I should probably mention the spiritual warfare that goes with being someone who is seeking to live and share the story of God in the world.
Ephesians 6:12 says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. " (NIV)
I struggle to put words around what that means, and I know that it's not a good idea to spiritualize every bad or good thing that happens in life. Some things just happen or are natural consequences of the choices we make. But I can't deny that there is an element of spiritual oppression that has followed me since I took on the project of writing Second Story and, now, since I decided to do a storying group again.
It's hitting me very strongly right now, actually. Every old emotional barrier that has kept me from God in the past is resurfacing. Every human hurt or pain that has been a companion through my life is showing itself so strongly that it can't be ignored. Most of all, I feel completely and utterly alone.
According to a friend who has seen some amazing movements of God in the lives of many groups of people, there is a sort of pattern to how movements of the Spirit of God go. It starts with a person or a group of people reaching out to those around them, being present in the lives of huge numbers of people. The amount of time and the frequency with which they can be with the same people over and over affects how quickly things go from there. And then there is a time of stillness, where it seems like every word and action is being done in a vacuum and nothing will ever happen - God will never show up. And then there is intense spiritual oppression that accompanies spiritual interest by a certain number of those people. How long this goes on, I'm not really sure. And then finally, the Spirit is unleashed and there is fruit - in fact, there is so much fruit and so much momentum that the darkness can no longer hold it back.
I'm taking her word for it. I was in the vacuum for many years. Now we're definitely to the spiritual interest/spiritual oppression part of things. I am trusting and hoping and praying that a time of abundant fruitfulness is coming.
In the meantime, my question has been how to deal with the spiritual battle that's being waged around me. It's too much. The passage in Ephesians talks about the sword of the Spirit (the word of God) and the belt of truth and all that. I kind of understand what that means, and I kind of don't. It does help to be able to name those barriers and those human hurts and to invite God into them. I know that worshiping God in spite of those things has the power to dispel some of the darkness. I also know that, for me, artistic expression can be very helpful. So those are the things that I've been trying. If you have other ideas, though, I'd love to hear them...