Karla Denlinger joins Rosanne Moore today to trace how God revealed Himself to her through a community of faithful people who reached into her life as a small child and how that journey of seeking Him has always interwoven relationally with fellow followers of Jesus willing to trust Him and one another with their brokenness.
Bio: After serving 32 years alongside the people of Valley Springs Fellowship in Warsaw, Indiana, Karla now resides in Cincinnati with her husband Kent. Her introduction to Larry Crabb came as an undergrad psychology major. Her studies continued under Larry, including an internship, and receiving a MA in Biblical Counseling from Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. Karla has served as a spiritual director for the School of Spiritual Direction and NextStep for the past 15 years. In addition, she has spoken at retreats and offers ongoing spiritual direction to numerous individuals in a variety of settings.
Karla deeply values time spent with her two adult children and their spouses and loves being a grandma to her five grandchildren. She enjoys painting, studying, and a good latte. Those closest to Karla would describe her as having an ear for the inner workings of the Spirit, uniquely gifted at helping a person discover and put words to what is transpiring in their soul, most specifically the often-undetected life of God.
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[00:00:28] Rosanne Moore: Good morning Larger Story audience. I’m Rosanne Moore, your host of the Relational Spirituality podcast, and I’m so excited today to have Karla Denlinger with me. If you’ve been to one of our schools of spiritual direction, you may have crossed paths with her. She was a pastor’s wife for 32 years at Valley Springs Fellowship in Warsaw, Indiana.
She now lives in Cincinnati with her husband Kent; they have two grown children and five grandchildren. She studied under Larry at Grace College and Seminary. As I mentioned, she was a spiritual director at Larry’s schools of Spiritual Direction and Next Step programs, and she is currently a spiritual director for Larger Story.
So Karla, thank you so much for taking the time today to be with me.
[00:01:21] Karla Denlinger: You bet, friend. Good to be with you.
[00:01:25] Rosanne Moore: It’s always so good to see your face. We’re talking about Real Church, that’s our book of the quarter right now. It was interesting, when we first talked about you doing this and I mentioned getting your perspective as a pastor’s wife, you said something beautiful; you said you felt like you just got to be Karla in the church that you were a part of for so long. So I would love to hear what has formed your experience with the church community and how has that changed over time?
[00:02:00] Karla Denlinger: What a loaded question for me in the sense of, my busy mind right away went to, what constitutes the church community and what is the structure of the church? You sent me down so many thoughts and wonderings and all, but I just started listing. My first thought went to, we’ve been in the book of Ruth at the local church we go to right now. In chapter two, Kent and I were both so taken by the phrase that when Ruth showed up, it “just so happened” she ended up in Boaz’s field. We sat and listed together the things that “just so happened,” and I’m thinking: I’m a little girl that lived the first two years of her life with her grandma and grandpa, my mom and dad and my older brother. When I was born, my folks were twenty and twenty one and my brother had already been born. My grandma had such a huge impact on me her entire life in that, there was a delight and enjoyment of me that somehow held on to things in the midst of really difficult parts of my journey and story.
My first memories of church is that occasionally my mom and dad would get in the car and go somewhere. I think I was aware of God and I remember crying a lot in my bed at night to Him. A neighbor lady, Mrs. Harris had a station wagon and she threw in a bunch of us pagan neighborhood kids into a station wagon and took us to vacation Bible school. Mrs. Markle was up front and I remember her laying out telling me that God loved me and that He forgives me my sins and anyone who wanted to come forward and receive Jesus in vacation Bible school. So I did.Occasionally then we would go to church. My mom didn’t drive, so we were dependent on people to pick us up and take us.
I remember Mrs. Youngkin was my first Sunday school teacher, and then I had Mrs. Usher. Mrs. Usher invited us to her house for lunch, and I don’t think I’d ever gone into somebody else’s home outside my family that was a believer. She just wanted to do us good. Mrs. Zimmerman lived across from Arthur Street Elementary where I went and had a bible club. I remember Psalm 23 in a big puzzle. I memorized it as a third grader, and I just ran into her last week when I was up in Ashland visiting my mom at assisted living and she’s got to be in her nineties.
