The God With Us Podcast

You Are Not Alone (Foundation Ep. 1)

October 17, 2019 Geoff Holsclaw
The God With Us Podcast
You Are Not Alone (Foundation Ep. 1)
Chapters
The God With Us Podcast
You Are Not Alone (Foundation Ep. 1)
Oct 17, 2019
Geoff Holsclaw

Many of us have felt abandoned by friends and family, even by God. Does God really understand what we are going through?

This episode focuses on the power of presence, of being with someone.  And Jesus really is part of our lives, in the depths of despair, in the despair even of death. 

Geoff and Cyd lay down the foundation of this podcast, looking at the personal and biblical basis of God's presence in our lives.  And the contrast other ways of talking about God (as distant or vaguely everywhere), and why we need to remember that God is really with us.

And please join the God With Us Podcast Community, where you'll get updates, resources, and be able to continue the conversation, and even help us plan future episodes.

Show Notes Transcript

Many of us have felt abandoned by friends and family, even by God. Does God really understand what we are going through?

This episode focuses on the power of presence, of being with someone.  And Jesus really is part of our lives, in the depths of despair, in the despair even of death. 

Geoff and Cyd lay down the foundation of this podcast, looking at the personal and biblical basis of God's presence in our lives.  And the contrast other ways of talking about God (as distant or vaguely everywhere), and why we need to remember that God is really with us.

And please join the God With Us Podcast Community, where you'll get updates, resources, and be able to continue the conversation, and even help us plan future episodes.

Geoff:

Welcome to the God with us podcast with Geoff and Cyd Holsclaw . That's us. We're here to explore God's presence and purpose in our everyday life. If you have trouble imagining how you can connect with God in your ordinary moments than please join the conversation as we explore God with us. Today Is our first episode and we're gonna really talk about like, why are we doing this podcast at all? And kind of how God has met us and said, you're going to kind of start with that story.

Cyd:

Yeah. So this podcast has been sort of building and developing in us for a very long time. It's really difficult for me to ever have a conversation with anybody about anything connected to God without at some point during the conversation, finding myself coming back to saying something related to, and God is with us in the midst of this.

Geoff:

So it's always the top of mind and tip of the tongue for you.

Cyd:

Yeah. Yeah. And it seems like it has become the most important thing in my life and I think it can transform anybody's life. And the reason that it's become so important for me is through personal experience. So do you remember when I started doing a manual prayer?

Geoff:

Yeah. You were going to these training events on Saturday mornings and coming back, like super amped up with all this stuff and there'll be some of this stuff we share throughout a, the weeks and months to come. But yeah. So what was that first initial impact that was like so important for you?

Cyd:

Yeah, it was through a facilitated process with another person and really connecting with God's presence first. Just trying to, to, to remember, you know, we see like in the book of Matthew that God is Jesus. When he was born, the angel said to Mary, his name will be Emmanuel, God with us. And then at the end of the book of Matthew, when Jesus leaves his disciples, he says to them, I will be with you always, even to the end. And so through the some annual prayer process the ideas that, well , if God , if Jesus said he's always with us, then he must actually always be with us. And so he must actually be part of our lives. And so part of that process was going back to other memories in my life. And one of this, one of the places that I experienced God most tangibly was a really difficult memory where I felt like I had been all alone and that nobody understood what I was experiencing or what I was going through. And through this Immanuel prayer process, I was able to sort of revisit that memory and see that Jesus had been in that memory and being able to see where he was and what he had been doing and how he had experienced that memory with me just changed everything because it made me think about all the times in my childhood when I felt like I was misunderstood or that nobody had seen me or that nobody was hearing me. It was like, well, if Jesus was with me in that place, he must have been with me and other places. And the more IX , the more times I was able to experience memories where Jesus was actually ended up being helped me to sort of re narrate my entire childhood. Do you remember that process? [inaudible] Yeah , it was crazy. So, so much of my childhood had felt like, I mean, I had great parents. It's not like it was, you know, but as I was thinking about there just, you know, different, small places where a friend misunderstood me or I didn't feel like people were really getting it or a husband maybe didn't quite listen well. Yeah. But it started with my childhood and seeing my childhood differently, but then bringing that understanding of, well , if Jesus had been with me and my past, then he must also be with me in my present. And then it became, I can connect with him here and now in my presence as well. And it was sort of like, well, you remember the, when I lost my mom you were with me. We were in grand Rapids together and, and we found my mom on the bathroom floor and she had had an aneurysm. We didn't know that at that point. But you had been with me for that entire day. You'd been with me when the you , you were there when we called nine one one. In fact you called nine one one, right? I don't remember. There was a blur. But anyway, you were leaving. They called nine one one wasn't supposed to be there. I was supposed to be flying right after Christmas vacation with your family. But you were there and you were there when the ambulance came. You were there. We drove to the hospital together. You were there when I called my grandparents. You were there when I called my sister. You were there every step of the way. And so you were in all of those moments with me experiencing all of that with me. You were there when I was trying to help everybody understand that I really thought this was going to be goodbye. And other people were saying, no, she's going to pull out of this. She always does. But you were with me and my understanding of the situation, how I was reading it, you were there when they pronounced that she had died, that she wasn't gonna come back. You were, you were there when we planned the Memorial service. I mean, you were there every step of the way and so you understood just how significant all of that was in my life. And I remember at that point in time, we had, we were living in California and all of this happened in Michigan. And I remember when I was trying to talk on the phone to friends in California to let them know what had happened. And you know, I have great friends who were asking me really good questions about how I was doing and but I just, it was so hard to come up with language to be able to communicate what all of this had been like. And it was so incredibly reassuring for me that you had experienced all of it with me. I didn't have to explain to you everything that had happened. I didn't have to try to describe what any of that had been like because you had been there. And that was very much a foundational moment in our lives. We weren't even married at that time. But that of basically led to us being married. If we could live through something like that and be with and for each other then Hey, we

