In myPart I of this series, I left off where God had used a lot of rest and a tiny sparrow to renew my heart and spirit. After that time on the balcony of the hotel, I packed up my things, loaded my car and again set out for the forest.
Choosing the same area that I had been at the day before, only this time sitting in the midst of three nearly identical trees that were set in a triangular fashion. It made me think of the old fairly tale about the Three Trees who thought they were destined for earthly glory, but instead were cut down and used for God’s glory as a manger, a crude fisherman’s boat and a cruel cross. It also brought to mind the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It seemed to be a perfect spot.
I sat down in a completely different frame of mind and spirit than the day before; rested, relaxed and without an agenda. I reread the account of Elijah and the broom tree. Elijah didn’t fight God’s direction to rest and eat. When his rest period was over, God led him to Horeb, “the mountain of God,” where Elijah is asked a critical question; “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah responds with his complaint, which is essentially, “I have been doing a lot for you God. I’ve been bold and I’ve tried to be brave but now I am worn out and alone.” God takes him through a series of “natural” phenomenon like hurricane force winds, crumbling mountains, earthquakes and fire but makes it clear that He was not in them.
Then comes…..a Whisper that shouts to Elijah and he runs to hear the Lord’s voice and God asks
the same question, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”
Comically, but sincerely, Elijah makes the same statement as before, a basic recounting of why he is having a hard time. And, astonishingly, God finally speaks His peace to Elijah. Somehow, a holy transaction had occurred and they were once again on the same page. At last, God gives Elijah the direction He is needs.
So, I was in an Ironwood forest and not on a mountain, but God was speaking to me asking, “What are doing you here, Tracy?” I knew He wasn’t asking why I was in that particular spot at that particular moment. It was a bigger question. I didn’t know the answer. Again I just sat in His presence, soaked in the beauty of the day and waited.
Finally, I laid down my Bible and began to read the Christian fiction book that I had brought with me;The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner. It is a powerful story of the Salem Witch trials. A story of what can happen when people listen to gossip and whispers instead of the Spirit of the Lord. A story of one young girl standing firm in who she knows she is in Christ, despite what others say and another young women who has yet to figure why she is here and who she truly is despite having many opportunities to do so.
And, on page 256 the character says to her earthly father, “I don’t know who I am.” If I were writing a screenplay re-enactment of this moment, right here is where the forest would spin a bit and the main character (me) would real with silent astonishment. The camera would come in closely and see that the tears are falling. She would bend over forward with the force of it; her Father’s whisper, “Tracy, you don’t know who you are.”
And that is exactly what happened. Of all things, a fictional book, used by the Father to tell me that my life has been shaped by what I think I should be to, for and about other people. I give it all away but I never learned enough about myself, who God created me to be and who I am in Christ to even know what it is that I relinquish to others.
This isn’t New Age or Psychological “self realization” I am talking about. This is setting apart what other people say, do or feel long enough to know what treasures God has personally and distinctly placed in me that are unique and fashioned for His good purpose. I long, long ago forgot what that is. I ran so fast into the giving it away that I no longer know what treasures I toss.
And then, to know who I am in relationship to Him, by His command and intention through Jesus. Though I have come a long way, I have often set aside His passion and playful Spirit to be what other people defined me to be or I have sought out their approval and in doing so left myself on the wayside. Seeking what could not be found. In search of what I do not need.
I am on a journey to know who this person is that God made me to be, so that I can fully give it back to Him and let Him use it for His good purposes. To know what I give and why I give it.
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