All Of Life Is Not Right Now

It was February. My involvements were comfortably manageable (which wasn’t often the case), and I liked the rhythm of my week. Then one morning when I was praying, this thought came, “Step out of everything.” Wait, what?! “Step out of everything.”

A baffled reaction whirled in me over the next few days—This doesn’t make sense… I don’t feel overcommitted… I really enjoy being with them… Helping with this feels good… How will she react…

I didn’t want to do this, but even more, I didn’t want to disobey God if this was his guidance. After several days of prayer, he gently made it clear. It was awkward and hard, stepping away from involvements when I didn’t understand why. The sadness that followed was like grief—I felt loss from the changes. Some days, I wrestled with feeling like I was missing out. Yet, the peace in my heart was unmistakeable.

Our third baby was due in 2 months, and her two brothers were toddlers. By my evaluation, I had been managing everyone and everything just fine. I was keeping all the plates in the air (that I had put there by the way) and calling this “fulfilling.”

Up to now, my approach was to consider whether or not to add something to my schedule. Sometimes I prayed. This was new, to be willing to lay down something (well, in this moment, everything). God’s plan for my “right now” was becoming clear. He taught me an important lesson about surrender and trust.

Some of our hardest steps lead to amazing treasure. Gradually, feelings of missing out became experiences of stepping in.  I was stepping in one-day-at-a-time to what God had for me, for this season in my life. I didn’t see the bigger picture purpose, but that’s not my role (or privilege) anyway. I learned that his “right now” plan is always the best plan for me, no matter how I feel in the transition. His yields joy, fruit that I may not see growing, peace beyond my understanding.

All of our life is not RIGHT NOW.
And if you’re a mom, all of your child’s life is not right now.

God doesn’t want us to miss out on what he has planned for us at various times in our life. Yet, sometimes his “best” for our current season is hidden in plain view because our days are cluttered with ought-to’s, want-to’s, old habits, not-thought-throughs, and couldn’t-say-no-to’s. Maybe we can’t imagine having that change we yearn for, a dream unspoken, or even adding that thing that we really want to do because we hold “our life” tightly in our hand. Open your hand. Surrender. Trust that God will give you his best.

About this time of year and periodically throughout the year, I ask God, “Is there anything that you want me to lay down? Is there any way that I spend time that you want me to modify?”  Seek and receive what God has for you.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16.9)

For When It’s Hard To Be Still

Have you ever noticed how a photograph—of someone you know or a scene of nature—can cause you to be still for a few minutes or longer? It holds a moment in our life or a mesmerizing sample of God’s creation. When my computer screen is idle, my photo collection rolls, and if my husband or I are nearby, it’s inevitable that we just stop and watch and eventually get misty-eyed. The photos stir emotion and memory, gratitude to God, and sometimes reflective words that testify to His character.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46.10a)

These God-breathed words have arrested my heart countless times. When I’m overwhelmed in a years-long trial or stress is shaking me to the core, God makes this Word known again to my heart. All at once, I feel loved yet humbled. His words comfort me like I might comfort a child. Stop. Remember who I am, how you’ve experienced me, what you’ve read about me—and trust Who I am. He humbles me, too, and I realize I haven’t been still much lately, and the power of my will, mental wrestling, and self-determination are wearing me out.

You and I have opportunities every day to stop, give time to be present to God, and practice experiencing Who He is—and what that means for us. As LORD, He commands us, and as our loving heavenly Father, He guides: Be still, and know that I am God.

His aim is our heart, that we personally know Him as our all-powerful, all-knowing, always present, sovereign God—through firsthand experience in prayer, the scriptures, and being still with him. He calls us to stillness for our good and for His glory.

Be still.  Stop moving, be quiet, and be present. Stop moving our mouth and mind and maybe our body, too. Put down the phone, close the computer, turn off the TV, step away from that project. The rhythm of our work or family life challenges us to believe that we can give up some time to ‘be still.’ Yet, notice God doesn’t say how long. He doesn’t say, Be still for 5 minutes… 30 minutes… once a week. It’s an intriguing invitation and uniquely personal to each of us.

If you go to a presentation that requires your undivided attention, you stop everything else because you don’t want to miss the big moment. If you have a child, you’ve likely told him to be still when you want to tell or show him something significant. God requires our undivided attention, for us to truly know him and trust him.

Be still.  Where? When?  . . .  in the carpool line, while you sit in the bleachers alone, during your lunch break, in a comfy chair with a cup of coffee, or looking at the amazing sky, a flower that’s just bloomed, your child as he sleeps or simply fascinates you. Ask God when and where, and He will show you. He wants this time for you and with you. How? Close your eyes or watch, listen, reflect, wait, praise Him. God is always in our midst; yet in stillness, we step in to holy communion with Him. We obey and show him our love, being still WITH HIM. And He keeps his promise—He grows us to know Him, such that His peace anchors our heart and transcends every matter it carries.

In stillness, insight unfolds. Nature reveals His power and majesty. Quiet makes space for His voice. Reflection transforms hard life stories into testaments of His character.

Dear God,
You are mine and I am yours. You are all I need, my safe place, my strength. Quiet my thoughts now and help me be still. I want to know you. I want to rest in You as God. Amen.

When Circumstances Overwhelm Us

I have friends in Houston, Texas, and surrounding towns—you may also—who are experiencing the rains and winds of Hurricane Harvey’s lingering effects. For all that can be predicted, they know they have to wait and then live through what actually comes. And that’s hard. At the same time, all other challenging matters of life haven’t evaporated. For the moment, they may shrink in comparison, but they’re still there.

You know what I mean. A new trial develops, yet the other hard things remain, too. We press on, hanging in there, until sometimes we wear down, fall apart, cry, pray, vent, and try our best to keep praying—to keep holding on to the One who holds us and holds all creation.

“I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD . . . speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” (1 Samuel 1.15b-16)

All week I’ve been planted in this passage in 1 Samuel 1.1-20, where God unfolds how Hannah perseveres in faith and how he attends her heart through her circumstances. Hannah prays for years to conceive a child, plus her husband’s other wife regularly provokes her that she’s born multiple children. One big trial compounded by another—Can you relate?

Hannah is “deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.” (v.10)

Anxiety, worry, pain, and frustration accompany Hannah’s heart. Yet, the Companion whose company she steadfastly chooses is her LORD. She takes her experiences and feelings to God, not holding back. She unloads every aspect of her burden, letting tears wash her empty.

This is intimacy with God. Raw and honest, yet worshipful. God is Hannah’s heavenly Father and Lord.

“Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” (v.18b)

Her face was no longer sad. She went “her way,” back to the circumstances that currently define her life. Yet, she went changed—changed by her encounter with the living God. Changed by his love that filled all places in her heart when she emptied all that burdened her. She “went” with God, with His peace that passes all understanding.

Hannah’s no-longer-sad face reflects a heart that has overcome the overwhelm of circumstances in the power of God’s love. She trusts God—that He sees, listens, holds, and loves her through all circumstance.

Dear God,
Thank you for sharing a segment of Hannah’s life and relationship with us. Help us seek to know you more as our Father and Lord, who loves us immeasurably. Teach and prompt us to steadfastly walk with You through all circumstances. Amen.