Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Walk on the Beach

Jesus and I were walking along the beach, with a large, faded blue mountain in the distance. To my right was the ocean, and to my left was some tall, weedy grass.

I knew we were headed toward that faded blue mountain, but because it was so far away, I grasped for what to do in the meantime. I found myself instinctively scanning my immediate surroundings for things that were out of place. I told Jesus, “I know I'm called to go to that mountain up ahead, but it is so far in the distance I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing right now.” I hesitated, then asked Him, “What do You want me to do now? Is there something you want me to do or learn? What's my immediate purpose?” Jesus looked at me briefly and then set His gaze forward. He remained silent and continued walking beside me.

An accusing voice whispered into my ear, “You haven't been walking right. You need to learn how to walk straight before He'll tell you your purpose.”

With the voice came a surge of guilt that shocked me into a panic. So I began to focus on walking on the sand, without straying into the water on my right or the weedy grass on my left, making sure to avoid any rocks or shells or other hindrances that crossed my path. I introspected and reflected on every aspect of my walk that I could, but it escaped me what I was doing wrong. So I asked Jesus, “What am I doing wrong?” But again, Jesus remained silent.

Feeling frustrated, I began to notice others around us who were stationed along the beach, undergoing various noble missions, like pulling weeds, or saving the starfish. Others blazed across the beach with deep conviction and purpose, honing in on such targets as injured seagulls or hazardous piles of driftwood. I said to Jesus, “Look at all the people you have sent to do these important and noble deeds. What do you want me to do, Jesus? I want to be used by you. Don't forget me!” Jesus turned to me and said gently, “You can do whatever you wish. I leave it up to you.”

As I pondered Jesus' statement, the accusing voice visited me once again. “It is because you are not as significant as the others that He does not give you a mission. They are destined to do great things. You are not. That mountain in the distance – the one you think you are headed toward – well, actually, it is all a fantasy. Look at all the others like you who are doing something meaningful with their lives! But now look at you. What are you doing besides walking aimlessly, chasing after a fantasy? And after all, you have a track record of failure. You are fooling yourself to think that you will do anything significant in His eyes.”

My heart sank as I imagined the implications of the accuser's words. I still believed that I was headed toward that mountain in the distance, but I began to wonder if what the accuser said was at least partially true. Perhaps I was really fooling myself. Maybe my observation of the apparent success of others had caused me to fantasize that I was destined for success. And perhaps the very desire for success was selfish. After all, I should humble myself and be content with whatever situation He decides to give me. Perhaps the big dreams that soared in my heart were a symptom of my powerlessness and pride. – [Sigh] – How could it be?

I felt shame rise up within me. Then my shame turned to fear. How could I live knowing that my life wouldn't count for anything? Then my fear turned to anger. How could God set me up for this kind of disappointment?

But, instantly, the scene transformed before me. It was as if I had been given glasses, not knowing my vision had been blurry before.

I saw crowds of people coming to Jesus, asking for directions. With grace, Jesus gave instructions to each person. Then as quickly as the crowds had come, the crowds hurried away. Jesus watched as the people went to their tasks, with various levels of diligence. The people carried walkie-talkies with them by which they gave Jesus status reports and asked for help. When the tasks were completed, the crowds returned, asking for the next set of directions.

Jesus looked at me, and with penetrating eyes said, “I have many servants. But where are my friends?”

I felt the depth of His desire to be known and loved. It penetrated my soul, and tears began to roll down my cheek.

Then Jesus' gaze went out ahead of where we were standing, and He pointed to some people nearby. “See those people?” He asked me. “They know my heart, and they are content to walk and talk with Me as we journey together down this beach. If they see something that's out of place, it is their nature to fix it because they take after Me. But they are most happy just to be with Me. See? They are already returning.”

Suddenly I understood. I understood what I had been doing and why Jesus hadn't been answering my incessant questions. I was asking for my next set of tasks, just like a faithful servant. But Jesus wanted me to be His friend.

I already knew that Jesus wanted to be my friend. In fact, I listened to Him very well and learned all sorts of things as I spent time with Him. I would share my thoughts with Him and enjoy being with Him every day. But my core orientation had not yet shifted, and my heart's driving desire was still to serve. Without a way to serve, I felt that I had no way to show my love for Him. My songs of worship seemed empty without acts of service. How could I love Him without doing something for Him? Now I finally started to see.

Jesus again turned to me and said, reassuringly, “You are already my friend. You know my heart. And you walk with Me. You know your identity, and you know I am well-pleased with you. Now I want you to completely let go of the idea that you need to do something – anything – to show Me your love or to gain My favor.

“I want you to be in my inner circle. There are many deep things that the Father wants to reveal to you that can only be told in secret. I want to reveal them to you, but the secret things are only for those who will come away with Me. For it is only then that they can understand and receive what I will give them.

“Don't be concerned about your purpose and calling. For you were called before the foundation of the world to do great works, and indeed, you will do even greater works than these if you will only believe Me. Do not doubt the dreams that soar in your heart, for I have put them there. If you try too hard – if you flap your wings vigorously in pursuit of your destiny – you will find your energy exhausted, and you will become discouraged. Keep your wings taut, and trust that I will provide the wind to carry you where you are going. As you soar – in that place of rest – you will find My company. And it is there, in My timeless presence, that you will accelerate into your destiny with unimaginable swiftness. You are called to greatness. But let Me be your focus. For it is then that the rest will fall into place.”

As I pondered what Jesus had said, I looked before me and saw that the faded blue mountain had come much closer. Where had the time gone? From our progress, it looked as though we had traveled for days; yet it felt as if I had walked by Jesus for just a few minutes. My faith and joy returned. I realized that the Person walking beside me was the best friend I could ever imagine having. And now I hoped that we wouldn't reach that far-off mountain too quickly.


Copyright 2014 Rachel M. Rasmussen
Use by permission only

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