God allowed me to live a dream not dreamed of (7/17/13 Fulfilling the dream not dreamed of Part 2)

I went to Israel last summer.  Wow.

God allowed me to live a dream not dreamed of.  It was a God-sized dream, a dream that in my most improbable imaginings I had never thought of.  And because it was God’s dream for me, it was just perfect.  You know how sometimes you plan a dream vacation and get so excited and then the reality is such a letdown from what you had envisioned?  Well my experience was the extreme opposite.  Since I had no dream and no thought or imagining about this, the entire time was real, but surreal at the same time.  Beyond anything I could have come up with to dream about.  Everything was touched with God’s fingers for me to see.  Because this was His dream for me, His wonderful gift for me to enjoy and touch and see and be continually amazed and in awe of His marvelous love for me.  I imagine He enjoyed watching me experience this just as much as I enjoyed the gift.  When you give children a gift you know they will love, their joy just comes alongside yours as you watch their faces and their eyes and their smiles and hear their laughter.  I was that child who was given the very gift that I yearned for, but what is different here is that I did not even know I wanted it.

One year and 15 days ago, I returned home from this dream world, yet real world, with real people and real but different lives and culture, and indescribable beauty on so many levels.  I returned home to my daily life world.  I remember our last day there in that surreal real place.   I sat on a bench and I wrote about how I never want to forget.  I took a picture of that bench and I also occasionally refer to my words that day to help me remember the deep desire to keep the entire experience fresh, as a shiny, bright, new, and incredible treasure forever.  To never forget what I learned, and to never take for granted all that Jesus Christ was and is and will be.

When I returned home, I wanted to look outside to magically see the Garden of Gethsemane in my backyard.  I wanted the streets and the paths and the ancient ruins and the countryside and the desert and the Garden Tomb and everything to be at my fingertips, easily accessible, so I could change my backyard scene by pushing a button.  Star Trek virtual reality.  I resonate with Peter after he witnessed the Transfiguration with James and John.  He excitedly said something like this:

Hey!  Let’s just stay here!  Let’s memorialize this incredible event!  Jesus, you can have a tent over there, and Elijah, your tent is right over here, and Moses, yours is over that way.  And me and James and John…we will just hang out here like forever and attend to your needs and visit with all of you all the time!  (Luke 9:33, paraphrase mine)

Ummm…no.  That’s not reality, just as my Israel scenes in my backyard would not be real.

So.  I went back to work and I went back to my day in day out crazy busy life.  Gradually, the day in day out routine became the norm again.  Now a year later, I still treasure God’s dream for me and always will, but the incredible treasure has gradually lost its bright edges and has become less deeply etched in my mind.  The beautiful memory will never lose its powerful impact, but the impact has changed in its formation.  Now it’s a beautiful painting to be admired and remembered, a work of God’s artist’s hand in a breathtaking rendition of what was.

When the memory began becoming a memory, albeit one that will always stand out from others, I bemoaned the loss of the reach out and touch reality that it had been.  I felt sad, and guilty, that God’s great gift to me, truly the experience of a lifetime, did not bring about the immediate life change I longed for.  I went to Israel.  I walked where my Savior walked, and our guide brought to life the people, the landscape, the culture of that time.  I saw and experienced and understood His daily life and His miracle working and His suffering as never before, and never again.  Shouldn’t I be changed forever?

I have finally arrived at the conclusion (God is so patient!!) that the resounding answer is yes.  Of course I should be changed forever.  But I was missing some vital steps in my equation to achieve this answer.  And by the way I hate math as its logic is most always completely lost on me.  Maybe that’s part of the reason my equation was flawed.  🙂  My initial equation looked like this:   Trip to Israel = Life Changed Forever.  Period.  I would go on this trip and… Poof!!  I would return an entirely different person.  Actually, that would have been pretty scary.  Yes, I know that God radically changes people every single day.  But I also know that He works gradually as well.  Ah.  There is the missing piece of the equation.  My revised equation looks like this:  Trip to Israel + Numerous Other Ways God is Gradually Changing Me = Life Changed and Continually Changing Forever.

Gradual is the way God chooses to work in and through me.  God gave me a detail crazy, methodical, loves-routine-and-predictability-does-not-like-change personality.  So ever patient, He stretches me.  Gradually, in varying degrees, and always lovingly.  Here and there.  Slowly.  He knows me…after all, He created me.

When I look back over the past year, I see many changes.  I know that if God had orchestrated these changes all at once, I would have been completely overwhelmed and my old familiar enemy of the Enemy, fear, would have been lurking so close, just waiting for me to allow the smallest opening so it could come in and take over and wreak havoc and spew lies all over the beauty of the new me.  God knows me.

Looking back, I can see that God has grown me, used me, filled me, and yes, changed me.  I am not the same person I was a year ago.  But I am also not so different at the same time.  I am the same sinful messed up human being in continual need of God’s grace.  I’m selfish and superficial, where I long to be generous and digging deep.  I am a continual work in progress.

God has stretched me a number of times, and looking back I can see amazing results each time.  But still, when God stretches, I put up a pretty good fight at first.  Stretching is uncomfortable at best and incredibly painful at worst, and it is not without its failures along the learning curve when I redirect my focus to myself instead of God.  But if I just allow it to happen, God does God things.

God allowed me to live a dream not dreamed of.  A trip to Israel was in His plan for me.  The way it all came about can only be explained as God-orchestrated.  But what I finally understand now a year later is that Israel was not the goal.  Israel was not the top of the mountain, the end of the race, or the final words of the story.  Israel was significant, but only a part of all God is using to bring about His changes in my life.  Israel is forever beautifully woven by God’s hand, an added design of incredible colors and textures.  It is perfectly woven into His tapestry, the life I live and strive to give back to Him.

 

 

 

 

Wonder Woman…no, just me

Time stopped. It had to have stopped because suddenly I was in forever. And ever. Yet it wasn’t forever. It was only moments that I could not recognize. The battlefield was a mess. Littered with debris of what little remained of the thoughts that I could handle this. Joining the debris of my thoughts were tiny pieces that I finally realized were all that remained of my obliterated pretense of control. All my thoughts and plans and what I wanted to do spread out in broken pieces all over the place. Brutal battle, yet really no contest. I lost before I could even prepare to fight. My Wonder Woman cape was in shreds here and there, destroyed. My beloved ducks in a row were bleeding, scattered about nursing their many serious and not so serious wounds. And oh, they were very angry with me. “You want what?  Are you kidding?  You want us to line back up in a row? No way, no how, not happening!  We demand retribution for physical injury and mental anguish!!”

