Learning to Nestle Instead of Wrestle

Shaken and soul-weary, yet sustained. That was my 2013 in a nutshell.

And here I stand still.

Calmer.

More steadfast.

More assured of a God who is present always – sleeping peacefully in the stern of my boat, regardless of the mounting, stormy waves.

He was there.

Is here.

And He cares.

For me and for my loved ones who were rocked so ferociously this past year. Sifted like wheat, chaff falling by the wayside as the heads of grain were laid bare.

Shaken.

Sifted.

Strengthened by Spirit’s hand.

Held.

Kept.

Secure despite the insecurities of rapidly-changing circumstances.

And me?

I bore the storms less graciously than perhaps I had wished. But I bore them. I bore them best when I placed the burdens to rest upon the Shoulders wide enough to bear them for me. Not just with me, but for me. And as the burdens were lifted one by one, my arms were strengthened to carry more. Reverse exercises seem to work best in the spirit realm. The more I release, the stronger I become.

While storms had hit many times in the years leading up to 2013, those storms provided much for me to do within those moments of waves crashing. There was care to be given to others. Decisions to be made. Doctors to be seen. Meals to be prepared. Medicines to be sorted and administered. Finances and paperwork to be organized. Therapy exercises to be practiced. Wounds to be bandaged. Even funeral preparations to be made. There was always some sort of physical application that brought relief  to others and allowed my grief and frustration to be used up in my times of serving.

There was healing in the doing.

Not so this past year. The storms of 2013 hit far beyond my capabilities to protect. Far beyond any ministrations of tangible help. “Pray and trust” became my mantra as I rallied beneath its banner and lifted so many precious ones in prayer… over and over and over again.

Soul-weary was my constant companion.

Tired of the hurt. Exhausted from the bad news and heartache surrounding me on so many fronts. Worn out from storms that required everything of me while taking nothing. No act of service. No physical care. No organizational skills.

Nothing… and yet, everything.

Last year took everything of me. Stripping me bare. Raw. Hurting. Messy. Weary. So very tired of the aching. Tired of too much and not enough walking hand-in-hand.

Even the safety of words was shaken as emails were infiltrated and accounts were hacked. Aliases and hedged messages became commonplace. Everything guarded. Me, most of all.

Yet in my guardedness, God guarded me. Never slackening His hold, though I often felt tossed about like a rag doll in the wind. He never ceased caring, though Satan taunted me with the lies. In the storm, the underlying “pray and trust” held firm. When all was beyond my control, not one thing happening was beyond His. And it still isn’t.

Not. One. Little. Thing.

All is in His care because He cares.

The more this past year was shaken, the more firm my foundation became.

Has become.

Is.

Though the tremors and waves still remain beyond my control, I am at rest. But this time I am resting with eyes wide open to see the heart of the One who is breathing peace and sharing it with me. I’ve found my place in the storm, and it is not at the helm, panicking in my pleas for the tempest to cease. It is at the stern of the boat, snuggled securely beside my Savior. Enveloped beneath His cloak, matching my heartbeat to his own as I press my weary head against His stalwart chest and rest in His care. Finally at peace. Confident that He’s got this… whatever this may be. At any given moment.

No longer soul-weary.

No longer fearful of the outcome.

Choosing to nestle instead of wrestle, I press more closely to the One who calms me. Though storms rage fiercely all about, we rest secure… my Lord and me.

IMG_2230

The Strength of Waiting

Sometimes our very inactivity shows the greatest amount of strength.

Soul-pierced.

Distanced from our dreams by disappointment. Held hostage by this seeming hopelessness. Parted from our purpose by this present pain.

Frustrated by this restlessness for something when we feel called to nothing.

Waiting is hard.

Resting can be the most challenging of work-outs when we are used to filling our time with activity and service.

If you are currently in or have ever been in a time of “waiting,” you well know how difficult a task it can be. It’s hard to stop a forward thrust of motion and refrain from filling our time with the simple act of doing something. Even when we know God is the One calling us to this time of rest – to this time of waiting.

We wait for His glory to appear — here — in this mess of confusion and doubt. Are we really called to content ourselves “outside the loop” of ministry? Has God really brought us to this season of rest, or are we missing His voice? What can possibly be the benefit of doing nothing when it’s obvious there are so many things needing to be done? So many opportunities for us to use the gifts He has given? The wrestling ensues as we try to make sense of it all.

