What God is doing in our midst?
It always comes back to the heart; everything happening in the world is just another opportunity for God to work in our hearts, pandemic or no pandemic. The past two years it’s become super obvious, because now all we have is us and him. Everything new that happens is always a chance to go deeper. Whether or not you’re even aware of it, whether or not you want it. For better or for worse, everything is an opportunity to go deeper
At a UChurch level, I think it’s about community. COVID-19 raised the question of, “How do you do church?” I think it really highlights what we always said: “You don’t go to church; you are the church.” A lot of people haven’t realized that there’s supposed to be a greater depth to church; it’s more than just showing up. Church is actually supposed to enrich your life beyond a Sunday. It’s supposed to be something you carry into every aspect of your life.
How do you connect with God? Has it changed from the past?
I grew up in a pretty unique environment. Early on, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of the false beliefs people have about God. I didn’t believe that he wanted to smite me with lightning or that he’s up there casting judgments on me. I didn’t feel this need to perform for God or anything like that; I was really shielded from a lot. Now, the relationship I have with God is pretty unfiltered. It’s just a relationship; there is no performance.
To me it seems so obvious: how he loves is not how we love! It is so far above that. We can only comprehend just a tiny bit of it, and we can only capture so much.
What is one of the most profound things God has revealed to your heart?
I guess it’s that everything comes down to an awareness of him; an awareness that translates into everyday life. I think being able to hear his voice is really practical! It impacts how you go about your day or how you interact with others. You have this guide in your heart to carry you through any given moment. You simply have to be willing to ask, ,and then actively listen and partake in what he is offering.
It’s not hard to pursue him. When you have an awareness of him, it’s like you’re always on, you’re always listening, and he is always pouring out. Even now, in the midst of all the anxiety in the world, you can quiet yourself and hear him. If you can’t hear him, I would say you have to come to terms with whatever is holding you back. Sometimes there are things blocking us from connecting with him that we don’t even know are affecting us.
To hear him, you have to be willing to let go of all the false beliefs that previously defined God to you.
Where has God brought the most freedom in your life?
I think that I’m always being brought to a point of greater freedom, and it looks like living in a deep place of peace. On a larger scale, I see how God works first in the heart to make it whole. Out of that wholeness you encounter freedom, and out of that freedom you also get to impact the hearts of others.
I believe that if everyone in the world were to be brought to that same level of freedom in their own hearts, that’s where we would see full transformation on earth. Even in our community, say we have about 100 people who are coming to terms with the true identity of who God is. We are already starting to see the fruit of that! Objectively, it seems small, but it's already so big! And it’s only going to snowball from here. That is the freedom I sense he is bringing.
Where do you feel the most freedom?
I think true freedom is found by living in him, continuously. It’s just by doing mundane things like washing the dishes or taking a shower; the ability to have this awareness of him all the time, to be in that space all the time. In that space, you start to see how the enemy is always trying to constrain or remove connection with God. Whenever I find myself too enamoured with the world, there’s always a moment to pause and reflect and ask, “Do I see what’s happening right now?”
Satan can only attack outwards going in, so he tries to trick you into feelings that you think are your own. His goal is that you would internalize those feelings and place them in your heart, because he knows that the heart is where God resides. The enemy is always trying to make it feel like you’ve been disconnected from God. “Guard your heart in all things” (Proverbs 4:23) - this is why that verse is so important.
You know when you take a step in deep snow, versus a step in shallow snow? One goes down way deeper than the other. The same goes for imprinting things on our hearts. I remember as a kid when my mom would say, “Don’t do this” or, “Guard your heart from this.” Back then I didn’t really believe it mattered, but now I see how much it does. The first time it happens, you may not notice anything shift. But 1000 times or 10,000 times later, the imprinting of what you have listened to, watched, or done starts to show. Soon enough, whatever it is takes its place in your heart. Seeds will be sown, and you’ll have to reap them eventually.
On an individual basis, everyone is imprinting on one another. Some are like tiny specs but some are like giant footsteps. It’s something to be aware of – especially in this season. Yes, take in the news. But be aware of how much you’re taking in and what you’re taking in. Know when to stop and ask, “What is this doing for me?” The news is good to be aware of, but past a certain point it can just be detrimental. Obviously [COVID-19] is not something we can control. Our hands are off the wheel in a sense; we don’t know where we're going. But that’s where trust comes in; it doesn’t matter if you have the wheel or not, you already know you’re safe.
At some point, you realize we don’t need to know where we are going.
How do you experience His peace? What would you say to someone who doesn't feel like they have an awareness of him yet?
If you feel blocked from his peace, you have to reflect as to why you feel that way. Look at what you do… What do you most define yourself by? For each individual person, the fears and anxieties differ. Basically it’s a process of surrender. I’m not saying it's easy; in fact, it’s really hard.
For me, I don’t feel the same anxiety that the world is going through right now. I mean, yes, I go through the motions of this world: getting a job, going to school, etc. But at the end of the day, that’s not how I define myself. It’s not easy, in fact at times it’s really hard. The world will always be there, right in your face. But, the other option is defining yourself in him. That’s when peace comes.
That’s where you’re headed: to a place where you will only define yourself in him. It’s almost like going back to how it used to be, in the garden. It’s just that you have to go through all this work to get here. But once you get there, you’re never going to leave again! If you’re willing to go the distance with God, it will always be worth it in the end.
It comes back to hearing from God; I think that if everyone heard God’s voice, that’s an incredible place to start. When you begin to have an awareness of the presence of God, I think that on some level it will become every single moment of every single day. Whether you’re washing the dishes, eating, or in between commercial breaks on T.V., you have these moments to interact with him and collect your thoughts. You can just talk to him, “Ok, God. What do you think of this?”
Awareness of him always comes from a yearning; it’s not passive, it’s pursuit. At the end of the day, there’s always more to come. It’s a lifelong pursuit to go deeper. There’s only so much depth you can get in this lifetime, but I hope that when you go home you’ll ask, “hey God, what’d I miss?”
You’ll find you missed an infinity, but then you’ll have eternity to catch up.
What has God put in your heart right now?
My heart wants everyone to know him, to have an awareness of him, and to go deeper with him. That’s my heart: I want people to come to an awareness of him so that they can also hear God. I pray that people would have a willingness to confront whatever is holding them back., because everyone deserves connection with God. Everyone deserves to know this and to have this state of being. Not to say it makes life perfectly easy, but it is infinitely easier.
I want people to know there’s more to life than just this – you’re not alone. You are loved! Take that love and apply it to your life!