What I am about to share could happen to any of us. And does! In fact, I share life with a lot of people who have these kinds of ‘God experiences’ on a regular basis… and it is a completely normal experience. Yes, I use the word normal, though it is a hidden normal. Veiled in plain sight… lost in the noise and circumstances from a fallen world. The great deception of the enemy is to keep us from knowing who we are…
Eastern Oregon high dessert is beautiful. It was our 2004 bootcamp near Antelope OR. It was sunny with warm dry mild breezes; ideal conditions…I came into this camp with a lot of questions. Mostly the, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” kinds of questions. I had spent the previous several years sort of lost and wandering without much direction. I know now that I was groping at life as a drowning man gropes for something to stay afloat. I felt that I had no clear starting point. Who thinks about this stuff? Well… at some point, everyone… So there I was.
Names are important to God. They are part of his design for the universe. For us, they are a testimony and sign to all of creation. The name that Jesus calls us is who we really are. The voice that spoke life into existence is the same voice that calls us by name. He always names us aptly…It’s a glimpse of all we are, how he sees us! It doesn’t happen exactly like this for everyone, but here is what happed to me:
The afternoon session ended… and now all the men quietly went out and about for a covenant of silence time, me included. I headed for the nearest mountain. The questions on my heart were…” What’s next God?” and “Who am I God?” Two questions…
Part one: What is next? This mountain I was climbing was covered in loose shale and my footing was shaky… The trail was… well there was no trail… the terrain was steep. I was more focused on the question than my safety… My legs were burning, my lungs on fire but the question was bigger…The intensity was pulling me up the hill as if I were chasing after the answer. It was up there…
To add a little more context to this, I sort of saw two immediate life paths as it pertains to the questions. One was to continue down the rabbit hole with all the guys at Bootcamp NW… I loved these guys then, but not like I do now. I mean, it would have been easy to turn away…actually, more like fade away like I had always done. I would simply become (or remain) NOT critical to the plan. I had successfully avoided plenty of situations in life that fit the “much is required” description….especially if some vulnerability and exposure were involved. The old easy way of dealing with things was, well…safe and familiar. So this, among other things was the context of my question. What happened next I was not expecting.
I was nearly there now…A little more panting, sweating and grunting before I finally reached the top… Tired now, I just found a place to sit and enjoy the view. I was at the crest now. Next to me, on the ground, was an arrangement of rocks in the shape of a cross. Beyond that was the panoramic view of the entire valley below…the camp and the neighboring and distant hillsides. It was my first time up there, and something about the struggle and the beauty of it all just brought me to tears. And there was silence… and the question.
After some time went by, I caught a glimpse of a little paper booklet tucked under a rock that was part of the rock cross arrangement. It was literally right next to me! I pulled it out just to have a quick look and see what it was. It was just a little booklet for children (I guess) and it had pictures of gnomes in it. Nothing special. Trash I thought.
The booklet was missing its cover, so I had to read the little introduction paragraph to figure out what it was all about. The paragraph started out with simple lines like… ”Have you ever longed for a better prayer life? Do you ever wonder if God hears your prayers? Do you long to hear God speak to you? And so on…
“Oh yeah… Jayson…about that question…”
Oh my! The things I desired in the context of my question would represent a radical shift…“It’s prayer…”
Another wave of tears came. I flipped through the pages to see more, and the answer to my question began to unfold! This little booklet was about prayer! “Yep, It’s prayer! That’s what’s next.” It went straight to my heart. Did I mention it was written for CHILDREN with pictures of GNOMES in it!? It depicted little Gnomes praying in every kind of circumstance. God’s ironic humor! The emotion that followed was so deep and pure. I sobbed and the tears were like pure joy … imagining hearing, seeing or walking for the first time in your life…that kind of joy!
I was excited to get down the hill now! I had to tell someone! Ahh, but God was not done yet. If you remember, I came up the hill with two questions.
Part two: Along the way, God and I… we descended the hillside in a different route. The route was down a steep ravine that widened near the bottom of the hill, and there were a few trees along the way with shade where I could rest. As I was coming down I noticed two or three deer resting peacefully under a tree.
Just for fun, a sneak attack seemed in order. (please don’t judge me) After getting close as possible, I charged like a screaming mad man down the hillside! Like Gandalf charging the Orcs! By the time I got to the tree I was laughing beyond control! I claimed the very spot where the deer had been and dropped to rest. “Victory!” What a goofy thing to do, I thought. In the midst of laughter and self-satisfaction I hear God say to me, “You are my Scout”… (Laughter paused)… (Head scratch) “Umm…What does that mean?” Again I heard “You are my Scout.”
“Huh! Ok… I’m your scout.”
A little confusion in the absence of hopelessness must be akin to faith! There was peace about it even though I did not quite know what to do with the news. Like an unopened gift; you know it’s really good but have no idea what it is. That was the real beginning of the journey for me… Being a little slow to the process, it didn’t even occur to me then that God was putting me at the starting line of the journey… of discovery. His answer to my second question was to begin the journey of answering the new question. This journey entails doing and being and an abiding in Jesus. Who is “Scout”? Which is to say, who does God really think I am?
It is a better question…
The subject of our rightful name and why God reveals it to us is a good topic for another day. But I will say… God uses this in our lives in a huge way. It’s a critical piece in the process of walking with God and finding our true calling.
I don’t know if praying gnomes or elves will get you there. But as the word says… Ask, seek and knock….
….to be continued.