So it’s just all this, it “just so happened,” it “just so happened,” it “just so happened” then that Kevin Huggins and Tina Huggins became my youth pastor. This church that I grew up in, Knute and Jeanine Larson, and John and Jane Teevan, and Brian and Crystal Roseborough, it’s names that flooded my mind that were part of the structured church and part of the host of believers that were just intersecting my path. It felt like in the moment these people were enjoying what they were doing. It was from some place of delight in them to share it with me.
That was my introduction and formative years. I have to say my mom and dad and their willingness to be broken, to admit their faults, to receive grace, to ongoingly be changing before my eyes. We were all becoming believers at the same time. The ongoing messiness of our fallenness that we couldn’t get rid of. Somehow we all found grace together and I’m indebted to them. With my mom and dad, it was never about cleaning up the outside of the cup. A lot of forgiveness and grace came our way.
Then I got disillusioned with Christianity because somehow it wasn’t addressing the deeper realities of the motivations of my heart. At that time I did not know, I didn’t have an internal language. I just felt angry. I felt really depressed about who I was. Those are my years coming to college.
[00:06:41] Rosanne Moore: That was what I was going to ask. What stage of the journey was that college? Is that what took you to Bible college?
[00:06:47] Karla Denlinger: Yeah. Grace was part of our denomination, Grace College and Seminary. I knew in junior high school, I felt in my heart, I made a commitment to God. I wanted to serve Him with my whole being, somehow, my whole life. At that time it would be described as vocationally, so I went to Grace with the thought of maybe being a counselor or, I really didn’t care about the job path, just that He used me. Kent and I got married in college. We came back to my home church, did an internship before seminary. He was heading into the MDiv, I was heading into the counseling program. I knew nothing about the counseling program, or Larry, or Dan. I wouldn’t have had the courage to do it if I would’ve known anything about it.
I didn’t have to go through an interview. “Just so happened.” Thank God, at 23, He plopped me down in core class in a lab with people; Trip was in my lab, and Mary Beth Niager was my intern, Paul and I were students together, and just this group of people becoming a community. A church.
[00:08:07] Rosanne Moore: Wow.
So were you already married at that point? Where did you meet Kent?
[00:08:11] Karla Denlinger: Yeah, we met in college our freshman year. Physical science, physics. After we had been married, between college and seminary, I looked at him and told him he was the best thing that ever happened to me, but someday I’d be gone.
It was Christianity I was leaving. Whether it was my ears or my development, I didn’t hear people talking about the struggle. I was trying to do everything that I thought I was supposed to do: read the Bible, pray, share my faith – which was the most uncomfortable thing on God’s earth for me.
I felt like getting married exposed a deeper sin in me that I couldn’t dislodge, and a deeper thirst in me that I thought I was crazy. I felt angry and crazy. I didn’t want to go live for pleasure and I was too scared to kill myself. I didn’t quite know how to go crazy. I didn’t know what I was going to do, and it just so happened that I got accepted into the counseling program like that, having no words for that in the present. Besides, I didn’t know what to do or where to go or where to turn.
[00:09:35] Rosanne Moore: I wonder how many people enter that kind of existential sense of being trapped. I know at various times I’ve been very aware of that, like being trapped and being alive and human and what a phrase I resonate with. I can remember thinking once after reading Jeremiah, I get it. The whole thing of, it’s not even that I want to die, it’s why was I ever born?
I didn’t choose to be here and now I’m stuck. I think when you actually grapple with that it will either drive you crazy or it will open you up to God in ways that nothing else can because you’re so desperately in need of someone larger than yourself to save you and nothing else will satisfy. Nothing else will work.
[00:10:32] Karla Denlinger: Trapped in aliveness. What a phrase.
[00:10:36] Rosanne Moore: So what happened? You’re there to get training as a counselor.
[00:10:43] Karla Denlinger: Exactly. The joke was on me.
[00:10:47] Rosanne Moore: In the middle of it, God is surrounding you with all these wonderful people – I know enough of some of their stories to know that they were also grappling with what it meant to be alive and human – and you had community together.
[00:11:01] Karla Denlinger: Yes. I think the church functions in such beautiful ways. You come alongside together for a bit of time, and then you go off and then He allows another person to come in and strengthen you, and you strengthen them and there’s this organic, beautiful flow that way. I would build my kingdom here if I could.
