A few days ago, my DTS (Pathfinders) returned to base after a week-long backpacking trip through Fraser Island. Fraser is the world's largest sand island, and it hosts a confusingly wide variety of gorgeous landscapes: We trekked alongside the bluest shorelines, through thriving jungle-y interiors, across dreamy (and challenging) sand dunes, and splashed around in glittering freshwater lakes. The trip was beautiful and difficult and exhausting and freeing and full. I developed hip blisters and saw exactly 3 Huntsman spiders and learned what I smell like when you subtract soap. I also got to fill up my lungs with clean air and take the time to observe the exact hue of early morning sunlight and rejoice in freedom from text messages and mirrors. It was a good, hard pause from the normal rhythm of life.
To be completely honest, I expected a grand revelatory experience there among the clutter of trees and electric yellow birds and crystalline (sometimes red) lakes...and I didn't have one. I kept waiting to be smacked in the face by spiritual understanding, or brought to my knees in unprecedented awe, and I never was.
And I'm learning how okay that is. I want to cultivate a sense of awe of my Creator; I want to continually desire breakthrough in my relationship with Him; I don't think it's wrong to look forward to those revelatory moments with the Lord. But I think God is teaching me that friendship with Him doesn't look like this perpetual stream of overwhelming emotional encounters. My earthly friendships involve emotional moments, but the bulk of the friendship is composed of casual conversation, laughter, comfortable quiet, small gestures. And I think those relationships - like so much else in this life - were created to echo how things should/could work in our relationship with the Lord.
So I spent last week chatting with God on the trails about my dreams and my fears. He sat next to me as I pulled my knees up to my chest to listen to each morning's lecture, as I stirred the bubbling camp oatmeal, as I unrolled and re-rolled my sleeping mat each morning and afternoon. He laughed with me (kindly) when I tripped over a root; He breathed refreshment into my tired body when I plunged in the cold lake water each night; He wrapped His arms around me when sunlight poured through the leafy ceiling and warmed me up.
And being comfortable with Him in those ordinary moments, having the confidence that He is casually and tenderly and perpetually present in our lives, is what positions our hearts to be transformed, and frees our minds to understand, and opens up our hands to receive. Believing that He is near to me and involved in my life, not just as sovereign Lord but as my close friend, is what creates space in my life for Him to come and move. That's what stirs my affections and prepares the way for growth. Because acknowledging Him in those unremarkable moments helps my little heart grasp that He loves me in simple, tangible, profound ways; it closes the gap between heaven and earth because it exercises the reminder that the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in my heart, in the nitty gritty, in the dull or sluggish, in right now. When I'm struggling or feeling particularly unworthy, I revert to thinking of God on His throne in heaven, straining to hear my prayers... But that distance is just a barrier made up by my brain, and it can be taken down by my brain when I practice acknowledging God as a present and careful and real friend.
So I'm here, back at YWAM Brisbane, learning what it means to be friends with the Lord. It isn't a series of mountain top experiences, but it's trans-formative. What powerful, sweet relationship He offers to us.