told some of you that I really believe lately God has been asking me, "What if you really believed I was enough for you?" I think I've decided that would change everything. If he was what we were pursuing and we were trusting the rest to Him we would never be the same.
And it has stuck in my heart as I've read this book twice and listened to it once-if we really want to know God it won't be on accident. Our lives are not on accident and our relationship with Him is not either. And we're not promised that all the pieces will fall into place and we'll understand it all before we take our final breath, but we are promised He is with us. He sees our obedience when no one else does. He cares when we hurt. He understands when we're lonely. He sees our hearts and knows even better than we do that they are dead set committed to him even when they falter. He knows the end from the beginning. He knew what Abraham was called to do, what he would do, what he wouldn't do and still called Him his friend. I want to be as committed to the Lord as He is to me. I want to get to the end of my life and be able to say, "Lord, I loved you when I knew what you were doing and I loved you when I didn't."
The Magnificent Obsession.