Sometimes the words stir inside of us for a long time before there are verbal words that fit appropriately. Sometimes a desire rumbles around for a good bit before we even realize it is there. And then sometimes, the words that fit the feelings fly to the surface in an instant. That’s exactly what happened to me this afternoon – while I was drinking this:

Coincidence? I think not. Lattes certainly prompt the Lord to speak clearly. Someone needs to do a study on this. Please let me be one of your subjects for testing. Please.

The words came in a flash. We, the returning ones. That’s me. That’s you. That’s us. Here we go.

Know that the inexpressible urge you’ve been having is not just about you. It’s wide and it’s broad and it’s happening for many.

The time has come for us to return, to return to our first love. To finally step all the way in – no turning back. You’re not alone.

Perhaps you are like me and there has been a long building to get to this point. Here’s a bit of my story.

I grew up knowing the Lord from the time I was a little girl. I love that about my story, but it doesn’t matter if you met Him yesterday, we are the same. High school years were spent discovering Him. College years were spent getting to know Him in an entirely new way. Since then, there have been joys wonderful and lows surprising. And somewhere in the mix of that, some funk settled in. My generation craves truth, honesty, transparency. Rejects religion, routine expressions and spiritual performing. Whether we agree with those cries or not – is immaterial. The reality is that those are desires of the Lord’s heart – whether we have been offended by them or have embraced them.

I would say my experience was somewhere in the middle. Part of me loves religion if I can be honest. It’s predictable. It leads me to believe that 2+2=4. While my husband loves to fly the winds of adventure with no rules and welcomes a raised eyebrow or two, I – well – those things made my insides cringe. But in time, I was kind of forced into agreement with my generation because predictability simply quit working for me. My daily time in the Word dried into hollowness. My times of prayer ceased to be conversation. Every attempt of routine left an awfully weird taste.

Initially, frustration raged. WHY WASN’T THIS WORKING ANYMORE??? I finally let go and just stopped trying the things that used to work. It was oddly freeing. Then it was gloriously freeing. God still loved me if I didn’t read X number of chapters a day or prayed first thing in the morning. More than that, He still interacted with me! Outside of the parameters of ‘normal’, He met me. He eased my fingers out of a death grip on formula. He met me in creativity and freedom.

Mixed into that season were some hard years, though. Years where we walked through the valleys and character was built far below the surface of what anyone would have seen had they just looked at me. When I would try to go back to the Word, and felt nothingness, my heart started to ache. It happened again and again. The feelings of experiencing the Lord through the Word and conversation simply were not there. I kept waiting for the feelings to return. Now, let me say, I walked with the Lord through these years. I loved Him and felt His love for me. He spoke to me and I spoke to Him. I worshipped Him. He reached out to me. But I ached to feel like I had some clue of how to approach the Word and instead I felt lost. Me! A Believer since the age of 6! I did pray and I did feel His response but I knew there was more where that came from and a desperation started to build in me to find it again.

So – there were the freedom years – the aching years – and then the reconnecting/rebuilding years. Ah yes the reconnecting and the rebuilding. Thank you GOD for that! The Lord is full of mercy. He is not far. He is one who goes to find the single lost sheep. That’s His personality. So He, in His goodness, simply started to pursue me. I felt a little lost in how to pursue Him, so He took over. There weren’t quick fixes – but there was a conversation begun. He started in conversation – quiet whispers to my heart that could have easily been missed. The craving inside of me only grew. The more He gave, the more I wanted. I haven’t been perfect in responding. Mercy no. My hope is that 2014 will be a year that I respond in groundbreaking (for me) ways. After the conversation was reestablished, the hunger for His words started to grow. I’ll be honest and say that I am in the process of learning what that looks like. But, the music to my ears thing is that I no longer feel lost! I don’t feel confident but neither do I feel lost. He’s rebuilding my paradigm for knowing Him through His Word and that takes some time.

Can you relate to any part of my journey? I feel silly even typing this because I KNOW that you can. Somehow it seems like a fairly normal journey when the Lord breeds change. He speaks to the young (who are typically more easily convinced to accept the new), He starts breaking the mold, response is both right and wrong and is exactly right and overreactive all at the same time. The change is walked out…initially in freedom and then in a time of wrestling to search out where the Lord really is versus where we thought He was. And then now.

Now.

This year.

You. Me. Us. We are returning. We will be the returning ones. We return to the Lord. To our First Love. We return with a deep conviction that we simply cannot live without Him, without His Word, without the simple disciplines of life in Him. But we return with the knowledge that it WILL look different. There will still be a messing of the routine. Rules will continue to fail us. He may reinvent the wheel with us every single day but that’s okay. It may look traditional one week and off our rocker’s crazy the next.

But we return.

Hosea 6:1 ESV
“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.”

So the destruction wasn’t mean. It was purposeful. The tearing down of what we knew in order to embrace what we didn’t was intentional. Now – let us be healed and be bound up.

You are not alone.

Much love,
Abi