still tucked away

A few people asked me recently if I have a “word for the year?”  Other years I have been drawn to a specific word that seemed to capture the journey of that new year.  One year it was “freedom” (from real or perceived pressures or expectations that were not from God).  One year it was “courage” (to break out of my comfort zone and trust the Lord with new steps of bold faith).  And for the past few years, it has been a phrase, “only as He directs” (which I have not always lived out exactly, but has been a great plum line for me!).

This year, I have been coming up empty.

Then just the other day, a close friend and prayer buddy said to me, “For a few weeks now, I’ve watched you across our leaders’ circle (for Bible study) and noticed a change I can’t quite put a finger on.  You just don’t seem yourself, not as present or engaged as usual, almost numb.  I’ve wanted to reach out for a while and ask if you are OK.”

It could only have been the Holy Spirit that guided my response, because the words coming from my own mouth surprised me, but steadied me at the same time.

I said, “it is OK.  I feel like there is an emptying happening.  Yes, a numbing, a blurring of the world around me – like I am sinking into a bubble under water and the sights and sounds are still visible but muffled in a way that cannot sway me.  I am being tucked away from it all, like a free fall into the Lord’s arms.  I believe the emptying is from Him.  A stage of dying.  Those parts of me that have only been fueled by me – they need to fall away.  My senses need to be dulled to the things that have distracted or discouraged me.  In the emptying, it’s OK if it all looks a bit vacant.  It is confirmation to me that He is winning my heart.  That my heart is reaching a place that is open and ready for Him to reign as Creator again, where He can fill and build as He decides.”

I’ve noticed others taking strides in this new year to step bravely into a new season or role or new direction for a certain calling.  Other writers’ growth and testimonies inspire me to be more intentional about my own writing – to have bolder faith that the Lord who gave me this desire and ability WILL show me how to develop and use it for Him.  But I also sense a real pause from Him.  “Tuck that away for now,” He seems to say to me, “I will show you when and how to retrieve and act on those ideas.  For now, don’t rush past this place of simply being tucked away with Me.”

So, this theme lingers, the one that has been with me since I cracked open the first pages of Unseen by Sara Hagerty over the summer – this idea of treasuring solitary time with the Lord Jesus – tucked awayWhen the world or life in all its complexities presses in unrelentingly, it’s ok to PAUSE.  To really let it all blur for a while.  To hide away in a private space with my Savior, my Creator, my Teacher, and let Him remake me. 

It is amazing to discover that it is not an abandoning “go do your thing and let Me know when you are finished, when you are empty and ready for Me.”  NO.  He never abandons us.  He draws us closer and holds us in the safety of His own presence.

He doesn’t rip the layers off, cruelly, heartlessly.  He gently asks for us to surrender them and waits graciously until we offer them in trust.  In the meantime, He also holds the pure parts of us that He created in the first place, protecting them from any damage in the demolition.

He heals.  He loves.  He reveals Himself.

It is tender.  It is raw.  It is precious.

And so, I am happy to be TUCKED AWAY this year… still!

Your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  Colossians 3:3

Come away by yourself to a secluded place.  Mark 6:31

I will bring her into a desert place and speak tenderly to her there.  Hosea 2:14

hidden with Christ

“IN THE SECRET of HIS PRESENCE”

oldie but goodie hymn by Ellen L. Gorch (1853)

In the secret of His Presence how my soul delights to hide!

Oh, how precious are the lessons which I learn at Jesus’ side!

Earthly cares can never vex me, neither trials lay me low;

For when Satan comes to tempt me, to the secret place I go.

When my soul is faint and thirsty, ‘neath the shadow of His wing,

There is cool and pleasant shelter, and a fresh and crystal spring.

And my Savior rests beside me, as we hold communion sweet;

If I tried, I could not utter what He says when we thus meet.

Only this I know: I tell Him all my doubts, my griefs and fears;

Oh, how patiently He listens!  And my drooping soul He cheers.

Do you think He ne’er reproves me?  What a false friend He would be,

If He never, never told me of the sins which He must see.

Would you like to know the sweetness of the secret of the Lord?

Go and hide beneath His shadow: this shall then be your reward:

And whene’er you leave the silence of that happy meeting place,

You must mind and bear the image of the Master in your face.”

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what do I ask of Him?

