Nomad's Log 1
Friday, July 2nd 9:34 am Foggy Mountainside
I don’t want to walk this way, this road looks dark and depressing. The realization of walking a path inevitably leading me to a future without him; a reality where he and I are not together; an actual physical place that is a consummation of unknown factors, the frequent appearance of unidentified individuals taking the place of close knit yet broken relationships it’s like getting rid of one of your favorite pairs of shoes, not because they no longer fit, but because your new role requires an array of changes in order for you to flourish. There are new places, spaces, and experiences around the long corner of this mountain side utterly eclipsed in fog, a thick gray ill fitting comforter.
Such unknown variables make my heart palpitate. It is too early in the morning for this, I am stuffed head to toe, in travel gear, my backpack packed with materials squared on my back as I readjust the scarf wrapped around my neck examining the fog hiding my pathway.
I don’t know where to go. The fog is too dense to see ahead. I cannot wait. This path is too steep and there is nothing to eat, drink, or set up camp here.
Suddenly, the Shepherd emerges from the fog, his shadowy silhouette materializing from the grey shroud. He holds his staff in one hand and his rod is hitched to his cloak.
He speaks in a clear firm voice, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)
The Shepherd is always making demands and speaking in parables, but today His message is clear and my heart is still tender from the night before. I shake my head trying to erase the memories. I don’t want to talk about it just yet. The Shepherd’s frankness does not bother me or turn the corners of my mouth even more downward. It is never how He says things to me, it is always what the Shepherd says and the truth of it and the message behind what He speaks.
The cost of loving me, Jesus your Lord and Savior is forsaking everything and everyone you love and hold dear.
I don’t want to experience new adventures without the accompaniment of those I love dearly. What ever happened to friends forever? What happened to true love conquering all? I can create memories but what is the joy of memories if you’re sharing them with complete strangers and you’re stumbling your way through circumstances you’ve never encountered. Is this really my spiritual destiny? I pull the scarf over my nose. There is a quiet rancid smell behind me lifting up over the chilly mountain breeze. Is something dying?
The Shepherd stands undeterred by the smell or the uncomfortable, tension building silence growing between us.
My hands ball together in tight fists. I knew it.
This is the price of my spiritual destiny, the spiritual destiny of a few hundred disciples before me who braved these lonesome mountain paths, finding no warmth or life in the wet grounds at night. I have to hate and despise the parents who forfeited their lives and raised my brothers and I; I have to abandon and hate the very brothers whose joyful, loving countenance were the only rays of cheer during my dejected episodes. I have to hate the very friends who still wish for my good and enjoy my companionship while my manic and uncontrollable episodes punctured wicked holes in our past friendship. These people answered my rage and self destructive tendencies with unwarranted kindness, understanding, and unmerited forgiveness. To hate them or forsake them, leaving them in the hands of the God who broke me. God is a jealous god and I know that first hand. All of my romantic relationships ended due to an ongoing inner conflict within me about the God I served. Now a few years ago I saw someone, encountered someone who ignited something in me, a desire and God in His terrifying divine, creative brilliance orchestrated such an encounter to wrangle or surrender this desire under his mighty authority.
You have to hate your life. You have to hate your life and surrender the plans for your life over to me. Do your part in the plan of salvation and surrender your rights to me, the Shepherd. Remember, you accepted me as Lord (Master) and Savior (Deliverer) over your life.
I grind my teeth. I take deep breaths and lunge my fingers in my thick, curly afro. I mutter curses underneath my breath, because this is not fair.
Most Christians know we are bought with a price, very few Christians live out their earthly lives in total submission to Jesus Christ. This means my life, my body, my heart, mind and soul are Jesus’ life, Jesus’ body, Jesus’ heart, mind and soul. It is the destruction of self imposed ownership, true Christianity knows we were delivered from our slavery of sin and now live as slaves to righteousness. Our slavehood never ended, only the nature of our slavehood and our Masters.
I am called to surrender what little dreams and aspirations I have left. God shattered them. His foot crushed the face of my dreams, lightning split through the surface erupting the dreams into thousands of jagged pieces.
“The heart is deceitful,” God begins looking down at me, while hurt tears bleed from my eyes, “above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
My body convulses fighting against the sobs. No, God does not get to hurt me and try to console me all in one breath.
“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
Instinctively, my hand clutches my heart. Your body remembers the trauma while your mind forgets it.
