Loving Freely is a resource developed by Dan Crain, Pastor, Consultant and Connector for REMERGE.
Loving Freely unpacks the need for us to examine ourselves in order to truly know how to love and serve others as the beloved children of God. The process is spelled out through the Loving Freely Process and able to be lived into with the Loving Freely Seven.
The wilderness strips you.
It was a perfect Saturday morning camping with our family in the North Georgia mountains. The weather was cool. The green trees surrounded us and provided a great covering of shade. As I sat in the hammock listening to our kids play in the small stream, my heart was full, but something seemed uneasy in my spirit.
As I sat in the silence of the forest and began to pay attention to what was happening internally in me, all sorts of emotions bubbled up and I started to weep. The hard part was that I really didn’t even know what it was that I was feeling.
I love the text in John 16 when Jesus tells the disciples about the Holy Spirit, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” I believe that a function of the Holy Spirit is to guide us into the truth of what is going on inside of us, even if we can’t name it ourselves.
What I was feeling in that moment is the memory of being with mom in the Blue Ridge mountains two and a half years when she came down to visit. We played in the stream just like the one the kids were playing in now. Our mom passed away two years ago and this is the last memory I have of mom when she was fully alive and healthy. Mom lived for moments like this with her family and the weight of her not being here was heavy.
I wept like a baby thinking about the time with mom, how much we missed her and a deep longing that she would be with us. My apologies for anyone that saw a grow man laying in hammock weeping like a baby on their way to hike Black Rock Mountain State Park.
This is what the wilderness does. This is what silence and being with God does, it forces us to face what’s going on deep inside of us. It forces us to confront the ugliness that is lurking beneath the surface of our lives. And as the dearly beloved children of God, we are called to confront the truth of what’s happening inside of us and not ignore it.
As Pete Scazzero says in the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality; “Ignoring our emotions is turning our back on reality. Listening to our emotions ushers us into reality. And reality is where we meet God. . . . Emotions are the language of the soul. They are the cry that gives the heart a voice. . .”
It’s interesting that early on in Mark’s gospel that Jesus is instantly led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit after he’s declared the beloved of God. In vs. 12, Mark says, “At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness,”.
Let that sink in. After being declared the beloved child of God, whom is loved, and is well pleased, the Spirit sent him into the wilderness. If Jesus needs the wilderness, what does that say about those who follow him and and are indwelt with his Holy Spirit? We need the wilderness even more!
As Howard Thurman says in Meditations of the Heart; “There is very great virtue in the cultivation of silence, and strength to be found in using it as a door to God. Such a door opens within. When I have quieted down, I must spend some time in self-examination in the presence of God. It is at such moments that I may become literally overwhelmed by a profound sense of the love and the grace of God.”
When we spend time in the wilderness with God and pay attention to what we’re feeling, all sorts of painful, yet beautiful things come up, and we are thus able to name what’s happening inside of us, then draw closer to a God that has chosen to enter into our wilderness through his son, Christ.
So, create space in your busy schedule to go to the wilderness. The wilderness is going to look different for everyone, but find a place that is outside of your normal routine and go and be with God in the scriptures, pay attention to what’s happening inside of you, visit the core lie from your family of origin and process through the Loving Freely Seven.
Where’s your wilderness?
What are you ignoring that God is calling you to confront?
What deep hidden hurts and pains from your past does Jesus need to heal you of?
How is Christ using others in your life to call you to a place of wilderness?