I know I am not the first person to unravel this truth. But today, it is NEW to me. The words just don’t seem to come because how do you explain the crazy? How do we explain that the most explosive truths of Jesus are yet the simplest? Who has made them so hard to understand? Is it my culture, lifestyle, paradigms, past, or could it be no one else’s fault but my own??? Whatever may be true of that, let’s just do this together. Jumping is never that scary when you know what you are landing on. And how could landing on the solid rock of Jesus ever not be worth it?
God talks about His “weightiness” and I talk about my “heaviness”.
I have this heaviness about me at times. Some of the “heavy” I choose to attach to myself and my family. Some “heavy” is just because I am alive and chose to get out of bed every morning. But in this heaviness I feel….burdened, tired, weary, burnt out, stiff, numb, mute. Examples of the current “heavy” in my life….the possible forever twice daily meds of my oldest son, the questions my young boys have after seeing the one second glimpse of a commercial where that girl kissed that other girl, the hesitant face my youngest gave when he actually had the invite to bring his bible to school, that friend I disappointed, the bill still sitting on my counter awaiting the arrival of that check before it can be mailed, the cousin who is going to another medical specialist, that patient who was sent to the hospital because they couldn’t control her seizures at home, my husband out of town for work again this week, the police parked in front of my neighbor’s house, the wreck that happened and the lawsuit that followed, the “no” I shouted in frustration to my kids when they asked to download that app for school so that they could be like the other kids… This list goes on. It will always go on. Fill in the blanks for your life today. Life is just life. These are the things that happen and will always be waiting for me to stuff in the ever growing backpack that I drunkenly carry throughout the day. The days where seasons don’t even seem to show change. Their heaviness does not change and I am not made stronger by carrying the load.
God has this weightiness about Him. The literal meaning of the word “glory” is “weight, majesty, and significance”. It comes from the Hebrew word “kabowd”. We see this word used all throughout the Old Testament. In Exodus 40:34 when Moses is describing the cloud covering of the tabernacle of meeting. In Psalms 3:3 when David says to the Lord that He is “a shield for me, my glory and the lifter of my head.” In Isaiah 42:8 when Isaiah speaks of God’s word that He will not share His glory with another.
It is not a numbing, inhibiting, or burdensome weight. It is the all-encompassing, all consuming, all saturating tangible presence of our one true God. It defines His very importance and significance. This presence is constantly being revealed through all of His creation (Psalms 19:1-4). It is this glory that the Bible is ultimately about. It is this glory that defines our very purpose, for we were created to bring Him this glory (Isaiah 43:7). It does not sound like something He would hide from me if that is what I was created to do.
When I think about my “heaviness” I always seem to think about Matthew 11. Verses 28-30 say “Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
It sounds so pleasant at first. “Come to me…” How He beckons for relationship and promises that unattainable rest that I cannot seem to give myself. And then He starts talking about yokes and burdens and I begin to tune it out. I do that to Him sometimes.
But in my exasperated cry that He would tell me how “yokes are easy and burdens are light”, I did not hear a response. So I did what every self-respecting seminary wife would do and grabbed my husband’s Strongs Concordance. I looked up the words burden and yoke.
Burden= phortíon – a burden which must be carried by the individual. (How is this helpful Jesus? Insert sigh...)
But then things began to change.
Yoke= zygos=a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull together to act as one.
Excuse me…SAY WHAT!?!?!
Lets go back to Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
We have burdens. We are heavy. We were never created to carry it alone. THAT IS WHY JESUS CAME! You see, Jesus knows what is like to be human. He was one. He knows what burden on earth is. And in that knowledge, that burden remains, but He is crying out “COME TO ME” so that we might learn from Him and choose to strap on that yoke that will attach ourselves (our burdens, weariness, dullness) to HIS VERY SELF and walk as one WITH HIM through this life until that day. And when you walk side by side with someone, you begin to know them. And we, like Paul, can say “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings…” (Philippians 3:10)!
