Some days you just feel weary. Weary from being brave the moment you step out your door. Weary from weathering the storms of life. And you reach the end of the day and you feel spent. That hard phone call that added more load to your back with the future it seemingly painted. That unexpected hurt that made your heart heavy.
You pour that cup of cold tea away because the day never let you have it. And you feel like a knitted top that’s had a pull in it begin to unravel and fray and you can’t seem to stop it.
And then you read something that speaks straight to your heart, and you feel your soul sigh with relief as you’re reminded of God’s grace and hope…
“Feels like there’s a million things coming at you as you look into the week ahead, but really there is always only one thing: Just. Stay. Calm.
“The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm” Ex14:14
Let the Spirit in dwell, before stepping into the hour, day, week. This is the way calm comes. For God will do the battle for you. You just do the breathing in Him.… Jesus didn’t just calm one storm—He can calm all our storms. And He comes as a sign to us, a sign of the cross, a sign God’s reaching for us, believing in us, in love, in redemption, in making all things new, in making us enough because He is.
And He comes like light through rain coming down. ” (Ann Voskamp)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”(Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)
And maybe that pull in the knitted top can be fixed and doesn’t need to unravel any further.
Recently we told our boys that our little one has down syndrome. We explained what it meant and told them that while he would be able to do everything that they can do, it might take him a little longer and be harder to learn how to.
We waited for the reactions. We wondered what impact that this would have. With a shrug of his shoulders, my nine year old said “those words mean nothing to me” and went on to cuddling and playing with his baby brother. And that was the end of that. No barrage of questions, no concerns or worries evident. Those words mean nothing to my boys when it comes to their baby brother and they have not mentioned them since. The love that the boys have for their baby brother is unaffected, unchanged.
When we’re labelled by the world for something, for anything, we need to shrug our shoulders and say “those words mean nothing to me.” Those words could be your own medical diagnosis, they could be words of others belittling your faith, your abilities, your character. They could be words that darken your future or words that seem to frame your world. Shrug them off!
Instead declare the words that do matter – what God says about you and your situation. Speak God’s promises over your life. Make sure the words you say over your life match the future you want. That your soul and body would be strong. That you will prosper and know favour.
I know for my little chap – well everyday he gets told that he is strong and clever and that he will have the grace and favour of God and man in his life. (He’s told he is cute and gorgeous often too!)
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)
“Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.” (Matthew 21:21)
(Note: All evidence is currently proving that delay is not a factor with this little one! He’s a star!)
Have you ever found yourself driving on autopilot? You reach home and realise that you can’t remember much of the drive you took to get there. Or you don’t notice significant changes on your street – the “for sale” sign that has gone up or the tree that has been cut down. Your mind was occupied on some other trail of thought. We can do the same with life – running on autopilot. Rising in the morning, doing chores, going about our day without really paying attention to what is going on around us. As a result we can even miss what God is doing in our lives.
Yet in our every day God is very much present. Renee Swope wrote recently “Evidence of God’s presence surrounds me. But I have to decide if I will look for, listen to: and notice Him.” If we want to see what God is doing in our lives – around our lives – we need to be attentive to what is going on around us. We need to be attentive to the whisper and gentle signs from God.
Once on an ordinary day Moses saw a burning bush. But more than he took time out from his job – tending the sheep – to look more closely at it. And that proved to be a game changer.
“So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from with the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said “Here I am.” “ (Exodus 3:3-4)
Moses then went on to have a powerful encounter with God that not only changed his life but also the life of the Israelites. Moses’ encounter with God was precipitated by him pausing and intentionally taking a closer look. He took time from his day to stop and see.
In an ordinary day was an extraordinary encounter waiting for him to notice and see.
Take time in your day to pause, to ponder, to look and to see what God is doing.
“Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is!” (Isaiah 43:19)
“Life is a sequence of moments called now”
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Mother Teresa
In Alice in Wonderland the White Rabbit rushes past Alice muttering “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say hello, goodbye! I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!” And the opportunity for an encounter was gone. If we are not careful we can spend our lives rushing past encounters, rushing past our now moments. Focused on the next thing, the next goal, dream – the next season.
As parents in excitement we look forward to the first steps, the first words, the next milestone. During the week our minds can be on the weekend, on the next holiday even. When we spend time worrying we are also taking time out of our present as we spend it thinking negatively about a future event. (Said the woman who lost far too much time worrying about an impending dentist appointment). We can sometimes spend more time thinking about what we should do, who we should be and forget to be present in the now. We can be too focussed on rushing towards the future.
Contentment in life is found in appreciating and enjoying today. The treasure and opportunities in the present. Today, right now, in this moment, what is God inspiring you to do? What is in your hand to do now, today. What blessings and joys from Him are around you now? God has a purpose for us in each and every moment – in the right now.
God is the “I am”. He is the God of Past, the Future but also of the now! And in the now He is ready, present, available to be with you. Ready for an encounter.
Don’t forget to remember to show up for your one & only life! And remember to be fully here while on your way there!
Yes I know, Christmas is long gone and everyone’s Christmas trees are packed away (I hope!). In saying that, I did buy a Christmas Decoration today, and come to think of it last week as well! Too early to be talking about Christmas 2015?! But actually it is Christmas 2014 that I want to revisit. You see last year a lovely couple in our church introduced the “Christmas Bucket”. An opportunity to take a plain bucket and transform into a Christmas bucket, filled with gifts for a family in need who otherwise would be having a very underwhelming Christmas.
On Sunday, the couple shared the photos of happy families who received the buckets and read a couple of letters of gracious thanks. I was completely undone by one letter, with its heartfelt gratitude that spoke of the “kindness in abundance that helps save a mothers’ honour that helps this mother deliver to her babies as she dreams she could!! I thank you all …with flowing tears, droplets of realised love down my cheeks, a smile to my heart…a smile for my darling children….a feeling of being cared over, being treated and gifted such a magical box!!”
Yes filling the bucket with gifts was a sacrifice. It took time, effort, consideration and money. And for many who gave a bucket, it stretched a budget that was already stretched. But in as much as we poured out, we received back in abundance. We received gratitude, love and the sense that we had partnered with God to be His hands and to bless. I sat there listening to the gracious and humbling words, and thought I should have done more, given more, sacrificed more.
My heart was full.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’(Matthew 25:35-40)