Monday, September 19, 2011

Be Still

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

I need to give you a tiny bit of back-story on how this verse and how the picture to your right changed my roll with me on this...

When I was 19 years old, I truly began investing in my relationship with the One who had invested everything in me.
I craved time with Him, to know Him more and to understand His desires for me. 
During that time I began to pray for the Lord to give me a life verse- a verse that I could stand on throughout my life, and hold to that specific treasure that He had given me to remind me that, with Him, my account is never depleted or overdrawn. :)
Shortly after, the Lord gave me Psalm 46:10.
 I am sure that you may have heard it or heard it referenced, or maybe at least the "Be still..." part.
Over the years it has been such water to my Spirit, such refreshing to my soul. From time to time, I'll revisit it the verse to study and find out what God wants to show me fresh and new.

One day, several years ago, as I did this, I decided to look up the verse in different translations of the Bible in order to study and gain fuller understanding.
As I did, read the New American Standard Bible version.
I have to be honest, at first reading, I had a major, "Huh?" moment:

"Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
(Psalm 46:10 NASB)

 "Cease striving..." ???
My perfectionist, people pleaser, affirmation seeker conversation with the Lord went something like this...

"Cease striving? What Lord? You mean, you want me to stop trying? You want me to stop doing, stop seeking ways to be better for you, stop trying to do great things for you? But I thought that was what you wanted for me: To be the best I could be?!?  If I "cease striving" then I will stop growing....right?"

See, the problem was, I was looking at the word "striving" the wrong way. 
In our culture, and more importantly in my follow the rules, all or nothing, give it all you got mind,  it's more commonly synonymous with "aspiring" or carries the connotation of  "goal-setting".

But when I looked up "striving" in the dictionary, this is what I found:
To struggle vigorously, as in opposition or resistance 
To exert oneself vigorously; to try hard
To make strenuous efforts toward any goal
To contend in opposition, battle or any conflict; compete

What I saw as solid and steady effort from myself, God saw as pointless struggle and strain, that ultimately only brought one result: frustration.

Because it was MY strength, MY efforts, MY ideas, MY goals, MY, MY, MY!

Immediately the Lord gave me a vision of this verse: A Chinese finger trap.
You know...that thing that you put one finger in each side and when you pull to get your fingers out, they are stuck.(see picture at top)
Although its just your fingers, there is something about it that brings about panic...and make your fingers feel claustrophobic(if that's possible!).
Once your fingers are in, and you keep pulling and struggling against the trap, the fact are not going to get out.
You are stuck.
And no matter how hard you try and try and pull and pull, panic sets in as you realize, you cannot get out.

How do you overcome this little trap of a toy?

You stop...Relax...."cease striving"... And then, slowly pull out one finger, then the other.
The result? Freedom.

The Lord used the vision of this little toy to reveal to me a core truth of this verse I had been missing:
All too often, I get too consumed with struggling to put forth the best that I can give when the best thing for me to do is REST in the perfection that He is!

The Lord is saying "Yes, I want YOU to stop trying, YOU to stop struggling, YOU to stop putting forth strenuous effort, YOU to stop contending...and let ME do the work IN YOU and THROUGH YOU!"

Cease striving.

It's how you go from good things to GOD things.
It's how you go from your best to HIS best. 
HIS strength, HIS effort, HIS ideas, HIS goals...

Cease striving.

Whatever you are going through, in the hands of the Almighty God...the God that is exalted above all the is merely a little wicker toy of a trap over which He has already secured the victory! 

I am still learning to live this truth day in and day out, but when I allow it to permeate my spirit, it transforms my attitude, my choices, my outlook, my emotions...even my health.

The effort I need to make is simply this:
Be His.

"God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!"
(Exodus 14:14 MSG)

Share His Truth...Tweet or post this today:
Don't b consumed w/ struggling 2 b YOUR best...REST in the perfection that HE is! #psalm4610 #forHisglory

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11 Remembering What I Felt...

I usually don't remember a lot about how I felt on any particular day.
Maybe what I experienced, but rarely the specifics of what I felt.

But then, something happens that sears a feeling into your core, into your mind, into your memory....and thats what happened on September 11, 2001.

I have always remembered what happened that day, what I was doing...but I don't aways let or allow myself remember what I go to that tender place in my memories.

This year, as I was doing a unit study about the events of that day in our Homeschool, I thought about getting out my journal from that time to see if it might help convey my heart during that time to my children.
I had never re-read what I wrote.
But when I did, it brought back not just memories, but deep seated feelings that had flooded over me that September 10 years ago, as a 24 year old wife, mother of 2 (at the time), seeking my place and way in the world and His Kingdom...

What follows is that journal entry from Friday, September 14, first after the attacks:

"I have so much sadness inside of me...I just don't know how to let it out.
I feel at times as though I could cry for days, other times I just want to scream, others times I could do it all at once.
Our nation has been attacked...but more than that, our spirits have taken a blow.
I keep taking deep breaths to try to get it all out, and it just can't reach deep enough.
This is affecting me in a way I just cannot explain.
And I know that it has only just begun!
God show me, reveal to me what it is that You want me to know, what it is You want me to do!
How do You want me to change?
How do You what me to react?
Right now I am scared.
I am sad.
I am mad.
I am overwhelmed.
I am so many things that I can't put into words.
But I feel them.
I definitely feel them.
I am drawn to the stories and the pictures. I can't pull myself away.
I sing constantly in my mind. I feel like it's the only way to push through...I feel like I can get it out that way.
The words that flow from my mouth comfort my heart and my mind.
Thank you Lord for song, for words that can be lifted to You in praise, in longing, in thanksgiving.
You restore me through the gift you've bestowed on me.
How precious, how priceless.
Your love is so great!
I know Your arms are all around me.
You call me to Your lap to sit for a while and I settle in the comfort of Your never-ending, ever reaching, constant and healing love.
Thank you Jesus for holding me for more than just a little while.
Thank you for understanding that it feels so hard to smile.
The emptiness that seems to grow is something that only you can touch...with You only will it fade.
I praise You Lord for Your comfort.
Thank You for healing and caring about my fears.
Jesus, please help me to hold You through them, to know that You are greater and stronger than anything I could ever encounter.
God, please show me- clearly and surely- what You want FROM me, what You want FOR me!
Speak to me loudly and clearly, Jesus!
I want to know You more!
Use me Jesus!

So on this tenth anniversary, I will remember.
I will remember what happened that day...what I felt that day...what others may have felt and experienced...
I will remember what the Lord planted in my spirit that day and I will nurture it further so that the life and fruit He desired to see in me as a result of it all will be it will bring Him it will make Him obvious!

I flipped back a page and saw the last pre-9/11 journal entry:

"Be open! Sometimes God doesn't change your circumstances; He changes you!!"

Choose to remember how you felt that crisp blue-skied day of Septmeber 11, 2001... and let it fuel your passion to press into the Lord and go forward with a battle cry to further His Kingdom in the face of whatever may be on your horizon!
And I will never take for granted the opportunity to do so.

Yes, I will remember.

 Spread His Word, Tweet/Post this:
#IWillRemember #IWillMakeGodObvious #911