That is why His “yoke is easy and His burden is light”! Because when we yoke ourselves with Jesus, we justify all that He did for us on the cross. He takes it all for us, for He already took it all on that cross. And in that position can we ONLY experience the true freedom of the cross.
But there is more… for oxen are never yoked without purpose, without being attached to a cart or plow. As soon as we come and attach ourselves to Jesus through His yoke, we then get to be attached to God. And not just the knowledge of Him, but His very presence…His weight….His GLORY! (Read Hebrews 6:19, 2Corinthians 3:7-18)
Oh God, THANK YOU that your presence is not partial. It is not given in sections, but is the whole of who You are. You created me for your glory. To take on that freeing weight, and not the heaviness of the world. Thank you for Jesus, for the crazy of the cross. And as I choose to come to you, I choose to take up Your yoke and attach myself with You so that we can walk together as one. Thank you that you did not create me to walk alone, but with Jesus! God let the weight of Your glory come as I give Jesus my back pack. My heaviness for Your weightiness. My worship for Your glory!
GOD CARES ABOUT THE LITTLE THINGS. Repeat this after me. GOD CARES ABOUT THE LITTLE THINGS. Yesterday was a “get things done” day. I went from my boys’ school, to a women’s ministry meeting at church, to Dell Children’s Hospital to visit a patient, to IKEA, to Target, to Hobby Lobby, to HEB, to the gas station, back to HEB, and then home right in time for the bus to drop off my sweet loves. I was spending money here and there on parking, end of year teacher presents, end of year class parties, birthday party presents, groceries, and things for the church and our business. All good things, but things that tend to add up after a day of buying. My husband started his own company about 3 years ago but has now been working full time in his company for about 1 year. I believe it is miraculous that after only 1 year of operating this business full time God is providing for all of our needs, and I am only needing to work part time as a pediatric physical therapist. We are doing well, but we spend a lot of our time saying “Jesus, we are waiting on these checks to come in”, “We trust that you will get them to use right when we need them”, “Thank you Jesus that you know when all our bills are due”, “Thank you God that we have plenty of money.”
If anyone has ever experienced owning their own company can I please get an Amen? Amen! I come from generations of entrepreneurs and I don’t care how big or small your business is, these conversations happen a lot.
So, during my travels around the city yesterday, I literally stepped on a $100 bill while walking in the parking lot of Hobby Lobby. The new $100 bills look fake to me so I didn’t even believe it was real until I picked it up. I thought “THIS IS AWESOME!” I mean $100 is a lot of money people, and my idea of luck is finding a penny not stuck with gum to the bottom of my shoe. I looked around the parking lot to see if there was anyone around or any sign of who it might belong to…nothing. As I started walking into Hobby Lobby I did what any rational 35 year old woman would do. I called my mom. She didn’t answer…OH THE ANGST. By the time I put my phone back into my purse I had to circle back around to the front of the building where the cashiers were and “enter” again so that it didn’t look like I didn’t turn the money in the first time I walked through the doors. Although it felt pretty crisp in my hands, this was not a $5 bill we are talking about. It was not mine to keep.
Thankfully the manager was standing right by the cashier. As we all “oohed and awed” over my discovery the manager simply said that they could not keep it. The best thing to do was for me to keep it, and if I wanted, I could give them my information so that if someone happened to call they would direct them to me.
I gave them my information and put the money in my pocket. I felt a little giddy and grown up all at the same time. I started to talk to the Lord about how this “find” could not have come at a better time. Earlier this morning while getting the boys ready for school, my husband and I had the above conversation with the Lord about checks while packing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches using the last 4 pieces of bread. “Thank you Lord that we have plenty of money”, “Thank you Lord that you will send in those checks just when we need them.” I’m not sure when my prayers became daydreams of ways I could use the money, but I quickly whispered “Lord, this is your money. Show us how to use it.”
The day went by quickly without much thought about the $100 bill. My husband and I smirked a few times at the thought of it, but we decided to hold onto it for a few days and see what happened.
I greeted this morning with a cringe when I remembered that I needed to check something out in our bank account. Some of our automatic withdrawals went through that I forgotten about. Ugh. But I smirked again at what had happened yesterday.