There’s something far more alive, and the needs in me for different parts of the body and how different people view things and their journeys and what they’ve come to know of Him that I’m limited in coming to know. I think that was some of my first exposure to having my world expanded with these colorful fallen thirsty people. That I didn’t feel alone in the groan.
It was at this time, I can’t remember exactly, Valley Springs was starting. We had been part of a Sunday school class in a church, and there were quite a lot of things happening in it. We went away for a summer to do a ministry team and when we came back, many of our friends had started a church. And so about six weeks in, we went to it and it just felt like we had come home. We had been part of a small group that Tom and Vickey Varney had organized in their basement, and a lot of those friends had gone on to this church, this new start, and we went and it just felt like we were at home.
Over time, I don’t know how old the church was, but then Rachael and Larry started coming and Dan and Becky Allender and all. And it was very decentralized and disorganized, and they needed someone to help organize things who’s going to be there to set up chairs at the school and take the toys out, put the toys away. Larry looked at Kent and said: “Why don’t you do that?” So Kent was hired as a ministry coordinator of our group, and over time grew into the pastorate there.
That’s how we ended up in that role, but the church was very much elder-ruled. I found this friend from Valley Springs.
A dear brother sent this today with the passing of Tim Keller. He had been listening to him and brought back a lot of memories for him of our time and our journey together, and he quoted Tim Keller. An article by David Brooks right now, which is on the Atlantic. Tim Keller said, “Cheer up. You’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine, and you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.”
I can’t think of a better summary of what we came to know together. Cheer up. It echoed Larry’s heart and ministry towards us all through the decades, looking bad in the presence of love. There was a group of people who I repeatedly failed in my energy who believed and held onto something deeper in me. The new covenant became so precious to us. The deepest reality of the redeemed image bearer’s heart is that we’re lovers of God and lovers of others, and that our sin is just blocking the release of that. Having the courage to own that energy, far deeper than a behavior and an energy that you cannot fix travels with you. But somehow, the sense of people still looking at me with eyes of redemptive delight, in the middle of my failure, helped me believe that I think this is true.
I think that’s His heart towards me. As a pastor’s wife, I was Kent’s wife, but as newer people would come in, they would look at me more in that traditional framework. The elders were always so reminding me of, we all must move freely with how we’ve been uniquely made for the kingdom; there’s not some slot here to fit in. We want you fully alive to how God made you in this world. I had to fight off a lot of my own flesh and demons, but it wasn’t because of what I felt from the structure.
[00:15:50] Rosanne Moore: That is a gift. I know that is not the case for many wives of those in ministry, but especially their families I’ve heard from often. When I was married to someone in ministry, certainly there was the pressure to present a certain – I’m not sure if facade is the right word, but certainly a level of performance. So that is a gift, that you were able to just be Karla and to offer that.
I want to go back to something you said. You talked about the energy in us that’s so often wrong and that we cannot ever fix.
It’s funny, as we’re recording today, my interview with my best friend last month is made live. One of the things we talked about there is how too often the message that we receive instead is we’re saved by grace but now we keep that sanctification process going by effort.
You are pointing to the fact that that’s not even reality. We’re underestimating our need for a Savior when we think that’s even within the realm of possibility. Would you say more about that? What does that mean? Where’s the hope in that? Because that can be very depressing, I would think, on the face of it, and yet, I think for me too, I look and I see the ways that the Lord has set me free to rest in His goodness. I come into a deeper and deeper awareness of that.
[00:17:40] Karla Denlinger: I love that the word that was coming in my mind came to your mind: freeing. It’s actually very freeing that there is something terribly wrong and it’s so big and so beyond me and out of my control and that. That’s where the immensity I just continue to scratch the surface of what it means that He knew that’s what I was up against. I didn’t know that’s what I was up against. His compassion came here knowing, “she can’t save herself from that.” The path of freedom is owning it versus trying to fix it. I love the quote by Julian of Norwich when she, in her revelation, kept seeing her sin and she felt like Jesus said to her, “keep coming to me with that and give me the joy of being your savior again and again. I feel so much joy in getting to save you.”
It’s still so hard on my pride, this daily reality of my snapping at Kent, – and I would be like this if I lived alone.
[00:18:57] Rosanne Moore: You’d just be less aware of it.
[00:19:01] Karla Denlinger: The poor mailman or whoever at the distance I could have a relationship with.
