The Inner Circle
I vividly remember standing outside of a literal circle of people. Though these girls were just acquaintances, I had hoped to join their conversation. As 4,000 students shuffled through the halls of my high school, I awkwardly waited for someone to notice me. No one noticed. And to avoid looking weird, I headed off to class.
I hated feeling like I was missing out. Like the real fun is just beyond my reach.
Fast forward 9 years. Jimmy and I were backstage at a festival in Norway with our 6-month-old. The green room was bustling with the sounds of bands prepping for their sets, artists and managers talking, and meals being served. We sat around a table laughing and talking with a few other artists. The kinds of people you name drop, you know? Awesome people who love Jesus, but people I only had access to because of Jimmy's rising music career.
Then Lively started crying. Why can't this baby just sleep? I mean, when else am I going to get to talk to these people? Seeing that all my efforts to soothe our daughter weren't working, I resigned, with much frustration, to head back to the hotel for the night.
Rocking my daughter to sleep, I sulked as I thought about the laughter and conversations I was missing out on. I felt so sorry for myself, sitting outside the inner circle.
WE ALL HAVE AN INNER CIRCLE
You may laugh at me, or think me overdramatic, superficial, and immature. But I think this is a universal struggle. Whether you are in high school, in the corporate world, or a stay-at-home mom, we all have a sense of who the "important people" are. The popular girl. The pastor's wife. The CEO of your company. The blogger with thousands of followers. The couple with a lot of money. The pretty one, the wealthy one, the one with lots of kids, the one who makes everything from scratch.
Think about it for a second. What inner circle do you want to be in? Who are those "important people" in your life? These are the people who you keep your eye out for. Those you search for reasons to strike up a conversation with. The ones you don't want to miss when you walk through the halls or the lobby after church.
You may already be in the circle you want to be in. If that's the case, this desire will crop up when people in your circle get together without you. Do you have that urgent feeling of I'm missing out! or Why didn't anyone invite me?! It's because you want to be "in the know," in the inner circle.
GOD'S INNER CIRCLE
Did you know God has an inner circle?
The secret [inner circle, intimate fellowship, confident discussion] of the Lord is for those who fear Him [are in awe of Him]. Psalm 25:14
Wow! Imagine it! The Creator of the Universe, our Infinite God and Savior, our Heavenly Father has secrets to share. This verse reminds me of how God interacted with Moses: "the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend." (Ex 33:11) How I long to know God like that! To hear His secrets, to enjoy His intimate fellowship. Don't you?
So, why are we so concerned about getting in with the important people? After all, God holds all things together, gives breath to us all, and is the source of every talent, position, and possession in any human. Shouldn't our pursuit be of God and not man?
Read that verse again. Who has access to the secret of the Lord? Those who fear Him. Those who are in awe of Him. This helps us understand one key thing: There is a link between awe (or fear) and inner circles.
THE ISSUE OF AWE
This is the same cause of our obsession with human inner circles: we are in awe of people. The talent, the possessions, or the position of other people amaze us. This amazement drives our pursuit of such people. Because of their perceived significance, we assume they can give us worth.
We need to change who we are in awe of.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. Psalm 33:6-9
Sadly, we are terribly unimpressed with God. We read over passages like this and nod cordially to these HUGE realities of our God and move quickly to the menial concerns of other people.
By the breath of His mouth all the host of heaven were made.
Yeah, yeah I know, but I wanted to sit over there with the cool people!
He gathers all of the waters of the sea.
Ok, that's cool and all, but how can I get this guy to like me?
Do you see the gross imbalance? We're like children obsessing over basketball cards while Michael Jordan stands in front of us. We obsess over people while God Himself is available to us.
CULTIVATING AWE OF GOD
How can we tilt the scales back to where God carries more weight than other people? How can cultivate a fear and awe of God that will lead us into His inner circle?
First we must repent.
We desire to be included and important because we arrogantly love ourselves. Arrogant is defined as "having an exaggerated sense of one's own importance." Whether we possess an exaggerated importance or are pursuing it through chasing inner circles, the desire to be awesome is still at the core. For this, we ought to humbly repent.
When inner-circle envy arises or you don't get invited, lift your gaze to the All-Powerful God and apologize for wanting to be great, for wanting to move up through the inner circles of people.
Secondly, learn to meditate.
Remember, the requirement for entrance into God's inner circle is fear of Him. To clarify, to fear God means to recognize His awesome, terrible, and unbelievable power, position, and presence and act accordingly. To fear God is to be awestruck by Him, to respond to Him with reverence and worship.
You cannot simply muster up this kind of response to God. But rather it comes through meditating on His amazing characteristics.
For example, I recently read Nahum 1:3: "the clouds are dust beneath His feet." I got up from my chair and walked to the nearest window and studied the clouds. For a few minutes I pondered how large they actually were (some likely the size of my whole neighborhood!) then considered the implications of the verse. How big is our God that clouds are like mere puffs of dust as He walks? What would it be like to see God walk? We are so small! Why would He care about someone like me, who relentlessly struggles with self-love?
Meditating on who God is through His word will grow a Biblical fear of God. And fear of God gains you entrance into His intimate fellowship.
Are you tired of chasing the inner circles of other people? Or of feeling left out? Do you want to be where God is? Do you desire to be in His inner circle? To share in His secrets? Then repent of your arrogance and begin to cultivate an awe of God through meditating on His Word.
Remember me standing outside the circle in high school? Or sitting alone in a Norwegian hotel room? These were God's graceful interventions to draw my eyes upward to behold the only real circle worth pursuing: His.