At the beginning of this year, the words God gave me for this year was rest and trust. In January, I had no idea how that would how literally this would play out in my life this year. And honestly when God gave me these words I did not understand why He gave them to me.
Ten weeks ago when I quit my job, my plan was to take a week off (that was going to packed full of things) and then start a new job the next week. Key words here is MY PLAN. Not God’s plan. I did have a job offer but I turned it down for numerous reasons. So I ended my last job with no new job. During the week after I quit my job, God pressed it on my heart to take a significant amount of time off before I start something else and for me to go away by myself.
In the first month of not working, I had no desire to work any job. And it caught me by surprise that I did not want to work. Anyone that knows me personally knows working is something that I have always done and I see value in it. And it would give me anxiety when I do not have an ongoing income to pay bills and live on. But not having the desire to work showed me that I needed this time to rest. I needed time for my physical body, emotional being and my spiritual being to be able to rest and heal.
Six weeks after I quit my job, I went on vacation by myself for 12 days! Yes, you read that right, I went by myself to the Finger Lakes region in New York. During this time I was able to sight see, meet up with a total stranger to trade a photoshoot, I visited a new church twice, chased the sunset one night, try iced custard made out of duck eggs, sit at a local coffee shop and work on my business for a few days, read a couple books, go see a movie alone, reconnect with some family that was in the area, and most importantly I took the time to connect with God and listen to his voice. Where I was staying there was not internet or TV to distract me from hearing God’s voice. In these 12 days God spoke to me and I learned what it means to rest and just stop without rushing to the next thing.
I am grateful for this season of rest. I do not regret that I took time for this season. It was a season that I needed. In this season, God has provided for me in more than just finances. And He has given me clarity and direction as to where He has called me to. He met me in the moments that I was anxious and unsure that I had done the right thing. He has spoken to me through the Bible, my time with Him and through other people. God has walked with me through this season of rest and healing.
Out of this season I have gained and learned some things:
It is important to take time to rest and take time alone for anyone but especially for those in ministry or in a profession that helps others.
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)
“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:15)
Jesus did this on a regular basis. And if Jesus had to do this how much more important is it for us humans. We need to have a rhythm and focus in our life that allows us to have rest and focus on our relationship with God. We need to slow down in life and not always be rushing off to the next thing. While you may not be able to take time off of work for a couple months to rest like I have; it is still important to integrate rest in our lives in a regular basis.
***This is part of a series of blog posts of me sharing about my burnout and things I have been learning through this. They are numbered in the order that they are written in and to indicate that they are part of this series.***
Recently I have been faced with one of the hardest things that I have had to go through in my adult life. While I am still in the midst of it all, there are a few things I have learned in last couple weeks.
He is here with me in my sadness.
He is here with me in the joyous moments.
He is here with me in the moments that I don’t understand.
He is here with me when I pretend to be ok and ignore my feelings.
He is here with me when I don’t understand my feelings and can’t put a name to it.
There is a song that I have been identifying with the last couple weeks.
Maybe it’s ok if I’m not ok
‘Cause the One who holds the world is holding onto me
Maybe it’s all right if I’m not all right
‘Cause the One who holds the stars is holding my whole life
“Maybe It’s Ok”by We are Messengers.
While I don’t know when this will end, I do know that God with me in the midst of the storm. He is teaching me new things in this storm. I trust Him in the midst of the storm.
If you are going through a hard season in life, look at what you can learn through it all. Look to the peace in the storm rather than focusing on the storm.
God has been teaching me patience and to wait on his timing for probably the most of my life. There are times in life that I have felt like I was in the waiting place(according to Dr. Seuss) for a long time and in many ways I am still in the waiting place. Excerpt from Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss:
“You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.”