It’s this ongoing freedom of, I don’t have to live in the burden of trying to hide it, fix it, stay ahead of it – that’s bondage – but to live as freely as possible.
I was scared to come on this because I know me and I easily could take something and twist it, take someone down or whatever.
God, grace is huge and there’s something that burns more deeply in me of your goodness that’s found me and that I want to speak of more than my fear of being exposed as fallen. Exposed as self-centered. Exposure is not the enemy, but it can really be a kiss of a friend and repentance can be laughter. Your friend’s mocking you –
[00:20:01] Rosanne Moore: with great tenderness and perfection.
[00:20:05] Karla Denlinger: The second coming just takes on more and more power of, we are going to be free of this when grace is finally revealed fully. Somehow this is serving us now, this ongoing competing passions within us. We’ve grown inwardly as we wait eagerly. Meanwhile, we have been free to tell who we have found that loves us in the middle of this and grab hands with each other and this story ends so well. Go love some more people into His kingdom, and it’s a privilege.
[00:20:47] Rosanne Moore: I was thinking about what you said about the people who reached out to you as a child that you sensed in them a delight in you and a delight in what they were doing to share the goodness of God with you. There’s such a different power, such a different energy to wanting to give account of the one who has set you free as opposed to trying to impose a way of thinking so that you can score points with God. Too often I think we’re drawn to the one that allows our flesh to still feel pumped up.
I know that was true for me for a long time in my thoughts of what it meant to share Christ. It was more about me than it was about celebrating who He was and letting and inviting other people into the joy of that. That’s something that has shifted, ironically, the more aware I am.
I can remember a real turning point came when the Lord really clearly said to me, “Rosanne, I’m never disillusioned with you, because I never had any illusions about who I was getting to begin with. You get disillusioned with you, but I never had that unreality in my view.” It was a momentary sting and then, oh, that’s wonderful news.
If I can never surprise Him with my failure then there’s just room for growth. That’s all there is. All we can do is go up from here as He brings life that I can’t achieve on my own. It’s such a good thing.
It’s such a beautiful thing.
[00:22:43] Karla Denlinger: I think it’ll often feel like we’re going down. I think the suffering that we’re open to, there’s more grief, there’s more of tasting the ruin within and the ruin without and the lament and the groaning. There’s this line within me that it’s all a ball still of, what’s discernment? What’s being judgmental? What’s just my personal preference in how to worship?
Where are all the groaning Christians? The ones that are putting one foot in front of the other saying, so be it, with all the energy they can muster with the battles they’re facing internally and what they’re seeing externally. Can we help lift our eyes up to the larger story? Because my knees get knocked out from under me daily; it feels like I can’t go on. So that’s this profound mix of aliveness and passion and battle and failure and glimpses of delight. It’s all of this, to be alive in this world.
[00:24:13] Rosanne Moore: Yeah, you talked about that how God brought those people into community with you for seasons and then they would leave. I know my time at SSD, every time I came in, I came away feeling both mournful and more thirsty because it made me so aware and it enlarged my capacity for joy, and then I had to walk away from it.
I think that’s part of that call for what’s coming, for what God’s made heaven to be for us and the new world that He’s creating. But it’s not here yet. And so we groan. Both the joy and the groan go deeper as we go.
What does it look like for you to find the strength in the middle of that when it’s easy to skate along the surface and you can feel like you’re the only one? As you said, where are the lamenting Christians? Where are the companions in that sorrow?
[00:25:29] Karla Denlinger: Which one of the prophets? Elijah felt like he was all alone, and the Lord pulled back the curtain and said, “This many have not bent their knee to Baal.” I cannot trust my opinion on this, or trust my feelings on this, but I think just looking at your questions ahead of time, I realized how richly He’s provided for me with the church. That I get to connect with them with phone calls.
I’m part of two small groups still in Winona. It’s not the day to day of helping each other hook arms and go, okay, we are going to go take this meal even though we’re both dead tired, what part are you grabbing? We know it’s right, it’s consistent, somewhere inside of us, we’re going, where 90% of us goes, surely somebody else can do this. I don’t have that day-to-day fortification of borrowing each other’s strength. But as soon as I say that, I feel like, no. As I listen to people on the phone, I do borrow their strength as they’re living and fighting the battle all across the world, and the beauty of that.
