This Week on Soul Talks
When we experience seasons of suffering, our faith is tested. We often experience doubt and we long to feel God’s presence. But the best news and unwavering truth is that the Lord Jesus hears us. He sees us. He is near to us. And he has known us long before we’ve known him!
In this Soul Talks episode, Kristi sits down with author, speaker, and radio host Aubrey Sampson. Together they unpack Aubrey’s journey through The Wall and how God meets us in our grief and sorrow to draw us into the love of Jesus.
As Aubrey discusses her book, Known, you will be encouraged by the power and meaning behind the name of Jesus. Learn how living out the names that God has given us, transforms us into who we are called to be in Christ.
Resources for this Episode
Known and Named by God Transcript
Kristi Gaultiere & Aubrey Sampson
Welcome to Soul Talks with Bill and Kristi Gaultiere.
We’re so grateful to be in community with you.
Bill is not with us today because I get to have a Soul Talk with Aubrey Sampson, and I’m excited to be sharing her with you.
Aubrey serves on the teaching and preaching team at Renewal Church in west Chicago that she co-planted with her husband, Kevin.
She’s one of our peeps, Soul Shepherding Community!
Aubrey also has — as we say in our Journey of the Soul language — pushed through The Wall.
She has entered into an inner journey and is thriving now in spirit-led ministry.
You see that overflow in her ministry as a speaker, a teacher, and an author.
So Aubrey is a co-host of The Common Good daily radio show in Chicago.
And also, the Nothing is Wasted podcast.
I’m excited to share her with you!
She sent me her latest book, new out now, Known.
And Aubrey, I enjoyed reading your book.
I’m sure you’re excited about this new book with NavPress and I would love for you to just share with our listeners a little bit of your story.
You are a wounded healer.
Oh, I am definitely a wounded healer. That is true.
Kristi, thanks for having me, by the way.
I love this community.
I love what you do here.
And so it is absolutely my honor to be here.
You know, it’s like in which part do you begin?
I’ll start with The Wall— moving through The Wall.
So I’ll mention those years.
In 2015, I woke up one morning, my husband and I were just opening the doors to Renewal Church, the church plant that you mentioned.
And I woke up, the same week we were opening the doors to our first church service, and I could not walk.
I could get out of bed.
I could move my legs, but I could not put pressure on my legs without just falling to the ground.
Seasons of Lament
I was crawling around the house.
My husband was carrying me around the house.
At the time I was a runner.
I wasn’t running very hard, but I would run about three miles every day.
And so I thought, “Oh, surely I have just done something. I pushed too hard. I’ve done something while running.”
Any listeners who are familiar with autoimmune disease may go, Oh, I know what she’s about to say.
I was eventually hospitalized and then diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that impacts my joints.
By the grace of God, I’m doing well now.
But that was this season. It was the first week we were opening the doors to our church service.
It was also the week, my very first book, a book called Overcomer, came out.
And so it was like we were on the edge of what I thought was finally, our ministry season.
All of these things we had been praying for and working towards were coming to fruition.
And all of a sudden I was just literally stuck on the couch.
On top of that, I have a cousin named Cameron who I was very close to growing up, like a brother.
We spent summers together in Texas with our grandparents.
He was an uncle to my kids.
They called him uncle Cam.
My cousin Cameron was snowshoe hiking in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.
He stepped out into a snow cornice. He took a picture of it. It’s a beautiful location.
He texted it to me, I actually still have it on my phone, but then he plummeted to his death.
The snow cornice was not actually reliable ground.
And so it just collapsed. That was 2015.
We’re years later now and Park Rangers still haven’t found his body.
Many of us have known loss and grief.
But, it wasn’t just the loss and the grief, it was the way that he died. Right? Like, Lord, where were you?
Then on top of that, our youngest son, Nolan— who is also doing amazingly well now, I have to give God the glory for that.
But we were told there was something wrong with his spinal cord and he had to have spinal cord surgery and then receive ongoing care for years.
And so that was just a season, Kristi, where for the first time—I mean, I had been walking with the Lord for over a decade.
Actually, over two decades at that point.
And I just remember thinking, “Oh, have I been praying to the ceiling fan this whole time?”
I know people suffer.
I know we’re more than conquerors and all these things you’re supposed to know.
But, my faith crashed to the ground and I wasn’t sure if I could pick it up.
Or, if I wanted to.
Do you know what I mean?
Because, Okay, God, if you’re gonna allow this to happen, who are you?
Are you who I have always declared and believed you to be?
Your word says you will not let our foot stumble and you let my cousin Cameron’s foot stumble.
So I was in it. And that, for me, was definitely “The Wall.”
It was this moment. I remember really clearly feeling like I was almost at a watershed or a fork in the road.
Am I going to lean in and find the God that I love?
Am I gonna cling to God like I never have before?
Or am I done?
And it was the first moment in my walk with Jesus where I felt like I was choosing faith.
It wasn’t coming naturally to me.
And so I was making the choice.
Okay. I’m just going to believe. I’m gonna lean into the things I have said I believe.
