The wind is gusting hard this morning. Tree branches clash and clink, coated in ice; twigs screech across the sunroom window like fingernails on a chalkboard. From my desk I watch the sparrows spilling seed at the feeder, the dark-eyed Juncos pecking at the dirty snow. High up on the trunk of the river birch tree, a strip of papery bark waves in the breeze like a prayer flag.
“So now what?” my counselor asked me in our session last week. “What do you want to do now that the book is out and your responsibilities there are easing up a bit?”
“I just want to do my regular stuff – work, write, be with my family,” I replied.
It was such a simple answer – some would say a boring answer – but for me, the answer to my counselor’s question was something of a revelation.
My desire to “do my regular stuff” is an indication that I have relinquished (at least somewhat) what was once my relentless drive to produce and achieve. I feel less driven, less inclined to strive and accomplish, less need to push. Instead, I sense a broader, deeper ease and openness in myself, not only in my professional life, but in my spiritual life as well.
Last month I read something in Ann Voskamp’s Advent devotional The Greatest Gift that struck me hard. “When do you find yourself striving, reaching, grasping, for the next rung to try to pull yourself closer to God?” she asked.
I penned that question into my journal and pondered it. There was deep truth for me in Ann’s words.
All my life I have been striving, reaching and grasping – striving toward professional achievements, grasping at personal goals, reaching in my relationships, and yes, even striving to pull myself closer to God. I’ve often looked with envy at others who speak about God with seemingly more intimacy than I have with him. I assumed they had something I didn’t. I assumed that if I pushed and grasped and strove harder, I would find what they had.
I am finally beginning to see the truth though, which is that we don’t need to strive, reach and grasp for the next rung to pull ourselves closer to God simply because God has already come close to us — closer, perhaps, than we can ever perceive.
I know now that I don’t need to pray for the deepest desire of my heart – to be close to God – because the deepest desire of my heart has already been answered. I have God right here and right now. I had God yesterday. I will have God tomorrow and the day after that and for all of eternity.
It is simply in our ordinary living and being that we find God. He has already drawn near. He has been here all along.
The winter wind has died down. Outside my window, the pine boughs barely shift, the birch bark prayer flag is stiff and still. The sparrows and Juncos sit tucked into the lilac shrub, alert and expectant.
I sit at my desk and watch the snow begin to fall, quieting the world in stillness.
I’m doing “my regular stuff,” as I told my counselor. I am working. I am writing. I am folding laundry and stopping at the post office to mail a package. I am spending time with my family.
And in all that is regular and ordinary, I am already and always with God.