You may have read my previous blog on the transcendentals (truth, beauty and goodness) as the gateways to the soul and know that for me the most significant of the three is truth. I’m a naturally reflective person. I love following an idea through to its logical conclusion, and words and their meanings fascinate me, which all leads to truth often feeling like an old friend reminding me of something that deep down I kind of already knew. But truth is also so much more than this. Truth, for me, is like the awesome friend that introduces you to their other awesome friends (the other transcendentals) so you can all hang out. One example of this was when the truth spoken to me by a friend introduced me to an experience of beauty that was so incredibly healing for my soul.
A friend of mine wanted to sail around the UK and felt called by God to turn it into an intercessory prayer mission. He was joined by different crew members on different legs, and each day they spent time praying for the places they visited and reaching out to the people they met there. He invited me to join him for part of the journey but none of the dates matched up, until something in my diary got moved and I was suddenly free for a week.
Two other friends also felt called to go on the trip that week, and on our way to meet the boat we wondered whether we would find out exactly why God wanted them to be there. We found out the following morning when I got the phone call to tell me that, after 18 months of battling lung cancer, my sister had passed away.
That first day is a bit of a blur, but I made the decision to stay on the boat as planned. Two days later we sailed across an immense bay. Leaving on the 4am tide, it took us 16 hours to reach the other side. For some mysterious reason my mobile phone was playing up and lost signal all day, so I had no choice but to be fully present on this tiny boat in the middle of this huge bay. The sun was shining, the sky seemed endless, and the water was incredibly calm as we made our way across. We prayed for the land we were passing in the distance, we praised God for the wonder of His creation, and we sat in silence soaking up the peace of His presence. We even had a pod of dolphins come alongside us for about half an hour, which was incredible to watch.
At one point my friend turned to me and said, ‘This is all for you, you know. I knew you had to come on this trip with me because I knew that God wanted to pour out his blessings on you in a very special way and I wanted to catch some of the overflow.’ I think I began to weep at this point, which was not unusual during those few days, but as my heart received those words as truth, I began to experience everything around me in a new way. I have never felt more loved and more held than in those moments. I no longer felt the need to put words to how I was feeling or even to understand it, I was able to simply experience the gift of beauty as a balm to my soul.
Even in one of my darkest and most difficult moments, God was present, and His love was so abundantly evident and personal to me. I’m normally such a thinker, such a head person, and I have a tendency to push my emotions away. God knew that the only way to reach me was to bypass my head and go straight for my heart, to help me feel and not to think, to feel all of my overwhelming emotions in His loving presence where it was safe.
If we allow God to work in our hearts in His own way, He can use truth, beauty, and goodness to transform our experiences, even the ones we would have preferred not to go through, for our good and for His glory.
“He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted… to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:1-3