335 – Seeking God (A Soul Talk with Trevor Hudson)

This Week on Soul Talks

Sometimes we seek to avoid vulnerability and distract ourselves from areas where we may feel dependent. Yet in vulnerability there is a wonderful invitation into a different kind of life! Jesus has a tender way of meeting us in our places of deepest need and bringing us his joy.

Listen in to this episode of Soul Talks as Bill and Kristi interview Trevor Hudson, South African pastor, teacher of spiritual formation and spiritual direction, and author of Seeking God: Finding Another Kind of Life with St. Ignatius and Dallas Willard. You will be equipped to meet Jesus in a deeper way and experience his joy through the life of discipleship taught by Ignatius and Willard.

Seeking God

Bill and Kristi Gaultiere with Guest Trevor Hudson

Bill

Hello, friends, we are so glad to share with you today on Soul Talks. We have a special treat for you. 

We have Trevor Hudson with us here, and he is in South Africa and we are in Irvine, California. 

But we are connected. And we’re connected with you wherever you are around the world. 

Thank you for joining Kristi and I in this conversation. Trevor, thank you for joining our friends.

Trevor

Bill, Kristi, this is a wonderful gift for me. 

Thank you so much, and a very just a warm hello from South Africa to all those who are listening.

Bill  

Many of you know the name Trevor Hudson, but if not, he’s an ordained minister in South Africa, a writer, and a teacher on spiritual formation and spiritual direction. 

He and his wife Debbie have two adult children. 

Trevor is the author of a new book that we are excited about called, Seeking God: Finding Another Kind of Life with St. Ignatius and Dallas Willard.

Ignatius of Loyola and Dallas Willard

Kristi  

Trevor, I really appreciate the excellent job that you’ve done in this book of really synthesizing and correlating the work of these two great men of God who are wise.

Most importantly, their life with God that you are talking about and have synthesized so well —Ignatius of Loyola, and Dallas Willard.

I just loved your book. I’m excited to share it with those who have joined us on this Soul Talk. 

These two men really had a great impact on our life and ministry too. Their lives and teaching have inspired us and they’ve instructed us. 

You’ve just done a great job introducing them to the reader. 

Trevor

Thank you, Kristi. 

Bill
Most of you on Soul Talks know that Kristi and I have read every book that Dallas has written.

We have reread them and listened to practically every every talk he’s given.

We have just steeped ourself in Dallas Willard’s thinking, his understanding of scriptures and the spiritual life and so forth. 

You may not know that Ignatius of Loyola also had a big impact on us when we took our sabbatical seven years ago.

We did the Ignatian exercises and we had an Ignatian spiritual director, and we’re profoundly impacted by that whole school of spirituality. 

So, Trevor, you have done something beautiful that I never thought of. 

You’ve taken two of the best writers and spiritual mentors and put them together in your book Seeking God.

Trevor  

Yes, you know, as you’ve hinted at already, God seems to have worked amazingly in both their lives in very different contexts. 

I think both of them were really agents of deep renewal and reform action. 

You know, Ignatius was in the Spanish Catholic world of the 16th century, and Dallas was in his own world in the USA, particularly in the evangelical world. 

I think I’ve always had this intuitive sense that they were both echoing each other in some of the fundamental ways in which we follow Christ. 

I just wanted to bring those two voices together, and then add my South African voice to the conversation as well. 

Kristi  

You did a great job of that.

Bill
One of the ways that you’ve done that is these seeking God exercises in your book, which we just love.

At Soul Shepherding, we really like to give people practical tools, ways to really engage with the Lord and reflect on on their their feelings, their experiences.

You’ve done that in your book. 

One of our favorites is in chapter two on page 20, where you do a seeking God exercise there.

Trevor 

I think the one that you’re referring to is when I’m with the group of 30 year-olds, and I asked them what they looking for in their relationship with God. 

I think that’s the exercise you’re referring to. 

You’re lucky because you have the book. I don’t have the book yet. 

So I’ve kind of electronically counted the pages. I think I got the right question, but that was the one I think on page 20.

One Word for Our Life

Kristi  

Yeah, that one where you encouraged us to think of one word that is really representative in our life right now, one word.

