Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Be Still.

(The Sea of Galilee. Israel, 2009)
Be still.

Oh, how many times God has reminded me of this.

He brings me back to stillness so often.

Most of the time, I think of the command to be still as a call to get rid of distractions. A call to purify my life of the busyness, to stop and listen. Let God's voice flow into my life and speak.

It is a hard thing to do.

But this week, when God said to me, "My child, be still," it seemed to mean an entirely different thing to my heart.

This time, God asked me to be still in a new way.

Because for a while now, I have been carrying around a lot of responsibility and guilt with me. It has managed to creep up slowly, telling me that it is my duty to make people happy. To take care of big needs, to release those hurts, to take care of that sadness. Slowly, the responsibility of another's wellbeing piled on, week after week in these last few months, until I had reached the point of exhaustion.

Because I can't do it.

No matter how much I try or how badly I want to, I cannot fulfill another person. I cannot fill an emptiness that only God can fill.

And when I came to Him, this tender God we serve, and said through angry tears; I. HAVE. NOTHING. LEFT.

He whispered to me, "My child. Be Still."

He said, "Let it go. This responsibility is too big for someone like you. This is the job for someone much stronger, much kinder, and someone with much more understanding.

Be still. Give this responsibility to me.

Trust. I have him. I love him. I am working on him.

He. Is. Mine.



I am taking care of this.

Just like I'm taking care of you."

My friends, God knows us. More than we can ever begin to understand. And he knows those around us too. The ones we love so dearly. He carries all of us, watches over us, and loves us with abandon.

And He will not let us fall.


We can only do what God has equipped us for. Love.

We cannot save.

That is God's job.

And He does it well.

Rest in that.

Be still in that.


Monday, February 8, 2010

In our small way.

Stone quarries of Biblical Nazereth, Israel. 2009.

I am left-handed.

And contrary to what most people say and think, I have always been proud of it.

I like being a little different, and there are some very interesting people who are lefties as well (Jerry Seinfeld, Julius Caesar, Benjamin Franklin, H.G. Wells, Kurt Cobain, Joan of Arc, etc).

The other day, while roaming the aisles of Barnes and Noble (a weekly ritual), a book about left-handers caught my eye.

Among other interesting facts, the book noted that lefties are often good with spatial things, like architecture, music, combat, etc. For some reason, the way our brain works, left-handers can see more easily how everything fits together. In other words, we see the big picture.

The spatial fact really intrigued me, because I relate. I am a big-picture person. I dream big, I hope big, and I like the idea of living life to the fullest.

This big picture, abstract way of thinking spreads over into all areas of my life, including spiritual. And although it can be good and useful at times, it can also get me into trouble.

Because thinking big IS abstract most of the time, and the big end goal is not generally what a person experiences on a day-to-day basis.

Because of this, big-thinkers such as myself can be easily discouraged. We can get restless and hard on ourselves, thinking that more needs to be done, wondering why a certain goal hasn't been met, annoyed at all the little, trivial details that it takes to get somewhere "big."

And I think that is part of the problem too. Thoughts can always linger on "getting somewhere," rather than living life in the present.

And we can only experience the grace of God in the here and now.

The past is for learning, the future for hope, but now, NOW is when we experience the voice and the presence and the glory of God.

And to get caught up in the "could bes" and the future stuff and the "big-picture" can rob us of those moments.

I know it has robbed me of a few.

Today I read an Oswald (Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest") that spoke into my thoughts and helped to clarify them.

His basic sentiment was that God is in the everyday, ordinary, small details of life, and to miss Him there is to miss Him altogether.

It goes along with the idea of loving God with all your heart.

Love Him with the way that you run. Love Him when you cook dinner. Honor Him when you talk on the phone. Glorify Him when you write someone a letter. Rest in Him when you're hoping for that big-picture dream.

Because God calls some of us to be "big" by the world's standards. But for most of us, He calls us to serve in the everyday moments, loving the few people He places around us, with not a whole lot of fanfare or thanks.

For most of us, He puts us in places that, to the world today, don't really measure on the scale of importance, success, or grandeur.

But someone who lives their life for God with the details; a person who loves Him with their whole heart in service through those small things He brings their way, they are GREAT in HIS eyes.

Didn't our small-town Rabbi say once in passing that "the least shall be the greatest?"

Yep, He most certainly did. And He lived that life. He grew up in Nazereth, a town so small it had people asking, "can anything good come from there?" He spent His life as a Rabbi, studying the Word and ministering (for the most part) to a small group of young boys, training them up to live like Him, know the text, and love people well.

And He changed the world.

With their help.

And now, it's our turn. It's our turn to grab hold of the small area that God has rooted us in, care for those around us, love the people we meet, and serve in the capacity that God has gifted us.

Here. Now.

In our small way.

Because that is what makes all the difference.

Monday, February 1, 2010

To be Holy.

Gan (garden) in Israel, 2009.

After creating the world, God rested.

He also deliberatly commanded us to rest every seventh day, in order to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.

Holiness. Rest. Remember.

All very important ideas in the Bible.

God requires of us to take a day, once a week, to set apart and seperate, allowing us rest. But not rest like our culture defines it. These days, rest means fun. Rest means being entertained. Rest means ease.

But I think the rest that God is referring to is the kind of rest that leads to holiness.

Rest that looks back.

A time cut out to gratefully remember what the Lord has done, a time for study and being quiet and listening.

Resting the mind so that God can speak into it.

Because a sabbath is not meant to entertain, it is meant to sanctify.

To focus our minds aright and refresh them, repositioning our hearts and our thoughts back to our creator.

For He alone can give us true rest.

And holiness comes from no other place than His presence and His voice.

God created rest to center us, to bring us back to Him each week, and to set us back on the path of righteousness, again and again.

So stop sometime this week, allow yourself to rest, remember what God has done, and listen. Be still and know that He is near.

And do it because He told us to. Do it because He knows what's best for us.

Do it because it brings Him joy.

Our God. Our creator.

Longs to give us rest.

Let's walk with Him for a while.