Because the alternative is then what? This whole life I have built, it falls apart.
Most of my journey is God meeting me and teaching me about lament:
What it does mean to cry out to him when you hit The Wall.
What it does mean to lean in when you feel nothing but God’s absence.
Somehow, as you know very well because you write about this and you’ve experienced this, you walk people through this:
God meets you there with intimacy.
In time—I’m not saying it was “poof,” it was definitely a process.
But in time, my faith was reignited in a way that’s so different now.
So much better now.
If I’m in a category, better now than it was on the other side of The Wall.
Because now I have experienced God’s intimacy in just being.
And him meeting me in darkness, where I wasn’t having to do and strive and do a ministry and write books and do these amazing things to find him.
No, he just met me when I could not get up off the couch.
He met me when I could not stop crying.
And on the other side of that, my faith has been more real than ever before.
How do we know that God knows us and that he’s with us in those really difficult seasons?
I so appreciate your story and your honesty about that and that you shared the pain of these losses.
So many people are in grief and loss right now and the way that you modeled that.
Yes, we hit that Wall.
We struggle with those feelings of doubt when we feel abandoned by God.
And we can’t see his goodness in the midst of that.
And to be emotionally honest with ourselves, with God and with another safe person.
And lean into some of those disciplines that we don’t do in the first half of life.
We don’t learn those disciplines of lament.
And you also write in your book about—as a last resort in your deep grief, lament, heartache and pain—you reached out to a Spiritual Director for gracious connection and guidance there in that season.
It’s so wise to do that.
I’m so thankful for that.
You are articulating here, what we write about in Journey of the Soul, about the fact that, actually, The Wall can become a form of grace.
God has so much more for us on the other side.
And that’s where you’re beginning to reap and testify to now.
You are even writing out of your experience about the overflow, and how God has met you.
I just love the way that you have grown now.
You’re writing about in your book, Known, the name of Jesus, the preciousness of Jesus, the intimacy with Jesus that you have experienced through this.
I would love for you to share a little bit too, personally.
You write about the Avalanche Lily and tell us about that.
The Avalanche Lily
I love that story.
I’m so glad I get to share that Kristi.
I will say to your point quickly, Spiritual Direction— this is not an exaggeration—Spiritual Direction saved my faith.
If it were not for my Spiritual Director meeting with me, I mean, I’m gonna cry thinking about it.
If it were not for her meeting with me faithfully for four years, listening to the Holy Spirit, and helping me see that God was there.
I mean, I don’t know where I’d be right now.
I am a big proponent of, you get yourself to a Spiritual Director if you need to!
And I know you have a lot of Spiritual Directors listening, so thank you for what you do.
Thank you so much for what you do.
So the Avalanche Lily, I love this story.
So the book Known is really about the names that God speaks over us.
Some of those are in Scripture and then some of those are anecdotal: Just stories of where God speaks a name over his children that’s really personal and really meaningful.
And coming out of this really difficult season, I had begun praying a really specific prayer that God would show me that he was there before I knew him.
For a number of reasons, that just felt very important to me that if I could find God active in my childhood before I was a Christian, then that meant God was here now and everything was going to be okay.
I love that we have a God who allows us to and invites us to ask him those prayers, even if they feel a little funny or a little silly.
God is not afraid of that.
Of course, I know those things by faith, but I wanted to know it through encounter.
I wanted God to meet me there.
So I just began praying “God, would you show me that you were there before I knew you?”
As I was praying this prayer, and God’s timing is so perfect, it was actually my last session with my Spiritual Director.
We were wrapping up our almost five years together, it was in the middle of the pandemic so we were meeting over Zoom.
Which I always sort of laugh at because Spiritual Direction over Zoom seems like an oxymoron, but it worked really beautifully.
I’m thankful for technology and that.
But we were ending our time together and praying for a name for our entire season together.
And then as we were closing our time in prayer and just reflecting on what God had done over the past four years, she said,
“Aubrey, there’s a name that I feel like God wants me to share with you.”
But before I tell you that, I have to tell you one of my earliest childhood memories, because it all comes connected together in a way that only God can do.
My first childhood memory is not even so much a memory.
It’s one of those stories that has been told in my family again and again and again, that it feels like it’s a memory.
But, it’s sort of like the family legend or the family ethos.
And the story is that when I was two years old, my parents took me camping near Seattle on a mountain.
And I would not stay in my sleeping bag.
I was about two years old at the time.
And they thought I was kind of just being like a “terrible two” toddler, not staying in my sleeping bag.
My parents began to realize that they could not stay in their sleeping bags either.
And the reason none of us could stay in our sleeping bags is because we weren’t camping on a mountain.
We were camping on a volcano. It was Mount St. Helens.
And it was beginning to show early signs of eruption. So the ground was shaking.
Of course it was very early, so we were fine.
We got out of there, but that’s sort of my first family memory.
The earliest story that my parents tell.
We’ll tell it every holiday. We’ve just been through the holidays.
We survived Mount St. Helens!