I was out most of the day today volunteering at my boys’ school. I checked the mail when I got home and there it was. Like the golden wrapped chocolate bar in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Praise the Lord…a check had come in! Guess we didn’t need that $100 bill anymore.
Twenty minutes later I got a phone call from a random number. The woman on the other end was very pleasant but uneasy as she said that she got my number from Hobby Lobby. Here she was, the owner of the $100 bill. Crazy!
We were not far from each other at that moment and decided to meet at a nearby parking lot. I got in the car and started thanking the Lord for that $100 bill. Since I had not made plans for it, it was not hard to give back to its rightful owner. I began to think about the whole situation. How crazy it was that I had found it. How crazy it was that the owner actually called Hobby Lobby. How crazy it was that we were only a few minutes away from each other the moment she called. And all of the sudden I heard the Holy Spirt say “I could send down $100 bills from heaven like manna if you needed it. Just as easy as I can make sure your checks come in right when needed.” Tears began to come as I just sat with the fresh awe of how BIG our God is. He is SO BIG that even the little things do not go unnoticed to Him. And in a crowd of 10,000 he sees me. And in a city of 1 million, he stirred 2 hearts unknown to each other on each other’s behalf to show Himself as the God of provision. And in a HEB gas station parking lot, He loved to listen to 2 stories. One about losing the $100 bill needed to pay the light bill. Another about finding a $100 that was soon found to not be needed. For He is the God that cares for the birds of the sky and the flowers of the field. The same God who returns the lost $100 bill. The same God who showers manna from Heaven just to prove His character. Thank you for caring about the little things so that I may speak big things of your GREATNESS!
So there is this “thing” I have been struggling with lately. It is not branded in the physical “I want this but can’t” or “I wish I could do this but won’t” categories. It has to do with my heart. It has to do with my heart of obedience. My brother and sister in law were in town this last weekend and we joked about how even though we are “better” than we use to be, we still tend to avoid continuing certain conversations with God. The trouble is that the older I get and the more my relationship grows with the Lord, the more awake I am to the conversations I stop with Him.
There are always going to be those physical things that I will struggle with: greed, fear, marriage, parenting, comparison, busyness, body issues, etc… Those seem to be the ones that although attack at full force at the worst possible moments, do however for me at least, tend to cower down with a quick defensive strategy. Like my favorite game at Chuckie Cheese (Don’t shake your head. If you haven’t been your day is coming). The one where you stand ready with your padded mallet and wham down the heads of the bad guys who pop up from under the table. I know they are coming and am not surprised when they do. And when ready, I am able to quickly “wham” them by speaking truth, talking to the Lord, calling a friend for prayer, listening to worship music, or stopping a thought.
But then there are those slow brewing type heart issues. The ones where simply “whamming down” is by no means sufficient. These require true submission to the very heart of our Father. They are all hard, but these instantly revert me into my 5 year old self. I can actually hear my voice change in my thoughts. I become whiney, my eyes begin to roll, and body starts to squirm. I either go into an all-out whine fest whenever I think God is looking, or I huff and puff my way down the hall closing my door loud enough so that I know He can hear.
I usually don’t have a good reason for my reaction. I just simply DON’T WANT TO DO whatever it is He is asking me to do. And I want to be 5 years old again. I want to pout and cry and scream and kick. And I want to do it the very second I feel it coming. But I am not 5 years old anymore. I am 35 years old. And once again God shows me my own heart through parenting my own children.
I am not sure what your “thing” is in this particular season of your life. For me, it is writing. There I said it. I really don’t have a great reason, like normal. It is just hard. It has always been hard. I struggled with it in school during my elementary years. I was always in the lowest reading and writing groups. And even when I did finally get to the point in High School where I was a pretty average writer, I wouldn’t dare turn in a paper not proof read by one or both of my parents.
As I sat with this temper tantrum waiting to happen or happen again, I finally had the “Fine, you want to talk about it, let’s talk about it” discussion with the Lord. Seriously. And we have the audacity to ask ourselves why Adam and Eve sinned or why the Israelites complained after they were rescued from Egypt. My heart can be sheer ridiculousness at times.
