All the little pieces.

I remember the plane banking a little to the right, affording me a breathtaking view of the Big Island. I clutched my iPod in my right hand and finished the last several words in my journal with my left. Setting my pen down, I pondered the date: the 7th of March.  A smile stole over my lips… I’d returned. Almost a year to the date that I had departed, I was back again. In Hawaii.

I remember opening my eyes and shivering in the damp chill. Condensation hung on the canvas above me, and my air mattress was flat – like flat flat. Two spiders made their leggy way across my sleeping bag – way too close to my face – and I could hear the wind outside as it whistled and whipped around my tent. Three minutes later – after escaping my flat-mattress cocoon and donning one of three sweatshirts I’d packed – I slipped my head out of my tent and emerged. Into the rain. Onto a mud-riddled field. In England.

I remember running because I wanted to, even though the grade of the slope was something steeper than steep. The rocky, treeless vista to my right dipped down and away, into the deep blue of the sea. I could see the snakelike curve of the breakwater far below me, carving itself through the water and reaching its end at the white sentinel – the lighthouse.  To my left the mountain layered itself up and up until it reached it’s final crest, it’s respectable summit. I kept running up. Towards that summit overlooking the sea and the horizon and the harbor. In Wales.

I remember resting my chin on my hand and leaning my forehead into the Volkswagen window. Some mood-specific song (I think it was Coldplay’s Paradise) was turned up to a heart-churning volume as we sped like an arrow through the desert. The sinking sun bathed the valley around us with its final flame of the day – fire and gold – and it seemed like the whole world was contained within that one blazing and bold sunset. In the desert. In South Africa.

Hawaii. England. Wales. South Africa.

A year of chasing the horizon.

2012 whisked me around the globe, grew me up in a dozen ways, slapped some sense into me, saw me take an enormous tumble, and smoothed out a few more jagged edges of my pride.

I remember the bright flashes of this passing year, the illuminated memories that jump like sparks – the exotic travels, the searing stabs, the poignant moments, the hilarity, the wildness, the thrills. And when silence plays its soundtrack – when my heart is as still as it can be – I remember other things too. Up through the sparks of a hundred flashier memories come all the little pieces of God that have dropped like seeds of glory into my open hands this year.

2012 was not merely another marker in a dreary slog towards figuring out my “career” or trying to “accomplish something successful” in my life. No, in fact I’m learning that I could care less what noteworthy and socially-expected things I check off some to-do list.

I am not my achievements. I am not my reputation. I am not my successes, nor my failures. I am not what other people’s opinions label me.

I am a woman with a thousand unique pieces of glory in my hands – ready like flaming arrows to pierce the darkness around me – and with a God inside of me who has defined me not by what I do or don’t do, but by How He feels for me.

God loves me. He loves me. He even likes me. Crazier still, he enjoys me.

If I had done some astounding and incredible things to earn or win His love, I’d be pretty focused right now on anxiously redoubling my efforts to stay loveable, to keep Him interested and happy, to keep His affections.

But no such thing is necessary. Heck no. He loves me because He wants to, because it’s who He is, because it’s why He gave me breath. And He won’t ever stop.

He sent me on a plane ride to Hawaii, to a tent in England, to a mountain in Wales, and to a South African desert because in each new place and season He had another little piece of glory – a piece of Himself – waiting there for me like a treasure.

I used to think God was more or less like a divine businessman: carrying out the transaction of the cross in order to cancel my debt and unleash blessings through a measured program of trials, testing, and obedience.

But now I’m learning that God is nothing like that. He is the tender and fiercely loving Father with a whimsical glint in His eye and a passionate eagerness to surprise me with His creativity and loving-kindness. He has pieces of Himself waiting for me all over this planet, I think. And He wants nothing more than to go out and discover them with me. Every time I hear His voice and respond, I’m lifting open hands to receive a new and fresh bit of glory and wonder from Him.

Friend, it’s true for you too. God has tucked away a thousand unique little pieces of Himself all over this planet. And they are meant for you. You don’t exist to carry out bland religious transactions with a business-like, formally-polite God. You exist to hold onto your Father’s hand as He whisks you away into the powerful and surprising adventure of His explosive goodness. You exist for a treasure hunt.

And whether you find yourself in Hawaii, England, Wales, South Africa, or any other place on this planet, you were made to be filled up with all these little pieces… pieces of glory and of God Himself.

2013 is just around the corner. I dare you to live, to really live. I dare you to toss your fear out the window, take the hand of God, and go find all those little pieces.

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