306 – Real Life, Real Talk in Christ’s Presence

This Week on Soul Talks

It’s tempting to look to what you accomplish or what people say about you for personal meaning or security. But then we miss the smile of Jesus glowing over us!

Colossians 3 offers a wonderful promise that’s sadly elusive for most of us: “For you died, and your life is now hid with Christ in God.” This means that your best life – the abundant and eternal life that God offers – is here and now accessible to you in the secret place of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

In this episode of Soul Talks, Kristi asks Bill about his recent personal meditations on Colossians 3. You’ll discover inspiring and practical ideas for how to engage your relationships and work while enjoying the loving presence of the risen Jesus.

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Real Life, Real Talk Transcript

Bill & Kristi Gaultiere

 

What It Means to Be Hidden in Christ

Bill 

Today we’re going to come back to the theme of this podcast—Soul Talks. And we’re just going to talk with you, share with you how we do that in our relationship.

Kristi

So Bill, how have you been encouraged in the Lord recently?

Bill

Well, I have been meditating on Colossians 3, which you know, I’ve memorized. And particularly the first part of that:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

So verse three, which says “your life is now hid with Christ in God” —that thought is not at all a new thought for me because I memorized this passage maybe 20 years ago. 

I’ve recited it hundreds of times, countless times—but I’ve just been feeding on that phrase. 

“Your life is now hid with Christ in God.”

It’s like God is saying…

“Your real life, Bill, your best life—your flourishing abundant eternal life is now hid with Jesus in the heavenly realms in God’s presence. And they aren’t just way up high, but they’re coming down right here in the air that you’re breathing. You’ve got a real life that’s hidden and unseen in God’s presence.” 

This is what the Lord wants to nourish in us. 

This inner, hidden life—going through life with Jesus—and people don’t even see, necessarily, that we’re praying silently.
Or, our heart is warm, or we’re taking whatever that situation is that we’re experiencing—what we’re working on, a conversation that we’re having, whether we’re talking to somebody over coffee—but we’re taking that, and we’re bringing it into God’s presence, because our real life is hid with Christ in God.

How Does Being Hidden in Christ Help You in Your Spiritual Walk?

Kristi

You’ve been meditating on this phrase from Colossians 3, and about how your real life is hidden with Christ and God. So, that’s helping you in what ways—concretely and personally?

Bill

Well, I’m doing this as I’m running in the morning, and coming around the lake and through the parks. 

And I’m just going through my mind, reciting the passage. And then I stopped on that point and sensed a warming in my heart. 

So I stopped there, and I repeated it, and I began to spin off prayers out of that. 

And in these prayers, I’m thinking about different aspects of my life, my work, and our family. 

And I’m praying for our kids—for one of our children, for their life to be hid with Christ in God, for them to know that and to grow in their discipleship to Jesus.

I’m praying for a specific situation in Soul Shepherding and with our staff or a project I’m working on.

Just different things. 

I’m spinning off into prayers, asking that we would draw nourishment from the hidden presence of Jesus, and cultivate that hidden life in God’s presence.

It Helps With Trials and Temptations

Kristi

Is it helping you with trials and temptations in any way?

Bill 

Well, yes it is because I’m going deep in that meditation in those prayers. 

And so I think that that helps me to be different when difficulties happen. 

So like yesterday, we got a letter in the mail from a ministry asking for financial support, and it’s a ministry that is similar to Soul Shepherding

And so in the perspective of the world and the natural it’s like:

“They’re our competitors.”

Because there’s some overlap between our ministry and their ministry. 

And as I was reading what they were doing, I had some feelings of temptation. 

I was feeling inadequate, and found myself comparing myself and my leadership of Soul Shepherding to this colleague’s leadership of their ministry and where they’re having some success, and then comparing that to where I’m feeling like it’s hard to succeed. 

And so I was having some angst about that, and temptations towards jealousy, towards envy, towards ambition, towards getting judgemental. 

Because it’s a defense mechanism. One way to compensate for feeling inadequate is to judge somebody else. 

It’s like:

“What they’re doing isn’t that great anyway!”

