So as I enjoy another ginger snap cookie dunked in my evening tea (oh so good!)...I am filled with a deep thankfulness. What a sweet place God has brought me into... after so long and deep a struggle these past two years!
These past few years have been very challenging, evidence being here: absence on this blog. I confess, it was all I could do to keep myself up straight and pull my foot out of the mud to take one more step, to push through another day.
Through these past two years, I have felt emotions rise in me that are usually very dormant, controlled and to some degree understood, yet here they were rushing up, dark and threatening. As I sought to work through these, through my daily battle, I was very aware I was drying up! My soul... was brittle and crackling. I missed the sweet, rich, abundant spring of life and freedom of the previous years of being a student, with less structure and few demands on my time, work, and performance. Serious thoughts of major job shifts daily taunted me... yet I knew, I had to work through this dry, hard season: I wanted to OVERCOME and walk in victory. I knew my biggest hurdle came up from within myself, and not my circumstances.
So this past summer I planned some serious strategic time with Jesus: I went to Maine for a week with the sole intention to sit with Him... and meet Him and heal my soul. Now, of course this is a process... but it's an invaluable practice to pull away with Jesus!
|Sunrise in Maine|
One, I struggled with the quietness. I prepared my heart and mind, I shut down distractions, I felt free to enjoy the activities around me: climbing, kayaking, taking photos.... alone. I anticipated something GREAT and BIG to hit me over the head. God doesn't usually come loudly though... He whispers and waits. So, I felt the angst in my soul... "God, I am listening! What are You saying? Where are You?" As I paddled down the river in my one-woman kayak, my soul struggled. It did not feel good. I wasn't lonely, just very aware of being alone. I stopped for lunch and the story of Elijah came to my mind, and his experience in the cave. And a whisper came... "quietness is my gift to you..."
Isaiah 30:15 "This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it."
Wow. I embraced it and let go of the struggle, and enjoyed the GIFT of His presence.
The rest of my week was a gentle, gracious, sweet gift. My friend arrived and her company blessed the spontaneity, rest, and food of my time. Our conversations were good, her presence was easy and complimented what God was doing in me.
One piece of wisdom and revelation that came through our conversation was that I don't apply grace to myself very well, when God and no one else really, is demanding perfection. God accepts me in my messy, quirky, ways. Why don't I? It was insight that I put to practice, and grace feels so good. As I extend grace to myself... I find I extend grace to others that much more.
So over the past few months, I have reflected over the past summer, my time in Maine, and the struggle over the past two years. God has given me more clarity, of who I am in Him and what I am to be. He indeed has a plan for us, we are designed to know Him, and do the works He created for us, each individually unique and fulfilling. This has been such a gift to me. Clarification makes decision making so much easier. It's a yoke yet an easy one, as it fits me so well. I have new, fresh sense of joy and anticipation for each day. It's not about my title, its about who He calls me to be, and living it out in the circumstances I am in.
This summer, I could feel the sweetness of His Favor and love replenish and soak into the crackling, brittleness of my soul. The soft, gift of grace filled my heart and brought new Life, fresh perspective and deeper thanksgiving. Now I am experiencing overcoming joy and victory where I am, like beyond explanation!
Just as Esther received the position of a queen in a foreign land: it's a unique time in history. God is working, His hand is moving and He will act. My desire is to be part of His Work, in the place He has put me. It's wonderful to grasp His love with greater understanding, and Who I am to be so I can pour His love and grace out through my life.
And...I would not want to miss that opportunity for "all the tea in China!" (my dad use to say that to me... "I wouldn't trade you for all the tea in China!")