Geoff:

Can do anything.

Cyd:

Yeah. And it's, and I think as I began to see Jesus in my childhood memories and thinking of him and my present , it's like Jesus is the one, the only one who has been with me every single moment of my life and has experienced everything with me. And so he's the one that I don't have to find language for to help him understand what has, what things have been like. He's the one who's always coming to me in all of my moments with me in every place. And that understanding of God with us has changed everything for me. It's, I mean, I no longer think I used to, you know , I used to think of God is like,

Geoff:

Oh good. I was just about to ask you that question. Well, how did you use to view guide ? Like how did, how did God function or how near or far did God seem because for you this was a big change. So how do , how do , how were you raised to view God in some fashion?

Cyd:

Yeah, I think I had been raised with this understanding of God being sovereign, you know, the , the one who, you know, like Isaiah 40 comes to mind, which I still love. It's, it's fantastic, but God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth. The idea of like the inhabitants of the earth being like grasshoppers and flowers fade and grass dies, but the Lord lives forever. And so I had a very high view of the sovereignty and the majesty of God. And I definitely believed that God had a plan for his people, like the whole people. But I had this concept that God viewed his people as like one singular thing. And so like God sits way back here in thrown above the circle of the earth and his people are like a conglomerate hole and he has plans and purposes for this whole thing. But the idea of him seeing and being with individuals within that group of people was just something I just never even had a category for . I just never even imagined that God would quote waste his time. Knowing what was going on with every individual one of his people. But he was more concerned about the whole people.

Geoff:

Yeah. So humanity as a collective, all of God's children, God has plans for his whole family, but you know, he's got really like in tune and I want to get back to this word of attunement in a second, but God's not really in tune with all of our individual concerns. And I think a lot of us were probably raised with that kind of, you could call it a transcendent view of God. I was talking with a neighbor several years ago and they were kind of unbelievers and just talking about God, there was like, I just, you know, like I, my, my picture of God , she said is just an old man behind a giant desk just like ruling over the universe. Right? Or like, you know, kinda like the president of the United States, he's like buried in the white house behind a bunch of secret servicemen . You could get in there and actually talk to him and he doesn't, you know, he's in control of the inaccessible, inaccessible. He, you know, he has so many things he's concerned about like ensure that his decisions and purposes are going to help you in some vague way, but like he doesn't know. Exactly. And so I, that's how I was raised too. And I think a lot of us were, I think another kind of way that people you got, okay, go on. Because he's a non-scripted. We're not like reading off of a manual, so we're just going for it.

Cyd:

So that idea makes prayer really challenging too then, because if God is inaccessible and he's not really concerned about individual lives, then I know I always kind of had the sense of what's the point?

Geoff:

John's going to do what he's going to do and his purposes are good and true. And so I just pray in order to change my heart, not to change God's heart.

Cyd:

And who am I to think that God would actually care about what I'm praying about because he has his overarching purpose and he's not gonna , you know, he's not gonna change.