So. Here I am, lying on the bathroom floor at work. I’m lying down thinking maybe that will help the pain ease off. The pain must become at least tolerable.  I have to be able to get up, because I have to walk out and go to my office and get my stuff and tell one person quickly and quietly.  Then, I can finally literally disappear… out the door to go home.  Nope, pain is still incredibly intolerable.  Lying down is not working. Nothing is working. Pain is announcing its very real presence over loud speakers. Can’t believe this is happening.

I had actually prayed and asked God, “Please don’t let me get sick at work!” But the cold sweats and the escalating nausea told me that the answer was no. Then the pain intensifies, and here I am lying on the floor, trying yet another position to control the pain. Early on in this adventure I had a realization that I should have gone to the much less traveled bathroom upstairs, where I could hide and be miserable unnoticed. Thank God I did not do that. Pain finally gets to the point that I go from thinking “Please don’t let anyone come in and see me!” to “Please God bring someone in here!” And He did. She went and got the only person I wanted with me in this adventure.  And after her repeated pleas and more pain and sickness, I finally got to the point that I was scared enough to allow the call to 911.

This is a big production with all the twists and turns of a hit movie. Ambulance is delayed, coworkers get angry at the delay when its me here dying…I get sick another time or two, pain keeps coming in waves, and finally, the ambulance arrives. And EMT’s bring in the stretcher.  I am wheeled out of the bathroom around the corner and out the door, so wanting to be invisible, but kind of hard to miss. 🙂 All part of the hit movie I did not sign up for.

Ambulance ride to the ER, where I hang out for 8 long hours.  Two coworkers join me on this outing and stay for the duration, refusing to leave.  After various tests and long periods of nothing but hanging out in the hospital bed in the hall with my two coworker friends, a doctor finally sees me and tells me that I have “Gastroenteritis” which basically means something upset my stomach. Nah, really? He orders a bag of fluids and a shot for the stomach cramps, which of course about the time I arrived at the ER had lessened to that tolerable level I so desperately wanted earlier. As soon as the fluids are all in, a nurse comes and gives me the shot and prescriptions I don’t need for symptoms I no longer have, and finally, yay! We can leave.

I called my dad About 4 hours into this ER marathon and told him I was having an “adventure.” I talked him out of coming by telling him the truth:  that I had these 2 stubborn sidekicks who would not leave.  Stubborn sidekicks are wonderful when you need them, and even when you think you don’t. 🙂

Around 1:00am, I am finally home. Is there a stronger word than exhausted? I’m beyond that. I call Dad to let him know I’m home.  Then I take a shower and eat some dry toast and go to bed.

With morning comes texts and emails and phone calls and “Mom” lectures from wonderful, trusted, loving girlfriends. I learn quickly that though my mom is in Heaven, I have several “Moms” here to step up into Mom mode and say exactly what she would say. I have this crazy idea that I need to go to work because it’s the day before the big monthly meeting and I’m the one.  That one.  You know, every corporate workplace has at least one of these people. I’m that one who does all the prep work and gets everything ready including the power point presentation slides and arranging everything in order for packets and printing multiple copies that go behind various tabs in binders. I’m that one. My substitute Moms aren’t happy about this at all and so I get lectures about this among other things. And of course they are right. As soon as I take a shower that morning, I realize just how weak I am, and I do what one of these wonderful moms told me to do:  listen to my body.  I stay home sick for the first time in my 17 year tenure at work.  (Exception:  car wreck in 2007.  Post dated 1/17/14).  I go visit with my dad so he can make me scrambled eggs and see for himself that I’m OK.  A grown woman, but still his little girl.  🙂  I rest up and reflect on my very long yesterday.  I remember that my Wonder Woman cape is destroyed.  I remember that my ducks in a row are on strike.  And yet, I know that what is important is still intact, and I thank God for how blessed I am.

And I am reminded, yet again, that I am not, nor will I ever be, Wonder Woman. I just like to wear the cape and pretend because then I can carry on with the lie that I am in control.  I realize that this was an extreme exercise in reminding me who really is in control, and who isn’t.  God is always in control.  I’m not.  Ever.   This was also an exercise in remembering God’s goodness for placing me in the job He chose for me, working with the people and enjoying the atmosphere that is so rare.  I am reminded of how special and wonderful it is to work where people really care and are concerned and compassionate,  and how the family identity is real.  We truly are like family to each other.  There is no pressure to take care of the important work that needs to be completed before the meeting.  In fact, I am encouraged to take care of me.  So thankful.  Grateful. Blessed.

All the preparation for the meeting got done, and done well.  Three people pitched in together and figured everything out and made it happen.  Wow.  So thankful for true teamwork on my behalf.

Thankful for my two stubborn sidekicks who joined me for what we like to call a special “girls night out” at the ER for eight long hours.  Only the most caring people would make that sacrifice.  You know who you are.  Thank you.

I’m also very thankful there was nothing seriously wrong with me.  Just a major virus, combined with low pain tolerance and added stress from getting so sick at work.  Thankful. Grateful. Blessed.

Hello wake up call.   And I want this to be more than just a few thoughts that are soon long forgotten.  What would it be like to live day in day out without the Wonder Woman cape?  It’s really like that security blanket Linus carries around everywhere in Peanuts.  I’m not Linus.  What about my angry ducks?  What would it be like to do life without them all lined up, perfectly positioned in a row?  I know my ducks are done, and I know I would be hard pressed to find replacements anyway… my horrible mistreatment of them is now well known by the entire Ducks in a Row organization. 🙂

I take so much for granted, like everything is just supposed to be the way it is.  Thank you, God, for the reminder that really brought home all that You have given me.  So thankful that my God supplies all my needs, whether I know I have them or not.  And not only that.  God goes far beyond what I need and chooses to give me wondrous treasures that I really don’t need.  He gives them to me anyway, simply to enjoy.  So much to appreciate, so much that I should continually be amazed at.  His gifts to me.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:19 ESV

 

 

 

 

Where Am I?

GPS is a wonderful thing. Like a truly, incredibly wonderful thing. It has real potential to get me to anywhere unfamiliar without unplanned side trips to who knows where. I am what I like to call “Directionally Challenged”. But really, the more accurate description would be “Directionally Completely, Totally Lacking”. I have no sense of direction at all. None. When I tell people that, they think I mean I have less than most people. No, I really mean it. None. -0-. Nada. Zip. So GPS is like a gift from God. And I don’t say that flippantly. I mean it. Thank You Jesus for GPS! It brings security and opens up possibilities I thought would never exist.

Recently, a friend told me about his young adult daughter and her adventures driving around in the Houston area. She calls him periodically completely panic-stricken when she gets lost driving to some destination.

