Tag Archives: farm

Authenticity: The “Real I” and the “Real Thou”

 

At fourteen, a few days before I turned fifteen, I had a crash-bang encounter with the Real Thou…and He spoke directly to the Real I.  Having been chosen at the last moment to replace someone on our Youth For Christ Bible quiz team, I had crammed for a week, trying to memorize scripture that we would cover in quizzes against other teams from our North Atlantic District.   We were going to represent our group at a large convention in Ocean City, New Jersey. This was a big deal…and I was scared.  By the time we got to Ocean City, I was not feeling well.  I got worse as the week went on.  Except for the evening services, the quizzes were about the only part of the conference that I could attend during the day.  Other than that I was in my hotel room, sick.  .  My only real memory of that week was sitting with the other 2,000 young people listening to Torrey Johnson bring to conclusion his sermon.  No words from that sermon remain in my memory.  What I remember is that the crowd faded away and I saw Jesus hanging on the cross…and it was for me.  The depth of His love touched my very soul.  And it was His love for me, that little girl who had some knowledge of who He was and a very little knowledge of who she was.  He intimately knew and loved that young woman who was ready to give up pursuing hope; the one who had lost her sense of the adventure of life.

He knew me and He loved me, the real me, with unfailing and undying love.  Never again would I have to flounder on my own, never again would I need to search for an identity.  He knew who I was and He would reveal that to me in a loving, unfolding way the rest of my life.    That knowledge changed my life.  I was forever devoted to Him.

I am continuing to learn how that authenticity works.  In much of C. S. Lewis’ work, he emphasizes the importance of the “real me” in relationship with “the real Thou.”  I am learning about my Creator/Savior as I read His word, as I talk to Him, as I listen for Him, as I watch his creation, especially his creatures.  I am getting to know more and more the “real” Thou.  And slowly I am becoming the “real” me.

Yes, I am ME.  I am the one God created to live out this life in all of its surprises, conundrums, joys, sorrows.  Inside this skin.  Within the boundaries of my family of origin, with all of the handicaps and giftedness that may entail.  In Kansas!  On a farm!  With my husband (that gift from a God who never changes).  With the children and grandchildren God has given.  I must take every day as a gift from Him.  And then I must live it as the person God created me to be and continues to form me to be.  That life will not look like anyone else’s life.  It will be uniquely mine.  And in that uniqueness, I will be bringing glory to God that only I can bring.  I will be uncovering something about the mystery of God that only I can uncover.  I am becoming authentic.

The gift of authenticity. The farm gave us as a family a platform where we could practice being authentic, and where we could offer an authentic experience to others.

No Pretension

 

Authenticity.  Reality.  I think that was what drew us to our farm.  Yes, it was badly run down. The farm had seen a lot of living.  It had been used to raise chickens and pigs, to grow crops, to supply milk, to allow a tiny family of three with little outside income to live comfortably for years.  The eighty-five year old farmer had told us when we noticed the huge stacks of firewood around the house, “In the winter I stay snug as a bug in a rug.” The tiny house had been a shelter, a place of love, heartache, joy, loss.  No pretense, no desire to impress, just living out life in a simple, authentic way.  We stepped into that history and attempted to continue the story.

On an instructor’s income, we had no money to spare.  Most of what was done was by family (the boys were in Jr. High; Sara was six), and wonderful, incredible young college students.  Sara and I fed the crew sandwiches, chili, and hot chocolate in those cold months; and in the summer lots of lemonade, ice cream, pie, and more sandwiches. We worked evenings and weekends. We cleaned out the top of the barn that had been filled to the very ceiling with hay bales..  Slowly, those who had bought the hay at auction had come to claim their hay. What was left after the bales had been claimed was mounds of loose hay full of mementos: old horse harnesses, buckets, mice, snakes, etc.. Meanwhile, Kansas State University’s InterVarsity had used what bales were there as seating for their “barn party.” Hundreds of students were to pass through that old and unadorned barn in the future.

The crew tore down sheds that were too decrepit to restore, cut brush, created paths and gates, built steps with large rocks from the pasture.  The process of reclaiming and refocusing the use of the farm was a team-building experience because we did it together, in a simple and unpretentious way.

The open and natural expanse of land also beckoned my soul.  As I walked in the pastures and through the forests, I sensed the presence of the God who knew my innermost being, the One with whom I had no need of pretension.  He knew me better than I knew myself.  Up on the top pasture or down in the woods I was free to be myself … to sing, walk, pray, worship,  knowing I was loved and at home in His presence.  I had been on a journey for years learning to be open and  not self-conscious around others;  but alone with God as my companion, I had always been totally at home.                                      (to be continued)