I’ve been waiting to write, but there’s so much to write about the task seemed – and still seems – daunting. I’m going to jump into it and see where the spirit leads me!
Following the Wild Goose
John Eldredge, in Wild at Heart (a life-changing, must-read for men, in my opinion), said that the ancient Scotts called the Holy Spirit the Wild Goose. The life of the heart, i.e. the life of following the Holy Spirit’s movings in one’s soul; is a risky, sometimes messy, unpredictable and unexpected one. The head is neat and logical. The heart is mysterious and deep. Eldredge posits that conversational intimacy with God is normative in scripture and is the birthright of His children; we can and should converse with Him, and it really can be a two-way conversation. As our intimacy with Him grows, we can and often do hear His voice. This is often in the form of an inner voice, heard most clearly when we get quiet with Him.
It wouldn’t have been too awful long ago that I would have disagreed – strongly. Then about a year and a half ago I had an experience so profound – and utterly unexplainable outside of the direct, active grace of God – that everything I thought I knew was turned on its head. So now I frequently listen for, and with reasonable regularity “hear” the voice of God. Am I always sure it’s God speaking to me (i.e. not myself or “the enemy”)? No. But the more deeply I get to know my “false self”, the better I’m able to discern the voice of God. This is my experience.
Now to the point all this. Other than Natalie and John’s wedding, we’ve got an “open” itinerary. we’re going where we want, where the spirit leads us on. Some time ago, while in France, my wife listed a number of places she’d like to visit, among them Le Barroux, and asked my opinion. I got quiet, and asked God. I heard immediately “go to Le Barroux”. In fact, I heard it so quickly (almost before I was done asking the question), that I doubted it was God’s voice, so I asked again. I heard “go to Le Barroux”. OK, Lord. So I told Michelle, “I think we should go to Le Barroux”, and she said “fine”. But then a week or so later, we were hours East of Le Barroux in Dinge-les-baines, and the logical destination was Nice and Monoco (on the way to Italy, our next stop). In the morning we had a family meeting to discuss this predicament. After lively discussion, in the spirit of hearing from God, we prayed as a family and asked God where we should go. We got as quiet as a family of 6 with little girls can get (too some tries, than we finally agreed on a timer set for one minute), and asked. I immediately heard “go to Le Barroux” – again. This time, so did Therese! None of the other family members heard anything worth mentioning. So we discussed it. On the one hand, the word from God was “go”. On the other hand, reversing our geographical progress by going hours in the wrong direction made no sense at all. Everyone was eager to get to the ocean. In the end, we decided that we would not go to Le Barroux – a diversion that made no sense – and instead head to Nice – the logical choice. So off we went.
I drove, we joked, the girls chattered… but I could get no peace. I kept going over in my head what it meant to hear (or believe I heard) God’s voice and not follow it. I mean, did I really know it was God’s voice? No. But then it was not like I wanted to go. In fact, I didn’t really want to Le Barroux, but I had still heard “go to Le Barroux”. Heck, I had even tried to hear “don’t go to Le Barroux”, but it felt faky, not like God’s voice. And what if it was God’s voice and he did want us to go to Le Baroux, but we didn’t? Can’t He write straight with crooked lines? Couldn’t He bless our trip anyway? Or would He curse it (I’m not saying I think He curses, just describing what was going on in my head)? What if there’s some disaster awaiting us if we drive on, and He was saving us from it by directing us to Le Barroux? What if there was some amazing epiphany awaiting me or some member of my family? But, most importantly, what does it mean that I think two of our family heard God’s direction clearly but we’re disregarding His direction? What does it mean for me, in the beginnings of this deeper level of trusting His direction, and what does it mean as an example for my family that we could hear the Lord’s voice but do the opposite? No, it didn’t feel right. I could remain silent no longer. I confessed to my car full of women what was going on inside of me. I was delighted to find that everyone agreed that if I was hearing “go to Le Barroux”, we should go to Le Barroux! So we turned the car around and went to Le Barroux. And it was amazing.
What happened in Le Barroux is well worth posting about, but I don’t want to do it in this post. I’m not feelin’ it. For the last couple of days I’ve been feeling peaceful, but not deep or inspired. My mind and soul have been calm, prayer has been pleasant, but I see now, even as I write this, that although I’ve been saying the words “Lord, I give you my heart, I invite you into all parts of me, my heart, mind, body, soul, spirit, my will, my decisions, this trip, my life…”, nonetheless I’ve been keeping Him at an arms-length in some subtle way. Not that I don’t want Him in my heart. I think (nay hope) it’s a calm before the storm. The heart of a person is deep water indeed. He’s already taken me to depths I didn’t even know existed, and healed me and loved me there. The joy of that healing and love has been so intense that I never wanted it to stop. I kept wanting Him to go deeper and deeper, illuminating my entire being, which at times feels infinitely deep itself.