Busy Being Not Busy

For the first time in my life that I can recall, I am finding myself in an odd position.  I have absolutely no idea what comes next on my journey, nor any plans for how to get to what I feel should be the next phase of my life.

I am a recovering busy-aholic.

For most of my adult life I have found my worth and my identity in all the activities I took part in.  This is in all the aspects of my life – personal, professional and spiritual.  Any changes in any of these areas, regardless of how small they were, caused major upsets in my world.

This way of perceiving myself and the world around me and qualifying myself by constantly doing was exhausting. It also didn’t ever leave me feeling very satisfied with myself or my circumstances or my life in general.

At the end of the day I still just wanted more.  More time, more financial means, more friendships.  Just more of all of the good things in life I guess.  Determined to achieve more and be more so that I could have more rewards from both the world of men and from God.

The funny thing about this perspective is that I tried so hard to take care of everything and everyone around me that I forgot to take care of me or my personal relationship with God!   No wonder I couldn’t find any peace, joy, or satisfaction.

Fortunately, in spite of myself, by the grace of God, I was able to realize just how dysfunctional my sense of self-worth was.  My worth can’t be found among earthly people or pursuits or even within myself.

 My worth comes from Yahweh — God who is always with me.

Having been taught this lesson by our very patient God where does that leave me?

I am now in a holding pattern.   I do not know what is coming next for me or where my next calling lies.  For the first time ever I have no idea what comes next.  There are no plans for how to get to the next place.  I am just being still and trying to be content in my Sabbath rest:

So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter Gods’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his.  Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs. – Hebrews 4:9-11 (NRSV)

Rest – sounds so easy!  However, it has been a struggle for me.  For someone so used to being busy, stepping back from committees and other commitments without having new ones lined up has been incredibly hard. Still this is what the Father has for me at this time in my life.  Stepping back, letting go of settling for just good, while waiting to see what God has in store for me.  Taking time to just be and breathe.

As I have laid aside my studies, readings, and writing to just take time to rest my mind and commune with the Maker of my soul there have been little voices attempting to break my peace and joy.  Even on sabbatical rest the Enemy’s little darts still try to zing me.

Thoughts flood my mind of things I SHOULD be doing as I sit relaxing on the back deck watching the birds in the yard.   Thoughts of how lazy I am because I am not touching the pile of books that are on my end table patiently waiting to be read.  Thoughts of being a failure as a writer because I can’t seem to find inspiration for blog posts at the moment.

I have discovered that being not busy is EXACTLY what I am supposed to be doing right now.  If I were not being obedient in this then there would be no attacks, but the enemy has been working over time to wreck my peace.  It has been a constant temptation for me to jump into something, anything, just to make myself busy.

And it is during these times of temptation that I feel stressed and frantic.  When I tell those voices in my head to quiet down and allow me to rest, my peace returns.  I chose to ask God in humility and obedience to help me find the strength to continue to be resting in him rather than finding busyness that distracts me from him.

And little by little, small tasks are being sent my way again.  He is now leading me to continue to rest, but to also spend this time learning in preparation of things to come.  There are books that are now being read and studied, blog posts that are starting to come together one piece at a time, and opportunities to spread my wings and step out of my comfort zone to try preaching the Sunday morning message again in the near future.

Beyond these small things, He still hasn’t revealed what comes next on the journey for me.  I am content to learn the small lessons as he teaches them to me.

Sabbath rest is vital to a healthy personal relationship with God.  Make the time to engage in just being in his presence.  Rest in his arms as he prepares you to take up his yoke once more.

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for  am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  – Matthew 11:28-30 (NSRV)

 

 

 

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Getting Comfortable

God is always moving and the Holy Spirit is always moving in us.  As we thrive and become comfortable He begins to start to nudge us here and there to stray out of that comfort zone for His glory.

These past few weeks have been quiet weeks for me.  I have been resting my mind and renewing my soul taking sabbath time with the Father.  Time that is much-needed after the flurry of activity surrounding two major milestones on my journey to answer God’s calling on my life.   Both of these milestones required me to come out of the comfort zone I had built around myself.

The first of these was completing and graduating from year one of the C.S. Lewis Fellows Program.  This year-long intensive program is designed to make disciples who can then go out and disciple others.  In order for this to happen I had to be willing to let go and let God move into all the areas of my life, not just one or two.  His claim is on all of me.

Many times over this past year I have had to go to some very uncomfortable places in my heart and mind as I emptied out the hurts that have built up in my heart over the course of my lifetime.  Digging deep into feelings that I didn’t even know I had in some cases.  This process still isn’t finished, and I am not sure that this ever will completely end, but along the way God has filled in the holes in my heart.   He is strengthening me daily and letting me know that I am enough already as I am.

This process of healing that he has begun in me is necessary in order for me to move forward and be able to fully embrace the call he has for me in this life.

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The second milestone I reached during the month of June I must confess is one that I never thought would be something that would be a part of my calling.  On June 12 for the first time ever I brought the Sunday morning message to the congregation at Midway.

Never in a million years did I see myself in the position of being qualified to give a sermon or that the opportunity would ever even be given to me.  However, our God works in mysterious ways as we all know.  So I guess at the end of the day is there ever anything that is too great for us to do if we are filled with Spirit of God who gives us the guidance and wisdom we need?

Many times I have stood before our congregation, but only ever as a worship leader.  The thought of standing behind the pulpit was a very intimidating one!  I knew right away that God was calling me to share my testimony so that was what I concentrated on as I began to write the message.

Some parts came together easily.  I knew right away that the name of this message had to be “Believing and Belonging”.  The scriptures that would be used came relatively easy as well:  Luke 10:38-42 and John 15:1-8.  The story of Martha and Mary is told in this passage from Luke and is the perfect illustration of the journey I have been on – first as Martha, then as Mary.

However the actual words of the sermon eluded me.  For the better part of a week I tried in vain to find a place to begin.  Thursday night before the given Sunday I sat in front of my computer willing the words to come, but nothing felt right.

Giving up for the night I went to bed with renewed prayers that God would pour the message he wanted me to share into my heart.  As I laid in bed waiting for sleep to come I suddenly knew where the message needed to start!  The next morning I began typing and the words quickly filled up pages.  The message was ready!!

But was I?

On many occasions I have made it clear that I did not feel I would ever be able to fill a pulpit and preach a Sunday message.  The suggestion that perhaps I should preach was one that I regularly rejected feeling that wasn’t a place for me.  Turns out God had other ideas on the matter!

I don’t know what will come next for me, but that Sunday morning God held my hand and steadied my voice and used me to bring a message to his people at Midway.

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I guess we just never know where the road might take us if we are willing to leave our places of comfort!

So perhaps it isn’t that we are ever truly comfortable in our lives, but that we are learning to be comfortable serving him in humility, relying on His strength and wisdom to guide us through all the tasks that he brings our way.  We are learning to be comfortable in him rather than in ourselves.

As I continue to branch out in his calling for me, I will move forward with confidence drawing strength and wisdom from the vine.  Serving where ever and however He may call me.  Abiding in his love bringing glory to his name.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.  He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.   You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.   Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.   I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.   Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.   If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. (John 15:1-8, NRSV) 

*To hear my recorded message, visit the Midway Mennonite Church’s website.  Worship in song followed by the scripture readings begins the recording and the message starts at about 23:30.