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Santa & Lori I just walked into our home having driven home from LA after a couple of weeks with our family and friends over the holidays.Yes, that’s me in my Santa accoutrements with my numero uno “helper”.

Lori stayed in LA for some extended time with friends giving me the gift of a two day drive.

I spent much of the drive silent. I’m always amazed how much God has to say if I am merely quiet. 

"We live in a noisy, busy world… We have become a people with an aversion to quiet and an uneasiness with being alone." – Jean Fleming

"Be still, and know that I am God”. – Psalm 46:10

I was silent, he was present.

The entire drive seemed as though I was “NASCAR-ing” across the Mojave, canyon lands of Utah and the mega-Rockies with my best friend – who happened to be The God of All Creation! I drove, he sat next to me in passenger seat with one foot raised up on the dash and an elbow hanging out the window. Two road warriors spending a couple of days on a long drive free associating, asking one another questions, pondering the deep questions of life, drinking in the scenery and laughing together over all the unique oddities of the Inter-State Nation.

Early on I was profoundly convicted of being a poor lover… both of Him and so many others. The faces and wounds of those I hate and have yet to forgive popped up. Loving others authentically, strongly, wisely and from the heart is the high bar we’re called to live and I fall far short. Short short. I have wounded many by overt dismissal or disengaged and cowardly withholding of compassion. My need for repentance, forgiveness and a deeper walk with Christ surfaced over miles of open highway. (The issues here will be a focused theme of God’s work in me this year for sure!)

One truck stop and an In-And-Out Burger later* there came a transition.

What I became aware of was the intensity of my desire to be a better man… to love others courageously as I was intended… and as they were meant to be!

The repentance, sorrow, conviction and the horror of how I can live didn’t push me into the shaft of condemnation, self loathing and shame. Instead the pierced hand of my travel mate, the Sovereign Just Savior, patted me on the knee, then the shoulder as he pivoted and turned looking at me and speaking words of forgiveness that settled the issue... and offered the invitation to all that’s needed to love/live well.

About that time we cranked some tunes by Tom Petty, Ashley Cleveland, Stones, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Foghat and Jeff Beck. There is, for me, at times, a grace in loud music. We were two bobble-heads enjoying one another at 85 MPH. streaking across Utah.

The desert and canyon lands of the West are drop-to-your–knees beautiful.

 Is beauty definitionally indescribable?

Whether it’s nature, a person, music/art… I find myself lifted by the hope/reassurance, joy of beauty. I’m more alive, more passionate and thinking more clearly in the presence of beauty than I am in homey gray hues of the foggy world that often surrounds me.  

The epic views of terracotta mesas, plateaus, deeply cut river canyons, red clay cliffs and formations fostered visions of castles and fortresses, cowboys and Indians… of some ancient and future life. I repeatedly slowed down or pulled into a lofty vista point to gaze… and then to feel, in the same moment – very small/finite and yet very vital in the mythic story of God.

I was silent, but all of nature was grousing. The artic wind was howling and I’m certain all the rock massives and sentinels were crying out… groaning for that yet-to-come future time when we shall be liberated from bondage to decay and brought into the glorious and full redemption and freedom of God (Romans 8).

I was quiet, all of nature was singing.

Driving for hours through the dramatic trophies of God’s power and craft we listened to the sweeping sound tracks that fit the country – Out of Africa, The Mission, Dances with Wolves. It was eternal!

Woven in and out of the drive I found myself whispering prayers, praise, adoration and worship softly to God. These were tender and intimate moments - from the heart, deeply loving. Then I would come around some bend to a whole new dramatic vista and would begin shouting (screaming) out the testimonies and confessions of my heart… It was a rebel yell of glorious and wild praise.

In a mile or so silence would return, and we road warriors would continue the communion and joy of being together… chatting,it would seem, about all things important and a few not so.

"God was pleased to pour into my soul a great spirit of supplication, and a sense of His free, distinguishing mercies so filled me with love, humility, and joy and holy confusion that I could at last only pour out my heart before Him in an awful silence. I was so full that I could not well speak.” - George Whitefield

And so it is.

– Craig McConnell

* When you travel calories, carbs, fats and sugar don’t count… right?

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