We scrambled to pack up the condo and load the car for the 16-hour trip home. Snow arriving later in the day (and causing unsafe driving for our rear-wheel drive vehicle) was chasing us from our winter getaway in the Virginia mountains a full day ahead of schedule. In about an hour, we had gathered our belongings… as well as the fragments of hopes we had carried into that week. Weather had detoured many of them. After a final sweep to make sure we hadn’t left anything behind in our hurried packing, I stood in the doorway of the now dark and empty condo that had been our warm and cozy home for a few days. Those few days had gone by too quickly. I fought a lump in my throat.
We were leaving one of my favorite places on earth – and I wasn’t ready.
Disappointments aside, we were thankful for the warning of snowy weather and for the chance to make our way home safely ahead of the storm. After a two-day trek south, we pulled in the driveway of the only house on our street still decorated for Christmas. It seemed the rest of the world had already tucked their festive touches away and taken a fresh bold step into a new year.
One of my favorite times of the year was over – and I wasn’t ready.
A fresh new year was starting and I was still scrambling to make sense of the one that was past – I just wasn’t ready.
The truth is, most of this school year has caught me off guard. Event dates and due dates and lunch dates that were “weeks away” have suddenly been “tomorrow!!?!” I have spent months feeling unprepared, disconnected… and as they say, “a day late and a dollar short.” Life is whizzing right on by me and most days I feel like I’m just not ready.
My whole being aches for some sort of pause button. To be able to just breathe. Long and slow.
Thankfully, our first day at home was a Saturday. Thank the Lord there was no where I needed to be, nothing immediately pressing. The lump in my throat was still there and I fought tears brimming for no apparent reason. This is what overwhelmed can look like in my world. My sweet daughter is usually the one to take one look at me in that state and tell me, “Mom, go take a nap!”
The house was still quiet and everyone else was still sleeping off our two days of travel. Not me. I was staring at the ceiling, still trying to make sense of swirling thoughts and emotions. So I tip-toed my way to the kitchen to pour a bowl of cereal. Right then it hit me. More than food for my stomach, I needed food for my soul. The craziness of this year had slowly tugged me away from my favorite time of the day… quiet early mornings at the table by the window, watching the sun come up with an open Bible and a notebook. Yes, that was exactly where I needed to start!
How sweet it is – always – to linger in God’s Word, to be reminded of Who He is and the precious, precious truths and promises He holds out to me!
These few passages touched my heart:
Jeremiah 29:10-11 ~ “I will visit you and perform My good word toward you. For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of PEACE and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Joshua 1:5 ~ “I will not leave you or forsake you.”
Psalm 4:4-8 ~ “Stand in awe, sin not, ponder in your own heart upon your bed and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifice of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord… Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. You have put gladness in my heart. I will lie down and sleep in PEACE for You alone cause me to dwell in safety.”
Proverbs 2:3-5 ~ “if you cry after knowledge and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hid treasure, then will you understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
John 1:16 ~ “for from HIS fullness we receive GRACE that replaces grace already given”
Oh, yes, His GRACE… always grace. That word captured my attention and seemed to offer the pause button I longed for. My Savior was coming to my rescue, offering me His grace to extend, even to myself. Grace that never expires, never runs out, is always replaced again and again with more of His pure, perfect grace.
Grace releases the hold on all the things that didn’t happen, would’ve, could’ve, even should’ve… but didn’t. Grace also releases the paralyzing hold of what’s still coming and the urge to figure it all out and fit it all in. There is no need. His grace is sufficient and His plans for each day are flawless.
And so, I took a deep breath of fresh realization that in and of myself I will never be “ready” for any given day, month or year. But when it all presses in, I am warmly welcomed to collapse into the arms of Grace and let the Lord show me which step to take next! Even in my world of never having enough time, the one investment worth making is open-ended time to get lost in the wonder of HIM.
What I don’t understand, He will show me. What I need, He will supply. What I mourn the loss of, He will redeem. When I am sad, His very Presence will offer me gladness. Wrestling with my own plans (or those that didn’t unfold) will only lead to stress. Embracing His plans, even when I can’t see them, will always lead to rest!
It is now February. Evergreens, berries, red bows & lights have been replaced by delicate doily hearts on petal pink strings that now dance above our doorways and soften the hard edges of our cabinets and stainless refrigerator doors. Being an all-time lover of hearts and flowers and all things purple, this is one of my favorite months of the year. And I’m still not really ready for it to be 2017! But one thing I will always be ready for more of – hungry for – like a tall glass of water to my weary, thirsty soul – is more Grace!
Lord Jesus, Savior, always tender and all sufficient Rescuer of my soul, show me how to make more space for GRACE … time in my day to linger in Your Word, let Your truth wash over me in refreshing streams, and fill me with grace to extend to myself and everyone around me – an overflow that brings PEACE. Amen.