I did all the seeking exercises as I read because I loved them and I wanted to really embrace them and get the most I could out of the book.

We also did everything that Dallas would tell us to do on retreats and things that he did. 

It’s so helpful to really get not just information when you read a book, but you read it with Jesus, and do with Jesus, and really let the Lord minister to you personally. 

That’s what I loved about the seeking exercises. 

So in this one, where you asked us to come up with one word to represent our life right now, I chose the word dependent, because it’s a vulnerable time in my life. 

Right now my mom is dying of cancer, I have two of our three daughters who are pregnant and expecting a baby here anytime.

Our ministry is growing, and I’m very aware that there’s a part of me that is used to controlling the calendar. 

We’d like to be able to schedule in the time that my mom dies, and have all this great meaningful time with her and this transition, and to be there for the birth of my grandchildren. 

The reality is, I can’t manage all of this. 

It’s very obvious to me I’m dependent upon God and his sovereignty and his love over the timing of these things and being present to him in all that he’s given me. 

It’s crescendoing all at once here. 

That really is the way our life with God is — we’re dependent all the time. 

It’s just there’s some times like this, where it’s very obvious to me how dependent I am, and it feels vulnerable. 

But I loved how it’s our life with God in the present ordinary times that you’re writing about here, not the monastery times.

Vulnerabilty with God

Trevor 

So I think the one thing that has helped me to grasp at a very, very deep level was that God has this wonderful way of meeting us in those places of deepest vulnerability and dependence, as you’ve mentioned.

They kind of become key places of very deep encounter with with Christ in our lives— in our everyday lives— as you’re saying.

Kristi

Yes, and I think your your vulnerability even in the book shows that.

Because I think in general, at least in America, I would imagine it’s the same in South Africa, that sometimes we want to avoid the vulnerability and distract ourselves from it.

We want to think we’ve got everything going well. 

And yet, like you said, that vulnerability really is an invitation.

Bill

One of the great blessings in Seeking God, Trevor, is that you help us see that it’s safe to be vulnerable with God.

That the true followers of Jesus — because you and both St. Ignatius and Dallas Willard were exceptional at this in their theology and their communication —  present the grace of God, the tender heart of God, the unconditional love of God.

Showing us that God is someone we want to submit to.

Your teaching was about repentance as being being grace-filled and not condemning. 

I’d love for you just to share about that, because that’s one of the themes in your book that’s so helpful for us.

Repentance as a Good News Word

Trevor

Thank you both. 

I really wanted to frame repentance as a good news word. 

Because I think many folk — I think I say this in the book — that if they see a door over there which says repentance, they’re not too sure whether they want to walk through that door and what they’re going to find inside the room. 

I think Dallas had this kind of throw away story of a person walking down a passageway, and there’s a banqueting room running off the passage, and someone says to you “Turn into the banqueting room.” 

That image gave me a different sense of what repentance is.

It’s not a threat to me, but it’s really a graceful invitation to step into another kind of life. 

I think obviously, there’s that wonderful announcement by Jesus that the kingdom is available — the kingdom of heaven— to step into, turn around, and it’s there.

I kind of grew up with some of these terrible slogans like, “Repent for the end is nigh” or “Repent” or “Turn or burn.” 

Somehow repentance just didn’t have an attractiveness about it. 

I think over the years I’ve come to see repentance as perhaps one of the most beautiful words in the New Testament, especially when it’s on the lips of Jesus himself. 

So I’m in the business of wanting to reframe repentance so that it becomes for people an attractive word that invites them into another kind of life. 

That invites them to become a more joyful, more loving, more caring human being.

Bill

Thank you for helping us to see the winsomeness of Jesus and his Father. 

It’s so beautiful. 

I just love that analogy from Dallas Willard that you’re unpacking there — “Turn, the banqueting room is available to you!  Come on in!”

That’s what it means to repent, you know, “Think again about how you’re living your life here and you’ve got a wonderful opportunity.”

Trevor  

And sometimes people may think I’m being soft here on the nature of wrongdoing or sin.

But I’m not at all, because I think that it’s in the turning that we open our lives up to what I often see as the kind of expulsive power of God in our life.

As we turn into the kingdom, there is a sense in which that which was attractive to us, but which was sabotage in our lives, that kind of gets expelled by the by the love of Christ, which has greater space now in our own lives.