The conversation begins like this: Dad, where am I? with complete desperation in her voice. He responds with investigative, practical, calmly spoken questions  designed to get her to focus and respond and guide him to where she is.
Tell me what you are near. / I’m on 45!! / Tell me what exit you see. / I see…ABC Street!! / OK, tell me another exit. / But I don’t see another exit!! / You will see another exit – just wait.
There is another exit of course, and she tells him what it is.  Now he has enough information to determine where she is and tell her what to do to get to where she wants to go. Obviously, in her most stressful moments of frustration and panic, she assumes her dad just automatically knows where she is. She completely trusts him and looks to him for guidance out of the scary unrecognizable to the right path to her destination.

This true story opened up my heart to some truths about my Heavenly Father.

He always knows where I am, even when I don’t.  He knows exactly where I am when I sometimes find myself in a dark scary place in the deep and intensely private corners of my heart and mind.  He just waits patiently for me to cry out to Him for help. He brings to mind and heart the fact that He is with me even though I feel alone. He will guide me when its time for me to see the way.  Unfortunately, I tend to wait until I have tried just about everything else to figure out the answers on my own.  Not to be simplistic, but work with me on this.  He is my GPS.  Not relying on Him is like me, totally directionally lacking, driving around in downtown Houston, at night, with no GPS.  Gulp!!  Beyond scary.

He also knows why I am where I am.  He knows the reason for the dark and rough rocky places with sharp edges that are sometimes part of the path of life He has for me.  These are the times when I feel like I’m doing everything right and I don’t understand why I’m here.  Why is this crisis happening to me?  Why the steep climb over jagged rocks to nowhere? What do I do now?  Why the pain? Why the hurt? Why can’t I understand? What am I missing?  I struggle and plead for light to shine in the darkness so that I can see the way out. Doing life in the dark places and waiting for His timing is tough, but it also brings about growth and more dependence upon Him and appreciation for His light and His calming presence. 
Sometimes the why of where I am is when I allow myself to be mesmerized by the pretty colors of one of the many bright and beautifully painted signs that point in the wrong direction and promise all manner of things I think I want.  With my focus in the wrong place, my feet follow the wrong path.  Again, He simply waits.  Always with me, no matter where I am, even when I am not focused on Him at all.  Patiently and calmly waiting for me to stop, turn, and redirect my focus to Him and ask for help getting to where I need to go… His way.

God is so good.  For someone as directionally challenged, or lacking, as I am, He created great minds to invent GPS.  And I know that I am spiritually directionally challenged too.  I allow myself to be distracted far too often and not even realize I have veered away from His path and onto the well traveled road of my choice.  When I open my spiritual eyes and see my dilemma and long to turn back, He is my spiritual GPS.  He shines His light of guidance in the darkness of my wandering and worrying.  In His light, I see that He was there with me all along.
Sometimes, as part of His plan, His path for me takes sharp turns to parts unknown and I am caught off guard and afraid and longing to get back to the lighted area where I can see.  He waits patiently for me to finally realize that my hand is in His.  He walks with me through the struggle that will strengthen my character and my commitment to rely on Him.

Along this same line of thinking, one more truth about God is shown from one of my own experiences:

He never leaves me. Last year I went on a wonderful trip out of the country with a group.  The group was from Dallas.  I was from Houston.  The flight back landed at the DFW Airport, and to get home I had to leave the group and get to the right part of the airport to fly back to Houston alone.  This trip was truly a gift from God and I enjoyed it on so many levels, but there was this small speck of dread that grew in exact correlation to the nearing of the end of the trip because that is when I knew I would have to find my own way in a strange, unfamiliar, and crowded place.  Up until this point I had flown 3 times in my life – short flights.  I was not familiar with airports at all. And remember, I am “Directionally Completely, Totally Lacking.”

I could not stand it anymore, and when we were all waiting at the hotel to leave, I approached one of the leaders of the group and asked him to give me some instruction and point me in the right direction when we arrived in Dallas at the airport and they watched me walk away, a lone figure against the world and all that. 🙂  It turned out that he had been planning to take me where I needed to go before he left the airport to go home.  The relief that flooded my soul was indescribable.  The entire 2 weeks of this trip I thought I would have to do this alone.  My mindset was: I’m a grown woman. I should be able to handle this. Obviously that line of thought was not working too well. Thank God that there was already a plan in place designed to ensure my safety and get me where I needed to be without any effort on my part.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I have an ever present Someone who is constantly with me.  Emmanuel.  God with us.  Always.  He will never leave me alone, and He does so much more than simply give me instructions about where to go.  He doesn’t just point the way.  He doesn’t even speak directions like a disembodied voice with a little map screen.  He is personal, close by, caring. He walks with me.  He is constant and unchanging in a world of constant change.  He simply is.  I am called to recognize, acknowledge, and glorify Him.  Even in those times when I can’t see where I am whether by my bad choice or as part of His perfect plan, I know I can trust Him.  He will guide me and I will see what and when I need to see. If I do not feel His presence or know His compassionate voice in the stillness, that does not mean He is not with me. That means I wait, knowing He has not left me.  He has never failed me. And He never will.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly, He delights in every detail of their lives.  Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.  Ps 37:23-24 NLT

Best Laid Plans vs. Reality

  • Goal Setter.
  • Preparer.
  • Planner.

Just a few of my strongest inborn character traits.  These traits themselves do have good qualities that can bring about good results.  But I have a tendency to move them up to the top of the list in importance, especially when I sense that my day in day out routine life is being threatened.  Threatened so that it does not fit in my nice cozy box of secure feelings.  I go from feeling secure to feeling desperate in situations that don’t involve major crisis or survival.  In these times, I yearn to cling to my goal setting, planning, and preparation as if they are lifelines. But they are really hindrances to acceptance of new situations.  While new situations can be unwelcome, they can be managed with some flexibility and improvisation and a different perspective.  Sadly when I react like this, I leave God out at least initially, and then usually run to Him when my useless efforts are exhausted.

I have to admit that I am at my best when my ducks are perfectly aligned in a row, spaced equally apart, standing at attention. Okay, I have this perfectionist tendency too in case you did not notice.  🙂

And yes, I am a bit (Okay, more than a bit) of a control freak, even though I know that control is only an illusion and only God truly masters control over anything. I know logically that change is inevitable and change can sometimes be drastic and life altering with no warning. But yet my tendency when confronted with such drastic circumstances is to make every effort to change my plans to neatly correspond with the new situation and scramble to get my scattered and disheveled ducks back in a row, spaced evenly, standing at attention again.