It is in this waiting place that we often get impatient and frustrated with God and life. And we can ruin what God make have in store for us. Granted God can use us in all situations to even if its not in His plan but for His glory. But where we may end up might not be as good as God intended us to be. We humans have a way of getting in the way of God because we think that we know best for us. But in reality the creature(us) does not see the whole picture like the Creator(God) does. So how can we know what is best for us over the Creator that created us into existance.
Sometimes we need to stay in this waiting place for God to prepare us for something greater than we can imagine. The waiting place is not an easy place to be but it is in that waiting place we can experience the peace and love of our Creator. Even though we may have no idea what is going to happen next. In uncertain times, there can be peace and joy because we have our Creator walking beside us in life.
Do I have life all figured out? No, I will never on this earth but I do know that I am a child of God who has a God that loves me more than I can imagine and fathom. (It still amazes me that God would love me and that He wants a personal relationship with me with millions of people on this earth.) And I would rather be in the waiting place with my Creator than in a place on my own. When we are in this waiting place, we need to sit back allow God to do the work and be ready to follow His calling for our lives out of the waiting place.
Scenario #1: Have you ever seen a mother at the store with her children who are screaming and crying; you wish she would tell her child to be quiet because you had a long day?
Scenario #2: Or you meet someone who is struggling to pay their bills and they may go to a food pantry or use food stamps for food? And you think if they would only work harder, they would have money to pay their bills.
Scenario #3: Or you see woman park in a handicap spot at the store and when she seems to have no physical limitations that would warrant the handicap placard? You wonder if she is using some else’s handicap placard, just so she can park close to the front door.
Scenario #4: Or you go someone’s home and they do not have electricity in the home because they could not pay their electric bill. They ask you if you can help them pay for the electric bill. As you look around the home, there are nice things in the home that you think they could sell to pay bills.
These are all quick judgements that we make and we think these are things they can do to improve their lives. And if I am honest I have been the person who has had these thoughts at one time or another in my life time. It is so easy to judge others when we know little to nothing about the other person. We don’t know their story or what has brought them to where they are today. And perspective can change this for us very quickly. Let me explain the scenarios above in a different way.
Scenario #1: The mother at the grocery store with her children that is screaming and crying, has had a day of appointments and this is her last stop before she goes home. She prayed before taking her child out of the car seat for the 8th time that day, that they would be happy long for her to complete her grocery shopping. She needs to finish the shopping trip in an hour to her other children get off the bus. And the other 4 year old daughter that is with her, is cranky because she missed her nap that day and the last thing she wants to do is go into a store!
Scenario #2: The individual that needs additional assistance with food is working a full time job at McDonald’s. Right now the only place that will hire this person the area, they live is McDonald’s because they aren’t many jobs in the area and they live in a rural community. They are not able to work more hours or get a second job because they have children that need childcare and a family member that lives with this individual provides it when they are working. And this family member has a part time job when this person is not working. And if this individual gets a second job and makes more money, they lose the very benefits that is keeping their family afloat.
Scenario #3: This woman who from the outside watching her may not think she does not have physical limitations that warrant her parking in a handicap parking spot. Reality is that she has breathing issues that cause her to go into a asthma attack if she walks too far.
Scenario #4: In the past, this individual has always been on time with their bills because they were working. Their credit score was excellent. But while at work they got hurt, they were receiving worker’s compensation. After a period of time of getting worker’s compensation, the company decides to stop paying worker’s compensation. This individual has not been cleared to go back to work. So they can not go get another job but there is not income coming into the home to pay their bills. Meanwhile they credit score is decreasing rapidly. And they are worried about losing their home, that they worked so hard to acquire.
We are commanded to love others and not judge them.
Imagine how this world would be if we would judge others less and love others more. It would transform our communities into communities that care for each other and transform the hardest of hearts.
So I challenge you before you judge someone, take time to love on them and learn a little about their story. Most of all show them Christ’s love first because Jesus loved us first and did not judge us for our sin that He did for.
You knew the shame and guilt I would struggle with and you still chose to create me!