Writing a Beloved Charter

Kristi  

Well I think you, like me, have really been helped by Dallas in coming to understand a greater fullness of God’s love for us.

How that love is him really, truly, willing good for us. 

Even in repentance, that it’s really good for us. It’s not this controlling, shaming, obey-me type message. 

It’s not a bullying message.

So that was so good. I appreciated the writings that you did in your book about God’s love. 

You even suggested, as one of the seeking exercises, writing a beloved charter you called it.

I’d love for you to to share your beloved charter with our listeners because it really touched me and also just unpack that idea a little bit more. 

It seems to me what you’re talking about is articulating a love letter from God to us to help us receive his love.

Trevor  

Yes, Kristi.

Especially within retreat settings, when people have got a bit of leisure time and are able to be quiet, I often encouraged them, as I do in the book, to to just go to those verses or phrases or images in the scriptures that really affirm their own belovedness. 

I’ve been really struck over the years how the how the Spirit can take those words and really take them on that long journey from the head to the heart. 

Even if we write out the beloved charter rather theoretically, the Spirit just does a great job in taking those words and planting them more deeply in our hearts. 

I think I did mine for the first time about just on 30 years ago. 

It’s something I return to again and again. 

So may I share it?

Bill

Please.

Trevor

You will notice the phrases of Scripture as I read it. 

Trevor, you’re my beloved child, in whom I delight. You did not choose me. But I chose you. You are my friend. I formed your inward parts and I knitted you together in your mother’s womb. 

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Made a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor. And you’ve been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which I have already prepared to be your way of life. 

And when you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burnt and the flame shall not consume you. 

And you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you. And I know all your longings and your sighing is not hidden from me. And nothing will ever be able to separate you from my love in Christ Jesus, your Lord. Abide in My love.

Bill 

Wow, that’s worth the whole book right there. 

Kristi  

So good. I love the way you’ve taken scriptural truths and you’re articulating them personally. 

It seems like you’re practicing that as you continue to read that over these years, internalizing these truths. 

I love the way that you mentioned in the book that God hasn’t put those knitting needles away, that he was knitting in our womb.  

That was such a great point as well.

Trevor

That means a lot to me that God’s love is a creative love, not only in the past tense, but really is continually creating and forming us even in the present.

Bill 

You know, similar to this, Trevor, you’ve got a great spot in the book where you share a story about a groom who tells his bride about his great love. 

That’s actually not so great. 

As Kristi and I talked about that, we said that is such an effective way to communicate how sometimes we just turn God’s love and make we make it religious and stuffy. 

It’s just sort of like, theologically, “This is what he has to do.” But it’s very uninspiring.

Could you share that illustration with us?

Trevor  

I think I can. 

It struck me that if we were to picture a bride and bridegroom making their vows to each other and the bridegroom saying to the bride, “I love you. I care for you. I’m going to love you through thick and thin, better or worse.” 

And then says to the bride, at the end of that, “I have no interest at all in what you want or your desires. And your only responsibility is to submit to what I want for you.

Somehow that would be off-key. 

Yet, sometimes our default picture of God is exactly that. 

That we have a God who, at one level says, “I really do love you,” and expresses that love so powerfully for us in Christ. 

And then at another level says “I have no interest in your own desires and your own longing.”

Somehow there’s something off-key about that. 

So certainly, that illustration has been helpful for me of spotting and noting sometimes when our picture of God, in fact, becomes un-Christlike.

Bill 

Yeah, we just feel like being a disciple of Jesus, living in his yoke, is the best life and every teaching from the Scripture, if we understand it rightly, it’s going to bring us joy. 

It’s really good for us. So you’re really bringing that home.

I just love in your book how you make Dallas Willard and St. Ignatius so accessible to people — the positivity that the winsome view of God and life with Jesus that both of these two great leaders have brought us.

You’re really bringing the cookies down to the lower shelf as we like to say, in Seeking God.

Everybody can get some cookies now.

Trevor   

Well, I hope so. 

Because I’ve spent most of my life, no longer at the moment, but most of my life as a pastor, I have wanted to make the treasures accessible. 

Often I keep my mom and dad in mind. 

