Wrestling with Rest

Do you ever pray for rest and then when it comes despise it?

No? Just me then?

For a few years I felt the overwhelming sense of busy and hurried in my life. It felt like I was sprinting for an entire marathon, and my entire being was just slap out of energy. I felt drained, emptied out fully in every part of my life. It as so bad that my emotions couldn’t be kept in check on anything and I was at a point of no longer caring if they were in check. I poured out to God that I just needed rest, I needed the breath that could only come in Him. I needed carrying and I needed the quiet of Him.

What I didn’t bargain for was an equal amount of wrestling with having rest over a particular season. The resting season He gave me and that I have found myself in for longer than I had drawn up, was turning into a bit of a wrestling match with Jesus. That I was done with the rest, the seeming quiet and the landscape that felt more like a desert than a dream.

We plead for rest and then when it’s given to us, it’s not how we expected it to be. We start wondering if God’s forgotten us, we doubt He has any good in this time for us, we question whether He is even with us in the quiet, the seeming silence of life. And so we start doing, start filling life with busy again because we have become people who cannot be still and know. We can’t revel in the rest He gives us, that He beckons us to with Him. We would rather carry the burdens than take on His yoke of of easy, His burden that is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Learning about rest in Him means that I am not in control, and let’s be honest, I never have been, but I like to lie to myself that I do have control. Learning from Him in a time of rest means I am taking on a gentle and humble heart, just as He spoke in Matthew, one that doesn’t continue in the fretting, one that knows that I am the star nor am I in any control. What we find in rest is waiting. A silent waiting where security, our security, isn’t dependent upon us but fully in Him.

Rest isn’t thrashing about, pointing fingers and accusing God of leaving us. It’s joy and gladness in being with Him in the waiting, in the giving of this time He has graciously bestowed. It is the very words of David that we can see as rest, what we are capable of in rest instead of wrestling with Him.

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because You will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will You let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your Presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand. “

Psalm 16:9-11 (NIV)

It takes learning to be in rest with Him, and not wrestling with the feelings of abandonment or aloneness. It takes choosing to rest firmly and securely in Him rather than attempts at a hostile takeover of my life. It means waiting in silence instead of lobbing doubts of His character at Him. The irony is that we were built to rest, and yet when He gives it to us we wrestle so hard against it because the world tells us we shouldn’t be waiting, shouldn’t be silent, shouldn’t be still. But stillness is where we know that He is God…where He is our security…where are filled with joy….where we are in His Presence.

Glow in the Dark

By Thursday I could feel the palpable presence of something…it was an encroaching almost, seeping into the rooms, under the bed and truly into my own self. I mentioned off-hand to one of the women I was with, and she too could feel something crawling into our presence.

We’d been warned that there was a darkness in the city we were visiting, serving…a darkness that ran very rampant among the entire country. It was if the lights had been shut off and there wasn’t hope of ever getting it back, darkness was what you were left with.

By Saturday I was done for, what I was attempting to battle in my own strength had overtaken and my body/mind/heart were just spent. I was physically tired and spiritually spent. While sitting with a body of believers on a train rolling through the Italian countryside I was awash with so much despair. They were talking of the processing of this trip, the what next? for them, and I was simply not there for it.

This was my third mission journey over the last six years. I was prepared for the spiritual attacks, the busyness of prep that often invades time spent in relationship with Christ…what I wasn’t prepared for was the overwhelming sense of hopelessness I saw, felt and took on as the week progressed on mission. It’s hard to put it into words, and unless you’ve felt it, you really don’t understand it.

Friday night we walked through the bustling college town back to our hostel with one of our missionaries, and I was just struck with such heart-wrenching hurt for the people we saw (and those we didn’t). It was false joy and rushing to fill a hole only consumed by Christ…and I wondered if they would ever hear that. I wondered if they would ever know the true joy of hope in the midst of it all.

It took almost a month for me to process this encroaching darkness and see just how easily it can invade and ensnare us, even as a child of God. While I sat on that train listening to my other team members talk through next steps I couldn’t help but see the hopelessness we were leaving behind but also that we were stepping into even within our own lives back here at home. Areas where we choose fear, doubt and reliance upon the world to bring us joy and fulfillment rather than in Christ. That’s when I saw this out the window: img_9907

A reminder that Light gets in even in the far reaches, even in the darkest spots, bringing hope securely placed in Christ and not our own selves or the things of our own making. A reminder of His faithfulness and His work in us and in others. It’s a reminder of these words spoken and fully realized in every moment, no matter what darkness tries to tell us

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. 

