For the first time I am beginning to connect the dots of your presence in my life. I started this process a few years back when I did my spiritual autobiography with a women’s group. Then I could see you hand helping, guiding me at various pivotal points in my life. But just in the last few days I am seeing your hand in everything: from how you created me to be in this world, to being my sustenance through the 12 years in a hell-fire-and-damnation church, through the time in college when I was questioning everything, to the time after college in a much more benign church, to when I left the church because I had no tolerance for Christian language, to when we joined a cult, until we left the cult and I surrendered my life to you. And then went back to the church. I was always seeking resolution with you, O Lord, because you were holding me all that time.
It’s only in looking back on that time that I can see your hand in every minute of my life. Back then I was mostly unaware of your presence or even hostile to you. One image I had in my twenties was of you being a raven sitting on my shoulder day and night, always ready to zap me for what I had done wrong—the direct product of the hell-fire-and-damnation church of my childhood.
Previously, I thought that I had traveled this path alone, until I surrendered my life to you in my early forties, but now I see that you were holding me, guiding me even when I was the least aware of your presence. You were there all along, every painful step of the way, in every joy I ever experienced, in the challenges I faced, in the pain I suffered. I now see the unbroken nature of our relationship even when I was totally unconscious of you, when I felt totally alone in trying to figure out how I could love you when you were such a hateful god to me.
Now I see your presence with me as an unbroken stream of living water, running underground, in my unconscious, until I surrendered my life to you. At that point a trickle of a stream hit the surface of my life and since then as I have stayed faithful to you and heeding what you have suggested to me that surface stream has grown and grown until it is a now busy river flowing on the surface of my life. I am now aware of you in most everything, every day.
But you have been here with me all along. I am the one who has faltered, stepped away from you, ignored you, and finally embraced you. I am the one who has finally become aware of your presence in my life from the very beginning. And what a grace that has been. Now I know that no matter what I think of myself and no matter how disconnected I may feel from you on the surface and in my mind, these are lies I tell myself.
In fact, I cannot count on experiencing you as you have really been in my life while I am relying on my own mind for evidence. It is only when I am attentive to you that I see that you have never left me. It is I who left you. All I need to do is to turn back to you, to repent as John the Baptist said, and you are always there under the surface of my life. And when I see you there, you emerge into my consciousness, into this moment and the next, as a steady, relentless stream of living water.
And there I am, consciously in your arms again. But it’s only that I am now aware of what is always true—that you never leave my side. That has been true my whole life and still is true today. I am yours and will always be yours. That is the truth that you have been trying to get me to see all my life. That is the truth that I now live by.
So, Lord of my life, I just want to thank you for your faithfulness in my life, and, I assume in everyone else’s. If only we would see that you are always here with us, loving, comforting, challenging us, every minute of our lives. Thanks be to God! Isn’t it interesting that the hymn I choose for my YouTube theme is “Great is thy faithfulness?”
Questions to ponder over the week: Do I know from my experience that God is always with me? How do I experience his absence—as withdrawing from me or as me stepping away? What do I need to do as a first step towards an ongoing awareness of God in my life? What would I ask him for?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who are aware of his presence in our lives all the time. May we realize that it is not God who leaves us, but we who leave God. May our lives, our awareness be filled with God’s blessings and grace.
News from By the Waters:
All five of the videos about the Exodus story are up on YouTube, plus two more. Here are the url’s to access them:
Part I: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKfouN0PNH0
Part II: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyvRsnqYrdg
Part IIIa: www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZU32Y09UN8
Part IIIb: www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHqKay89kjE
Part IV: www.youtube.com/watch?v=84z7KF_uv7Q
God’s Invitation, www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOkp_-wDKFo
The Heart of the Gospel, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJJbPKSOACc
My book, “Thy Kingdom Come!”, is up on Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. Look under Patricia Said Adams.