The Trouble with Sabbath

Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

“I lift my eyes up to the mountains. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth!” Psalm 121:1-2

Well, actually the trouble is with me, trying to take a Sabbath… The thing is, anxiety is no respecter of time off. However much I free my calendar of activities I can’t as easily free my mind of worrying thoughts.

Anyone else?

Our family took 5 days in the mountains over our spring break (why there was no post last week) but I found myself unable to enjoy the quiet or the beauty or the freedom from chores and errands. My heart and mind were tied up in knots over things that couldn’t be solved (by me) in our life right now. And without the distraction of the busyness of life, I had to confront those things.

I went to the Lord pleading for help. I poured out my thoughts and doubts about the impossible situations we were (are) facing and how helpless I felt. I asked for more faith. Freedom from the anxiety plaguing me. And in the silence that followed my tears, I felt, or “heard” Him sing to my heart:

He’s got the whole world

In His hands

He’s got the whole wide world

In His hands

And He added my name and my children’s names and my husband’s name to the refrain.

And my anxiety faded like nothing but mist. Sabbath! Rest!

And can I tell you something? One of those impossible situations resolved the day we got back. God took something that seemed terrible and turned it into a blessing for us!! Something I didn’t know we needed came to us out of it all that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Ashes into gold.

That is the God we serve, so boundless is His power and wisdom and love for us!

What worrying thoughts do you need to pour out and entrust to Him today?

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In the Stillness

You know those times when a book comes along at just the right moment? I’ve had the privilege of reading my friend Courtney Ellis‘s book Uncluttered and it’s just been a string of moments with God in my life as I read. The book is about decluttering our lives and souls and making space for joy, for God (it’s also really funny and totally down to earth. And I’m not just saying this because she’s my friend and will read this. It’s laugh out loud funny and then soul touchingly meaningful, and all shared through real life stories so it’s super fast and easy to read. And I’m not getting anything out of posting this – it’s just that good I wanted to share. You, too, can get your very own copy here! 😊).

But I digress!

Today I read this passage in Uncluttered

I used to fill every moment I waited in a grocery line with social media browsing, every silence in my car with the radio, every evening with a couple episodes of something or other from Netflix. But now, in these moments between an appointment and the house, between choosing produce and purchasing it, between asking a question and receiving an answer, between getting into bed and falling asleep, I have learned to listen for God. He’s always been present, but it is only now I am learning to hear.

During this holiday season I felt a little distant from the Lord. Now that the whirlwind has passed, I’m realizing that I filled every moment with planning and buying and celebrating – and I mean every moment. I’m pretty sure I was mentally Christmas shopping in my sleep. There was no time – it seemed – to sit and pray like I used to, and I hardly had time even to consider my choices.

But I was just reading in Courtney’s book yesterday (and not coincidentally – I felt like God was calling me to read it!) that busyness is a choice. None of the demands of life have control over us unless we let them. When we choose to create space, God is right there reaching out to us. And wow, you guys, there is no better way to spend time!

It’s hard to change old habits but I’ve resisted social media for a time, almost like a fast, so I can make space for the Lord, and He comes in with such warmth in my heart, such reassurances of His love. Such hope. I’ve recently been grieving several losses in my life (which I was also too busy to grieve – seriously, if you’ve suffered a loss, make time to grieve and do it with the Lord!) and in just a few minutes God graciously unraveled the knots in my soul with truth and hope and kindness. He was beckoning to me when I was all tied up emotionally and when I responded to Him, set things aside and took time with Him, there was such grace there to carry me through.

But I needed to make that space, that time to sit with Him.

What can you set aside today to connect with the Lord?

Stop and Drink

Art by Jeremy Fenske

Sometimes when you do a blog, you get caught up in doing a blog.

Must. write. new. post…

But the whole point of this blog is to share my walk with God, with you. And it turns out that you can’t force that through grammar or eloquence, or through schedules.

I sat staring at my screen, so tired after a long week yet wanting to write something to encourage you all. What came to me? Nothing. And then, more nothing.