I remember when we came down here, I’m like, who am I apart from these people at Valley Springs? Who the heck am I? Because I felt, they’re in me, I’m in them. We’re in Christ, like this inner meshing. They walk through deep disillusionment with each other, deep disappointments with each other, failures, and the ongoing graces.
I am grateful. I have a daughter and son-in-law who journey so beautifully into God’s heart, but I don’t have the day-to-day what I would’ve called a local church. But I have God, and His Word. I think Larry taught me, I sit down in the morning and often just put to words, like, my life counts for nothing. Wherever I’m at, what’s been my failure that’s caused this. Some of my close friends tease that we’re in exile, which isn’t true. To have a conversation with God about wherever I’m at, like if I’m not feeling well I don’t think I can move today. The days I don’t have the strength to do anything about it, I desire to rest in who he says He is, His character. He’s holding onto my part of faith too, it’s not about me holding onto Him. But on other days it’s like having my part of the conversation and then turning to His Word; would you like to say anything to address that? Or is there something else on your mind that seems far more important than my take on how I am doing right now? It does bore me sometimes, which is good news.
[00:29:09] Rosanne Moore: For the past month we have been working toward buying a house, and we have one under contract, and we’re coming down to the end with all the re-inspection reports. Now we’re at a point where we’re waiting to see, is this something God is going to give or is this going to be another one taken away? In 14 years, this is the fourth time we’ve tried, and this is the furthest we’ve gotten. We’ve had hopes of having this happen since we were displaced 14 years ago. Over the weekend I was struggling with wanting to handle it well and then realizing that wasn’t an option. I had to say all the things that were there and say, I don’t like that I’m wrestling again with questions of whether or not you really take care of me. I can recount the things in the past, but that doesn’t feel present now. And the Lord has been so kind in the middle of it as I’ve gone through this process of feeling very justified with all the reasons why it feels like He’s not trustworthy because we’ve been here so many times before. He brought to mind the Israelites coming out of Egypt. All they had known was slavery, and He says, I’m going to deliver you. And they’re like, yay. And everything gets worse.
It was just a reminder that this is not new. This is what it means to be human in a fallen world where God is at work and He’s moving us forward, but often we want that to be a straight path. We want it to look a certain way, we want it to make sense and it doesn’t. We can get fixated on that. And all the while He’s wanting to do more than just give us what we want and what we legitimately need. He provided the food and water, but He wanted them to see Him, He wanted them to see His face. They missed that for the most part; Joshua and Caleb and Moses were the only ones who would really make seeing His face more important than seeing Him meet the needs in the way and the time that it seems like He should. I share that because I think that’s part of the reason why I need other believers. I need people who remind me, who have been through that part of their journey and who can say but I have seen His goodness in the middle of this and so we keep going. We call each other to keep going when it’s hard.
[00:32:13] Karla Denlinger: When you were sharing the part where you’ve seen so much of His faithfulness and the grief of why can’t I trust you here? Immediately something in my heart could sit down and want to – I’m not sure of the words, but you’re my sister. That’s what goes on inside of me. I think that’s where I can feel such sadness of, oh Lord, what more do you need to say to me? For me, the wrestle continues and I long for it to be behind me. He’s been so good and so faithful in the reminders that He’s drawing me more deeply into deeper parts of His heart that I can’t get to any other way than this wrestle. I long not to be a wrestler. I won’t be someday. Maybe restless is not the right word, but I was just listening to Johnny Erickson last week with the paralysis – many know she’s had severe pain since I think the late nineties that she said made the paralysis feel like a walk in the park, and then breast cancer, but the severe pain and where it’s taken her with God and what she can share of the wrestle and the rest. I wonder who put me onto those phrases – I’m thinking of Beth Wayland – the glory of the whole story. I still want to parse out, this part’s good, this part’s bad, but it’s all about Him somehow.
I want to bring Him pleasure. Like that last phrase of Bernard Clairvaux, “I love myself for God’s sake.” I doubt this is what Bernard Clairvaux meant by it, but for me it’s that I love all of my story. The wrestles, the parts, I just don’t and won’t be able to get, the failures of others.
Will I allow him to use all of my life for His good pleasure versus thinking it’s about utterly doing it perfectly, or slowly it bends in on me versus I’m enthralled with who He is and what He’s doing, not so much how I’m doing or not doing. That’s been greater freedom too.
