Face Value Connectivity.
For those who have journeyed out of the four walls into the place of the wilderness, the margins, the great disconnect, there is often an experience of incredible isolation and loneliness. That sense that nobody cares about you. Where as once so called ‘fellowship’ was at least a once a week experience, now all that stops. For me personally I discovered that people who I considered to be friends and companions in the journey disappeared off the radar altogether. The phone stopped ringing with invitations to speak or even have a coffee. The time I probably needed to be surrounded by people the most became my time of being shafted even further into the shadows. It was as if I had never existed in the first place. This was the darkest moment of my life, a time I fell into what I could only term depression and my wife Allison will say near breakdown. I was at melting point. Even the relationships I had left, my marriage and family, were at near melting point. I admit at this point I was angry with God and the way I started to conduct myself just qualified how dark I had become. Of course all of this could become great fodder for those who want to point the finger rather than stand alongside you by saying, told you so, serve you right, see you needed to stay in fellowship. Rejection at this point is strong. You wake up and smell the coffee that much of the connectivity that takes place within the four walls is only face value. It is not real, it has no depth. Disconnection exposes the fact that you may not have been too connected in the first place.
Deep Cries To Deep.
It was at this lowest of points that I was arrested. Not by a police force but by a Force that even at my darkest I could not deny. Sitting in a hotel room with thoughts of running from it all, away from my family and my home, there was this sense that came from nowhere. The last thing I wanted to think about was God with me but suddenly He took me by surprise. He was there in that room, in the isolation. He was there embracing me, holding me, loving me. He spoke nothing to me, He never sent me an angel or gave me any signs of glory, He just held me. It was at this point that I started to discover the fruitful embrace of future connectivity. The sense that God is enough. That He really is in and through all things. That He is with me if I lay my bed in the depths as well as if I climb to the peak of the mountain. The lesson that my dependency is not upon people but totally upon Him. That he loves me and wants relationship with me without performance from my side. It is not dependent on church attendance or Bible reading or set prayer times or standard of holiness, we are in relationship 24/7. A passionate love relationship. Connectivity here is all that’s needed. It is here that the wilderness becomes a place of pools. That deserts become Bethel. That the margins become the main story. That brokenness becomes a connecting point not a rejecting point. I realised at this place that earth really is full of heaven and heaven really is full of earth. Sacred and secular collide and produce life, abundant life. Where normal is divine and the Divine is in the normal. Deep cries to deep cries to deep cries to deep…
Fruitful Embrace of Humanity.
For me the next phase became the fruitful embrace of humanity. A fresh connectivity with those of this world. of the spheres, of community, wherever I found connection. Although at first finding a job on a night shift when you are fighting with depressive thoughts was not recommended, when the connectivity with God and my heart started at this venture those that I worked with became precious companions in my journey. There would have been a time I would have seen these people as ‘them’, the others. The one’s I had to try and win. Now they were winning over me. There was embrace without wanting a performance from you. There was friendly banter without having to worry about acting holy. There was a walking alongside as the night owls gathered, sharing life and pain and joy. At this moment I think about sharing the joy of seeing one of the former night colleagues get baptised, sharing the joy of an expectant young father over the moon that his girlfriend is pregnant, sharing the loss with a friend who has juts lost his mother, talking with a boss about my beliefs, my journey and hearing about his faith and journey through the punctuation of the ‘f’ word. After being spiritually abused by people it can be difficult to embrace humanity again, but what a fruitful embrace. People are people, that is what makes us so frustrating but also so fascinating. My pain, my hope, my wilderness walking has led me to embrace the people in their own journeys and environments. Another guy at work who is a Christian said this week, ‘I have never been so worldly’ because of how he is living in connection with these people of the shift. I can relate to that, but maybe what we should see is that we have probably never lived so heavenly.
The Fruitful Embracing of Real Friendship.
What I had in my heart yesterday was this; “Disconnection from face value connectivity within the walls will yes at first lead to isolation, but there is in place, and coming, a greater depth of connectivity in honesty, pain, hope and wilderness walking. There may be less physical connections but those that are will produce a fruitful embracing.” If anyone wants to term this a prophetic word feel free, but whatever you want to call it I sense it is God’s heart for those who have journeyed the terrain of the great disconnect. There is coming, and for some already there is a foretaste, of greater connectivity at a depth that we have never experienced before. Real friendship will arise from the ashes. True companionship. A standing together through the mud and the mire as well as through the glory clouds. A wanting the best for not just believing the best for, even when the life may seem as if it is falling apart. We may not have as many physical connections, as some of our companions may only be connected through the medium of cyber-space, but those that are existing will be a real fruitful embracing. We don’t have to try any more to be everyone’s friend, but there will be friendship for everyone. Not based around a meeting place or gathering, but naturally connected in a supernatural way. Bono once sang about God’s love being like glue that held his marriage together, that is what we will discover as the great disconnect becomes the greater connect. For those feeling the pinch of isolation right now, take heart a new day is coming!!! That will not help at this moment in time, I know I have walked there, but in days to come it will begin to make some sort of sense. There will be that fruitful embrace. I thank God that my journey now is littered with a few precious friends that produce in my life great, sweet fruit. Friends that I have shared journeys and adventures with to other lands, friends that pour out honest confessions to me, friends who are real, friends that are slowly beginning to draw out the real Paul Leader from all the badges and titles that I wore. For all of us this is but the beginning of the fruitful embrace of a future connectivity.