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.***
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 had pictures a friend took pictures of me. As I was looking at these pictures, I started to pick apart everything I did not like about my body. And it spiraled from there. I did not see the joy on my face from twirling around in my bright yellow dress that billowed out. And I did not see my pretty blue eyes that were passed down from generations before me. I did not see the passion I have to serve others.
I posted a few of the pictures on Facebook. I had encouraging comments made by friends. These comments lifted my self esteem for the time being.
Late on when I was texting a friend, I was reminded I am a daughter of the King. And what He says about me is more important than what I think of myself or what others think of me. We should be going to our Creator first instead of others. And I need to rest in what He says about me. Because He knows everything about me including all my flaws. And if my Creator who sees everything about me still loves me and thinks I am beautiful, how can it get better than that!
While getting encouragement from others is not wrong, it is wrong when I look for validation in people rather than my Creator. Most of the time when we have these moments, it is Satan’s distraction to our purpose that we were created for. If Satan can distract us with thinking about what is wrong with us rather than about our purpose, then Satan has us right where he wants us. Because it is saying that when God created us it was not good enough. Reality is when God created us, He created us exactly how He wants us to be.
God made you for a specific purpose and with out you in this world there would be a piece missing in God’s plan. Some days I think God looks at the world as a puzzle and we are all piece in that puzzle. Each piece of puzzle serves a purpose in a puzzle. So if we do not fulfill the purpose we are created for then a piece will be missing in God’s masterpiece. Let’s celebrate who God created us to be!! And find our identity in our Creator and not in other people.
Photo credit goes to Jennifer Weaver.
Complacency and indecision is something that can paralyze you. It puts you in a prison in your own life. There are many reasons as to why a person may be complacent or do not want to make a decision. One of the main reasons is fear. Fear can hold you back in life. Sometimes this fear is based on our past experiences and other times it may because of what other people may say or think. I have heard it said that fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. And Satan will try to use fear to hold us back from what God has called us to do. Because he knows the people we are going to impact and the life change that is going to happen because we stepped into something God has called us to.
There are times that God is calling us to wait on Him but many times God is asking us to step out in faith. And too often we will use our fear as an excuse of us not stepping out in faith. We will mask it as we are waiting on God. When in reality God could be like, “would you just do this? I have great things in store for you. And if you could only see the exciting journey I have for you if you would take this first step.” Many times our fear will lead us to indecision and complacency. Complacency and indecision kills growth. It stunts the growth God may have in store for us.
God gave us the power to step past our fear and walk into victory and the exciting journey He has for us. “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7. Once we step past our fears there is an excitement and freedom that comes with it. How is fear holding you back? What is one thing you wish you would have done a year from today?
“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?
It seems I have been hearing this word again and again in the last couple weeks. It is to the point now that I am wondering what God is trying to tell me. Many times when God is trying to tell or teach us something that word or phrase or concept keeps being brought into your life in many different ways.
About two weeks ago my Pastor, showed a video and there was a sentence that stuck out to me. “God made me for a purpose and when I delight in Him it’s brought to the surface!” Made for Something Great by James Grocho. In the Old Testament delight was used these two ways: Two of the most common Hebrew terms for delight are hepes [,pej], “to bend towards, to be inclined towards [an object or person], ” and rasa [h’x’r], “to delight or take pleasure in.” In the New Testament delight was used in this way: The Greek word most commonly used for “delight” is eudokeo [eujdokevw], usually used when God’s purpose, resolve, and choice are in view. When we bend towards or are inclined towards God, it is in those moments that He reveals to us what purpose He created us for.
This past weekend, I went on a retreat with about 36 other young adults who love Jesus and have a love for snow and community. The theme for this weekend was drawing near to our Creator. Someone shared Joseph‘s story for devotions one night. Joseph was sold by his own brothers into slavery. He was betrayed by his master’s wife and was put into prison. While he was in prison, he interpreted dreams for his fellow prison mates. Because of this Joseph was taken out of prison by Pharaoh, King of Egypt, to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph then was given a position in authority by the King to make sure that Egypt had enough of food for the 7 years of famine. Because of the famine, his brothers came for food in Egypt and Joseph had the opportunity to forgive his brothers for selling him into slavery. And this person at the retreat pointed out that Joseph had to go through what he went through to be brought into the purpose that God created him for.
As I thought about how this last phrase and what Joseph had to go through be in God’s purpose. It made me realize if it wasn’t for what I had not gone through as a child, I would not be where I am today. There was a chain of events that followed me through my childhood and into adulthood that brought me where I am today. Today I believe I am in my purpose that God created me for. In college I realized my purpose in my life is to provide hope to people who are sometimes in their darkest times. And this hope starts with the unconditional love of our Father and Jesus.
Sometimes we have to go through tough times in life to bring us to our purpose and the reason we were created for. So instead of being focused on asking God why bad things or tough things happen in our life, draw near to our Creator and look for the beauty that can come from ashes. And in the days you can not see this beauty or your purpose because life is overwhelming. Look to your Father and ask Him to provide a glimmer of hope that you can hold onto.