You remind me of that one Psalm. I forget what it is, it starts with I was a brute beast before Him.
[00:35:05] Rosanne Moore: Yes. Psalm 73. I read that one a lot, especially during this house process.
[00:35:16] Karla Denlinger: I love that. He’s so provoking. Then the next verse, nevertheless, He takes me by the right hand and guides me and leads me to glory.
[00:35:25] Rosanne Moore: Whom have I in heaven but you, there’s none else on earth that I desire beside you
[00:35:29] Karla Denlinger: I do hope you get this house.
[00:35:37] Rosanne Moore: I do too, but my bigger prayer the last few days has been, let us see your face. Let us not miss your face. Don’t let us get this house and miss your face, or not get it and miss your face. Regardless of whether it comes or not. Don’t let us be wandering in our desert eyes down, unaware of the one who keeps our shoes from wearing out and providing water and food each day, lift our eyes to see the glory of the one who lives in our presence. That has been my prayer in the middle of this.
[00:36:19] Karla Denlinger: That’s beautiful. That’s holy. May He honor your deepest desire.
[00:36:24] Rosanne Moore: For myself and my kids. That was one of the things I realized, part of the passion for this house was wanting a nest for them because we’ve been through so much and I realized if that’s all that I can give them, it’s not enough. I would much rather they see His face and find Him as one worthy to be desired above all else.
[00:36:48] Karla Denlinger: To land in that place; obviously it’s the Spirit’s work to land you in that place to find your deeper heart. But the ingredients in that, what would you say are those ingredients?
[00:37:13] Rosanne Moore: Realizing that the life that I long for is too small, the life I want to give them too often is too small; it would make them small. And that’s come through pain. That awareness has often come through loss, and it has also come through receiving the thing that I thought that I wanted, and finding it’s not enough. There’s a level of emptiness there. Then I turn around and find His face in the middle of the thing that I feared most in finding that He is enough.
[00:37:53] Karla Denlinger: What’s His face look like to you?
[00:38:01] Rosanne Moore: I’ve never experienced His presence more deeply than the week between realizing that something was wrong with our third child and actually losing the baby. I can remember it was the most bizarre thing because as I was on my face crying out, for the life of that child, and the Lord repeatedly said, “Give Shannon to me.”
I was both aware of the deep longing for that little one and the unspeakable awareness that there was no greater good than relinquishing that child to God’s hands. That was the safest place for Shannon. It was weird, Karla. It was just weird because – I hope I never have to experience anything like that again – yet in the middle of it, I was almost sorry. I can remember saying to a friend, “As much as I want Shannon to live, my biggest fear is not that we’ll lose Shannon. My biggest fear is that this awareness of who God is and how glorious He is will fade.” I think when I remember the taste of that and and the awareness that it’s only a taste of what’s coming, that’s what I don’t want to ever lose sight of. That’s what I always want to be moving toward. That’s what this last weekend I was aware was missing.
It can’t be for the sense of his presence, because that comes and goes. He stooped very near during that time. A lot of other times it hasn’t been that way. He seemed silent and distant and, for reasons I can’t manipulate or figure out, I don’t have a formula of why He came so close then and, in other times of great struggle, He has seemed silent. I just know on the other side of the silence, the silence has spoken more profoundly than if He had spoken into it.
[00:40:29] Karla Denlinger: Would you say He somehow sealed something in your heart with you at that point? In that, whether you sense Him or not, or His silence, His quietness, He is very present, whether you sense His goodness or not, but down underneath it all that incredible Him meeting you there has altered you.
[00:40:54] Rosanne Moore: I think losing Shannon anchored my heart in heaven like nothing else could’ve; anchored my heart in eternity the way nothing else could’ve. While I’d never want to have to go through anything like that again, I can’t regret it because of what He did in the middle of it. People are eternal. If Shannon had lived, I wouldn’t have my son Daniel, and I will have Shannon one day. So I got more in the middle of it. I lost nothing. I lost nothing in the end. And I’m grateful for that.
[00:41:35] Karla Denlinger: You’re very rich.
[00:41:39] Rosanne Moore: I did not expect to go here at all.
[00:41:44] Karla Denlinger: I should have brought my Kleenex box.
[00:41:46] Rosanne Moore: I was thinking the same thing.