I began to groan to the Lord about how hard writing was, that I wasn’t very good at it, and that I didn’t like it at all. And then I said it out loud “Lord, you do know that if you give me this gift of writing that it will never be good enough. I will never be good enough.”
I paused. My temper tantrum had run out of words. The awkward moment where I began to hear what I had been saying over the last few minutes happened. And as the words began to sink in, so my body began to sink in my chair.
The Holy Spirit reminded me of Habakkuk 2:1: “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart and watch to see what He will say to me and what I will answer when I am corrected.”
I knew that correction was needed, but I do not believe you would call what I was doing “standing my watch”. Like a child, I awaited my punishment. But I had asked Him a question. He responded.
I began to hear his “amar” over me. His spoken word to my heart.
I could feel Him saying that I was finally making sense. Would I expect Him to work in my life in any other way? That He is helping me get ready to get ready.
He reminded me of Moses in Exodus 3 and 4. When he stops at the burning bush in the wilderness and encounters the very voice and presence of God. For verses upon verses God speaks. But Moses could not begin to imagine how the Lord would not only use his present, but his very past. He begins to give excuses as to why he is not the best man for the job. In Exodus 4: 13 Moses says “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.” In this verse the Hebrew word “Lord” is “donay”. It means Sovereign Lord, Supreme Authority. He is using the very word “Lord” to describe His majestic, all powerful, all knowing, rule over his life AND YET he cannot submit to that very aspect of God’s character.
God provides. He gets a bit angry. But through Moses’s brother Aaron, God makes a way for his 5 year old mind set to understand how He could accomplish what He had spoken.
In Luke 6:46 Jesus asks the multitude why do you call me “Lord, Lord and do not do the things which I say?” The Greek word for “Lord” in this passage is “kyrios” meaning God, Lord, Master, Supreme Authority.
Why do I call you Lord, Master, the God Who Owns It All, Adonai, my Supreme Authority when my thoughts and actions do not testify of knowing and believing what your authority means in my life?
Right after the passage in Luke 6:46, it goes straight to the story of Jesus healing the centurion’s servant. Now here is a man who understands authority. If the Roman culture taught him anything, it was the power of authority. In Luke 7:1-10, the centurion sends for Jesus and asks that He come to his house to heal a beloved servant. A little while later he sends word again to tell Jesus “Lord do not trouble Yourself for I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…for I also am a man placed under authority having soldiers under me. And I say one “Go” and he goes, and to another “Come” and he comes and to my servant “Do” this and he does it.” He is telling Jesus that I get it. You do not even have to come to my home to heal my friend. You just have to say the word and it will be done.
The centurion uses the same word “Lord” as spoke of in Luke 4:64. He says “Kyrios”, Lord, Master, Supreme Authority. He was a man who knew the power of authority. He was a man who knew how to submit under authority. He was a man who witnessed a healing.
In my cries to the Lord, I say “KYRIOS” “KYRIOS”, but I still ask for the Aarons in my life. I do not do what He tell me to do.
My father preached a sermon recently about the name “Adonai” for God. It means Master, Lord, Owner. He asked the question why would a God who calls Himself our Father also call Himself our Master? With great detail he gave 2 reasons for that question. One, so that God can be the one who establishes our value. Second, so that God can establish His covenant with us and allow for relationship. If He was not our Master, our Supreme Authority, our Adonai, our “Kyrios”, or “Donay”, he could not have protected, cherished, or saved.
So here is my confession of hope. That God loves to work in my weaknesses. And I am not afraid to be weak. That God loves to work in my foolishness. And I am not afraid to be wrong or even undignified. That God works as my Supreme Authority, as my Master so that He can set my value and save me for relationship with Him. And I am not afraid to be owned by the one who loves me. So here I am Lord. I choose to submit to you. My heart’s cry is to call you my Adonai. And do what it is that you tell me to do. Even if You tell me to write. For what better way would I know that it was all by Your hand. Lord, Lord…all for your glory.