You knew my failures in my life and you still chose to create me!
You knew the fears that would hold me back and you still chose to create me!
You knew my frustrations and you still chose to create me!
You knew my struggles and you still chose to create me!
You knew the insecurities I would struggle with and you still chose to create me!
You knew the pain and hurt I would carry and you still chose to create me!
You knew there were things I am going to choose over you and you still chose to create me!
You knew everything about me and you still chose to create me!
I created you because I knew that this world needed you in it. I created you for a purpose that only you can fill. And guess what, when I created you I told all of heaven with delight “look there is my beautiful daughter!” “My daughter, I love you more than you can imagine. Daughter, just as the grains of sand at the beach, the stars in the sky and the rain drops in a rain storm can not be counted. My love for you can not be counted.”
Recently I was thinking about the saying “I love you more.” This is commonly said among those in a romantic relationship or parental and child relationship. As I thought about it, I was reminded that Jesus loves you more. This love is greater than anything in our human mind could even begin to comprehend. It is so great that Jesus laid down His own life for me and you so that we do not have to take the ultimate consequence for sin. The ultimate consequence of sin is separation from God, our Creator, eternally.
The amazing thing about this love is that there is nothing we can do to change this love from God and Jesus! “I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” – Romans 8:38-39
There are times that we do things that we may think we have messed up and God is not going to love me or forgive me or give me grace anymore. This is where we are wrong! And the fact that we are wrong is a beautiful thing. God created us and as the Creator He has gigantic love for His creation. A love that our human mind can only comprehend a fraction of. Think of a time when you have created something. You are proud of and love this creation that you made and the purpose that creation was created for. This isn’t much that creation can do that would not cause you to love it. Now take that love and pride that you have for your creation and multiple that by an infinite amount of times. This is the love that God has for you!!
This is the simple gospel. A Creator who loves us so much that He wants to show us this love in something as simple as having a relationship with Him. As in any relationship the more time you spend with someone and get to know them, deeper the love you have for this person. This is how it is with God. We need to put aside the things that we think we need to gain His love. And just get back to the basics of building a deeper relationship with our Creator.
Sometimes in life we think that we need to have do big milestones before we can celebrate or before God celebrates with us. And because of this we become paralyzed and might not start anything at all. Or we don’t think baby steps that we started are worth celebrating.
But in reality God celebrates every step we take. And He especially celebrates the baby steps. Sometimes the hardest steps are the baby steps because it may mean the beginning of something new. Many times, there is uncertainty in it. Which requires us to trust in God when we are taking these first baby steps.
These baby steps could lead to a milestone in our lives. For me one of my milestones in my life is to be the first one in my family to graduate from high school and college. While these are great accomplishments and God celebrated with me when they were accomplished! But God also celebrated every time I was dedicated to study for a class. Studying for a class is many baby steps of a larger goal of getting a diploma.
It is hard for me to fathom in my human brain that God has the time to care about my baby steps. The amazing thing is that I don’t need to figure that out for me to celebrate my baby steps. As a human, we are not meant to put God in a box. And this is something we do often when we try to figure out God. So, when I put aside my human rationalization, it is exciting for me that I have Father who created the universe rooting for me and celebrating every step of my journey.
As society, I believe we do not celebrate enough. There are many examples in the Bible of celebration. “We see celebration not only here in Nehemiah 12, as Israel dedicated the wall, but we also see celebration throughout the Bible. The shepherds, wise men, and angels celebrated the birth of Jesus with gifts, songs, and prayer. God gave Israel many celebrations in the Old Covenant such as the Feast of Booths, year of Jubilee, etc. In the New Covenant, he has given us the Lord’s Supper and baptism. We also see future celebrations such as the wedding of the Lamb and the wedding feast with Abraham.” We sometimes think it is trivial to celebrate the baby steps. Baby steps give us the hope to keep going to the next steps. And eventually many baby steps lead to a milestone goal completed.