Like the subtitle of this blog says, I am a work in progress. I move forward a bit, then back, kind of like a dance of sorts. I’m so glad that Jesus is patient and He loves me.  He picks me up every time I stumble, which is often. I’m a horrible dancer.

Sometimes my tendency to try to be in control is so blatantly desperate and obvious that when I look back on it I literally cringe.

Following is a true story that is one such time that I went way too far trying to force normalcy when God wanted me to trust His plan and accept unfamiliar and unusual circumstances and rely on Him.

There was this nice, normal day almost seven years ago.  Or at least it was that way for most of the day.  Then I was blasted with a completely out of  control and unprecedented event, and my reactions to the changing phases of the situation are a good example of me at my worst.  Like my very worst.  It’s times like this when I am so grateful for God’s unconditional love.  And it is times like this that I want to remember purposely to help me recognize when I’m moving in that direction and seek God’s help to stop.

March 5, 2007 – Funny that I remember little details as I am driving home from work on this day.  Listening to a new Norah Jones CD and deciding that I don’t like this new one as well as the others I have.  Thinking about what I would like to eat for dinner, and choosing an exciting tuna sandwich.  My simple, routine, rather dull life was about to change drastically and painfully.

On this day I take my usual route home and stop at a 4 way stop and proceed through the intersection after looking both ways as I always do.  I know this route well and have traveled it for many years as a back way home.  But on this particular day at this specific time, a 16 year old newly licensed driver is rushing back to school to get her cell phone before the school locks its doors. She is in such a hurry that she runs the stop sign and hits my driver’s side door.  I find out later that this scenario is commonly known as being “t-boned”.

I end up in a ditch on the other side of the intersection. My first thought when I see the cracked windshield is that I have been in a wreck. My second realization is that the car is still running. I remember thinking that this might not be safe, so I turn the key and shut it off.  Next, I realize that my glasses are gone. This is a big deal, like Linus without his security blanket. My hand right in front of my face is blurry without them. Not being able to see and know what I am seeing is a scary experience.  And interestingly enough, it parallels the way I feel and how I react when my usual structured life loses structure.

I’m checked on by a few caring people who saw the wreck, and then the ambulance arrives. The EMT can see immediately that my collar bone is broken.  And when I get out of the car on the passenger side and stand, it hurts terribly to put weight on my left leg. I assume I have pulled a muscle or something (Sure, that’s it).  The EMT picks me up and puts me in the ambulance, and then gets a wheelchair for me when we arrive at the hospital.  He wheels me into the ER and lets staff know that I am there and then leaves.

Since I have no glasses, everything is blurry in the ER waiting room.  But I can tell very quickly that it is literally wall to wall people and spilling out into the hallway. There are people of all ages from infant to elderly and a variety of nationalities.  A diverse group in every way imaginable all talking at once.

Now that I am situated and have time to think, the planner in me comes out fighting.   A plan helps keep me focused and working toward a goal. I’m doing something that helps me feel safe and in control even though it’s not real. So with this unexpected interruption, I simply alter my usual evening routine plan with a revised plan. My new plan is really nothing more than a scenario that I create to help me feel secure in a situation where security is as lost as my glasses are.  This wishful thinking scenario goes like this:  I will eventually be seen by someone who will do whatever it is you do for a broken collarbone and get some pain medication or something for the pulled muscle in my leg. Then I’ll call someone to come and take me home. I don’t want to call my dad because I know he is gone for the evening, and he will worry, and I’m fine, and I’ll be home before too long. My revised plan complete with future scenario is in place. Now I take steps to set it in motion.

Step 1: I call a coworker and describe what I call an “adventure” on the way home, and inform her that I may be a little late to work in the morning.

Step 2: I call a dear friend who is also my small group leader and a true prayer warrior and ask her to pray that I will be seen quickly. As crowded as it is, this could easily take hours. I need to get home and get a good night’s sleep for work tomorrow.

Fortunately this dear friend always knows what is really needed, and over my protests insists on coming there to stay with me, and her husband comes too. They are extremely helpful in so many ways and on so many levels. Thank God for friends who know what I need when I don’t even know.

Finally, I am taken back for an x-ray of my collar bone so that it can officially be labeled as broken.  Then later I go back again and this time I am x-rayed from my hip down on my left side.  This second x-ray is when it gets interesting and I begin to realize that maybe I won’t be at work tomorrow. What’s happening to my revised plan and carefully created future scenario? It is being slowly but surely obliterated.  But I’m still clinging to it, not realizing that it is not even there.

To take this second x-ray, I must maneuver from the wheelchair up onto the metal table and lie down. I am in so much pain. Now I realize that it not only hurts to put weight on my leg, it hurts to move it too. The x-ray technician is very compassionate and tells me that he can’t help me since he does not yet know what is wrong and he does not want to injure me further.  He encourages me to take as long as I need to get positioned up on the table. Seems like forever. As soon as the x-ray is over, the technician leaves, and then I see him and someone else over in a corner having this little serious chat…not a good sign.  Then they both come over and tell me that instead of returning me to the wheelchair they are going to put me on a stretcher. I protest that I feel fine in the wheelchair.  I don’t realize what should be obvious. They know something I don’t yet know.

Some time after this second x-ray, a doctor comes by and asks me if anyone has told me what is going on. Ummm…no. So he proceeds to tell me in medical language and the only word I understand is fractures. I ask for the English version and learn that I have fractured my pelvis in 2 places and the next step is a CT scan to make sure there is no internal bleeding.

Finally, now I fully understand that I will not be at work tomorrow, and I may not be home tonight. (Really?). I’m so slow to catch on to what should be an easy concept to grasp now that I have some facts. Especially when I have to accept that now there is no plan at all, and the future scenario I came up with was just a dream to make me feel better. I have no idea how to prepare for this completely uncharted territory.

I finally call my dad and he comes quickly and is understandably concerned. And on top of loving fatherly concern is the fact that Mom went into the arms of Jesus just four months ago. I hate to do this to him.  But there is nothing I can do to help that. This is out of my control, and it was never within my control in the first place.  But I still don’t see it that way.  I truly have no plan.  I have no control.  And I have no idea.

What was supposed to be a slight interruption to my routine turns into a journey very far away from my normal and comfortable life. No routine. No ducks in a row. No ducks at all. No way to prepare.  I have no clue what to prepare for.

I stay in the hospital for one week. The morning after the wreck the doctor comes by and tells me that I will have to be in a wheelchair for six weeks. I am on heavy pain medication and sleep most of the time, so in my waking moments I initially think seeing the doctor was a dream. But he tells me again a day or two later when I am more alert. I actually ask him if I can go to work in a wheelchair and he says yes…probably laughing on the inside.