I feel a grief waiting. But this time, I have time to grieve. This time, I choose to make time to grieve. To lean into limits. My limits, my families limits, my church’s limits, my relationship limits…so that I can open the door to His knocking. I feel a grief waiting. A welling that can only be truly felt when one stops to breath it all in and breath it all out. Until the pace returns to the rhythm of my heart…the place where You are.
There are days when the space between everyday life and heaven seem less mysterious. The days when no amount of pinching or denial can make the reality of the world stop feeling so real. The days when I can either let the ache put me deeper in the cave between my sheets, or deeper in the truth that pierces between soul and spirit and joint and marrow (Hew. 4:12).
In one 24 hour period of a few weeks ago, I found out about:
And the cap remains.
The Silencer becomes the silence
The fizz settles into muted nothingness.
I am aware of my nothingness. I am aware of the distance that remains between where I once stood and now sit. And what remains after the settling is just not enough to keep up the routine. I don’t have the energy to try and shake my bottle again.
There are so many questions left unanswered. Will my son truly ever recover from these “episodes”? Will I find those vacant stares in other ways as he grows older? Will he ever drive a car? Will he be “that kid”? Will he stop dreaming as the fuzzy parts of his brain cannot differentiate between fog and freedom? Am I losing him? And these are merely the questions that I have allowed to drift to shore. I fear the other issues would bring a tsunami.
What happens when the questions of my life take more of my thoughts captive than the answers that speak the truth of God’s character? What happens when the Silencer has his way with me, and like Zechariah I lose my voice because of my disbelief. Because when it came time, I chose not to speak truth despite what my eyes saw and my emotions felt (Luke 1:20). What happens when the fizz begins to settle and the overflow of my heart becomes a well too dry to draw forth His living water. And we all know how this could end…the silence…stays silent.
God speaks so clearly about the power of our words. James 3 talks about how the tongue is like the bit in a horse’s mouth or the rudder of a ship. It “boasts of great things” and will turn the body in whichever direction it speaks. “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook” (Proverbs 18: 4). “A fools lips enter into contention; and his mouth calls for blows. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul” (Proverbs 18:7). “Death and life are in the power of the tongue. And those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18: 21).
Is it a wonder why we are attacked in this area? Why the evil one who kills, steals, and destroys (John 10:10) would do so by taking away our very words, our very voice. So here I sit in the moment between longing for my sheets and longing for something more.
Here I am Lord in the midst of this awaited grief. And even though I am curled in a ball in the middle of my unvacuumed floor, I am boldly at the feet of your throne. For it is time. It is time to answer the questions like Peter did. Do I know You? Do I love You? (John 21) How do I grieve my limits Lord? How do I rest in the stillness of my own hollowness? Is this the part that You ask me to count all joy (James 1: 2)? Is my very grief what allows You to show me my great need for You? Like Much Afraid from Hinds Feet On High Places, is the way to the “high places” reached only when I travel with Sorrow and Suffering as my companions? The knowing You and the “power of your resurrection and the fellowship of Your sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). Your sufferings. To not just know about Your sufferings, to not simply empathize with them, or to have courage to glance at them from time to time. No. You say to know You I have to fellowship with You in Your sufferings. To sit at the table, to pray in the wee hours of the morning, to cry, to morn, to pursue…pursue…pursue relationship in the midst of suffering. To find peace, joy, contentment in the midst of suffering. To find You in the midst of suffering.
Your word says that that You do not want us to be ignorant, “lest we sorrow as those who have no hope” (1Thes. 4:13). I can either grieve with hope with You, or turn yet another blind eye to grief for the sake of waiting for a “better time”. To grieve without You is as painful as not grieving at all. A different mask to the same emptiness. But to grieve with You, with hope, that is a promise of Your very character.
