It’s been so long since I posted here that followers have given up on me and friends have become concerned. It’s okay; I’ve just been about my Father’s business. I hear the cries and I have to respond because that’s what Jesus did – and does.
I struggled through most of the summer trying to find some peace and the money to go home. I missed my family, I missed the beach and I missed being able to hide with my Father away from everything and everyone else. We need those times of solitude to escape as Jesus did. I’m not comfortable on a mountain top yet, nor in the valley, nor even on the mountainside. Being in Western Pennsylvania has been hard on me in more ways than one and I needed to sand and the sea to calm my soul and quiet my heart so I could hear clearly again. I also needed the encouragement of brothers and sisters who have walked with me for five years or more on this spiritual journey. After three years, I finally found that friend I have in Pennsylvania, but we haven’t spent the time required to really open ourselves and our lives up completely to one another. There will be time this winter when there’s nothing to do but hide inside and wait for the winter to pass…
I’ve learned valuable lessons to take back to PA and share. I’ve also found that I moved up the spiritual food chain while I was away. There was a marked difference in the way some people respond to me compared to a year ago. It was weird, but I’m learning to accept weird as a lifestyle.
August brought a vision and a revelation of who I am in Christ. It changed the way I preach, the way I teach, but mostly, the way I perceive myself. When God shows you how He sees you, nothing will ever be the same. If you haven’t seen yourself the way that God does, keep asking until He shows you. It took a few years for me, (Yes, I said “YEARS”) but it was worth the wait. When you KNOW who you are, how God sees you and what He calls you, no power in Hell can take that away from you. August also brought the funds to come home, see my family and take a break from being a pastor. Here, I’m “Mom”, “Mommy”, “Beth”, “Liz”, “Elizabeth”, “Granny”; in other words, I’m myself with no expectations on me except to be me. “Pastor”, “Chaplain”, “Associate Pastor”, “Life Group Leader” and all of the expectations those titles carry are a distant thought. Those thoughts are occasionally interrupted by texts asking “Are you back yet?” (No) and “When will you be back?” (On the first. Just like I told you the last twenty three times you asked.)
September brought a long drive to the place I call home and the peace I so desperately needed. The first planned weekend on the beach was cut short when the wind flattened the tent, snapped the crossbars and cause the rain fly to tear. The second weekend was just as I remember it from my childhood: the sun, the sand, the sea – the sunburn that blisters and burns even after it begins to peel four days later. Apparently, I was in the sun without protection MUCH longer than I thought…
The suffering has been comparatively small in light of the peace and the gifts God has bestowed during this time. I had coffee with God and watched the sunrise over Cape Lookout. I found three of five treasures I went in search of on the beach. I saw a ghost crab warm itself by the campfire we built near the water. I had a dragonfly land on my big toe and sit while I took several pictures. I collected seashells, rode in a boat, talked to the locals, saw my family and retrieved my beloved southern accent from the murky depths of my memory. I found my center, cleared the cobwebs in my brain and reconnected in a greater way with God. Isn’t that what vacations are for?
Next week, I will go back to the place I now call home. I will wrap myself in my “Super Pastor” cloak and alternate between being the arms of Jesus and being on my knees to stand up to the work. I will miss this place every second I am away from it, even as I miss Western PA every second I’m away from it. Life would be perfect if there could be two of me and one could be in each of these places all the time. You know, the way we are here and yet, we are seated with God in heavenly places. Yeah, like that.