As he preached, the Rector actually said, 'The most powerful, life-changing revelations are sometimes the things that you already knew.'
Yep. Exactly what He said.
This is it: Life is actually simple.
Not that he actually said that; the sermon was about knowing God - knowing of Him vs knowing Him in person; in relationship. It was at that moment, however, when a long-known truth distilled in my head and dripped down into a different place of knowing.
I stared at him, and missed the next few minutes of what he was saying, which was a pity, because it was good stuff.
Life is much simpler than I have been making it. Once again, for the I-don't-know-how-many-th time, I have allowed things to become much more complicated than they need be.
Later, we sang 'All I Once Held Dear', a vintage song of Graham Kendrick's, which has the lines:
Knowing you, Jesus
Knowing you, there is no greater thing
You're my all, you're the best
You're my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord...*
I realised that it's true. Simple as it might be, the rest is trivia.
Now, I know that there are many questions in life that need answering, and many decisions and lots of living to do; it's not possible (sadly) to live in a state of suspended animation gazing at a stained glass window with your mind far away marvelling at the wonder of God. You can't do it for very long before someone tugs at your leg asking if they can have a biscuit, or it's time to go home and make gravy, or get up to go to work, or to deliver a daughter to swimming practice. Life trundles on no matter where your head is, and so life must be accommodated.
But - this last week, or weeks, I have been all over the place. It's been a horrible start to the year and I am beyond tired. I'm emotionally stressed and unable to see how things will turn out, which is always a recipe for anxiety in my book. Things that I thought I'd dealt with have returned to stick their hooks in me: issues around people pleasing, worrying what people think of me and my decisions, resentment that I want to get things done but life doesn't permit me to do them; uncertainty on parenting issues and fear of what might go wrong next. All this stuff has made the last few weeks as un-peace-full as it could be, and my word for this year is PEACE.
It still needs sorting out. Nothing has changed, and yet I got a glimpse this morning of something that is true.
Life is simple. There is only one thing that is important, and that is my relationship with Jesus.
Knowing you, Jesus; knowing you. There is no greater thing.
And guess what's been conspicuous in its absence, these last few weeks? You guessed, time spent with Him. Edged out by tiredness, tears, confusion, social media - anything really. I have been known to climb into bed, sink into the pillows, remember that I could do with writing in my journal and rationalise that I'm already lying down and I can't sit up again. God, take that.
As I took my place in church on Sunday I reflected that it felt a bit strange; I was out of touch. My spiritual home didn't feel much like my home. Last week I was so tired I took the opportunity to stay in my PJs all Sunday morning and the one before we'd been to a mammoth two-day swimming meet which meant leaving the house at 7am and not returning until 7pm each night, so no church then either. And, if I'm honest, very little thought given to spiritual matters in the interim.
So the next verse sort of sums it up, this penny-dropped moment of revelation. The thing that I've known and yet came awake and startled me this morning:
Now my heart's desire is to know you more
To be found in you and known as yours
I know from experience that the hard parts of life, the difficult decisions, the truly nasty days when everything goes wrong - the hard choices; they are all better if Jesus is right next to me. The bad stuff is still there, and if it does knock me over, He is right there helping me up. He doesn't stop it all coming my way but He is there in the middle of it with me.
If I am found in Him, then I am safe.
Jesus has never left me. He's been there before, and He is still there now. It's just that I've let a lot of rubbish pile up so that I can no longer see Him. It's not even my job to dig a tunnel through the accumulation of stuff; all it takes is the realisation that I've lost sight of Him, and a faint call on His name.
So, Lord, I'm calling. My heart's desire is to know you more. To concentrate on that; to stay by your side and learn the things you would have me learn. To allow you to shape me into the person you want me to be. To take the opportunities you give me and to learn to hear you in the chaos of everything and everyone around me. To be more concerned about what you think of me than anyone else. To be faithful.
I was praying the other day (one of the few occasions, lately) and in a child-like, slightly petulant manner, I asked God for something for me. Not a picture for someone else, but for me, please. Immediately I saw a digger. A JCB-type earth mover. It was breaking up the ground for foundations to be laid. Smooth ground before, a terrible mess afterwards. And then the words, 'For a new foundation.'
I think I understand. It feels like the ground is breaking up at the moment.
I'm not doing so well. It's all a bit too much, so I've decided to make things simpler; to try to focus on what really matters. To build a foundation for something new; or maybe rather to allow a new foundation to be built, since I can't do it myself. A strong, steady, sure foundation that can take the weight of whatever needs to be placed upon it. I'm hoping it's a foundation of peace.
Knowing you, Jesus. Knowing you.
Be my foundation, Lord Jesus.
*Graham Kendrick 'All I Once Held Dear'
Copyright © 1993 Make Way Music,
Image credit: Image P6300189.JPG
by mzacha, courtesy of Morguefile.com. Used with permission.