So here I go again. Looking back on this I can’t believe I still don’t get it.  I have at least average intelligence, but it’s gone, along with the realization that I am utilizing completely useless and unhealthy coping skills to handle this. I’m thinking  (I promise I’m not making this up) that now that I know what is going on, I can take care of this. No problem, I’ll just revise my plan to accept these new circumstances. I know I will be in a wheelchair. Fine. I’ll go to work in a wheelchair. Sure, I can do that. I can set a goal to get better, to do whatever I need to do and work hard to learn how to do life at work in a wheelchair.  Yeah, right. I’m so desperate for a plan that I really think I can be the Superwoman-at-work-in-the-wheelchair-healing-from-injuries. I have no idea how much this would entail. I just feel certain that I can do whatever it is. Uh…Nope.  No way.  And now that I am more alert and as my dad would say “at myself”, do I consider praying about this?  Do I seek God’s guidance?  Do I pour out my heart to Him and tell him I’m scared and I don’t like this and I don’t know what to do?  Nope.  I just keep clinging to this completely ludicrous plan that only lives in my imagination.

My first clue comes in the form of a very nice physical therapist who comes to help me transfer from the bed to the wheelchair. She is very sweet and gracious. But she is about to give me a very loud wake up call. I should have had some idea.  But no, not me.  I’m too busy hanging onto nothing.  My hands are holding nothing.  But I still think I have a plan.  I’m hanging on to lies I believe are true.

That first transition from bed to wheelchair is…torturous pain. Like “You have got to be kidding me!” pain. And my Superwoman plan does not seem quite so super.  But I’m still clinging to it, because I have convinced myself it is what I must do.  I still think I can do it. I’m going to grit my teeth and suffer through the pain and do this. Talk about no sense of reality.  None.  And no realization that I have just shown God again that I’m still not ready to run to Him.  So He continues to patiently wait…with compassion and a knowing smile, but also with sadness in His eyes.  I’m here.  Right here.  Come to me. You are not alone.  I’m here with you.   But I’m not listening.

Because it is obvious I have chosen to hide from reality, I am bombarded with it from all sides.  Reality hits hard.  I learn that reality is I can’t put any weight on my left side at all for six weeks.  That limits me in many ways that I never thought of until presented with this situation.  Reality is that after the one week stay in the hospital I spend two weeks in rehab which includes intense physical and occupational therapy. Reality is that I need help taking a shower, help getting dressed, and have to buzz for a nurse and wait to get help to go to the bathroom.  Reality is that I have to take pain medication regularly. If I miss a dose before a physical therapy session, the therapist can tell immediately and a nurse will suddenly appear with it.  Reality is that physical therapy is grueling, painful, and exhausting, and occupational therapy is necessary to help me be as independent as I can once I get home, but I am still limited and still need some help.  Reality is that after being released from rehab I would spend the next three weeks at home in a wheelchair with my wonderful dad taking care of me due to a long delay in the approval process for home health care.  Reality is that I have no energy reserve and get tired out easily, which further limits my struggle for independence.

Reality is that my plans and my creative scenarios and all my efforts are seriously flawed and worthless. Because God has a completely different plan for me during this time.  And sad to say, I don’t seek Him until I’m at the end of my rope hanging by my fingernails.

Why did I wait so long to do what I should have done immediately?  Because I put me first…actually, I put me only.  I tried to handle it myself.  How did that work for me?  It didn’t.  Instead, it worked against me.  It made a painful time full of hassles and discomfort that much worse.

The hardest part of remembering all of this is that there are so many people out there who deal with situations that are critical, life threatening, truly desperate.  Situations where survival is not a given.  When feeling pain is a good sign because feeling pain means being alive.  I struggled so much with a little rough spot and temporary pain.  It was really nothing at all.

I wanted to keep going with my routine.  God wanted me to have a new routine, orchestrated by Him, for a while.  Time to rest  Time for my bones to mend and my body to rejuvenate.  Time to reflect.  Time to evaluate.  Time to allow my dad to shift into his very familiar caregiver position that he missed so much after Mom died.  Time to spend with God, time to grow in His grace and love.

This is an example of how NOT to handle an unanticipated interruption.  I once read somewhere about how Jesus handled interruptions.  He did not see them as unwelcome or negative.  He saw them as ministry opportunities.

What if I had reacted to my wreck as a ministry opportunity instead of going way out of control trying so hard to gain control when there was no control?  I could have touched lives.  I could have planted seeds of hope.  I could have ministered to others who need to see what it looks like when God is allowed to be in control of everything, including difficulties. I could have shared His light and His love, along with my faith that all will work out for His glory.

Matt 5:14-15  “You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”

The Angel of Rest

Come walk with me…Let’s take a journey back in time.

I am young – in so many ways. I’ve been 26 years old for 2 whole months. And I am a brand new mom as of 8:20pm last night. I am blessed to have had a quick shower early this morning. I am blessed to have a HUGE family, and my husband and I have many friends. It is Saturday, and family and friends are so happy to come and share moments of boundless joy.

They come and greet me and hug me and I smile and nod and agree that he is beautiful and I know that I have a wonderful gift from God.

All. Day. Long.

Some time in the evening I am alone. I decide to take a walk down the hall. As I pass by the nurse’s station, there is an angel there behind the counter. She calls me over. She looks to be somewhere in her 60’s and she chooses to share with me her great wisdom and tender care. She informs me that she has watched visitors come in and go out of my room all day. I smile and say yes I have had many visitors. Then she tells me, very kindly, that I could have asked the nurses to keep visitors out for a time so that I could get some rest. I am aghast!! I can’t do that!! She smiles knowingly and says: “Yes you can. You are exhausted!” I cringe because I am so readable, and I meet her eyes with my tired ones and acknowledge the truth.

So with great compassion, she points down the hall where there is an upgraded room that is empty and has, of all things, a Jacuzzi tub. She instructs me firmly, but lovingly, to go get a change of clothes and then go there and take a long hot bath and turn the jets on.

Like an obedient child I follow her instructions. I step into the tub, I sink down into the blissfully warm swirling water. The water flows, and my tears flow. Tears of exhaustion. Tears of gratitude for this angel who could see what was happening and did something to force me to rest and be good to myself. Someone who was attentive enough to know I had a need that I had not realized or given any thought to because I could not offend anyone.

There was no sleep the night before. Difficult to sleep with pain after childbirth and nurses checking and rechecking…and…fear. I am afraid of this new role and being responsible for another human being. I am alone in my fear because no one can know. That would make me a horrible person and I am a mom now so if I am horrible that means I am a horrible mom too. Remember, I am young, in so many ways.

