Over time, I have become aware of certain characteristic signs of God’s presence. There are familiar ways that God touches and leads me. I find the Lord in an unexpected sense of awe and wonder. He is present in love for others, even enemies; a love that flows through me, but which is not mine. The Spirit makes its presence known through inward nudges, calling me to do things that scare me or that go against the grain. As my relationship with Jesus has deepened, I have come to recognize his voice. He has a certain way of doing things.
Recently, I have become particularly conscious of the ways in which Jesus calls me into places that make me feel out of control. I find that Jesus does not want me simply to believe things about him, or even to superficially accept his leadership in my life. He wants me to trust him completely. In practical terms, this means letting go of anything that gives me the illusion of control – whether over the world, other people, or even my own life. His will, presence and love must increase, and my own willfulness must give way.(1)
God gives me all sorts of opportunities to lose control. In recent months, God has shaken up my life in so many ways. My living situation and sense of place have undergone a radical shift. My call to ministry has been turned inside out and given new shape. My livelihood is in transition. Not to mention the out of control feeling that comes with having my time, energy and sense of identity is split between two different churches.
Who am I, after all? What is my role? Where do I fit in? Just keep your eyes on me, says Jesus. You are my beloved friend, and your role is to do whatsoever I command you.(2)
This is the hardest thing he could ask of me. The truth is, my eyes dart in all directions, and my ambition is to do all sorts of things – and not necessarily the specific things that God created me to accomplish. Rather than place all my trust in God, it feels less scary to try to impose my own sense of order on life.
But this false order cannot hold. A self-willed life is a constant race to keep a lid on the true depth and complexity of existence. I cannot hold the anxiety and doubt at bay without twisting my own spirit in the process. The truth about this life is far too mysterious and wonderful for me. I need Jesus to guide me through it.
1. I am reminded of the words of John the Baptist in John 3:30.
2. See John 15:14