After a long break from the topic, Zoweh returns to the Four Pillars Talk with Pillar Number 2, Orientation. On deck are Michael, SJ, Jim and Tom. With the last talk on Orientation being back in February, it was definitely necessary to recap on the concept of the Pillars. Over the last decade, these were the principles that kept coming up and they found to be the truest, through working with others and within their own friend group. Necessary to the scaffolding to Orientation, they recap on the base Pillar, Intimacy. Without this, there’s no hope of getting to Orientation!
The Zoweh guys share when that intimacy with God became elevated and connected for them. Jim shares first on how he expected God would be there at the beginning and the end but wouldn’t be involved in the middle. Michael confirms that was his experience too, where you knew from verses but not from a relationship. Jim continues that he viewed love as a task, not something to experience and explore. “Experiencing” is a key word here.
Tom recapped on his experience in finding God. He had gone on a spiritual journey at the end of high school, and God was the only one who sought him out. It hit hard and real and since he’s been with Zoweh, it’s been an upward spiral of learning who God is. While he recognizes God will seek him out, it’s a two-way relationship and He wants to be sought out as well. SJ shared his experience meeting the group at a weekend that his first experience with this school of thought was “I don’t even know what I’m hearing, but I want more”. The more he wanted, was intimacy with God.
SJ continues that as he seeks more intimacy, an enemy of that is the closed off parts of his heart. So it’s been his goal to open up his heart to connect more. Tom says that one thing that’s changed is how he prays and learning to ask God questions and connecting with His heart for the situation. Instead of treating prayer as a request system, Tom has been finding himself using it as a time to connect.
Michael confirms this shift, from only the service, obedience, and following the rulebook. While these are good to follow, there is eventually a requirement for “graduation” to intimacy, faithfulness, and conversation…. Relationship terms to connect with God. Michael really felt this, growing up in the church, where he had to slough off the dogged attitude of shame and that God could never be happy with him. So asking God questions, being able to hold conversations with Him, was revolutionary!
They briefly go over authors and speakers who have written about this intimacy with God, as this isn’t a new concept for Christians to explore. Some favorites were Brent Kurtis - “The Sacred Romance”, Thomas Keating, Richard Rohr, Henri Nouwen, Graham Cook, even to the disciple John, who spoke with Jesus directly and had a relationship with Him.
After coming back from the break, they caught up a bit on the previous talks of Orientation. Michael asks “What does it mean to be an oriented man?” The very basis of Orientation, SJ shares, is “a man or woman that knows who they are, where they are, and the good that God is up to in their life”. Who you are is a beloved son and daughter. Where you are is your placement in the Two Kingdoms (see other podcasts). And the good that God is up to in your life, is more subjective to how He is working in your heart and growing you up into Kingdom Life.
One way to put it is “where there are circumstances in your life that is not God’s will, He will deploy His way”. Michael confirms this is true. Sin is a separator from Christ, and whether we have experienced someone’s sin towards us or we have done that to another, it’s going to happen. This is where God deploys His way to redemption, reconciliation, and recovery from loss so we can be reconnected.
Michael opens up the floor to ask the guys “When has Orientation been apparent to them in your lives?” Tom recalls when he learned that wounding affected the “policy decisions” he made for his life. Sometimes it is conscious, but more often it’s a gradual shaping of cause and effect. You begin to calculate the best ways to respond to life and situations that may not be the best or even authentic, and these contribute to the false self. The false self is definitely an enemy to our Orientation. To get to becoming oriented and knowing who we are, we have to also know who we’re not! Ways to distinguish the false self are asking “What am I hiding? What am I proving?”
Tom said for himself, he was a shy and withdrawn person for much of his life, not because he was naturally introverted, but because he feared embarrassing himself and experiencing rejection. It takes going back and evaluating those moments that fed into that, and you will see in time, the false self is reduced. He encourages the listeners, for those of you who struggle with fears that have a constricting effect in your life, that’s not a life sentence. All it takes is taking the time yourself to address it (it helps to have a mentor) and then find others to share that growth with.
An oriented man’s question is “What is this?” Michael shares an example after talking with his daughter recently where he had to go and ask that very thing to God and see that there was an element missing in his life. It is normal to be sad or angry that it’s missing, but answering by saying “All right I want this” opens up your heart for a chance with God to work on that.
SJ says the most important first step is getting to the headwaters of that problem. He says he believes many people, and he admits to doing it to, try to “white knuckle” their way to the change they want when they recognize the problem… They submerge into a check-list for self improvement. This is not a lasting solution! This is why intimacy is so vital, because through intimacy with God you will gain access to those locked and missing parts of your heart and be able to be more in touch with your own heart.
Michael says “more information” is not what he personally craves at this time. Where he’s at is he craves walking with God, and invites the listeners to do the same. Walk with God. Jim laughs as he finds the time he best connects with God is when he is literally walking with Him on morning strolls. He uses it as a time for Q&A. Even perceived inconveniences can be opportunities for connection, both Jim and Michael confirm from their own experience.
Jim was watching “Moneyball” recently and feels like it makes for a good allegory: “There is an epidemic failure in life to see what is going on”.
Michael begins to wrap up the podcast reminiscing about when they made the maps of the Kingdoms and shares about how “Search and Rescue” was very much about their learning of orientation as an element of Kingdom Living.
Orientation of your being is such a large conversation for just a couple short podcasts, but hopefully, this serves as an invitation for you to explore more on your own. SJ invites readers to see the 2 Kingdoms map on https://www.zowehoutpost.com/two-realms-two-kingdoms-map/ and also take advantage of the other free resources at the outpost.
Next time, the Zoweh gang will be tackling Pillar 3 which is “Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Prove, and Nothing to Fear”. See you next week!