Throughout my pregnancy I had other moms tell me that once the baby was born this mysterious maternal instinct would magically be triggered and I would inexplicably know. Everything about my new role would be clear and understandable and doable. All would be well.

If you know me, you will smile at this because it exemplifies how my mind works. I read every book I could get my hands on looking for that procedural formula to follow to be the best mom ever. To my complete surprise, there is no such thing as a formula. It does not exist. There is no way to prepare ahead of time for this!! I know that now, but in my young, naïve, and analytical mind, it was so logical that it must be there somewhere. I searched for it diligently.

So here I am, the day after giving birth. I’ve been a mom now for almost a whole entire day. Ummmm…nothing. No magic, no revelation, no confident knowledge of what to do or how to do it. I don’t even know how to hold him or feed him or change a diaper. The next day when he comes to my room for the first time, nurses have to show me. I’m completely clueless. And I am afraid. What if I don’t do this right? After all, I am supposed to do everything right, especially something as important as this!! What if I inadvertently hurt him or harm him in some way?

No sleep, fearful thoughts, and the all day stream of visitors = overwhelming exhaustion. In this gently ordered time of rest, in the relaxing warmth and the massaging jets of water, I fully relax for the first time all day. I let go of the mask and the pretense and the constant striving to behave as expected. I finally let it all go, and my entirely new world becomes a little brighter and a little warmer, more welcoming and less overwhelming.

All because someone who had no obligation cared enough to get involved and see to it that I got something I desperately needed. She gave me a great gift. She gave me time to be who I was right then: a terrified new mom who needed to just be alone and allow the stress to be released in a way that was safe and freeing and oh so comfortable. She paid attention and knew that I must be tired, and that knowledge was confirmed when she saw my heart in my eyes. She responded with a way to give me a soothing balm of comfort.

I never knew her name, but I will never forget her. I hope to see her in my eternal home in Heaven because I would love to give her a warm hug and thank her.

Thank you is so inadequate…but thank you, whoever and wherever you are, for going above and beyond the job description to simply show that you cared by fulfilling a need I did not even know I had. Your act of kindness made such an impact that I still remember every detail years later. Thank you for being my ministering angel that day.

This post is dedicated with love to all the nurses who see what they do as not just a job, but a calling, and they truly care for others when they need it the most.

Fulfilling the dream not dreamed of

Grateful. In Awe. Amazed. Appreciative. Loved.
Repeat. Over, and over, and over. Indefinitely.

And that does not begin to scratch the surface of all the emotions I continue to process.

I actually went to Israel.  Wow.  Add “incredulous” to that list of emotions. 🙂  This was not something I dreamed of, or even ever thought of.  But God did.

Those of you who know me know that it is absolutely a miracle that I went on this trip. And I do not say that lightly; I mean it. This was entirely divinely orchestrated with no small amount of patience and love.  A symphony of details all working together resulted in the most unlikely person ever receiving a great blessing.  A great blessing marked with my name.

If you had told me a year ago that I would travel across the world to Israel, and not only that, stay away from home for 10 days, spend those 10 days as part of a group of 25 people (and of those 25 people only really know 3), eat different food, travel on an airplane for over 12 hours to and from…

If you had told me that my name and Israel would ever be in the same sentence as an event in my life, I would have adamantly told you that you were either taking a break from reality, or you were crazy. No way. Not my thing. Too far out of my tiny comfort zone to even begin to consider.

But fortunately, my God had other ideas and He was not limited by me.  He did not need to consider my total lack of traveling experience, my concerns and fears, or my obsession with the illusion of control… because He is, well, God. He is not limited, at all.  Thank God.

The Ultimate Persistence  This trip was mentioned the first time about a year ago while travelling home from a road trip with a few church small group friends. I looked at the dates and related them to my work schedule, and I thought: “Nope, won’t work.  Gee, that’s a nice idea, but I can’t do it.”  I thought that was that.  Not hardly. Soon, it came up again as a formal invitation to our small group, and I’m still thinking: “Wow.  That’s great.  I hope some people can go.”  Then, I was asked personally, and I relayed how my work schedule made it impossible. But even after that, the subject, and the invite, surfaced again, and again.  By this time, God was bringing it to mind.  I found myself thinking about it a lot without meaning to.  Finally, I got it. I listened, and I heard Him.

Here is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I am God, and I am giving this opportunity to you.  It is a gift.  Don’t refuse it.  Don’t let work, or fear, or lack of experience, or anything at all, allow this opportunity to pass by.  There is a reason that this keeps coming up.  This is from Me.  This is what you are supposed to do.  Do it!!

Thank God for a wonderful friend who would not let it go until I could not let it go (Thanks Donna).  And I am continually grateful for a God who knows that I do not take hints and I don’t get subtlety. A God who patiently kept tenderly nudging, and OK, sometimes not quite so tenderly pushing, until I allowed myself to follow His guidance.

So I took the plunge and decided to go.  As it got closer, I had many panicked instances of “What am I doing???”  I learned as time went on that I simply needed to trust the miracle that was unfolding in my life, and know that what I was doing was part of God’s plan.

Several have asked me how this trip lined up with my expectations. What makes this even more wonderful is the fact that I had no specific expectations.  All I had was a general idea of how I would like for this to be a life changing experience. I had no frame of reference for any of it. I had no specific desires or needs that I hoped would be met. I had never been on a trip even remotely this far away. I had never been away from home for 10 whole days in my entire life. I had never experienced anything that even began to prepare me for this.

Off and on throughout this God ordained journey, I was astonished by overwhelming emotions.  I am not by nature emotional.  The sights, the sounds,  the sensations, the atmosphere.  I found myself interrupting the trivial mindset, being astounded with the phenomenal reality, and stepping back to focus on this great gift.  To realize:

Intimacy with my Savior.

The reoccurring thought that I was, somehow, inexplicably present in a surreal reality to see first hand all that He wanted to show me.

His sweet words to my heart: “See? This is why I dragged you here kicking and screaming.” 🙂

The love I felt from Him and for Him.

The beauty surrounding me, both physical and spiritual.

The rich history that brought to life the fact that everything in the Bible is there for a reason: God’s reason, God’s purpose.

The realization that here in the very young United States, we don’t know what “old” means.

The glorious melding together of a group of 25 people, in conditions and circumstances that show that it was God who brought us together for this time, this place, this journey.

I felt so honored and privileged to be where Jesus was, to see where He did miracles and ministry and teaching, to see where He lived out His life, to see where He agonized, and suffered, and died… for me. To see areas where God worked wonders and used great leaders to establish His plan in history forever. To see remains of what was, so many years ago, and be able to visualize it as it was then. To gain a clearer understanding of the culture and the customs and the daily life of God’s chosen people then, and now.

