Wednesday, September 24, 2014

keep calm and take 30

It was one of those days where there is much to do both personally and at work.  You know when a thought comes to mind and before you’re finished processing it another thought jumps in the mix leaving you feeling unproductive and frustrated.

That’s where I was.

I knew I needed some time and space to clear my brain.  I walked out of my office building and began my trek in heels to a waterfall that I have wanted to visit for quite some time.  The Lord meant it for that day. 

It was a lovely humid 95 degrees but I didn’t care.  I let the sun soak into my skin.  I could feel the color coming back after being drained dry of pigmentation by fluorescent lights.

I approached the nearest crosswalk that would lead me to the waterfall.  I, along with a young man wearing a batman zip-up hoodie (which was adorned with bat ears no less) waited for permission to cross.  Upon starting to cross we quickly realized that the cross-walk signal was busted as we began facing oncoming traffic.  He began to jog across.  I however did not.  I would rather be injured by a car than hurt myself by just happening to step my heel into a crack and slamming my face into the pavement at this point.

Made it across safely and the waterfall came into view.  I had not realized before but it is surrounded by carefully planted rows of trees.  How beautiful. 

My soul began to breathe.

I made my way to the waterfall and began to feel its mist.  This combined with the humidity and breeze on the walk over was going to make for a “fun” hair day but I didn’t care.  My soul needed this more.

 Some days you just need to keep calm until you can take 30 to restore your soul.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

getting a grip on faithfulness

 (Bear with me as I word vomit put into words just a smidgeon of what the Lord brought about the past few days.)

I was beyond blessed to travel to North Carolina for a retreat this past weekend.  The trip was filled with more laughter, car dancing and physical activity (trifecta) than I have ever experienced together at one time.  I felt utter and complete freedom to be myself and dance and sing like no one was watching.  Sometimes we need to lighten life with pure silliness whether we appear like a 12 year old or not.  I never want to lose that innocence. (For those that observed the silliness, sorry I’m not sorry…)

Each night there was a devotional time in which we were encouraged to rest, challenged to grow deeper in our relationship with God and to extend that growth to our community.  On the last night we were prompted to write down something that we learned from the trip. 

Crickets…I sat motionless.

I had experienced much community but could not think of anything really profound that I had learned.  (You ever put pressure on yourself to come up with some great theological truth that the Lord has spoken?  I was there.) 

It wasn’t that the Lord had not spoken.  He had been moving all throughout the shared joy and laughter.  He loves to enjoy his creation. All of the laughter and appreciation for the beauty of the earth was within that enjoyment.  But, I was feeling guilty for the lack of a spiritual high that we oftentimes seek on a retreat.

Finally, though, there was one moment that came to mind. 

The first night we arrived I had been sharing with one of my friends a recent dream.  You ever have a dream that is in no way shape or form reality and something you never thought of desiring but leads you to want it to be reality?  The kind where you wake up and say, “where did that come from?”  That was the kind of dream that I had.

My own desires were starting to set in and distract me from a commitment I made to God and I was becoming nervous. Over the past year Satan has found my sleep to be a convenient place to wage spiritual warfare.

I expressed all of this to her.

The next day while we were hiking she shared how she had prayed the night before that at the end of this commitment the Lord would say, “well done my good and faithful servant.” 

The part about all of this that stood out to me at the time was that even though she is going through a dry season of prayer in which they often go unanswered, she chose to keep praying.  Instead of becoming distant from the Lord and shutting down she turned to praying for others. 

I was floored as she shared this during the hike.  I could not process or express how much it meant to me. The sheer goodness of it plowed straight to the core of my being. 

I was so thankful that she prayed but also that she shared her prayer over me.  Oh how I desire to finish the race strong.  As a person who tends to default to tapping out when I do not see immediate results I needed to hear her prayer.  My soul needed that reminder of its purpose.

As we drove in from hiking the last day of the trip I could not help but mourn the ending of such a joy-filled weekend.  I didn’t want it to end.  I couldn’t help but feel like it wasn’t complete yet.

The next morning we started out before dawn on our 17 hour van ride back to Texas.  Mid-morning I volunteered to drive and to my delight my precious friend hopped into the passenger seat beside me. 

Soon she began sharing her heart just as I had shared mine.  I did my best to encourage her. She laid out her heart bare.  I knew my words were coming up empty.  I found myself begging for the Lord to give her an answer, to speak directly over her.

He met us there divinely.

I knew what he had spoken was not going to bring a soft, cuddly feeling.  I told her, “I’ve got chills.  The Lord has spoken and I don’t think you are going to like it but I must say it anyways.”  She did not hesitate in saying, “Say whatever it is. Don’t hold back.”

“I believe the Lord is calling you to faithfulness.  Think of all of the times we are unfaithful to God and yet he remains faithful to us.  I am not saying that he is being unfaithful.  Simply that if we are to be like Christ then we are to be faithful.  He is calling you to be faithful in your prayers even if you are not hearing a response.”

And then the Lord had a mic drop moment. 

She received his words.  She did not run away from them.  Oh for how the Lord is gloriously refining her.

I couldn’t help but feel that the trip was then complete.  Praise him that he made himself so clearly known both on the hike and in the van. 

He has interwoven our stories of faith.

As I began processing how he spoke and typed “well done good and faithful servant” I realized that I had completely skipped over ‘faithful’.  My heart was caught up in having such a frequently spoken phrase prayed over me that I missed his direct call to faithfulness from me in that moment.  His words now lay heavy over me, protecting me from my own desires. 

God could easily cater to our desires but it is in the refinement that we grow and become like him. 

Remain faithful to your commitment…always easier said than done but oh so fulfilling when done. 

I find myself losing faith when I lose sight of what I believe in. 

If I believe that the Lord’s timing is perfect, that his purpose is good, that his way is better than mine; my faith is strong.  I do not fear the future and what it may or may not hold. I do not wish to take it into my own hands.

Resting in faith I find myself moving slower and more settled. Having soul-rest.

Unless I hold on tight to faith I fall down into my own desires.  The Lord does not leave me hanging by my own strength.  And so I tighten my grip not wishing to let go but to gain a strong understanding of what it means to be faithful.