Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Present

In November of last year, I left my job with a clear vision of what I was going to be doing in the days and years to come.  I had been accepted at two universities to begin work on my doctorate degree and I was ready to do it, but in the preparatory weeks that followed my resignation, I began to sense God telling me otherwise, specifically, don't do it.  After all the time and effort I had put into returning to school for a third time, not to mention the others who had contributed their own time in the form of writing letters of recommendation, I was absolutely flabbergasted that God would ask me to change my plans and not go."What are you doing?" I asked the Lord in exasperation and confusion.  I was so certain after all that it was His will that had compelled me to make the decisions I had made, and in addition to that, if I didn't go after this degree I had no idea what I would do instead.  "Rest" seemed to be His overwhelming and consistent response, but "I don't know how," I repeated many times through prayer.  "Stop," the Lord continued, and to which I responded almost frantically, "stop what!?" "Everything," He finally said.   And there it was.  God wanted me to stop acting, stop moving, stop questioning, and especially stop talking. He wanted me to just stop everything, especially the constant running I so effortlessly do on the hamster wheel in my head.  More directly, He wanted me to simply clear my mind of...well, me, and be with Him here and now in the present.

These weeks of stopping, resting, and just being have been trying because I quite literally don't know how to just be.  Fortunately, I have a great Teacher in the Master of Being and an excellent role model in my husband, but there's no denying that I'm a difficult and stubborn student, hence the blog entry that fills my time with writing. My natural tendency, and I'm sure I'm not alone, is to make things happen and lead God rather than trusting God to work out His purposes and lead me.  Like a child impatiently tugging on his mother's arm to get her to walk faster towards a new and exciting ride at Disneyland, so I am as I demonstrate my own impatience at God's pace in getting me to my next adventure.  "But, Abba, come on!" I seem to whine in the face of my life's untrodden paths, and yet His pace remains unimproved by my rushed standards.   Still, I know He knows best and if rest is what He prescribes, then it would be my folly to do anything but just that, so I rest.

As I've allowed Him to instruct me about rest, I found that He's much more interested in teaching me to listen than He is in hearing me talk, and this was a hard pill to swallow because I love to talk.  Although I'm more of a listener in some of my relationships, I'm an avid talker in others, my relationship with God especially.  "But Abba, don't you want to hear what I have to say?" I questioned with hurt in my tone one morning.  He responded by telling me that yes, while He loves to hear what I have to say, it's far more important that I hear what He has to say (See Matthew 6:7).  Though I agreed with this completely, I found that in just the next second, I forcibly had to shut my mouth as it fought to speak.  "Sorry, Father, I'm listening. You talk, please."  And He did.  I've discovered in these last few weeks and days as I've committed to talking less and listening more, something miraculous has happened.  Are you ready for it? My hearing has improved! I've been able to hear from God far quicker and clearer than ever before, and not only that, but I'm hearing my husband and child better too.  The first few weeks of rest were actually anything but restful as my hyper-active flesh battled my spirit, but as the days pass and I strive to stay grounded in the present, I'm learning more and more about God's will and my purpose. I still don't know what exactly He has planned since I've officially withdrawn from the school I was prepared to attend, but I know that there's nothing more important than spending time with Him and hearing from Him, and somehow that's enough.

If God has led you to a season of rest, don't fight it, and if, like me, you don't know how to rest and your hands and mind are always busy, then there is your prayer for the day.  Ask Him to teach you how to rest and just be.  I can't count the number of times I've prayed for Him to un-clutter my mind and slow my thoughts, and though it didn't happen in one day, He slowly has and still is.  There is no greater medicine to your soul than quiet time with the Lord in which you are the audience and He the speaker.  Don't panic if you don't know what the future holds, just trust the One who holds it. You don't have to have a wall of medals and degrees or a million dollar business to be successful.  Your greatest achievement is not in possessions or wealth, but in knowing the God of the universe (Mark 8:36).  To know Him, and not just of Him, but to really know Him and be in the secret place of Him (Psalm 91:1) - now that is something.  That is worth talking about, that is worth celebrating, and that is worth living for. Instead of dwelling on what you could or should have done yesterday or allowing your mind to drive you into tomorrow or ten years from today, just receive the gift of the present - with your spouse, your child, your extended family, and especially with God.  It's the only place you exist and it's where He longs to meet you.   Be there.

"Be still (cease striving, stop fighting), and know that I am God." - Psalm 46:10

"And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words." - Matthew 6:7

"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" - Mark 8:36 

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." -Psalm 91:1

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