I am calm, but I am not active.
I smiled to hear the heavily-accented words coming across the phone lines. Words spoken from a man who is prone to action, accustomed to being on the front lines of God’s battlefield. A man displaced because of his faith. A man who has been imprisoned and beaten, hunted and forced into hiding, cut off from his birth family, separated from his wife and young children for a period of time that stretched beyond eighteen months. A man who now calls a different country home… all because he was adamant about sharing the knowledge and love of Jesus with others.
A man who honors me with the name Mama although he’s not my son by natural birth.
To hear the deep peace surfacing through his words has been a long time coming. A pastor and missionary turned common laborer in a country far from home is at last coming to grips with waiting.
Waiting for the calling of God while living where he is.
Despite the barriers of culture, language, and occupational change, he is learning to live with peace in his heart even when he’s not active in the ministry which he’s always known.
As I write these words, I can’t help but smile at the thought of how easily we get confused as to what ministry is. Contrary to what he may be tempted to believe, this precious son of my heart has never once stopped being a minister of the gospel of Christ. How can he when he carries the very presence of God’s Holy Spirit with him wherever he goes, whether behind a pulpit or behind prison bars or behind the borders of a foreign land.
Even the most seasoned of warriors can be fooled by decoys.
Even the wisest of Christians can be deceived by the grip of much activity.
Why is it so difficult for us to live “calm but not active”?
We struggle if we are not busy “doing” something for God. This issue to “rest and regroup” can be such a frustrating directive. Surely some form of action must be required. Obviously something needs to be happening beyond this consistent call to pray and to listen and to wait. But by forcing action, we unwittingly surrender the peace that longs to take up residence deep within us.
We muddy the waters of calm with our incessant desire for movement.
Grasping for God’s presence in fire and in earthquakes, we unwittingly believe He is always found in the fierce and wild, and never in the mild of a whispering breeze.
Too often, I twist my son’s words and live as one who is active, but not calm. Placing my hands upon too many things at once, answering “yes” to too many requests, running to and fro without clear direction… when all along what God really wants is for me to stop and sit in the gentle breeze of His presence.
Today I challenge all of us to purposefully choose the calm and stop feeling guilty for taking God-enforced breaks from the call of duty. Let’s cease and desist this irrational need to be busy, and instead, invite peace to come wherever we are. And to linger with it.
Let’s embrace the power of stillness.
Let’s choose to be flexible and bend into the unknown even as we rest in what is known.
You don’t need to see the next step to simply enjoy the gift of salvation today. Trust in the promises you have been given even as you reacquaint yourself with the tried and true of Father’s faithfulness. Revisit the cross of Jesus and rest beneath the shadow of redemption’s outstretched hands. See this time of seeming non-activity as your personal upper room until you sense the fire of the Holy Spirit sweeping over you again.
In short, simply allow God’s presence to be enough for this moment in time.
No matter the season, embrace your “now” normal because one day it will be new and different For this day, live with purpose and tarry while you are still able instead of worrying about filling in the gaps in your story.
Sometimes it simply requires a pause to fully comprehend all that has transpired to date.
So take this time to soak in the gift of remembrance. Marvel once more at the miracle of grace until Shalom has settled deep. Until you trust anew in the One who is both the Author and Finisher of your faith.
Stop the glorification of busy, and choose to live calm… even when you’re not active.
Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. – Psalm 116:7