Perhaps it’s the season of life I am in, but it seems to have been a year of personal loss: saying goodbye first to a mother-in-law, then to a good friend, and more recently to two very dear friends. Losses, especially when they seem to pile up, can produce a sense of shifting sand under the feet and a disorientation around those parts of life that once seemed rock solid.
A short post like this cannot even begin to deal with the process of walking through loss, pain, and potential renewal. Such a topic is far too big. I only want to point to three overarching works of grace that I have experienced during this season in order to reflect on how I see God working during this time.
Graces in the Seasons of Loss
1. The sufficiency of who God is. Eventually, at the end of the day, loss does give way to a fresh perception and depth of experience with God leading to a deeper sense that He is sufficient in the fullest sense of that word. Again, I do not mean to make light of the processes of pain and letting go that we walk through during loss. I only want to point to the final stages in which God does work in all things to draw us more deeply to Himself. For me, this means that I discover in a more potent way, that God is father, friend, lover, counselor, caregiver, comforter, king, and the one who knows me fully and loves me more than any other. This grace does not remove the pain or grief or loss, it simply works within me a greater awareness of my own vulnerability, the vulnerability of life, and the deeper sense of eternal realities and God’s presence right in the midst of real life.
2. The recalibration of true-north and what is really important. I have also found that my sense of priorities have again been reset. I find myself regularly asking what and who are most important. I find myself re-discovering the passions and motivations that are in me that are God-inspired and God-gifted rather than internal drives that come from self-seeking and self-promoting agendas. While I often seem unable on my own to lay down self and seek first the things that I believe in my heart are most important, loss often rearranges me internally and allows me to receive the grace to refocus my life priorities. I want to hear God’s voice more. I want to see less of myself in my activities and more of God. I am willing to take more time to seek Him and I am more willing to be content with quietness and spiritual rest rather than frantic activity. Not that I won’t digress into more-of-me and less-of-Him, but I find myself drawn a little bit more toward those things that flow from His heart rather than from my needs for self-protecting or self-promoting.
3. The renewal of community that supports both #1 and #2. This last grace ties in with the overall purpose of this blog: organic (simple) community life that supports the church (ekklesia) to live out a reflection of Jesus in the world. Often, we need to live out our existing commitments to our communities whatever they look like or however difficult they seem to be. Other times, we are called to change, renew, or find/start new communities that more fully support our life-in-God as well as our mission-with-God. Either way, we re-discover that even with the loss of key relationships, we still need community and others to live fully our life and purpose. This may push us into new places, new relationships, and new expressions. This may propel us out of comfort zones and into completely different expressions of Jesus-community. This might re-orient us toward God’s current mission in our life which can drastically change who we find ourselves spending time with. All of these things are good as long as we allow God to reinforce in us our need for each other. As we know, this does not require an institution or a sermon because where two or three gather, Jesus is there. But it does require an intentional willingness to do life, however messy, with others.