I feel a grief waiting. Not just my own, but of a people. A non-generational, non-cultural, non-gender specific grief. A grief that will know much and little, joy and sorrow, feasting and hunger, freedom and pain. A grief that if focused on myself, as my culture directs, will surely consume and mute me. But You alone are a consuming fire (Hew. 12:29). Am I ready to keep reading that verse and receive Your kingdom that cannot be shaken? If I focus my eyes on You, my grief catapults me to boldly knock on the gates of this unshakable kingdom, entering Your very courts. Your presence demands that I enter with thanksgiving and praise (Psalms 100:4). It demands a yielding of myself with bowed humility and lifted hands. And with this spoken grief, I can stand sobered to the reality that my life is IN YOU (Col. 3:3). I can hear its beckoning to awaken my sleeping soul and carry my cross. OH LORD, I long to know You in Your sufferings so like Peter I can answer the questions and say that I KNOW YOU and I LOVE YOU.
So I will make time to grieve this time. I will lean into my limits and deny myself. I will allow grief to be my companion and hold its hand. I will choose to silence the Silencer with Your truths and carry this cross. With this spoken grief, would your words of life bring back the fizz that overflows. And this time Holy Spirit, I feel you removing the cap. For your spoken word can only bring life. It is just what it does. It can be no other way.
It was Colby's, my husband, birthday this past Saturday. As the butcher paper card stamped with a large, bold 38 listing 38 reasons why we love our precious daddy hung a bit crooked on our living room wall, we celebrated a day of being together. We like to display our cards in our family. It is worth the grief of hearing the Indian Jones and Superman theme songs and the melodies of dogs farting the birthday song over and over again, as it is always amongst the old man cackles of our 6 and 8 year old boys. Growing old is an honor in this place, and we love the days that bring minimal rules for most is justified by the simple statement of "It's my birthday". But within the opening of gifts, I watched our boys bring their own cards to their father. Coen, our 6 year old, in his simplistic yet black and white way began to read to his dad that he "loved him more..." He loved him more than football cards, the Longhorns, and his "stuff" animals. If you knew Coen you would know that he was declaring true love for his father in the most humble and honest way that he could relate. This kid is a seeker of truth. A lover of discovering the simple within the confusing. He doesn't love his dad because of the things that he was declaring, he simply was saying that I choose you dad because I love you more. And then our 8 year old, Carter, began to read his letter. He wrote his card by himself in his room one day after school the week before. It was after we finished our "38" wall décor card and he quickly realized that there were more than "38" reasons why we love this man in our life. Speaking all of those truths about his dad stirred what the Lord is beginning to reveal in Carters' very heart, that he is one who sees vision in His promises. And in his found freedom of speaking truth, he began to write down who his dad was in the spiritual and the promises of God that follow. "A dreamer of God never fails Him. A dreamer of God says yes to all of His commands. A dreamer of God helps people. A dreamer of Jesus never gives up. A dreamer of the Holy Spirit is honorable..." Even though his voice stopped, his words continued as if echoing in each of our hearts. He was just speaking God's heart over Colby.
The weekend has past and it is Monday again. Monday is one of my mornings that protect so that I can be with God. With age I have figured out some things about myself. One of those things is that I have to be outside. So I took my usual jog around our neighborhood's beautiful trail. Spring is here and with the signs of life budding on the trees, it is no crazy coincidence that there are things that the Lord is asking to grow in my spirit as well. In complete honesty, this Spring they are the things that are hard for me to say ok to. I haven't quite been able to put my finger on some of my angst, but as I jogged the Holy Spirit reminded me of the birthday cards. It took me a mile or so to choose to enter in the conversation, but as I began to give the Holy Spirit permission to "go there", I began to find myself praying out loud...
"Lord I love you more than knowing where we will live in a year"
"Lord I love you more than knowing how you will continue our new business of using energy management with funding justice missions"
"Lord I love you more than knowing where the boys will go to school in the next year"
"Lord I love you more than all of this crazy stuff I feel about writing and worship"
"Lord I love you more than being right or wrong, perfect or ridiculous, charismatic or simple, able or completely and totally inadequate."
"Lord I love you more. I choose you."
