For a summary of what I’m hoping to accomplish in this blog series (in the fourth week of every month of 2018), I recommend reviewing my explanation here.
Lowell Kosak is the Director of Staff Development for Impact Campus Ministries; he lives in South Bend, IN with his wife Katie and two sons who are grown and on their own. Besides being a great personal friend, Lowell has a tremendous heart for spiritual health and our personal pursuits of God. His voice rings with passion for God and a care for His heart. I could think of nobody better to share stories about our discussion last week than Lowell.
I am inspired by Henri Nouwen. He compared his yearning to become more intimate with the Father to a trapeze performance. There is a special relationship between the flyer and the catcher. The daredevil flyer swinging high above the crowd lets go of the trapeze and simply stretches out his arms, waiting to feel the strong hands of the catcher pluck him out of the air. The flyer must never catch the catcher; he must wait in absolute trust. For Henri, and for me, there is a yearning to fly in the spiritual life, but only within relationship and yielding more and more into the loving hands of the Eternal Catcher.
More often than not, I am that flyer who is reaching out to try to catch.
God has recently been teaching me a lesson about my intimate pursuit of Him. Just one week before Christmas, my dear Katie suffered a mild stroke. We are so very thankful for God’s gift of grace that we were able to get to the hospital right away and that she suffered no brain bleeding or significant damage. While she is making a complete recovery, the time and extent of her therapy has been slower and more difficult than either of us had anticipated; not because it was medically unexpected—she is making great progress—but that we were not ready for the time, the slow down, and need to wait and be patient.
In just a short amount of time, I was ready to get back to it, to travel, to work, and to achieve. While I teach differently, that our identity does not flow from our accomplishments and production, I certainly was not living out my words. I was proceeding as if I was indispensable. May I confess to you that I like to think that I’m one step ahead of the game and close to arrival. But in reality, in reaching out to catch the Catcher, I’m not trusting God’s story for me.
Of the importance of the pursuit for the spiritual leader, the vocational pastor… How can I announce joy, peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation unless they are part of my own flesh and blood?
How can I do this?
How can I know this?
I must have need of them and humbly admit my utter emptiness without them. I must surrender my life story to the Gospel, the story of God, and there he meets me.
So joy is birthed from the agony, disappointment, and sorrow that I feel.
True peace only comes when I am honest with myself and the rage and anxiety that comes from deep inside.
As I allow the Holy Spirit to open me up and expose my wretchedness, I also know Jesus’s forgiveness that he freely gives.
While I am so inadequate to take on the mantle of leadership, God reconciles me to Himself and sends me on a mission of bringing His peace and love into the world.
This prayer of Charles de Foucauld has become a prayer for me this year.
Father,I abandon myself into your hands;do with me what you will.Whatever you may do, I thank you:I am ready for all, I accept all.Let only your will be done in me,and in all your creatures –I wish no more than this, O Lord.Into your hands I commend my soul:I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,and with boundless confidence,for you are my Father.
I am learning to accept being expendable. I have to become not so important in my eyes that I can and will stop and rest. Sometimes we can’t help but stop in times of crisis, and in that, we have to be ok with the time to just release control and stop. But in day-to-day, week-to-week living, I must also learn to have regular rhythms of work and rest.
In Sabbath, I am letting go, I am waiting and trusting God to do the catching. As I stop, I only hear His voice that calls me His beloved and His son. Paul’s words in Romans ring in my ears:
“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” (Romans 8:15–17 NLT)