Then I feel more special about the way I’m doing it. 

And so, I had these thoughts and these feelings, and was starting to go down this trajectory in my mind. 

And I caught myself because this is not the first time this has happened to me over my years. Many, many times I’ve been tempted with this, and I’ve learned a different way of dealing with that. 

And so, what I do is I begin to pray for that person, that ministry, for their ministry to succeed and for God to bless them and what they’re doing. 

And I thank them for what they’re doing. 

And I thank God for what we get to do, and for the opportunities that God has given us, and to be grateful for that. 

But even in doing that, I still felt some inner distress and emotion. So I knew that I needed to not only pray about that, but I needed to verbalize that to a friend.

And you were available, and I knew that you would want to support me with that. So I shared with you and asked you for empathy for what I was experiencing.

It Helps to Reorient You in Your Walk With Christ

Kristi

So your temptation sounds like it was to forget that your life was hidden in Christ, and to think that your life was about what you’re doing now in your work and your ministry, what you’re accomplishing, and what you’re achieving, and the impact it’s making. 

So it sounds like there was a reorientation for you that this meditation first gave you.

Bill

Yeah, exactly. Instead of measuring myself from outward performances and successes, I remembered that I needed to measure myself based on my relationship with God, through Jesus.

And my hidden life—nourished in God’s grace, that I’m unconditionally loved. 

And that I have this ongoing, intimate relationship with the Lord. 

And that my work, my ministry, is an overflow from that. 

And it’s a participation in what God is doing. 

And so it reorients me to remember that this is a great life

Your life is now hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, appears, you will appear with him in glory. 

And so, just imagining that, just seeing Jesus coming on the clouds as the scriptures talk about, and as Jesus himself talks about. 

And in Jesus’ return, knowing that really there’s a sense in which that’s happening right now, spiritually, that the Lord is present in the clouds, as it were.

And, Jesus is shining in glory. 

He’s the radiance of God’s glory. 

As Hebrews 1 says, “The exact representation of his being.”

And so seeing that shining face, that smile—his open arms.

And that connection, that engagement, and that stepping onto the cloud like a chariot. 

He makes his clouds like chariots. 

And so, stepping into the chariot with Jesus to do my work, the work of prayer, like the work of praying for my competitor to be blessed, to succeed. 

To pray for that ministry to flourish, and for people to be helped through that ministry.

That’s actually participating in God’s works of love. 

It Helps You to Measure Your Life According to God’s Standards

Bill

So, the scripture from Colossians, that “my real life is hid with Christ in God,” and my best, happiest, and most fruitful life—is a hidden one. 

It’s not made of things that are easily measured in different ways.
We can look at:

Well, how many people are listening to your podcast? 

How many books are you selling? 

How many people are coming to the Institute? 

These are all the different metrics that one might look at to examine how Soul Shepherding is going. 

And those metrics matter. We look at those, but those don’t define me as a leader. 

And so, that was a temptation that Satan was bringing me. 

And so to get out of that temptation and back into the space of my intimacy with God.

And to remember that my work is really my response to opportunities that the Lord brings me, and participating in that with him.

Kristi

It also seems as I’m listening to you that this verse—this meditation—this truth that you’re directing your mind to from scripture, that your life is now hidden with Christ and God—that it’s also helping you to attach to God for your wellbeing.

Instead of being attached to things like your accomplishment, or what people think of you or other things in this world we can get so attached to and identified with.

Bill

Yes, that’s true Kristi. And that’s helpful, because as I think about it with you, there are a number of aspects embedded in what I’m saying that are helping me to attach to God. 

I didn’t understand these things in the early years of my Christian life—including as an adult, really. 

And so, it’s really been over time—through just the process of my apprenticeship to Jesus and the spiritual formation journey, that I began to understand how there are a number of different things that work together in order to become more like Jesus—and to begin to really experience the life that the scriptures talk about. 

But part of it is what we’re talking about here, which is sort of the inception—which is the meditation on scripture

So, reading that scripture, memorizing it, meditating on it, spinning off prayers out of it—there are a few disciplines that are working together there to help me attach to God.