They no longer are physically with us, but my mom and dad always felt a little bit out of place at church.

They always felt the language was just out of reach. 

So whenever I write or whenever I speak up, Mom and Dad are very close to me.

I’m always thinking to myself, “I wonder if my mom and dad will understand what I’m saying now.” 

So thank you both. Thank you, that’s a great encouragement.

Finding More Joy in Jesus

Kristi 

That’s so good that you’re really wanting to work this through your life personally. 

Then in love, you’re looking to help everyone be able to do the same thing which is what Jesus did. 

So thank you for that. 

Another thing that you write about in Seeking God is that Ignatius and Dallas both really give us great guidance in finding God in all things, in all places.

To really practice setting the Lord always before us. 

I appreciated you sharing some of the ways that you were finding that difficult and how you reached out to Dallas about your own journey, and sought his help with “how can I have more joy in Jesus?” 

Trevor

Sure. 

Kristi
And he responded with some some great wisdom and practical help. 

But also I think his response shows his great knowledge of you, and empathy and love for you, too. 

I’m just wondering, would you be willing to share Dallas’s response to you?

Trevor

Sure, yes. 

Perhaps just a minute of the backstory.

I think growing up in South Africa, I was really feeling the weight, from a very young age, of just the immense levels of pain and suffering that was in our own context, over the years, for many different reasons.

I think my own default was that I was very serious.

I almost felt that if I became too joyful, I would be not fully identifying with some of the pain and the heartache that there is around us all the time in this country. 

I shared with Dallas that I really struggled with his view, I think he says in The Divine Conspiracy, that “God is the most joyful beast there is.” 

One day he said to me, “Trevor, is your God gloomy?” 

This really got me rethinking my own understanding of who God is for us.

But in that letter — I do have it here still, the pages have gone a bit yellow — he wrote these words to me, “Being discontent and always halfway disappointed is a part of who you are as a pilgrim of the earth.” 

And I appreciated that he just kind of acknowledged my struggle:

You’re always going to feel like arrangements, whether family, church or state, even children are sawdust and not bread and very likely it derives from something not bad in your early experience that formed your feelings and sentiment, and left a gap in your sensitivities. Something it would take a revelation from God to make you know, and which you could do nothing about if you did know. 

Introspectiveness is part of your nature, Trevor, it is not bad. Don’t fight it. Find sources of joy, and cultivate them, invest in them — time and money. And this will also help you not to withdraw from Debbie [Debbie is the woman I’m married to], though you need at times, times away. 

And then he asked me this question, 

What things do you really enjoy? Things that have got nothing to do with family work or religion? Growth in Christ’s likeness requires significant indirection. And I want you to write me about three sources of pure joy that you know from your past experience, especially from the period of when you were 12 to 16 years of age.

And then and I’m going to jump a little bit just to one or two more lines. This I found very helpful. 

He said, 

Trevor, we remain children and the more we can enjoy that the better. Certainly God prefers it that way, as Jesus well understood. Here is my instruction to you: preach three sermons on, ‘Except he repent and become like a little child.’

I remember still doing that. 

I remember finding what I really enjoyed as a teenager. 

Then I preached three sermons on becoming like a little child. 

Even now, this is the first time I’m seeing this, he’s framing repentance in terms of becoming like a little child, and recovering your sense of wonder and joy and spontaneity.

Bill  

Oh, so good. So warm hearted.

I love that he wanted you to preach three sermons, not one or two. 

Keep going deeper back into that child in your history and in your heart and find the joy in there.

On of Dallas’s exercises exercises that we actually do and teach is to sometimes skip. 

So we have this exercise we do, and we’ve done this in our Soul Shepherding Institute with a whole group.

We’ve had 30-40 pastors and missionaries, and we’ve been skipping, saying out with joy, “I’m the disciple Jesus loves, I am the disciple Jesus loves” while we’re skipping.

You can’t help but smile and laugh and be like a kid.

That’s what you’re getting at here in your book Seeking God and this letter from Dallas. 

So precious, a real classic, heartfelt letter of spiritual direction. 

We just love the the empathy that Dallas is giving you here. 

We personally experienced that from Dallas, each of us, in the times that we met with him and talked with him. 

