A while back I read the book Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I found the book interesting, honest, but in my opinion misguided. I longed for her to come to truth in her search and struggle. I truly felt as if I could hear God calling out to her along the way, but then somewhere I feel she got off the right road and ends her tale in a place without the One True God, without real truth, and so content in her journey that she isn’t going to be searching any more to find her way to the Truth in the end. I must admit, I was heart broken for this woman at the end of the story. I’m sure she would not understand my feelings, because her stoy ends with her believing herself at peace.
This morning I went to church. Don’t get me wrong, I go to church every week, but the past 5 weeks I have been at a different church guest speaking with the youth group, and so I have missed our regular Sunday Services. I can’t rememeber there ever being a time in life where I have missed more than 2 weeks in a row of church in any church I have been at, and certainly not since we began attending this church 11 years ago. So this morning had a real sense of coming home. A real feeling of family. I so enjoyed hearing MY pastor teach while sitting with MY church family. The verses we studied were 1 Peter 4:7-9 “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” And as we read, I saw the three aspects of this woman’s journey brought together in these verses. Pray, Love and Eat. The things she was looking for are all here, they are not things that God opposes, they are all part of His plan. We just need to prioritize them properly and to work them together in the ways that He created us individually to be able to do. We must first seek His plan in our prayer. Then we use the strength and knowledge that He gives us to love others and ourselves, and we can be hospitable and share our lives, our homes, our meal, whatever we have with those around us. I know of course that this is not so simply done, the act of loving those who share our home, those who are perhaps difficult to love, or who’s lives we don’t see and therefore don’t think of, is a challenge. But God created us each individually with desires in our hearts, with the perfect set of skills, and in the perfect place and time to accomplish the tasks He has for us, that are a part of a greater picture. We are privlidged to be so richly blessed with purpose, and He is excited to share that purpose with us and see us achieve it. We do not need to hide away from the world for months at a time and give up all worldly pleasures to hear God’s voice. If that were the case, then only the elite would ever be able to hear God. He would be unattainable to those who needed to work daily to survive, he would be out of touch for those who could not afford to journey accross the world to learn propery. God is everpresent. While following Him comes with a price to us, the true price was paid on the cross. We recieve that gift freely where ever and whomever we are. Yes, we will need to sacrifce in life, we will need to take the time to pray and fellowship, but God is always within our reach. Even more, he is abundantly rich and freely gives to us the pleasures of this world to enjoy. We are alllowed to enjoy life, to taste great foods, to hear wonderful music, see amazing works of art, and read great books.
The pleasures of life are here for our enjoyment, but we are here for so much more than just those things. But how much better is it when we can integrate those things in life that stir our souls so deeply, that bring us such joy, and use them for our deeper purpose. I so love to cook and I love to have company and watch movies. So I get to cook, eat all sorts of food, hang out with people and watch movies almost every night of my life, and use that to minister to the needs of others. What an awesome God we serve. Some days I feel the itch to be somewhere other than here, doing something other than I am doing, and perhaps God has put that itch in my heart for a purpose, but for now I feel privlidged to be right where God has put me. Sure it would be nice to travel around the world on a year long quest to find purpose, eat great italian food and so on, but I have here what Elizabeth Gilbert searched for everywhere else. God was always right there with Elizabeth Gilbert from her crying on the bathroom floor to Italy, India and Indonesia, and back. He still is. I hope she will find Him. I hope she will discover that Jesus is all she needs. It sure is an awesome journey to be walking with Christ throughout this life, I am excited to see where we will go together, what is next for us, but I sure hope I continue to remember how blessed I am right here and now.