So celebrate baby steps whether they are yours or someone else’s because our Creator celebrates them!
Recently I went away with 100 some young adults and the weekend was filled with fellowship with others and God. The theme was come alive. And the weekend’s passage was on the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14.
“God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Master God, only you know that.”
He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!’ “God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”
I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them.
He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’”
So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.
Then God said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Listen to what they’re saying: ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there’s nothing left of us.’ “Therefore, prophesy. Tell them, ‘God, the Master, says: I’ll dig up your graves and bring you out alive—O my people! Then I’ll take you straight to the land of Israel. When I dig up graves and bring you out as my people, you’ll realize that I am God. I’ll breathe my life into you and you’ll live. Then I’ll lead you straight back to your land and you’ll realize that I am God. I’ve said it and I’ll do it. God’s Decree.’”
We were encouraged to look at the dry bones(areas) in our lives and ask for life to be brought to that area. And I thought of a few areas that I knew already that needed life but they were areas I have thought about before. And part of me thought I have this in the sense that this is nothing new. Until Saturday night Bryce Taylor preached, God grabbed my heart. He showed me through Bryce that I had a victim mentality with my past. Not in a way most people think but in a way of my relationship with God.
You see I struggle so much with people who have a victim mentality and who live in that. I live by this quote because there is so much truth in it and I have seen countless time where it has played out. “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it,” Charles Swindoll said this. And I do understand there is a time where someone needs process what has happened in their life. But I also believe that you can’t stay in that moment because we wouldn’t move forward in life and we will miss some of the great things God has in store for us. While I do not say this aloud it does sometimes go through my head, when I think the person should have worked through the hurt and pain in their life, my thought is that you just need to work through it and move on in life. What right do I have to say that? I have not walked their journey in life so I do not have the right to see when the person should not be living in the moment of their hurt and pain anymore.
Let’s go back to me now. That Saturday night God showed me that I will use my past as a crutch when I relate to Him. And the very thing that frustrates me when I see it in other people. He showed me that I am doing the same thing with Him. I see Him through this filter of my past hurts and pained how others have treated me. And I only allow God so close because if He gets any closer He might hurt me like other people in my life. And as a grow older and more mature in my walk with Him, I might let him a step closer but that is still a wall that I did not let Him past. Reality is that He will not hurt me and He will not leave me. “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 Wow what a great promise! I decided that night that I am going to believe Him at His promises even when it is hard. And live in His truth not in the lies I have been told about me or about Him. Even when I may not fully believe it, I am going to tell myself these promises till I believe them with all my heart. And I am going to allow God to come closer than ever and no longer hold Him at an arm’s distance.
What area in your life needs life? Is there an area with your relationship with God where you are using your past as an excuse to not allow God to get past your wall?
“While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.” Matthew 26:46-56
I read this passage this morning in my devotions. And after I read it, I started to think about the emotions Jesus went through in this moment. Jesus built a friendship with a man who He knew that was going to betray him. Jesus did this to fulfill His purpose on earth.
I had to think if I knew someone was going to betray or hurt me, I would stay away from this person and not build a friendship with this person. But then I think to myself what if I knew building a friendship with someone who is going to betray/hurt me, will lead them to be introduced to His love or the friendship will lead them or me to their or my purpose in life. Would this make the hurt and the betrayal worth it if this would happen? While I am not advocating for us to willingly put ourselves in situations that we are going to be doormats and we are going to be abused. What I am saying Jesus still chose to build a relationship with Judas, so that our sins can be forgiven.
Sometimes we are asked to do hard things in life. Like show mercy and grace to a person who has betrayed us over and over again so this person can see the unconditional love of Jesus or to adopt a child that might have medical issues because of the choices of the biological parents. While God does not call us to an easy life, we can have the comfort that He is with us in those hard moments of life. And we are not doing it alone.
So what hard thing in life is God asking you to do?