John 8:12 (NIV)

 

The Cave

Often we equate our life experiences to mountains and valleys, sometimes we even throw in a plateau season. Our life journey consists of these three for us if take stock.

Recently I became enamored with the Mt. Everest summit team on Snapchat (yes hi, I’m on there too). It followed the trek of two of the guys each and every step of the way. They were summitting at the same time as those who would pass away on Everest were ascending. One ended up at the ABC camp about 8K feet from the summit while the other was able to reach it and rejoin him two days later. It was fascinating to watch their journey parlayed over the app and have them describe in detail the pain and agony of getting close to only fall short in his mind.

In thinking about their journey, and how we correlate our own experiences to those same ascents, descents and valleys of our lives I couldn’t help but be stuck that there was something missing. Mountaintops give us the highs. Valleys give us the lows where we find still waters, hardships or circumstances that inevitably bring us back to a mountain or plateau. It struck me on Saturday as I went up to Kentucky that we also have another life experience we don’t like to discuss.

The cave. IMG_4774.JPGWhere we are brought further into a valley, to dig deep into our lives and journey to the core of self. Of who we are and what is laid beneath the surface of our lives.

As I walked through the world’s largest cave system Saturday, I couldn’t help but think about my own tunneling in. How God has brought me into this time before where I was weary of the dark, not understanding where it was leading and being fully dependent upon the small flickering light ahead of me.

It illuminates and casts shadows. It can be a daunting place to excavate and maneuver, but you find your footing and you go deeper.

You seek out paths that the light leads in order to continue the journey. You keep thinking that maybe you’re there, and then you turn into a tight squeeze where you might need to get low to get through. Where you find that you don’t quite fit without leaving some of who you brought in with you behind. You shift and change, still moving forward as the light continues on.

IMG_4772Then you face the pit. A pit you can’t quite see the bottom of. You look down and know you have to get across it, but you fear falling into it, unsure of the pit within your own self. A darkness you weren’t aware of that was just around the bend. But you have footing that is sure, that was bridged over long before but allows you to see between the cracks. You see what could have been, what you would have been pulling out of, but instead with sure footing you walk across, remembering what once was but on the path which is leading you to who you are now.

The journey deeper into discovering who you are within isn’t one to be rushed, nor for the sights like you get on the mountaintops or even in the valley views. It’s a process of seeing what you have been, markings left from journeys past, as you dig deeper, sometimes on belly with a spoon, keeping the light ever before you knowing there are paths to discover that lay out more of who you are becoming, allowing light to flood a once darkened space. And when you do journey through, sometimes it’s not to the other-side of the cave within but it loops you back to the beginning, right where you began but not the same. Eyes having become accustomed to the dark that the light at the precipice is far brighter than realized when we bask in it. Knowing that the light within was all that was needed to illuminate our journey but a far greater one awaits for us to take up and take out.

IMG_4783

Sometimes going deeper within is what equips us to begin the next season of our journey, up the mountain, down the plateau or through the valley. But knowing that the Light which we held before us in the cave is still ever before us.

It’s Just the Dark, Before the Morning

Who we become and what we appreciate

come from our darkest days

Those words were scribbled at the top of the page. I recognize the writing as my own. There’s no date attached, seeming to remain timeless words of hope and strength. Suspended there above a story that I cherish dearly, only four short chapters but one full of grief, loss, bitterness, hope, and renewed joy.

I don’t see those last two in the midst of the first three. All I see is darkness and hurt, doubt and often times, fear. We fear the unknown when in the midst of our days that seem to be filled with more questions than answers. The questions, we feel like shouting at God, Who seems a bit too quiet for our liking.

Seeing those words scribbled at the top of the page remind me, in the midst, I am becoming who He means me to be. I am learning to appreciate things, people, situations and especially Him in a way I would not be able to do otherwise. While it’s easy to sit on this side of a dark day, as the sun fills the windows I know there will be days ahead that will make my heart ache for light.

DSCN0613Maybe that’s where you are on this Monday, aching for the breaking of the day. Know there is hope and joy in your story, the sun will break from this dark night and you will find yourself one hard step closer to who you are to become. If you are full of sun in your eyes and heart today, appreciate the place you are in and what it took to get you there. Because who we become and what we appreciate have come from those darkest of days.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1-5 (ESV)

My Nightlight

I have a light in the hallway upstairs outside of the bedrooms. It’s a small one that runs off of solar energy for when it’s dark in the hallway. In all of the things I have bought over the last seven months for my home, this has been my favorite.