The Shepherd speaks again, not leaning on His staff, His gaze penetrating my soul. “I have called you to be my disciple. If you want to be my disciple, you know what you have to do, carry your cross, and follow me. I know the way to the Father. I know how to get to the place of which you are called. I made the way I am the way. You have responsibilities and a new life in Christ. This is your burden to bear! The crucifixion of your old life is the breeding grounds for the new life!”
I don’t move. Do I want this new life? Would I rather traverse the grounds of my iniquity, linger in my old stomping grounds like a ghost haunting the halls in denial of its terminated existence? Do I love my sins of idolatry and sexual immorality that much to numb the pain of reality?
Who do I love more, Jesus or God’s blessings?
I don’t want to go any step further. I loved him. I want to shout back. I wanted him. I didn’t want this. Frustrated tears surface to my eyes, yet the Shepherd is still, stiff as a statue. His gaze never departing; His eyes never flitting, while I crumple underneath the weight of His invitation. Every fiber in me is yelling for me to turn back, and I shout and remember I can’t go back!
The way back has been sealed. I crossed tattered bridges that fell into vast, deep chasms. I journeyed across scorching, dry deserts discovering oasis out of God’s goodness and mercy that I could not find on my own. I ran though hunkered down roads and plains flooded by rainwater. I crossed a freaking lake in the middle of a tsunami.
I can’t go back because the way is closed and unknown. I had no map, just God’s word lighting the way and the reassuring grip of my Shepherd. My eyes are growing wide at the sheer realization of the perils of my trek. And why–why would I go back? I left a town, void of life, indifferent to God, and spiritually dead. There is no life behind me, only regrets.
On a more horrifying level, I can’t go back. I know too much, the truth is etched or seared into my mind. The Shepherd has never lied. He speaks only the truth. A part of me tasted the honey from His lips (Psalms 119:103), and it was sweet, delicious, dare I admit satisfying. Every word the Shepherd speaks is life. He gives life everlasting (John 10:27-28). He is trustworthy, faithful, wise. I need Him.
There is no one like Him, my Shepherd, My God. I need Him.
Suddenly, a throe lobbied itself in my chest, the pain thrusts me back into my chain of memories and I remember all of what and whom I will be forsaking if I choose to continue this adventure wholeheartedly. There is a definite, almost high possibility I will never see him again. If I embark on this journey, this person will soon fade and become as thin as fog, a fading wisp riding the summer breeze into nothingness, he will be less than a passing thought. If I embark on this journey, I’m at the risk of never loving this person in this lifetime and the next (there is no marriage in heaven, only Christ and His bride).
I’m on my knees writhing in emotional and mental anguish.
The Shepherd is still standing in the same position. The same fixed gaze.
I want to give up. I want to give in. Check out of life.
Then, a fire is lit in my heart, starting small, and begins to flicker and breathe. I know the invisible hand of the Holy Spirit anywhere, He puts things, words, scriptures in our hearts when we least expect it but always need it. The red sparks leap and jump bringing into focus the old story of the rich young ruler, the Holy Spirit encourages me, right now to pull out my Bible and read it.
“17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”…..
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (Mark 10:17; 21-22)
The true story vibrated within me like a low, deep baritone hum, and the power of the message became clear. The story’s truth was bringing peace to the war waging in me like dust settling over an old unused piano.
Who am I?
The young man was a rich young ruler. His wealth defined him and what he wanted and where he wanted to go and eventually who he was. He loved his great wealth more than Jesus and the absence of his earthly riches was a sorrow too great for him to bear–even for the sake of knowing the Son of God, Jesus.
“Jesus loved” this rich young ruler too. Can I return Jesus’ love? What a heavy axe to swing to be loved by the Son of God?
My eyes lift from the Word of God and I meet the penetrating gaze of my Faithful, Shepherd, My King and Lord. Who am I? Am I a woman who humbly accepts the truth that Jesus is all I need and courageously take his invitation into the unknown or am I the woman who turned back and no longer followed him?
It is who I am or who we are that determines what we will do. I am a child of God blessed greatly by the hand of God. Jesus is the truth. He holds the words of eternal life (John 6:66). Where should I go? I wipe my eyes, close my Bible, put it in my backpack and stand in the face of the Shepherd.
I answer Him, “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me.” (Psalms 142:3) This is my choice. I choose to go ahead. The Shepherd finally moves. He walks ahead of me and I follow His footsteps, my heart aches for me to take one look back, to say my goodbyes, but the Holy Spirit is stern. I am not looking back because this is my choice, my decision. I resolve to move forward, hunkering in the Holy Spirit to strengthen my resolution to make peace with the abandonment of my past.
I press on knowing the fog closes the door behind me and not knowing what is ahead of me.