But waiting is meant to be so much more than simply wasting away our days. Waiting on God can be a time of building our confidence in His character — leaning forward toward His presence in order to readily grasp what is being offered. Waiting is a call to stand in covenant with the promises we believe, the things we know to be true. Tarrying in trust. Lingering in love. Abiding in His rest while waiting for His words to either move on or nestle within our hearts.

Waiting calls us to be present in this moment, even when we may be wishing for another.

Consider the company of the following saints who were found waiting:

– Moses waited forty years before returning to Egypt as the deliverer of God’s people.

 Joshua lingered his way into leadership by staying near the tabernacle long after the rest had departed.

– Caleb waited with a warrior’s heart for forty years before taking possession of the land he had been promised.

 Simeon was waiting for the Consolation of Israel, filled with the Holy Spirit long before his arms were filled with the Savior’s earthly form.

– Widowed and worshiping, Anna waited in the temple. Praying and prophesying, she looked Redemption full in the face and spoke to all of the Deliverer.

The disciples waited according to the Lord’s directives and were met by Holy Ghost fire sweeping through the upper room and their lives, carrying the Good News into the streets of Jerusalem, to Judea, into the borders of Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

If you are presently in a God-induced holding pattern, consider yourself in good company. Press into this time of rest instead of warring against it. Listen for His words, yes, but continue to trust in His character even when your ears meet silence.

And remember, as you wait for Him… He waits for you.

Isaiah_30_18

Please Hold

“I’m sorry, all of our customer service representatives are busy assisting others at the moment. Please hold, and your call will be answered in the order it was received…”

Seriously, are there any words more frustrating when you are needing assistance than those offensive words of, “Please hold”? While I have been placed “on hold” several times throughout the years, I do believe my run-in yesterday tops the list for longest-phone-hold-to-date. It literally took me more than 4 1/2 straight hours before the issue was resolved and the coveted airline tickets were purchased with a savings voucher my husband earned a few weeks back when he volunteered to take a flight bump. (I now understand why folks are so hesitant to surrender their seats. It’s not the inconvenience of the delayed flight so much as it is the frustration of later trying to redeem the “special deal” you were promised.)

The only thing more frustrating than being placed on hold while on the telephone is when that same scenario plays itself out in life. Things are going along just fine; you’re comfortable in your job; settled in your ministry; family life is a daily routine of activities and events. Then suddenly, for no obvious reason, things change. Life is interrupted with a “holding pattern,” and much like a plane caught in the currents of an unexpected storm, you are left “circling” above the runway. Holding… holding… and holding for the next break in the storm so you can comfortably land and go back to life as usual. And perhaps that is the very reason God likes to shake us up with a “hold.” He doesn’t want for us to become too comfortable in this life.

Becoming too comfortable in this life means we may have lost sight of the life that is to come. Becoming too comfortable in ministry may suggest we are precariously close to forgetting that it is God who ministers through us, and not we ourselves. Becoming too comfortable with our family routine may indicate that we are taking each other for granted. So God steps in to shake things up by placing our comfortable life “on hold.” Suddenly, what made perfect sense to us just yesterday no longer seems as clear. The ministry that was previously so fulfilling no longer seems to offer the same sense of satisfaction as it once did. In short, God pulls us to the sidelines and asks for us to wait on Him to do something “other.”

And while a needed rest is always refreshing, an enforced nap can be quite unsettling. Or at least disappointing. No one wants to be banished to the sidelines when the game is being played on the field. After all, where’s the productivity in that? And once again, we find our focus has honed in on producing in attempts to attain a soul satisfaction that is found only in being with the Master. While it is unsettling to be unsettled, sometimes it is exactly what our Father knows we need. For in the “holding,” we take the time to look at things with greater clarity. We pause to more closely observe the people and happenings around us than when we are caught up in a blur of activity.

If you are finding your life “on hold” at the moment, I encourage you to stop fighting against it. Stop attempting to fill the void with activity. Stop sitting on the edge of your seat anxiously tapping your foot in anticipation of putting down the landing gears. Simply stop. Instead, I urge you to do as my friendly airline representative encouraged me while I was waiting on his computer to process my request: “Place your phone on speaker mode and go make a cup of coffee to enjoy while I work through this.”

Don’t try to rush the process, simply allow God to work through this.

All those plans He has in store for you? They are on the way. But until they arrive, enjoy the rest. Right now, that is the plan. Because when it’s your turn to get into the game again, you’ll need to hit the ground running for all you’re worth. In the meantime, hang tight with your heavenly coach and allow Him to pilot your course. You’re in for an awesome destination… it’s guaranteed.

macau