A really a big part of the ministry of Jesus and of God to us is that tender heart that really notices each person.

Just the way the Lord, through Dallas, noticed you, Trevor, right where you were and put words to your experiences and your struggles in in such an invitational way,

Trevor  

A great gift. 

One of the things that I remembered doing when I was 16 was that I loved to go to parties and dance. 

So one of the things now that has become a practice in our home is that Debbie and I both have got certain people that we like listening to. 

So whenever their songs come on to the radio, which is often playing in our home, we have got a commitment to meet in the kitchen and to dance.

Bill

Nice!

Trevor

It’s one of those practices that I really enjoy.

Kristi

That’s great. 

Sometimes some of the best spiritual disciplines aren’t spiritual disciplines that you’d find on a list. 

That’s a great one of just connecting with Debbie and rejoicing in God’s goodness together. I love that.

I love the way that you highlight God’s goodness in this book, and the way that Ignatius and Dallas really saw his goodness and love and responded in their seeking after God to his love. 

It’s the same for us, as scripture says, “We love because he first loved us.”

This life of seeking God is responding.

It is an interactional, ongoing, intimate relationship. 

Trevor, it’s just been such an honor to have this time with you and our friends in Soul Shepherding, and to hear a little bit of what you glean from your life in God.

Thank you.

Would you be willing to pray for our friends here?

Trevor

That would be a deep privilege. Thank you. 

Lord Jesus, we thank you so much that in your risen and ascended presence, that you are intimately available to each person, as we are joined together in this way now. 

You know our deepest needs, you know where we feel most vulnerable and fragile at the moment. 

We want to acknowledge that vulnerability and fragility to you.

We ask you, Lord Jesus, in your great love, in your great personal love, that we would know you in our own fragility as we most need to know your love at the moment.

So may your blessing rest upon each one of us.

May your blessing be with Bill and Kristi, and with the Soul Shepherding ministry that has brought much joy into the lives of many, many people. 

Thank you for who you are, and we offer ourselves to you with all the love and longing of our own hearts. 

In your name we pray. Amen.

Bill 

Amen. 

So friends, we’ve been talking with Trevor Hudson, author of a new book that you’ll want to get. 

It’s a short read that gets right to your heart called Seeking God: Finding Aother Kind of Life with St. Ignatius, and Dallas Willard

We’ve got a link in the show notes to this podcast. 

As always, we would love to hear from you, and Trevor would love to hear from you anything we can do to help you in your journey with Jesus and your ministry with others. 

We appreciate all of you listening so much. 

Thanks for being a part of saw our Soul Talks podcast and our Soul Shepherding community. 

Trevor, thank you again so much for your time, your heart, and all that you’ve poured into writing this book.

We know, we’re writing another book right now on emotions and personality and it is a labor of love.

Your love has really come through in your book Seeking God.

Kristi

Also friends if you would like more information and a journey with Jesus in Ignatius exercises, check out our Soul Shepherding Ignatian Meditation Guides, and also some of our articles on Soul Shepherding.org. 

Or if you’re wanting to talk through and unpack some of the things in Trevor’s book Seeking God with a spiritual director, you can go online to Soulshepherding.org and click Individuals and then Spiritual Directors

Then you can book an appointment with one of our Spiritual Directors who would be happy to journey with you as you’re working through some of this rich content that Trevor’s put together from the life of Ignatius and elsewhere.

Bill

Thanks again, Trevor.

Trevor

Thank you so, so much. Thank you for your time, and for making this possible. 

It’s hugely valued.

Kristi

Thank you each for seeking God together with us.

Bill

Hi, friends. I’m so excited to tell you that we’ve created a new way for you to be in community with Kristi and me and others from Soul Shepherding.  

It’s called the Soul Shepherding Network

It includes webinars, Soul care groups, hundreds of resources, and connecting with other soul shepherds, small group leaders, spiritual directors, coaches, pastors, missionaries, and soul friends. 

This is the place for all our friends to gather and encourage one another.

All you need to do is go to Soul Shepherding.org/Join the Network and the best part is you’ll be joining the inner circle of Soul Shepherding for community and networking. 

So check us out at Soul Shepherding.org> Join the network, or just go to the show notes for this episode and follow the link there. Thank you.

 

 

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