So that’s part of my story.
I’m praying that God would meet me in my childhood.
My spiritual director does not know that by the way, as we’re wrapping up our time together, she says, “Aubrey, there’s a name.
And there’s an image that I feel like God has for you, a way that God wants to name you.
And to let you know that he sees you in this way.”
And she pulled up on the screen, a picture of a flower called an Avalanche Lily.
And it’s a flower that only grows in places where there’s been destruction or devastation.
The metaphor is fairly obvious, right?
Beauty from ashes and that kind of thing.
And I’m very moved by that.
But then she stops and she says, “But here’s the thing: I have felt this whole time that the Holy Spirit wanted me to show you a very specific avalanche Lily from a very specific part of the country.”
And with that, she pulls up another image.
And this time it’s an image of an avalanche Lily growing on Mount St. Helens.
I start bawling.
And I’m like, hold up, hold up, hold up.
“Did you say you liked that one?”
And she said, “No.”
I know it sounds funny, but we’ve been in Spiritual Direction long enough that I know what she’s lived, seeing the Holy Spirit.
I’m listening to the Holy Spirit.
I know the Holy Spirit shows up.
But she said, “I know it sounds funny, but I felt like Holy Spirit was saying, you need to show Aubrey the Avalanche Lily from Mount St. Helens.”
I just burst into tears and I’m like coming to the realization as I’m trying to explain it to her, “No, no, no. You don’t understand.”
The Name Of Jesus
“I’ve been praying that God would meet me in my childhood. The story is my very first memory and I feel like God…”
And I just broke into worship.
“God who are we, mere mortals, that you’re mindful of us. And yet you are.”
And it was just one of those, the is what I mean about the other side of The Wall.
One of those intimate moments where I know, Okay, the Lord hears me, the Lord sees me.
And the Lord has known me since before I knew him.
What a good, intimate kind, compassionate, loving God He is.
And I love that.
Thank you for sharing that story because it resonates so much with experiences that I’ve had too.
I think we all really long to be seen, known and wanted by God.
And we need that affirmation of that.
I remember in Spiritual Direction, for me, about 15 years ago, I was doing an exercise where I was reviewing my life.
Kind of like the map that we put in our Journey of the Soul book, I was looking at experiences in my life that were peak experiences.
Real consolation experiences.
I was looking for what was common in each one of these circumstances that made it such a consoling peak experience in my life.
And in every one of them, I could say they were a time when I felt seen, known, and wanted.
I think that so often—especially when God shows us—we need that affirmation from the Lord.
That’s the intimacy that Jesus longs to have with us and invites us into.
I’m so grateful that you pushed through that doubt, that grief.
You got emotionally honest and called out for the Lord.
You asked him to show you that personal intimacy and recognition and seeing-and-knowing of you.
I also love the way that you write about the name of Jesus.
I love the point you make where you say that usually, a name is only a proclamation or statement of identity.
But, Jesus’ name is the only name that actually does something.
Can you talk a little more about that?
I’d love to talk more about that!
Thank you for letting me tell the Avalanche Lily story.
It sort of “re-gospels” me every time I get to tell it.
So thank you for letting me do that.
It’s part of your God story.
That’s right. It is.
The whole book Known is about names:
The names that God has for us, but ultimately it points to the name of Jesus.
We are so intimately named by God so that we can know that the power of the name of Jesus and Jesus’ name is the only name that does something.
In the name of Jesus, the principalities and powers of evil were demolished and death was destroyed.
In the name of Jesus, the penalty and punishment that brought us peace was placed upon him.
In the name of Jesus we’re ransomed
In the name of Jesus sin is forgiven.
In the name of Jesus we experience healing.
In the name of Jesus we are made new.
In the name of Jesus we’re united with God.
In the name of Jesus we are made holy.
In the name of Jesus all things are being made new.
And that’s not even all.
The Bible says a lot more about the name of Jesus, but I think sometimes we only think about the name of Jesus in one specific way, which is: Jesus forgives our sins.
I mean, let’s never make that smaller than it is.
That is amazing.
But I think what we don’t realize is how shockingly robust and massive the ministry, the work, the power of Jesus is, in us and through us and on our behalf.
I did end the book by reminding all of us to look to Jesus, especially when we’re at The Wall.
Especially when things feel hard.
Especially when you’re walking with people who are going through grief and trauma.
Look to Jesus and bow down in the name of Jesus, because ultimately his name is the name above every other.
And his name changes everything.
Our Good Shepherd
Oh, thank you so much for just going over some of that.
Your experience and your feasting on Jesus, and then your overflowing.
Thanks for sharing that with us, it’s so important.
Jesus is the one who has come to become with us and has such empathy for us in our suffering, in our journey, because he has gone before us.
He’s our good shepherd leading us along the way.
And he’s with us there in the valley of the shadow of death, ministering to us there.
Preparing for us the table in the presence of our enemies and inviting us into that intimacy with them.
Anointing our head with oil.
And we get to live our whole life in union with Him, dwelling with Him.