And as I spoke those simple yet game changing truths, vision began to come. I began to feel and see that as I bring you my faith and repentance then YOU, in your grace, can do what you have declared to do...bring freedom. Freedom to speak truth. Freedom to speak your promises. Freedom to speak your hope. So Lord, as we all sit on the verge of being another year older, we say that we love you more, we choose you, we love to speak who we are in YOU. Holy Spirit continue to reveal to us the simple in the confusing, your vision in your promises.
Thank you for Birthdays. Thank you for Birthday Cards.
Thyme article: My Good Verses His Best
There was a time, there are still times, where the fog settles in and seems to not only pervade my mind and emotions but my spirit. Where the dust of the black and white in my life settles in an earthly gray that seems to steer my life in an autopilot direction instead of an adventurously expectant one.
We all have a story. We all have a testimony. Some stories are stained with the tears that only true trauma can bring…death, divorce, addiction, disease. Some stories seem to have more empty pages than those filled with the life of words. Some stories seem to just keep going, with no true beginning or end, no true anything. I think we all navigate through all of these seasons of stories at one time or another, but the story where my life seemed to most recently land was the latter. It was February of 2012 and life was good, but not the “best”. My husband of 11 years at the time was wonderful but restless. My two boys, 5 years and 3 years old, were blessings but in and out of preschool, church, grandparent’s houses, and our offices more than they were at their own home. And I was just plain busy. Aren’t we all? Isn’t that always the excuse, the reason for my saneness in the insanity, my identity?
I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, but by trade I am a pediatric physical therapist. At the time I had a wonderful professional career as one of the managers of a thriving pediatric clinic. A job that allowed flexibility, certainty, and passion. But due to my character, it was also a job that opened the door to busyness. The type of busyness that multiplied with the “flexibility” of checking emails on iPhones, “certainty” that comes when managing over 40 other busy people, and “passion” that demanded not just my time but my emotions. To add to our professional careers and home life, we were also very involved with our family and friends, were the college group leaders at our church, I led a weekly women’s Bible study, and was a co-leader of our church’s worship team. All “good” things, but did I ever stop to ask the Lord if they were the “best”? Well, if I were to do that, it would first require stopping and possibly waiting for an answer, and that was not quite in the box of my “super-mom/wife/woman” identity. The identity that busyness had proved worthy.
God was gracious to keep blessing our lives, but my list of things I wanted to do when I had more time just kept growing….set up sheet forts with the boys, take our dog out for a jog, cook a real dinner, clean my house during normal business hours, go to bed at the same time as my husband, go on a date night, read a book other than the book I would stay up to read until 1am the night before I had to lead the bible study, spend more time with my kids, spend more time with my husband, spend more time with the Lord, etc… I wanted to be the one standing in the well overflowing from my intimacy with my one true God, but instead I felt more like Gulliver on Gulliver’s Travels lying on the ground pinned down by thousands of tiny strings.
It wasn’t far into February when my precious husband came home from work one day and I was in the kitchen washing dishes. He started a beautiful conversation talking about all of the things he loved about our lives….our marriage, our children, our family and friends, our church, our house, our jobs. I was nodding my head along with every one of his statements, but in my motion the stillness of my spirit felt like it was waking up just a little bit, for I knew that these statements were the conversation starter and not a recap of our “best” world. He was very encouraging but when the pause came, I turned the water off and put the towel down and paused too. He then went on to say that although he was happy with the good in our stories, he felt empty and longed for the “more” that the Holy Spirit was stirring within his spirit. His dreamer self-began to light up. He started talking about going back to school, spending more time on his dreams of starting a non-profit. He started talking about taking classes online through a seminary to get a master’s in Ethics and Biblical Justice. He started talking about a seminary outside of Boston (not Austin) that had a program where we could live on campus. He stopped talking. My mind said, “act shocked”, “if you cry he will change his mind”, “go back to the dishes”, but in the stillness I felt myself walk over to him and land in his arms. It was time to go. It was time to look my thief in the eyes, the raider of my stillness, the stealer of my time, and the robber of my patience. I had allowed busyness an open door into my life. And what once was a concealable pet, quickly became a dragon that controlled much of my emotions, thoughts, and time. So together, we finally stopped and asked the Lord what His best was for our family.