What was wrong? But as I went back over the past days in my mind, I realized that my to-do list had been in the diver’s seat and time with the Lord wasn’t on the agenda. I’d forgotten to be still with Him, to just enjoy Him and His word.

I took a moment there at my computer to pray. Then the very familiar image on my computer desktop jumped out at me. I saw the horse dipping his mouth into the peaceful waters, and the Lord whispered to my heart, If you’re thirsty, stop and drink.

Even just in that invitation, refreshment flooded my soul. That was His voice in my heart, the most comforting voice in all the cosmos. The voice that spoke life into existence, moving in me, calling to me.

What have I been doing all this time??

Enjoy Him friends! Enjoy moments with Him, seeking Him, dwelling on scripture. Stop everything and drink.

And if He feels far, reflect on Psalm 42. As He has always been faithful, so He will continue to be for you.

As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God. psalm 42:1

The Lie of the City

Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash

I live in Los Angeles, in the heart of movieland. It’s a restless city, a city that attracts dreamers from all over the world looking to land the next big part or movie deal or writing gig. This city calls to us, tells us to work hard, never miss an opportunity, sacrifice it all, and then you can achieve those dreams.

But I was thinking about the message of my city and started to wonder – do we know what are true opportunities and what are dead ends (or worse)? How often are we running ourselves into the ground for nothing? Is achieving our dreams a goal that is even in line with God’s kingdom?

Who is guiding our lives – Jesus, or self?

Lately God has been calling me into times of rest, and it usually bumps up against the call of my culture to achieve, and never let up until I do. Which inner voice do I listen to? They war inside me! Eventually I realized that what I choose shows where my allegiance really lies.

Are my dreams the Lord of my life? Or is God – the one who died for me?

Taking time to rest in obedience to God’s call is a way to worship Him, and to show the world Who He is. He is the God who leads us into good things in His timing, the God who says “I made you for rest and not only work,” the Good Shepherd who leads us beside quiet waters, restores our souls, protects us from the enemy.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”
Psalm 23:1-4

We can lay our personal goals aside at the good feet of Him who loves us so deeply for a time, and obey the call to rest.

Do you feel driven to achieve something? What do you need to lay down at God’s feet today so that you can truly rest?

Jesus Christ, Super Shepherd

Photo by Erik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash

I’ve passed the half way mark of summer vacation with the kids and have started to feel like a toy with low batteries. Some days, dead batteries.

I wanted to make all the kids happy, give them a fun summer, give others and their kids a fun summer. I said “Yes” a lot to invitations, and reached out to people to make plans. And crowding that same plate was the stuff that might fall into a “personal ministry” category: volunteering, praying with and for people, long conversations about spiritual things…

Writing this devotion…

But I have become so deeply, terribly tired. Even hearing my phone buzz for a text makes me anxious. Suddenly realizing how bad off I had become, I stopped to pray yesterday and ask the Lord for help. I asked Him what, out of all of these things, I needed to drop.

In response, I saw a picture play out in my mind: I was a tired superhero hanging up her cape. Laying down the burden to answer every call, fill every need, be everything. And the twist was, I understood that I had been putting on that cape mistakenly – like Bolt the super dog, I didn’t actually have super powers. No wonder I was burnt out: as it turns out, I’m only human…but taking on every need around me anyway.

It wasn’t one particular thing I needed to stop doing, it was a way of seeing myself that needed to stop, or rather a new way of seeing myself that needed to begin.

I asked Him to show me what He would give me in place of the cape (it’s a pattern for prayer I use sometimes, what to let go of and what He gives in place of that thing). And I saw myself again, this time as a sheep being gently led by the shepherd through green pastures to quiet water.

God is caring for His sheep. All of them. Me, you, your kids, my family… I don’t have to take that job on myself. Jesus is superhero enough for the world. And when He wants me as His sidekick, I know the Spirit will call (and equip me!). But He’ll always be the one doing it, always the sleepless one watching over this city.

Do you overspend yourself caring for others or the world around you? What do you need to entrust to the Shepherd today? What do you need from Him yourself? Read Psalm 23 and picture yourself as the sheep, and Jesus as the superhero shepherd guarding you and the whole flock, the whole world…

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:10-11