Actually, I prefer Christ-follower.
I'm not very good at it. Like so many things in life, I stumble and fall. But as a pastor of mine once said, "Doing this life is so much better than a life without hope." In my mind, Jesus is my hope.
Sometimes, though, pursuing Him is hard. It's heartbreaking, too.
Sometimes, I feel like an island weathering a really, big, ugly storm. Isolated. Alone. Scared.
Sometimes, it feels like a marathon. A never-ending marathon that just keeps going and going and going. And, see, I know that marathons are mostly a mental game, but man! Sometimes that mental game is hard work. And I don't like to do it. So, I stand at the edge of trail and cry. I watch the other runners go past me. Me ... left in the dust and grime of life.
It's in those moments, in the most surprising ways, He finds a precious moment to remind me that in that race, I'm not running it alone. I'm not weathering that storm alone either. Always, He's there, those arms tightly around me. Protecting me.
Today, I have been having The Conversation with Him. It's this Conversation I've been having with Him for a very long time. Honestly, if I were Him, I'd be endlessly tired of me and The Conversation. The thing about my God is He loves me so much. So, when I come to Him, angry, hurt, confused, restless, fearful, He's there to listen ... to see my tears ... to love me through my rants.
The Conversation continued for most of the day, and into the evening, when it became necessary to go mow the lawn, which, in a very bizarre way, is randomly tied to The Conversation.
There's a lot tied to The Conversation.
The tenor of The Conversation took a turn for the ugly when I discovered that I was out of gas for the dang mower, the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE, and so I headed to the gas station where getting $5 of gasoline became an exercise in testing and pushing every nerve in my body.
Driving back home, which took all of five minutes, I asked one of the questions that I tend to repeat, ad nauseum, when pulling out the The Conversation. Why? Why? WHY??? This ultimately rolls into an accusation of DO YOU REALLY CARE FOR ME? DO YOU?
Sometimes, my inner self goes there in The Conversation before I even realize it. I'm powerless to stop it.
I'd pulled my iPod out to listen to some tunes while mowing, further blowing out my old, tired eardrums. I suppose there was a part of me that was hoping to deaden the voice in my head that flings all these accusations at Him. Only my iPod staged a coup, and I was forced to listen to the only soundtrack on there that I had (other than my schools/kid stuff). This soundtrack nails me between the eyes, convicts me mercilessly, and I haven't listened to it in a very long time because of that.
It came on. I fired up the mower. And I dug in for a long hour and a half battle of wills and lawn.
As a joke, sort of, I've said to folks that I've been praying for a cute, good-looking single neighbor to move in next door, who could help me do things around the house. I finish the joke by saying that God has a real sense of humor ... oh yeah. My neighbor's single. But he's OLD and a widower.
I laugh. My audience laughs. We move on in a our day. Fun at my expense.
Only, tonight, as I was mowing the first strips of my lawn, his friend (one part of a couple that come over and help him out with stuff) walked over to my yard and said, "Hey, I've got that big riding lawn mower. Would you like me to do this side of your lawn?"
In that moment, this song came on the iPod ...
It's in the stillness of life ... in those moments when I least expect it that He reminds me that I belong to Him. Sweet promises that despite the challenge of the journey He is always there next to me. He provides ... He loves ... He cares ... He holds my life in His hands and He cares for me deeply ... and in the stillness, He breathes His promises into me.
It wrecked me. I stood in my driveway and cried.
The Conversation? It is more than likely going to be a conversation we have for a while. I am hard to teach. I am a difficult student. I am stubborn. I am impatient. I am willful.
But He's a gentle teacher. He is persistent. He is patient. He is gentle and kind. And He loves me with a love I couldn't begin to comprehend.
He proved that tonight.
In an act of mowing my cursed lawn, the very thing I hate to do the most, He proved He loves me with an undying, almost incomprehensible love, and despite my lack of pursuing Him, He continues to pursue my heart with a passion that brings me to my knees.
Always in the stillness ...