This trip was incredible, awesome, amazing, captivating.  For so many reasons, on so many levels.

I received a wonderful gift. My ongoing prayer is that I will never forget.

I want to always remember this time when Jesus chose to allow me to experience Him in ways I never could have imagined.  I want to remember to nourish and nurture our connection, the freely offered relationship I have chosen to participate in.  I want to participate fully, intensely.  I want to yearn for Him, to love Him freely.  I never want to forget all that He allowed me to be a part of, for reasons known only to Him.  I am humbled, and honored, and refreshingly reminded of His great love.

Certain Uncertainty

Always in motion

Struggling to stand

On shifting sands

On ground that moves

I fall

I tumble

I plummet

Into ever rolling, crashing waves

Of change

Of questions unanswered

I fight

I struggle

I yearn

For safe and routine

Sameness

But there is nothing truly constant

There is no certainty

The only certainty

Is uncertainty

Unless…

I reach for the hand

That is unseen

Not flesh

But felt nonetheless

If I choose to allow myself to feel the presence

Of the One Constant

Of the One Never Changing

Of the One Certainty.

To reach for this unseen hand requires trust that it is there

Trust that can never fail to benefit

In countless, unfathomable ways.

We are finite, incredibly small human beings in a world of twists and turns within a maze of incredible complexity called life. There is really only one thing that is truly predictable: Uncertainty. We can all count on being touched by various levels of uncertainty in one way or another.  We are not capable of having definitive answers for everything that we face. I know this, but I don’t act as though I do. This reality is very hard to swallow for such a detail obsessed, analytical, deep thinker. My actions indicate that if I just seek desperately enough, I can find all the answers…but of course that is impossible.

Come with me as I take this further.  Let’s take the ever-present uncertainty and add another familiar element:  Trust.  I read a quote not too long ago from Joyce Meyer:  “Trust requires unanswered questions.”  I am absolutely sure that wherever she was when she said or wrote this, she was thinking of me.  🙂 Unanswered questions…that is the essence of uncertainty.

Joyce’s short sentence is so true when you think about it – in any relationship.  But this idea of acknowledging the existence of uncertainty, or unanswered questions, is even more applicable on a spiritual level.  God is real.  Jesus is real.  The Holy Spirit is real.  But this reality is on a level that we are never meant to completely understand.  Knowing that we will never completely “get it”, at least in this life, can be incredibly hard to deal with if we (and I mean me) yearn to grasp hold of every detail of the why and how and when and where.  Certain uncertainty.  A certainty of unanswered questions.

From previous posts, you know that my natural tendency is to question everything.  And “everything” is not an exaggeration at all.  And not only that…  I don’t just question, I drill.  As in intense questioning.  Like someone who is arrested and placed n a holding cell to be questioned by authorities…many, many questions, and then the same questions asked over and over, and the same questions asked in different ways…all with the goal of getting the answers that are correct.  Or hopefully correct.  Or for me, getting that nagging uncertainty to a more manageable level…getting the answers that calm and make me comfortable again.  Or sort of comfortable.  That’s a whole other subject…

So get inside my head for a bit.  I’m so glad that God does not get tired of my questions.  For you see, I don’t ask why the chicken crossed the road.  Even in a case like this where I already know that answer, I need to understand!

I ask…

Did he run, walk, or jog? How wide was the road?  Was this a dangerous crossing with traffic?  What time of day was it?      What was the weather like that day?  Why did he want to get to the other side?  What frame of mind was he in when he chose to do this?  Was he satisfied when he achieved his goal?  Did he cross the road again afterwards to go back where he came from…or did he stay in this new place and find a new  home?  Was he alone or did he have a family to bring with him or abandon?

And I could go on indefinitely…but fortunately for you, my wonderful readers, I will stop.  🙂

Obviously, I have a really tough time just accepting anything.  But as Christians, that is what we are to do.  We are to simply accept and enjoy what we have been freely given, and we are to live to honor that gift and to show others just how much it means to us.

In the throes of absolute uncertainty, we can have…Certainty.  Certainty that will greatly enhance every aspect of our lives.  We have a source of joy, of hope, of strength, of peace,  of love…that is as infinite as our infinite God.  I have felt His presence at times in such a tangible way that can’t be explained but is no less real for lack of explanation.  I must admit that those times are hard to remember when I don’t experience that affirmation.  Yet I am called to live out what it means to trust God.  I am called to show what it looks like to have certainty in a world of uncertainty.

I have learned that to trust is a choice.  I can choose to trust someone I love, or I can choose not to.  I can choose to trust God, or not.  Either choice has plenty of ideas as to why it is or is not the right choice.  But I must choose.  And not only must I choose, I must continually choose.

Choosing to trust God, choosing the ultimate Certainty, is always the right choice.  I am definitely a work in progress, but my ultimate goal is to show by my actions that I truly believe that.  I want my life to exemplify that truth.

Everything

So I have had this writing I am about to share with you for some time, and I have been directed by God to share this with you.  I am a bit slow…OK, a lot slow, in the obedience department, especially when it involves something I am really uncomfortable with.  Which is…most things.

So a little background first. Understand that I wrote this in one of those desperate, rare moments when I allowed my many defenses to take a break and I realized just how much I try to control all that makes up this life that God has allowed me to have. I realized how what I do in my humanness is so useless, yet I cling to it like it is the best thing ever. I realized how sad that is. I realized how totally broken I am. I wrote to God about these realizations, and we discussed it in my writing. So this is a dialogue with a holy, mighty, powerful, huge God, who in spite of all that, loves me…and sees my fear and my distress and my longing to let go. Understand that this is intensely personal, but I share it in hopes that others who can identify with where this comes from will know that they are not alone, that God is a loving and compassionate God, and that He completely understands and cares and He wants to take this from us. But we must let it go as He will not take it by force. Understand that this is raw desperation…this is my heart on paper…at 3:30am one morning a couple of months ago.

So…(deep breath) here it is.

EVERYTHING
STOP.
Stop worrying.
Stop thinking. Stop wondering. Stop analyzing. Stop imagining.
Running running running
So very tired
Longing. Yearning. Thirsting.
Desperate. Despairing. Ashamed.
But running still.
From what?
From everything
What’s everything?
Everything that might happen!
Gotta prepare for it!
I must stay ahead of it!
Its closing in!
Can’t you see it? It’s right there!
What’s closing in?
Everything!
Again, What’s everything?
Really? How can You not know that?
Everything is…
All that is out there
In the unknown, the uncharted
The empty, never filled
Empty is bad!
Why?
Because I can’t see it!
Why do you have to see it?
I’m afraid, alright?
Alright. It’s OK.
OK. So You see that
I must fill the emptiness.
I must change empty to filled.
I fill it
With multiple scenarios of what could become reality
You know, just in case…
You get that, right?
All my hard work
All my exhausting preparation
Now I can see what might happen
So then the fear will go away.
It’s very logical…in a really sick way.
But what I see
Is only darkness and dread and cold terror
Evil lives there in that welcome environment
And calls my name and tells me
Whew. You made it. You avoided disaster again.
I’m victorious…
A victor who has no celebration, no rest, no time.
Only fear…right around the next corner.

