I love a good published journal.
Anthony Doerr’s Four Season’s in Rome began my love-affair with nonfiction prosety in the form of journal entries. Earlier in the year, in an attempt to get involved with nonfiction again, I purchased D.H. Lawrence & Italy, a published collection that contains 7 short-pieces that are quite descriptive and, as I would come to find, profound.
Nestled in the midst of sweeping descriptions of the Italian countryside was this quote:
“There is the I, always the I. And the mind is submerged, overcome. But the senses are superbly arrogant. The senses are the absolute, the God-like. For I can never have another man’s senses. These are me, my senses absolutely me. And all that is can only come to me through my senses. So that all is me, and is administered unto me. The rest, that is not me is nothing. It is something which is nothing.”
Typing this up to put into this post, it is just as startlingly true and rattling to me.
In summary, what D.H. Lawrence is trying to get at is this:
Everything comes to us through our own senses. Our experiences of events (traumatic or dreamy), words, even food comes to us through that which is singular and tailored to the individual.
So basically, no matter how many times your mom tells you to “put yourself in their shoes,” it is quite impossible. You can’t leave yourself at the doorstep. You do, in fact, bring 100% of yourself and your feelings, emotions, reactions, opinions into every situation and experience.
Let’s put that on the back burner to simmer for a moment.
Just under 2 weeks ago, I travelled down to Quakertown, Pennsylvania to participate in a bible camp as a counselor. The camp always stirs something within the campers and is so heavily saturated with spiritual encounters that we always leave feeling exhausted (because of no sleep) and totally drained because of how emotional it is to meet with the Savior and King. We ask for his Spirit and He always always meets us. What a faithful King.
As we were travelling down, I was praying over and meditating on the Lord, and I just felt Him bring to mind (or focus my attention on) a word that would come to play a huge part in the week.
To be quite honest, I had no idea what it meant. But the word just kept washing over me.
Overwhelm. Overwhelming. Overwhelmed.
Let’s put this one on the back burner too. Like any meal there are a lot of elements to this post and story and I can’t explain them all at once, of course. Bear with me. I think it will be good.
This year and more specifically the last few months of school were some of the more difficult I have walked through. Riddled with doubt. Depression. Brokenness became my being. Waking up felt impossible. Going to bed was a nightmare. Darkness swelled, and fear grew, and I thought at least once a day “How am I ever going to get through this?” I think the easiest way to describe the physical feeling of it was emptiness. Utterly numb to feeling, emotion. I felt detached from my body, from my King, from those I loved. Like I was living on a plane on which no one else was.
It hurts to look back on these days because I can still feel pieces of this loneliness that felt like it devoured me.
I remember every day, pleading with the Creator on my bathroom floor that he would redeem the moments, the days, the hours. That he would shine light onto my darkness. That he would be bigger than these moments.
I also remember being angry. When that time on the bathroom floor would end and the minutes would turn into hours and the hours to days and there was no spiritual respite it was this that went through my mind:
My Creator King, my Holy Father was nowhere to be found.
Loneliness. Crippling loneliness.
I knew that He was there. But I didn’t feel him. I knew He would sustain. But I didn’t feel sustained. I knew He would redeem. But I didn’t feel (or see) anything of the kind.
So here I am, at Youth Camp, expectant to meet my Savior but bringing with me the baggage of last years loneliness, fear, unmet expectation, the broken-heart of all my broken relationships (which at the time felt like it included my Jesus). And here he was whispering this word:
And over the course of the week this is what I felt stirring within me. These are the things the Lord crafted within my soul using the broken knotted strings of last year.
As imperfect human beings with a desire to understand all things, we want to marginalize, define, and understand our surroundings fully. We experience life from the time we are born and apply our experiences and our understanding to everything that comes our way. But our god-like senses are horribly imperfect. (The D.H. Lawrence quote fails to mention this.)
In the midst of deep darkness and massive waves I confined his power and love to a mere life-preserver that would grab me out of the stormy waters and put me high on a cruise ship (not even a boat!). This was his love.
I applied my finite knowledge of his faithfulness and decided that from all the ways the Lord had protected and preserved me, this was no different: I was meant to be healed of this! He is supposed to be healing me of my brokenness! His love comes in the form of healing.
His love is overwhelming.
He is more.
A Just King, who disciplines to teach, who holds your hand in the midst of the fire (but doesn’t always silence it). He can calm the seas, yes, but he teaches us his faithfulness when the swells rise higher than we ever thought they could.
Life is confusing, yes. He plans all things for good, yes. He is FAITHFUL, yes.
But he is beyond even the written word.
And ultimately this:
His love is deeper, wider, and greater than I could ever imagine.
His ways are higher. His thoughts are bigger than we can comprehend.
I confined my King to a 2×2 box, I didn’t allow him to be bigger than simply being healer because I held so tightly to the desire to be whole.
And when he did not throw the life-preserver and swam beside me instead, I looked at the skies and told him that he was not who he said he was. I yelled
And I screamed.
And I pointed to Psalm 30, saying if he promised the morning would come where was it?
And the way he came into that doubt and that confining tendency.
Oh. I still can’t get over this.
Reader, He is an overwhelming King.
Your circumstances are big, I know.
But He is bigger still.
When the night grows dark, remember that our God is greater than our finite human senses and understanding and capacities.
He is far beyond our earthly, imperfect understanding.
His love is more.
Than the city that runs you down.
Than the friend who doesn’t understand your Faith.
Than that thing in your life that gets in the way of earth-shaking joy.
He is an overwhelming King.
Whether you want to remember this or not, He is. God is only capable of being BIG in his goodness and love and kindness.
He is always more.
I dare you to get lost in it.
To revel in the OVERWHELMING ways of his grace.
In his deep, full, healing love.
In his complete, freeing being.
This week, I want to challenge you to spend 15 minutes thinking and writing down ways the Lord has revealed aspects of his love and character to you. When you have written down the characteristics of Jesus, find scriptures that have shown you this and write those down beside the characteristics, so that in the moments when you’re tempted to make him small you can remember the ways that he has shown himself as bigger.
He is bigger still.
He is more, still.
Get lost in his love, reader.
He is freedom.
P.S. and if you feel yourself struggling to stop confining him to that 2×2 box, pray.
He desires to meet you, in fact, He will meet you. Our overwhelming King delights to show himself to his kids.
(SOME) MY FAVORITE SCRIPTURES ABOUT HOW OVERWHELMING OUR KING IS:
(ISAIAH 40:10-18, 21-31)