Be Still

Standard

While I treasure all the inspirational reads, the self help books, and great Biblical teachers, there are some days I want to escape from it all.  Escape and just be.  It seems that daily I am faced with an issue, an obstacle, or some other weakness to overcome.  Today I just want to be.  Be the person I currently am right here today with no worries about where I need to be.  I don’t want to worry about my monthly budget, did I say the right thing, did I do enough, did I help someone today.  I just want to sit in my own circumstances and that be enough. 

I’m so tired of always trying to fix something, fix others, and mainly fix myself.  Today of all days, I find it exhausting.   Out of all of the devotions I received today, this one hit the spot and I would like to share it with you.

The Isolation Chamber
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1, by Os Hillman
10-26-2010
“Be still and know that I am God….” Psalm 46:10
There is a time and place in our walk with God in which He sets us in a place of waiting. It is a place in which all past experiences are of no value. It is a time of such stillness that it can disturb the most faithful if we do not understand that He is the one who has brought us to this place for only a season. It is as if God has placed a wall around us. No new opportunities–simply inactivity.

During these times, God is calling us aside to fashion something new in us. It is an isolation chamber designed to call us to deeper roots of prayer and faith. It is not a comfortable place, especially for a task-driven workplace believer. Our nature cries out, “You must do something,” while God is saying, “Be still and know that I am God.” You know the signs that you have been brought into this chamber when He has removed many things from your life and you can’t seem to change anything. Perhaps you are unemployed. Perhaps you are laid up with an illness.

Most religious people live a very planned and orchestrated life where they know almost everything that will happen. But for people in whom God is performing a deeper work, He brings them into a time of quietness that seems almost eerie. They cannot say what God is doing. They just know that He is doing a work that cannot be explained to themselves or to others.

Has God brought you to a place of being still? Be still and know that He really is God. When this happens, the chamber will open soon after.
For some reason, the past several months I have been fighting and resisting this rest.  I was restless, not satisfied, longing for more.  But today something has changed. I find myself welcoming this new area, this idle time as I would like to call it.  Today I am taking my hands off the reigns and allowing my God to do His work in me.  And the only effort required out of me is to be still.  

What Lies Beneath

Standard

This is the last week in my study of Jonah – Navigating the Interrupted Life.  I worked it out in my mind that it was going to be smooth sailing, all down hill.  You know, getting the dessert after one big hearty meal.  But what I am quickly discovering is that I still have some more meat (the hard stuff) to chew on.  You see, Jonah was obedient to God, but his heart had a bit of catching up to do.  Jonah simply was angry.  He was angry that God showed mercy and compassion upon the Ninevites, when in Jonah’s mind, they did not deserve it.

In Jonah 4:4, God said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”  For some reason that question floored me.  Yes, I have reason to be angry!  Are you kidding me?  Through that question, I thought God was implying that we have no right to be angry.  When in fact He already knew the answer to that question, He just wanted to give Jonah (me) the opportunity to answer. 

Sometimes God (already knowing the answer) has to ask those tough questions just so what still lies beneath can rise to the surface.

So I find myself again facing some truth I don’t want to swallow. I am angry like Jonah.  Angry at those who go unpunished, when in my mind they should suffer the consequences of their actions.  Angry at my God who allowed terrible things to happen to me.  To allow my innocence to be shattered, robbed, violated by two individuals.  God did not plan for me to be harmed.  He said it in Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  But just the opposite happened!

I still don’t understand and I may never in this lifetime.

But you see, I find (through this study) that I leave out the truth, His truth.  I don’t keep reading.  I stop at that part that upsets me. Like Jonah, I focused on God extending mercy and compassion to those that hurt me or betrayed me, but failed to recognize that the guilty do not go unpunished.

Exodus 34:6-7 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

Sometimes I think our circumstances leave us trapped with the inability to move on.  We get so caught up on being vindicated/validated/justified that it keeps us bound up and not able to move forward.

Like me, maybe you have had to answer some tough questions lately or maybe you simply avoid them.   I hope that you will take the time to dig and uncover what exactly lies beneath.  Seek out the truth (even if it’s painful) and let it set you free.

“Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.” Viktor E. Frankl

Defying Gravity

Standard

I was watching one of my favorite Sunday night t.v. shows Brothers and Sisters.  Norah Walker (the mother, who is played by Sallie Field) ran into an old friend, who by the way, looked much younger.  It appeared that her much younger looking friend had a little work done.  The friend highly recommended that Norah have a little work done herself.  Her friend simply said, “What goes up, must stay up.” 

Her casual comment got me thinking (as usual).  Why do we always want to fight what comes natural?  We fight the aging process with all these gimics, lotions, creams, etc or we go to the extreme, and have a little reconstructive surgery.   Either way we are defying gravity.
The same holds true with our emotions and how we feel, but just in the opposite direction.  We don’t state how we feel, because we don’t enjoy confrontation.  We don’t express ourselves emotionally because we are worried how others will perceive us or we were taught to “suck it up” and move on.   So we supress our feelings hoping they will stay down, when eventually, as nature would have it, they will come up. 

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ~Lao Tzu

Just like the quote said above, life is all about changes and we spend so much of our energy trying to resist them.  I think we have so much to gain if we would just be true to ourselves; our appearance, our thoughts, our feelings, and our emotions.  When we stop resisting, we start living.

“The Journey between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place.” ~ Barbara Deangelis

Maybe it’s time to stop defying gravity and start dancing.

The Hardest Pill to Swallow

Standard
Growing up, I was the child who could not swallow a pill of any kind.  My medicine would have to come in liquid form or be crushed up in a spoonful of juice or some other drink.  I’m pretty sure it was psychological as I don’t recall having any physical impairments that would prevent such a small action.  None the less, taking medicine was a chore for anyone who had to administer it as I did not make the task easy.
As I age, I discover I still have difficulty swallowing and that pill comes in the form of the truth.  Swallowing the truth is yet again a painful process as I do my best to resist it.  I don’t want to accept that my life is not going according to my plan and that my dreams may forever rest upon the shelf of my heart.  It’s one of the hardest pills for me to swallow.
Each week as I particpate in Jonah ~ Navigating a Life Interrupted, I gain a better understanding and revelation about His plan for me.  With each day that goes by, I find myself more eager to embrace it.   Just as Proverbs 16:9 says, “We may make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”
The truth of the matter is I may never step one foot back in the classroom, but that does not have to change my purpose in life.  I can still teach, lead, and inspire but I may have to find other means of doing so. 
So if you find yourself struggling to accept Your truth, maybe it’s time to stop resisting and start swallowing.  It may turn out to be the best medicine you’ve ever had to take.

“Blessed is the person who finds out which way God is moving, and then gets moving in the same direction.” ~ Unknown

Coming Clean

Standard

I love reality shows that their mission is to improve, organize, declutter, purge, and update as I am in the improvement business myself.  I am a fixer, sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it is not.

I was leading small group last night and we were talking about a particular section in our study titled “Coming Clean”.  Priscilla informed us that Clean House was one of her favorite t.v. programs. 

I can agree that I love some Niecy Nash.  She is forever telling the owner’s of the home that their behavior is pure foolishness and mayhem.  I laugh every time those words come out of her brash and sassy mouth.
I confessed to the group that on Sunday I watched several episodes of Hoarders – Buried Alive on TLC.  Everyone in the group starting chiming in saying they could not watch that show.  I don’t have a problem watching.  If anything, I am propelled to clean (more than I do) or purge the things I no longer use.  A member of the group and friend of mine, brought up a very valid point. While we may not hoarder physical things, we may hoarder the past and those painful memories and emotions associated with it.

We cling to what is comfortable and have no desire of coming clean.

Oh how I wish that the messiness and hoarding could be that simple…foolishness. But it seems to stem from some form of loss which keeps compounding until we are in fact Buried Alive, as the title conveys.  But there is a way out, if we choose.  We can allow God to come in evaluate the mess, put His team to work, and free us from what is weighing us down.

Matthew 11:28 says it best. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.”

So whether you hold on to those things that are tangible or not, maybe it’s time for a little Clean Sweep.