But then again, if that’s all I did—well, that’s all very wonderful. But it really wouldn’t be enough because we have to go through tests, trials, and temptations in life.

That happened to me. 

It Helps to Reassure You of God’s Ultimate Truth

Bill

And so, that scripture is made more real to me—that experience that my life is hid with Christ in God. 

That’s not just a thought or an idea. 

It is a thought, and it’s a precious thought. But it’s also a truth, and that’s wonderful. 

But it’s not just a principle. It’s also a reality that can be experienced. 

And so, I’m going deeper into what we call experience-based assurance

And so, I know the truth of that scripture better because of that trial that I had.

And that I was able to work though the temptation to be jealous and ambitious and go into feeling inadequate and judging my colleague instead of just getting carried away with it.

Or then just repressing all of that to make it go away. 

I was able to actually admit that that was happening and confess it.

Because I don’t believe that I really sinned. 

I didn’t give into that. 

I didn’t go down that path so far that I was being judgmental or contemptuous.

Or going into a depression, or getting mobilized with overworking and ambition to win and be the best and that sort of thing. 

I was very early on in the thoughts and feelings about it. 

And so, to confess that to the Lord and let that interact with the scripture—not only in my ideas, but in my experience—that sweetness and sufficiency of actually experiencing the presence of Christ as I have at times in my life.

And generally it’s always there. 

And so, anchoring myself in that, that’s my real life—this intimate relationship with God.

And my work, my productivity, it comes out of that.

It’s not something that I make happen. It’s a fluidity of “…Since we live by the spirit, let us keep in step with the spirit,” Galatians 5:25.

It Empowers You to Live Your Best Life

Bill

But even that process of confession, meditation, and the back and forth interaction between the truth of scripture and the actual experience I’m having in my life—even that’s not enough.

In my sense of it with myself and people that I care for, I need to bring it into a human relationship to really enflesh it and really work through the details of that. 

And so, that’s where then I confessed that to you and told you what happened, and just the whole story. 

I told you the thoughts and feelings that I was having, and then, you did what you’re doing in this podcast—you asked me questions, you listened, and you gave me empathy.

And so, that helped me come to deeper understandings and insights about the struggle that I was having about myself. 

And then to live into this great invitation that my real life, my best life, is hidden with Jesus in Jesus’ presence. 

And he brings me into God’s presence that the Trinitarian community, the heavens, brought down to earth. 

And so, I can look back now from what happened—I think it was yesterday—and I can say “that’s true.”

It’s true because it’s in the Bible, but it’s also true because I experienced that. 

I worked that through, assisted by the Holy Spirit, and God’s word became enfleshed in my life and my personality. And then you, Kristi, helped me with that.

It Provides You with a Place of Refuge

Kristi

What you’re talking about, and what you found, is that “in Christ” is actually a place to be.

Bill

That’s right. Yeah. It’s wording for the kingdom of God. 

And the kingdom of God is the great truth of God’s government, God’s kind rule taking over in our life, in our family, in our work, and wanting that. 

And so we’re participating in that. 

But it’s not only a truth. It’s also a place to be

It’s a refuge. That’s how the Psalms talk about it—as a refuge. 

And so, that’s what I was doing. 

I was finding refuge in God’s presence through scripture meditation, through prayer, through confession, through being outside in nature and running and seeing the beauty of the lake and the trees—and the experience of that. 

And probably even the endorphins in my body as I’m running—the runner’s high and so forth. 

But then, through talking to you, and receiving your empathy and your interest and your curiosity, your questions, your energy, your prayerfulness for me. 

Coming to new insights about myself—all that stuff is wrapping together as a number of different rhythms or spiritual disciplines that are working together there to help me actually live into this great truth that my best life is hidden with Christ in God’s presence.

Conclusion

Kristi

Well, thank you for sharing that with us. It’s encouraging for us. We can feed off the fruit of your devotion here, your meditation on Colossians 3. 

Because it’s true for us too, that our life is hidden in Christ.

Bill

And thanks for your interest. We’re so glad that all of you listening got to join us in that and we hope that it was helpful for you. 

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