Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Every heart has so much history..."

"Every heart has so much history.
it's my favorite place to start.
Sit down awhile
and share your narrative with me.
I'm not afraid of who you are.
I'm all here, and you're all there...
Some of this is unique,
and some of it we share.
Let's add it up,
and start from there.
Oh, it's all right here...

It's what is best,
and what is worst.
And it's how I see the universe.
Oh, it's all right here..."

Over the last few weeks, I've been thinking alot about our stories - our spiritual life narratives - and why they are so important to us and to the humanity.  And this past weekend it was my privilege to conduct workshops on this subject for Dick Davenport's Midwest Bible Conference titled, "I Love to Tell the Story."

While I worked and prayed in preparation, Sara Groves' "
It's All Right Here," kept lingering in my heart. 

I love that she reminds us that:

"Every heart has so much history.
It's my favorite place to start.
Sit down awhile,
and share your narrative with me.
I'm not afraid of who you are..."

This weekend I loved hearing the stories of truly brave men, and women, who were willing to unpack their suitcases of history with one another...in workshops, at lunch, and sitting on a basketball court between sessions.  Together we looked at all of those mental artifacts from our life narratives...deep sorrow, soaring joy, haunting regrets, rich accomplishments...and we listened.  I was so blessed by their stories, and I felt so honored to be trusted as a listener.  I sat in awe of their courage as they reclaimed each of those life-moments for God.

It became evident to each of us, that God had been there when the floods rose. God was there in the dark of night, the bright dawning of a new day, when bitter tears fell, and when hopes rose. God is always there, and the gift of seeing this seamless thread of His presence running golden through our life stories is an exercise rich with humility and redemption.

Looking at the Biblical life stories of people like Joseph and Jesus, Ruth and Hagar, gives us a platform for this kind of spiritual re-building in ourselves. Our lives become contemporary parables for others. 

Joseph's story is filled with pride, rejection, self-certainty, heartache.  And yet, when he recounts his life trajectory to his brothers...men who are horrified to come face-to-face with the victim of their bullying and betrayal...he doesn't ask for their apology and regret (which they are more than eager to extend) He reclaims his entire life narrative for God when he says:

"Be not grieved nor angry with yourselves, for it is not you, but God, which sent me before you to preserve you a posterity upon the earth."

Wow, arrogance, pit, slavery, false accusation, prison, rise to fame...nobody's fault, nobody's credit. He claimed he was God-sent into each moment as a blessing, and that was that.

You can look at the life of Jesus...just take the cutting off of Malchus' ear and his rebuke...of not the soldier arresting him, but his disciple defender...in these words:

"Put up again thy sword...thinkest thou not that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He will give me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"

Or Hagar who discovers God's relationship to her son in the middle of the wilderness after being rejected by her mistress and her son's father. 

And of course there is Ruth, Bathsheba, Tamar Rahab...women whose life narratives are, at best, questionable, but whose true stories are redeemed through their presence in the geneology of Jesus Christ himself as related in the first chapter of Matthew.  And then there is Mary, a girl whose suspect pregnancy is redeemed through the birth and life of a boy who will become the risen Saviour.

In his "The Gospel According to Jesus" Stephen Mitchell suggests in contrasting the life narratives of Buddha, the prince who would become a humble servant to mankind, and Jesus, the illegitimate child who would become the Prince of Peace, that:

"We can see the respective beginnings of these two great men as opposite ends of the spectrum that is the human condition.  Together, their meaning is that no life is so sheltered or so shamed that it can't be transformed into a vehicle of God's grace, a vessel filled with the deepest charity and wisdom.  So capable are we of using whatever materials (or circumstances) we are given; so irresistible is the phototropism of the human soul."

Ahhh, "the phototropism of the human soul," that irresistible turning to the light of who we are as God-sent disciples of Christ with a holy purpose.  Standing in this light, we begin to see our stories through the lens of His over-arching presence within every moment.  As Sara also sings in another favorite,  "
Add to the Beauty":

"Redemption comes in strange place, small spaces,
calling out the best of who we are..."

Redeeming our life stories for God, sharing them with others, and trusting those redemption narratives to call out the best of who we are...moment-by-incredibly-courageous-moment...turns our lives into living, breathing, healing contemporary scripture, blesses humanity, and brings the kind of freedom that we can only imagine from the dark precincts of the lonely tomb where fear, pride, and regret try to  shroud us in sorrow.  Spiritual living is not measured by a string of human success stories, but by moments radiant with salvation, redemption, and peace...an inner peace that persists in storm or shine.

"It comes in loving community
It comes in helping a soul find it's worth.."

Thank you, God, for sending me into this weekend full of loving community...I am your grateful daughter...
Kate Robertson, CS


  1. Anonymous9:29 PM

    I loved your blog today, I found the ideas shared wonderful and inspiring. I especially loved this thought you shared from "The Gospel According to Jesus"
    "no life is so sheltered or so shamed that it can't be transformed into a vehicle of God's grace, a vessel filled with the deepest charity and wisdom."
    It was perfect for me to read and think about tonight... Thank you!!♥

  2. Those are two of my favorite Sara G songs. Thanks for expanding on the ideas she put in them. Beautifully done!

  3. Leslie9:13 PM

    It was an honor to witness your talk...not to mention that it was inspiring and beautiful and full of all the heart you always bring to everything! <3

    Much, much love to you, precious friend...