Geoff:

And certainly, and we're not saying those things aren't true on one end, right? So like certainly God does have purposes that include all people and certainly God is in some sense in charge and sovereign and transcendent and his purposes really can't be forwarded . So as my mom always says, we want to put the, and in there, not like a, but a , another way of viewing God that I've come across with a lot of people is kind of this like vague. It's kinda like God isn't necessarily distant. He's near, but he's like a vague cloud, like a fog, like a morning fog that just kind of like persist throughout your life. Like a impersonal kind of existence. Which can feel then that like, Oh, God's nearby, or God's with us or , but there's no like personal connection. There's no attunement we can say may the force. Yeah. Oh that's, that's a great kind of like analogy. So it's kinda like the forces always with the same moving and you know, we could call it love or something like that. But it's like, yeah, but it's like, does that force of love, like hear me and does it weep with me and does it rejoice with me? And does it care? Yeah . Is it, does it really care or is it just kind of there? So I think there's those two extreme poles of God's like way out there in the universe doing his own thing and inapproachable approachable kind of everywhere, but not super personal. So how is it changing ? So if we could talk about these words, attunement. So to kind of fill out what does it mean that God is with us. So we could maybe talk about like the Exodus story. I think that's like a really good yes story about how God hears. Well, why don't you walk us through that. What are the

Cyd:

Yeah. Well when God meets Moses in the burning Bush and he says to Moses, I have seen the oppression of my people. I've seen the suffering of my people. I have heard their cries and I have come down and I am sending you to deliver them. And so in that we see that God sees his people, he hears the , you know, he hears their , their anguish. He hears their laments , he hears their suffering and then he gets it. He understands how big it is. And then he's coming down. He's, he's choosing to be present to people in their suffering and he's doing something about it. Like he's for them. He's not just like, Oh, I see it, I get it. And then not doing anything. But he's actually saying, I see it, I hear it. It matters to me and I am going to come and I'm going to be with them and I'm going to do something about it. Like I'm not letting this continue. And so that sense of attunement is, I see, I hear , I understand. I'm with you and I'm for you.

Geoff:

And so we're going to be exploring in this podcast with guests and just the things between us and the things we've learned. Both the spiritual aspect of God being attuned to us, but also that like the neuroscience and the psychology of attunement about how, how how, how much it makes , excuse me, how much it makes a difference when someone can, ah , someone calls it feeling felt so certainly like a lot of us. Yeah. Kurt Thompson in the anatomy of the soul, he talks about feeling felt and how a lot of times we can just kind of intellectualize our problem and we say, Oh , well I just want so-and-so to understand me. And that that is technically true, but really what you want, what we want, what I want is someone to feel the thing that I'm feeling, to feel the weight of it or to feel the joy of it and to enter into that space that which is called empathy. So what we call, what we want and call understanding is often empathy and the fact that that you've experienced that we both have and we long for everyone else to feel, felt by God and also feel in a sense God's feelings.

Cyd:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's so crazy as we, the more we've learned about brain science and the more we've learned about it, it's really, I mean, it's amazing that God has given us such a window into the way that our brains work and that we can actually have like MRIs and watch neural activity as it's happening. It is MRIs. I think it's something else. Electromagnetic imaging. Yeah .

Geoff:

That's MRIs . But that's for

Cyd:

All right . Well anyway, I'm not a technology person, but the more that we've learned about neuroscience and the way that our brains actually function, the fact that we have the ability to watch brains working in different situations. It's just really cool to see that God really did make our brains to function better when someone is attuning with us, when someone is glad to be with us, and then that I , and then going back to the foundation of the way that God made us is to always know that someone is attuning to us to always feel felt, and so it's just really cool to be able to get a window into God's very creation is built in a relational way. It's so neat to see the way that our brains are formed that way. I just, I could talk about that for a whole pie .

Geoff:

Well, we're going to talk about that on our next podcast. So the one after today, we're going to talk about joy and how our brains are really structured for joy and not just our brains, but our spirits and our lives. And how all of creation in one sense is rejoicing because a presence, well, let's see. Now I want to do all that work, but I w this is, you know, like when you're in the presence of somebody who wants to be with you that brings joy. Yeah . And so that is, that's, that's for the next podcast. So to kinda wrap up for today, what have been some of the practices or the things you've been able to live into in a way that help you experience God's presence more?

Cyd:

