So lately I’ve been thinking ahead to the Ragamuffin Retreat I’ll be attending. It’s put on by the folks who did Ragamuffin the movie and is designed to continue the conversation about the love of God, finding Him in our stories, and living life with reckless abandon. I’ve been drawn to it and I know God wants me there. I also know that I have a lot of masks I wear and since the purpose of the retreat is to break down the protective walls so we can experience God’s love…well…there’s a lot of risk involved. And I’ve found that I am eagerly petrified about going on the retreat.
I’m eager because I haven’t been on a retreat in double digit years. Getting away will be really nice. I’m eager because I know God is directing me there. I’m going on the retreat instead of visiting friends in Nashville I haven’t seen for double digit years. I’m eager to meet new people and connect with a couple folks with whom I’ve only interacted via internet…to meet them ‘up close and personal.’ And I’m eager to see what God wants to do in me and through me.
And then the petrified rolls in. That ‘in me and through me’ part brings in the nervous shakes. But because that’s what the retreat is about…because that’s why I’m going – to get to know God at the deep root levels – there is some action required on my part. Oh – everyone gets excited at the thought God may want to use you personally in someone else’s life. Who doesn’t want to be used by God? But even that can bring obstacles of thought…why would God choose to use me? What do I have to offer? CAN He use me? What if I screw it up? Will I get it right? The list can go on. Fear loves that stuff because it keeps us close to the shore…paralyzed…scared to get in the boat with Jesus…you know – the same One who was hastily awakened by His buddies in the middle of the tossing seas, raised his arms (maybe while wiping sleep from His eyes), and told the water to be still. We’ll let Him calm the rolling seas but won’t let Him calm our raging hearts. Hmmm….
So I’m trying to counteract that fear as best I can. I’m spending the time in advance of the retreat as ‘heart prep’ time. I’m reading ‘Ragamuffin Gospel’ through – for really the first time in my life. I’ve started but never finished the book a few times. And most of the work is being done internally. And that’s where it gets really scary. I HAVE to take down the walls, rip off the masks, and challenge myself to let Him protect my heart and soul. He seems to be so much more capable than I, yet I like the way I do it better, or so I seem to act. I tell myself I’m protecting myself from hurt, but I’m holding the Healer at an arm’s length – or more. And yet I know it’s right. It’s the deep cry of my heart.
It’s draining wearing masks. And each of us do it – try to portray ourselves as something we’re not at certain points in time. For me there is some deep stuff that has been there for a long time that messes with me. It makes me insecure, so I hide it by doing things that make me look secure. It makes me cry on the inside so I hide it by saying it doesn’t bother me anymore, or by downplaying the effects its had on me. I can encourage others with God’s truth but there are internal hang ups where I still manage to convince myself that I’m the ‘holy exception’ to God’s Word – that it’s good enough for everyone else but not for me. And that’s the biggest lie of all – and that’s the one I really need to defeat once and for all. So what better place than a retreat filled with others who struggle with the same thing led by a group of folks who exude the love of God having lived where we currently live and having managed to come out on the other side…who KNOW the love of God experientially and not just theologically…who have put feet to the gospel and want to take us on that journey.
A couple weeks ago I found myself telling someone that I just want to be authentic. I want to shed and shake off and throw into the pit the shame and embarrassment and fear that keeps me on the shore when I want to be out wave running with Jesus. I was most challenged by my friend who was recently released from prison. He was up front and direct as people commented ‘I haven’t seen you in a while! Where have you been?’ “In prison for drunk driving.” He has been open and honest about it, and that has challenged me greatly. And so that drives a lot of this – that example. You see…and here’s where I fight through some of that fear…that ‘friend’ is my brother and ‘that family’ is mine. Why should I be afraid of what others think about that part of the story if he isn’t? I am SO PROUD of my brother and excited for all God has done in Him – and now through him – that I want that to be the same for my life. I need to break free of the shame of my past – shame I have for things that were out of my control – and let God heal me fully. I’m well down that road but I still protect my heart. I need to take the lead from my brother. If he’s not ashamed of something that he WAS responsible for and is up front and honest about it to help others, why am I ashamed and embarrassed about stuff that was out of my control? Something’s very wrong with this picture. I’ve let it have it’s talons in my skin for way too long, holding me back. And it’s time to change that.
So I’m eagerly petrified. I’m eager for the retreat. I’m petrified to let down the ‘old guard’ and let the tears flow and risk letting God love me that way He WANTS to love me and not just the way I’m comfortable LETTING Him love me. Because in the end, as Rich Mullins said, “It won’t matter if you have a few scars, but it will matter if you didn’t live.” It’s time to get living.
For more information on the retreats go to: http://colorgreenfilms.com or email me.