I know. Really. I know all of this. I understand it all, and I care.
I have walked right beside you all the way.
I am here. Right here.
Please, let me take this.
I got this.
My precious, created child.
I love you. I love you.
Look up…my hands are here waiting
To lift up your head
So that you lift up your eyes
And see truth, not lies.
You are so afraid of
Everything.
What is everything?
I AM.

Mom…Dancing through life and loving Jesus

We were vastly different in personality, she and I.

I am introverted, studious, serious-minded, and a deep thinker. I struggle to be comfortable in what would be considered by many to be “normal” day-to-day life situations. I move slowly and methodically, taking in every detail. No grace here – more like slowly plodding through life.

In contrast, she did not just live life. She did not plod along daily. She fully experienced everything life offered her, and she did it with gusto.  She danced.  She danced through her life.

She had a tremendous people loving quality about her. She was at her highest level of enjoyment when surrounded by our large family or a group of her friends. She was completely at ease in settings that were a mixture of people she knew and people she would get to know. She had no misgivings or hesitation about smiling and introducing herself to strangers and striking up a conversation. All of this was completely natural for her. She was just herself, and she loved every minute of it.

She also loved having fun. Laughter sprinkled with silliness was a great pleasure. Laughter is an important part of living a quality life. She got that. I see that now.

Most importantly, she truly loved Jesus. She lived it – all the time. I was so blessed to have parents who taught me about Jesus with words, but more importantly, by example. The evidence of her commitment to serve Him included ministry to the sick, the shut ins, and the newcomers to the church. She and a friend went “visiting” every week for many years. She prepared and taught Bible study at church every Sunday. She honored God with her ministry, and I know that she made a significant impact on many lives.

She also was a woman of prayer, daily, continually. She prayed earnestly, and she was quick to let others know that she was praying, and what she was praying, for them.

My greatest regret after her leaving this earth to the arms of Jesus six years ago was that I never chose to uncover who she really was other than my wonderful Mom. I did not celebrate or fully appreciate the person she was until she was no longer living here. Of course I loved her, but because we were so different it was not always easy for us to relate to each other as adults. I never made the effort to get past that.

Fortunately because I have no doubt where she is, I can rest in the assurance God has given me that she is enjoying my progress to more closely resemble who He wants me to be, what He wants me to do, and how He wants me to live. I can learn, and I can grow, and she will know. She knows that I truly love her, not only as Mom, but as all she was in her individuality. She knows that I understand what she meant to so many people.

I look forward to seeing her when I arrive in Heaven. She will be the first person I see, there at the entrance. Because we will all have jobs in Heaven, and because she loves people so much, her job title is Greeter. She takes a newcomer by the hand and gives the grand tour, pointing out this and that, and making introductions along the way…and the grand tour culminates with the unfathomable face to face meeting with Jesus Himself. What a wonderful job for her…a job that fits her perfectly. After I give her the biggest hug ever, she will be my tour guide. What a glorious time we will have!!

She left behind a legacy that lives on in me. Even though we were so different in personality, I do carry a part of her identity. I want that to shine for God, and for her. I believe that is part of who I am becoming through what only can be described as God’s hard work in my life of late. I have a long way to go…and I thank God that He is very patient.

Proverbs 31:28-31
“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”

Just Be…

The title for this post is just two simple words.  But the reality of what they mean in my life is not simple at all.

Just be…  Don’t think, don’t analyze, don’t compensate, don’t rationalize…just rest in the reality of Jesus Christ.  He is here.  Always, no matter what.   Just be.  Just relax and enjoy His presence.  Just listen for His loving guidance.

I know that I know that I know…   Years ago, I heard this phrase applied to believing in Jesus Christ.  It’s a nice, catchy phrase that conveys a deep truth.   Lately I have been exploring it, digging deeper.  Do I really have the total assurance indicated by these words?  If I am completely honest and transparent, I must admit that there are times when “I know that I know that I know” changes into “I should know that I should know that I should know.”  Ouch.  So then I asked myself…Why is that?  What causes my assurance to waver?  It’s definitely not anything that Jesus does or does not do.  It’s not His presence lacking strength or permanence.  It has nothing to do with Jesus at all.  He is the same…always.  Magnificent and Holy, yet, at the same time, loving me so much that He desires an intimate relationship with me.  He is.  Period. It does not matter whether I am in a state of complete concurrence or not.

I have discovered that if I can truly “just be”, everything suddenly shifts and I am flooded with knowledge that Jesus is real, He loves me, and He wants His best for me.  In those moments I can feel His presence so strongly that I wonder how I could ever be anything less than absolutely certain.  A new realization is that what keeps me from that steadfast knowledge of Jesus is my incredibly strong desire to run my life on my own.  How’s that working for me?  Ummm…it’s not.  I also recognize that my personal tendency is to overthink…a lot.  A whole lot.  I find myself constantly striving for an answer for every single nuance of my life’s journey.  I want to understand everything, all the time!   It is exhausting!!  But the opposite extreme, to just be, is a very difficult concept for my to grasp.  Unfortunately, I tend to treat it as a last resort instead of my first choice.

A while back I did some study on one of my favorite Bible verses:

Psalm 46:10.   “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (ESV) 

I looked at this verse in several different translations, and found my new favorite translation of this verse from the Amplified Bible:  “Let be and be still and know (recognize and understand) that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!”

“Let be”…that shouted at me…that brought clarity.  Being still in God’s presence requires passivity so that God can take over.  I must “let be” first, and then I can “be still”.  Actively trying to be still is like actively trying to avoid a particular thought.  Trying not to think about something brings your focus to what you are trying to stop focusing on. I hope that makes sense…

In this journey God is leading me on, my goal is to increasingly “let be” by replacing my active pursuit of the illusion of control with stopping, listening, and allowing God to calm my heart and guide me to His plan.  Then I can be still…and when I do that, I can realize the rest of that sentence – I can know, recognize, and understand that He is God, He is Jesus Christ, He is the Holy Spirit.  And He will be exalted in all the world, simply because He exists.