Yeah. Well, one of those ways is just, I think, you know, Ignatius encouraged us to read scripture with our imaginations and he encouraged us to read, especially the stories of Jesus and Jesus interacting with, you know, healing the sick and casting out demons and being with his disciples. And to try to put ourselves into those stories and say, I can imagine myself part of that story. Even just doing that and trying to imagine myself as part of that story and, and what Jesus, his voice would sound like and what it would feel like to be part of that story then helps me be able to better understand what Jesus might be doing in my own memories of my own childhood. And then also so like, and Lectio Divina just really soak , soaking in scripture. But really the thing that has helped me the most is centering prayer, which is just really trying to just be quiet and just notice that God is present with me whether I feel it or not. And that's the thing, like centering prayer is a struggle for me. My brain does not quiet very well. I don't sit still very well. You know, that I'm like, I'm better in motion, I'm better in activity, add people. So sitting still and trying to be quiet as difficult for me. But the thing that has helped me as someone had this drawing, I wish I could, I wish I had it so I could show you. Maybe I could anyway. But someone had this drawing in their house and it was a drawing, you know, of Jesus with a child on his shoulder and the child is sort of snuggled up into his shoulder. And so some, when I do centering prayer, I'll sit sideways in my chair and sort of snuggle into the chair and imagine myself just snuggling into Jesus. And that's an a reminder to me that Jesus is present with me. Whether I'm actually feeling it all the time or not, I'm just trying to tune myself to the reality, the truth that Jesus is with me. And just trying to pause there in the morning before I go about my day to be like, I'm the chief . This is really here. And that can change everything that I do today. Because it not only changes the way that I understand my life, but it changes the way that I interact with other people when I think Jesus is not only with me, but as I see you frustrated and upset Jesus with you too. And , and even if I'm not saying that out loud at all, but just thinking about the situation and recognizing that Jesus doesn't just understand what I'm experiencing, he also understands what the person across from me is experiencing. And I, if I don't get it, that doesn't mean that Jesus doesn't understand and that I can't also pray, Lord, give me the eyes to see what you're seeing so that I can understand what you're understanding so that I can grow in my compassion and empathy for this person because I know you're attuned to this person. So it helps in, in conflict and in dialogue.

Geoff:

[Inaudible] Well, and I think it gives, it kind of fills out the to , you know, love commands that we get from Jesus but also from live the book of Leviticus to love God and to love our neighbors. And that can sound so vacuous or so like, you know, highfalutin or like how do you do that? It's like, well, Jesus offers to be with you and do a tune to you and to work for your good. And so how can we learn to do that for our neighbors? You know? And if we love God by attuning to the ways he's attuning to us and seeing us and hearing us and we can pass that along, then that's the way we develop loving God and loving others. For me. Like you said, you started off with your personal stories and you know, very personal interactions with Jesus. And I was as about as much more maybe left brain kind of person who's not as attuned to his emotions. Just, you know, that's part of our own life history of working in and out together in our marriage. But, you know, I have to be hearing those things. It's like, Oh, that sounds great. But I , I took those things to heart and as a PR , a theology professor I was starting to read the Bible from this new question of like, well, what is this God with us question? And the more you have that question on the top of your mind as you're reading scripture and thinking through the story of the Bible, it's like, wait, this is like the whole question that the Bible is trying to answer and we're going to get it this. Now we're going to , you know, get at this through different episodes. But the idea that after the garden we often read the story as you know, after the fall in Genesis three that the primary question that the readers of Genesis and that Adam and Eve were thinking is like, Oh, what's God going to do about my sin? Like I've fallen into sin, I'm going to die. And I'll say , and those are real questions. But I think a lot of times what we miss is that this , the story of scripture isn't answering the question primarily what's God going to do about sin, but rather how was God going to reconnect his presence with humanity. And when you read Genesis that way, Genesis one, two and three and then when you go all the way to the end of the story and that revelation 20 and 21 you hear the new heavens is coming down to the new earth and God's dwelling place is forever going to be among humanity. Say, Oh yeah, with this people, God with us, Emmanuel, God with us is what we got in the book of Matthew. But really it's the whole story of the Bible. And so this podcast is going to be kind of pulling these multiple threads of our personal experience. I'm doing hand motions, but for those of you who are watching the podcast , you can't see that. But like the multiple threads of, you know, we're going to be pulling on our personal experience and how we've engaged with God. We're going to be pulling from brain science and neuroscience and getting, you know , experts on here to kind of talk about how we're created relationally. We're also going to pull the threads of theology and the Bible and keep kind of weaving. So maybe we're not, because that sounds like I'm undoing the threat . So we're going to weave together the different threads, hopefully have this woven tapestry. Explore them. Yeah . So we're going to exactly this. That's what this podcast is , is exploring God's presence and purposes in our everyday life. So please join us. Join the conversation. We have multiple avenues that you can connect with this podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher. It'll be on YouTube at some point for those of you who view and consume all stuff. I'm forgetting. Oh what's the one our boys always listened to that pod. The music one C spot. Yes. Spotify. It'll also be on Spotify. I'd need to write all these things down. I'm doing it off the top of my head. No , I'm just not as prepared. But this is our inaugural podcast. So next time we're going to talk about joy and how joy is different than happiness and how God has created this world for joy. And then the two after that is we're going to talk with two different episodes too . We're gonna look at two aspects of being made in God's image. How is humanity made in God's image and hat? How does that connect to presence? And also, how does that connect to purpose? So we always want to hold those two things together, is the presence of God in an among us and the purposes of God that are being extended through us and how we can find ourselves in those two things. So those are the next three episodes. So please join us for this journey. Yeah, great to be with you today. [inaudible] .