We moved by the end of August of 2012. I cried for the first 500 miles. We said good-bye to everything that I knew and everything that I thought I knew. I said good-bye to everything I knew about me, and everything I thought that I knew about me. Like the growth of my children, the reality of how quickly routine can come and build a house on sand began to set in. The question was not how I allowed such a thing to happen, but if I was able and willing to stop in His stillness and wait for Him to take me step by step into this new routine, into His way of life.
As we moved 2000 miles away into an 800sq foot apartment on the campus of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts the Lord showed me the stillness in the midst of the chaos of making new friends, finding new jobs, new insurance, new grocery stores, new schools, a new church, etc… For the first 3 months there were more unknowns than knowns and more waiting than finding. But because of His graciousness, the Lord began to teach me how to stare busyness and its friends anxiety, worry, and fear, in the face.
My busyness had left no room for waiting, no room for patience. The earthly gray of my paradigms of God were the things producing a work in my life. I was living in “gray” when He has called me to live in hot and cold and black and white. In the midst of our transition I had some free time as I waited for my physical therapy license to transfer from Texas to Massachusetts. My husband started seminary, my oldest started Kindergarten, my youngest started a part time preschool, and I started doing the things that I had always said that I wanted to do when I had more time. I learned how to use a crock pot, started reading the Bible at Genesis 1, and went on long jogs through the beauty of the Fall in New England.
I spent the first few jogs just telling the Lord how I saw this craziness, my fears, emotions, what ifs, and allowing myself to grieve over my loss. I soon ran out of words and that is when the miracle happened. I could hear the stillness and I let my spirit rest in it. I was quiet. I stopped. He began. The truths from the words that I was reading from His word began to flood my thoughts and voice. Verses like Psalms 130:6 “My soul waits for you Oh Lord, more than watchman waits for the morning, Yes, more than watchman waits for the morning” and James 1: 2-5 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete and lacking nothing.” I began to speak out the words and what they meant. And in the camouflage of earphones and the woods, I began to hear my voice speak from the overflow of my intimacy with the Lord. I would say things like “I love to wait for you Lord”, “I was made to wait for you and to keep my eyes on you”, “Moving to Massachusetts is my joy”, “Not knowing how we will pay for our rent next month is my deep good because you know”, “In you I am patient and it is having its good work in me”, “You are worth waiting for”, “I am lacking nothing”, etc… How I saw myself changed, because I was seeing myself in the black and white of how He sees me. How I saw Him changed, because I was seeing God in the black and white of His word and not in the gray of culture, routine, and paradigms.
Most people think we have moved to Massachusetts for my husband to go to seminary, but I know that God moved us to save me from a story that was blind to my dragon of busyness. We all have a story. We all have a testimony. Busyness was my old story. He is my new story. What is yours?
I did something very strange with some dear mentors in my life today. I threw away a chair in a dumpster in the parking lot of my home church. This was no ordinary chair though. Indeed it did have an oil stain from years of its owner resting his head in its molded fabric, as well as snags and darkened spots that I’m sure only he who sat in its comfort knew their branded fame. It was the chair of my beloved pastor, mentor, and friend. The man who married my husband and me, the man who taught me how to be a leader, a dreamer, a worshiper. It will be a year ago at the end of this month that he passed away unexpectedly. And in the bravery of his wife, we picked up one of the remaining symbols of his old office to make ready for the one who will soon take his place as leader of our church.
Revelation 3:16: Blinding Gray
Revelation 3:16 has always been a bit of a mystery to me since middle school, but the Holy Spirit has been pushing me to ponder and ask the Lord about it. It says “So then, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out My mouth.” I can hear the Lords urgency and zealousness over me with a description that uses His name, my name, and vomit all in the same sentence. What is difficult to hear is the possible reason for His use of this type of analogy. With age and His revelation, I believe I am beginning to be awakened to a deeper layer of God’s heart in relation to this verse.