The reason being is that I absolutely cannot see when I get up in the night or in the very early morning. Due to bad vision, and night blindness, my eyes don’t adjust to the darkness as quickly. Hence many bumps and bruises from slamming into things.

This little small wattage of light allows, even when the door is shut for a sliver of light to come through. In the dark, it looks as if my hallways is flooded with light and glowing. Recently I was looking at it while lying awake in unrest and thoughts plaguing me.

To the dark, it seems as if there is such an immeasurable light on the other side of that door. It breaks through in the door frame, filling the gaps with it’s glow. This weekend I was reminded of this passage and how it so sweetly fits the image of bearing light.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Philippians 2:14-16 (ESV)

Do you see that? We shine as lights in the world. We are the ones flooding the gaps in the darkness, giving the glow of the Son to others in order for them to see their way in the dark. It’s work to be the light. It doesn’t just come to us naturally.

Just as my trusty light I have in my hallway, it has to be plugged into a source, be revitalized with the light from another place in order to function as it’s designed to function. When the light gets dim in us, we have to remember that we are the ones flooding that gap for someone else, that we must choose deliberately to renew our energy from the Source from which it comes. That light in us? Well it’s not reliant upon us to shine. It’s found fully in Him.

Plug in to the source, flood the gap, be the light in the crack for another who is on the other side of the door, in the dark, searching for a way.

Wordless Wednesday

In the blogging community of awesomeness that I am a member of, we have started a Wednesday posting called Wordless Wednesday. I thought I would join in today.The goal on this for me, is to share an image that reflects some of my thoughts right now. For those reading, it’s an opportunity for you to see what you want from the image, what you are needing to pull from it.

Photo property of Sara Stacy. Do not copy or use without permission.
Photo property of Sara Stacy. Do not copy or use without permission.

I took this photo and it has come to be one of the most endearing photos in my collection. I am glad I can share it with you all today on Wordless Wednesday. If you’d like to share, feel free to post in the comments below or on social media with #WordlessWednesdays in the photo.

Though Darkness Fills the Night…

I have been asked often why I blog, why I choose to share some pretty raw, personal glimpses into my life and my journey. Throughout the four years I have been writing on this blog (or the 1.0 version of it back on another host) it’s been about sharing. Not a narcissistic need to share my life, but to be open about life so that others wouldn’t feel alone or as if they were the only one who had ever experienced something in life. Sometimes its funny on here, sometimes I geek out about something, but often my goal is to simply share my heart with those of you throughout the world. Sometimes it is rather ugly and messy, and other times it is quiet and just a reflection of where God has me dwelling presently.

For the last few months my life has been in a bit of a roller coaster themed ride. Some of you may have noticed that here on the blog as I have attempted to both conceal and share what I felt was pertinent at the time and I always want to be as transparent as I can on here. Unfortunately in that transparency and honesty, there has been an abuse of those vulnerabilities and attacks on my life. To be rather blunt, it’s been ugly…and not the kind we like to share. The kind that we fear and so we keep hidden, because we think surely there aren’t individuals such as this in the world. Surely there has to be a logical reasoning behind it and I will work to find that in order to process this on my own.

What I have found in the last four months of this continual barrage of attacks is that there is no logic. There is not a set way to look at someone and say “Ooooh, that’s what it is, that’s where I erred.” Because it’s not about me. It’s not. It is about the person who is doing the attacking. (While there may be instances of wrongdoing that warrant a response, this is not one of those.)

The ownership lies in their words, their actions, and what they knowingly choose each day and each moment to do, to write and to send. Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, Boundaries, has been a God-send through this journey (I highly recommend it to everyone), and he makes a spot on statement in regards to this.

I have no control over another person and I must focus on changing my reactions to that person. I must refuse to allow that person to affect me.

And that is exactly what I have done over the last few weeks. The person may continue what they feel is appropriate and right, but that does not mean I give it space or time, and most importantly, my attention. While they may take this post (and subsequent ones) to be about them, it’s about the community of sharing for us bloggers. It’s about bringing darkness to the light in order to breathe truth into all things. Hopefully that also breathes truth into the life of the individuals. It’s about speaking and showing truth.

It is not about my will to overcome this, because if I could do it on my own, I wouldn’t need a Savior. None of us would. It’s about allowing His truth and His timing into our lives, and resting in that knowledge that God’s bigger than any attack or abuse.