Thank you. This is one of the gifts that you have that you offer; this is a picture of what we want to offer each other as the body of Christ, to listen intentionally in a way that the Holy Spirit can bring to the surface what He’s done and what He’s still doing.
So thank you.
[00:42:16] Karla Denlinger: Thank you. I forget there’s other people listening.That’s a gift.
[00:42:22] Rosanne Moore: I know!
[00:42:25] Karla Denlinger: I think of Hebrews, coming together with the body of Christ to come to help us to love and spur one another onto love and good deeds; we each get these glimpses that alter us, and then we’re asked to walk by faith and by thirst, which is so much a bulk of the journey, I think within these little sips and tastes of keep going and you can borrow my faith right now, can I borrow yours because I’m really struggling. It’s that ebb and flow of give and take from each other and that inner penetration and inner animation that happens as part of His body together, of how He wants to reach us and whisper to us and remind us of who He really is.
[00:43:20] Rosanne Moore: I appreciate the fact that you didn’t try to make anything happen. I think that’s a mistake we often make. I want to make it better. I want to help somebody see the Lord in the midst of the thing or whatever, instead of trusting that He’s there and He’s making Himself known; looking for that and listening for that, which is what you did today.
So thank you. Karla, we’re getting to the end of our time. Is there anything else you want to share that’s on your heart? Because, like you said, we do have other people listening. I just remembered that.
[00:44:12] Karla Denlinger: I read in Psalms a lot and in Psalms 138 this passage starts off: “I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.” It’s lifting my eyes from my smaller story into this larger story of steadfast love and faithfulness. That chapter ends with, “ The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me” (for us); “your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” The Lord will fulfill his purposes for us. No matter what that looks like, He’s got me. I can flail in His hands, but I’m in His hands. I can go on not speaking terms with Him and I’m in His hands, and He’s going to get me. Meanwhile, there’s something deeper than just existing in the middle of being in His hands.
I really long for when I can find it and my brothers and sisters help me unearth it again; I really would like to cause the Father pleasure today. I really would love to go about that in the fullest way possible. I think my failures are also tied with that being happening, it’s not mutually exclusive. But the wrestle is honoring that process somehow, so I don’t want to pretend.
[00:46:05] Rosanne Moore: I’ve been listening to an album called “Faithful.” It’s a group of women artists of various kinds who got together around the beginning of Covid and wrote songs together from scripture. One of the songs I’ve been listening to on repeat, and it keeps coming to mind as you’re talking is “The Detour.” What feels to us like the detour is actually the road to His heart. It’s the road to everything we long for in Him. That’s what I hear you saying as you trace the path through that little girl going to church and going to seminary and thinking that you were going to be out of here and here you are. How many years have you and Kent been married now?
[00:47:00] Karla Denlinger: Four and a half, but who’s counting?
It’s His good hand in planting us here. We don’t have time to speak of the 50 houses we looked at and all the bids we lost and we moved in with the kids and put an offer on this house, and they called us within two hours. They were having an open house the next day, and we met them, Doug and Mary.
Mary, we walked in the door and she said, we had many offers, even that first day before our open house that were higher than yours, but Doug and I are people of prayer and we asked God, who are we to sell this to? And we knew it was you.
I’m like, you went before us. There are Christians in Cincinnati who are living from a different economy longing to please you? We’ll do it, and so here I sit with this provision of, this is where you’re to live with the body of Christ, the church.
[00:48:05] Rosanne Moore: The detour is the road and it lands in His heart. That’s so good.
Karla, thank you so much for doing this with me today. I know it was a sacrifice. I know physically that it’s not easy for you at times and that you’ll probably be tired the rest of the day or maybe several days to pay for this. So thank you for being willing to come and just share your heart with us today..
[00:48:38] Karla Denlinger: Thank you for asking. It’s fun to talk about God and His deep goodness.
[00:48:49] Rosanne Moore: Larger Story friends, I hope you will be back with us next week and if you haven’t already checked out Larry’s book Real Church, this is the kind of community he talks about. How do we do more than just talk about God? How do we actually celebrate Him in our midst? How do we help each other to become more open and aware and more hungry to become “little Christs,” knowing that it’s not about our performance, but it’s about His mercy in our midst. So we hope you’ll join us next time. Thank you, Karla, so much for being with us.
[00:49:34] Karla Denlinger: You bet. Bye.