The sky is just plain grey this morning.  Not the misty, silvery grey that can be soft and beautiful and captivating.  No, this is a flat, dull, low-hung grey.  I glance up from this little kitchen nook table and scan the horizon, but the sky and water outside seem inseparable, just one solid wash of … grey.

We planned this week away at the intersection of a year just ending and a new one just beginning.  We so desperately needed this pause!  We intentionally chose an RCI swap that previous guests described as “a step back in time, dated, but clean, a beautiful natural setting, quiet and relaxing.”

We anticipated days of walking, biking, maybe canoeing, and simply enjoying a slower pace in this picturesque spot across the street from Port Charlotte Harbor.  What we didn’t anticipate was a serious dip in temperatures and these grey, low-hung skies… for days!  Although it is fun to layer up in cozy clothes and sip hot coffee and cocoa without sweating, we are struggling to plan active days outside – and the puzzles and games we brought from home are getting old.

So, on this grey morning, with the rest of our crew still snoozing, I find myself wrestling in prayer.  We only have a few days left to be tucked away from real life.  What was I hoping for this week?  What were my prayers as we looked forward to this pause?  Why, just a few days into this new year, do I feel like the sky outside… just grey, flat, dull?

My mind drifts to I Kings 3.  Just this morning, the words of the Lord to young Solomon in a dream grabbed my attention, “Ask for whatever you want Me to give to you…”  The thought was echoed again in Daily Light, this time from Luke 18 when the Lord Jesus asked a blind beggar, “What do you want Me to do for you?

Also from Daily Light this morning, “for this is God, our God, forever and ever.”  (Psalm 48:14)  This is our God.  He meets individual people right where they are.  He makes Himself real and tangible to them in ways He knows they can perceive.  And He asks them, “what do you need?  what do you long for?  I am the One who can give it to you.”

This is our God.  Forever.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He is my God.  Maybe He knows that the grey drizzle of this morning will grab my attention more than a stunning sunrise or a gorgeous day that draws us outside into busy and active fun.  Maybe He simply longs for me to turn to Him with my dull, flat heart, so He can ask me, “what do you want Me to do for you?”

What do I ask of Him?  What should I ask of Him?

For Solomon, newly crowned king of the nation of Israel, his wish list could have been understandably long and deep.  For the blind man, only one over-riding need rose from his heart.  But in the end, both men asked the Lord for the same thing.

They asked for sight. 

They wanted to see.  One man needed physical sight, the other longed for the ability to see and understand, to have a wise and discerning heart to lead God’s people.

As a wife and mother with several other hats to wear from time to time, my own wish list could be understandably long and deep.  In my most desperate moments, there might be a single cry of my heart.  But as I step forward into this new year, it seems right and appropriate to echo the prayer of these two men.  I want to see.

For the days that lie ahead, the only vision I want is His. 

I pray for the Lord to give me His eyes.

To see each day as He has planned it.

To see His hand moving and working in those days – to join Him in His work as He shows me how.

To see what He sees in the faces I encounter every day – the random ones in passing or the ones in my own home.

To see the treasures in His Word and His will – and to be blinded to anything that would distract me or dilute the purity of His truth.

I also want to trust the Lord for what I can’t see.

When I don’t see it, don’t feel it, don’t understand it, may I trust that He will show me any next step when I need it.  May I be intentional about filling my mind and heart with His Words of truth and wisdom to meet any nagging questions or anxious concerns.  May I remember to take those concerns and needs to the only One who can meet them.

May I trust that He will faithfully meet me right where I am and say to me, “what do you ask of Me?”

I don’t know what the last few days in Port Charlotte will look like for me and my family.  But I am thankful that He knows.  Thankful that He has moments planned that will draw our eyes and hearts to Him.  And maybe, just maybe, there will still be a few sunny days of family fun before we step back into the demands of “real life.”

For today, I find myself increasingly grateful for a grey, rainy day to really pause.  To read, ponder and pray.  To feel my heart warmed and strengthened by our God who comes close to meet our needs.

And my God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  ~  Philippians 4:19  

 May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory… give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.  ~  Ephesians 1:17-19  

open my eyes

“Open my eyes that I may see

Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;

Place in my hands the wonderful key

That shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for Thee,

Ready my God, Thy will to see,

Open my eyes, illumine me,

Spirit Divine!”

– Clara Scott, pub.1895 –