be still

It was the same beach.  The same cove. The same rocks and ocean and sky.  But somehow it all looked different than it had one year before.  In the 12 months since I walked the same path, that coastline weathered everything from gentle rains, to dry, sunny days, to raging hurricane winds and pounding waves.

On that particular day, the sand was littered with seaweed from a recent storm.  The debris was dark, messy, tangled, smelly even.

But it didn’t take long for my attention to be drawn away.  Captivated by the sun sparkling like a sea of diamonds on the water, and wooed by the lapping cadence of gentle waves, I lifted my eyes from the rubble to the horizon.

It was the first day of school and this walk on the beach has become my favorite tradition.  Taking a necessary pause before busy days and weeks take over.  An intentional deep breath to bathe this new year in prayer, to ask for the Lord’s special and unique favor over each of our kids and their teachers – and ourselves as their parents!

Just a few hours before, it was brutal to answer the call of our 5 AM alarms, to coax sleepy bodies out of their beds and see them off to the bus.  But a mixture of anxiousness and excitement propelled all of us forward, curious to step into a new year, bursting with fresh possibilities!

As I sat with the kids at the breakfast table, my gaze fell on the open One Year Bible and Daily Light texts in front of me.  It was so encouraging to share these words with them:

The LORD says, I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you. ~ Good planning and hard work lead to success.  ~  The LORD’s plans stand firm forever.  His intentions can never be shaken.  ~ This work has been done with the help of our God. 

– Psalm 32:8, Proverbs 21:5, Psalm 33:11, Nehemiah 6:16 –

That last verse really touched me since our last name means, “with the help of God.”  COLAIUTA is an Americanized version of an Italian name “con l’auito di Dio.”  I was so thankful to be reminded that I was sending my kids off in the very best hands … HIS!

I have vivid memories of this same walk a year ago.  Long stretches of it were in silence, whispering quiet gratefulness for a beautiful day, a quiet beach, and time to think and pray.  As I asked the Lord for His hand upon the year ahead, I sensed an answer settling across my heart.  It was not audible, but it was clear and it was real.  I distinctly remember receiving it with seriousness, but not any fear.

There will be mountains to climb this year … … … … but I will be with you every step of the way.

Wow.  What could He mean, I wondered!?  And just as quickly as the question formed in my mind, His Spirit seemed to calm my heart and remind me that I didn’t need to know the details.  I could simply trust Him.  For He would be with me (us) and that was all I needed to know.

As I reflected on the year that has passed since that day, I could only give PRAISE to the One who has been faithful to those words.  He prepared my heart so that when struggles came, I could find my rock-solid place in His promises and look to Him for help.  We have faced a variety of challenges in the past year.  Some of those situations still feel like mountains!  I have thought a few times, “mountains are beautiful from a distance, or from the top, but rarely do we see the full picture in the middle of the climb.”  We can be so easily overcome by what’s dark, messy, tangled.

As I walked along that same beach and had the chance to look back over 12 months, I could see more clearly how He had walked us through each day, each trial – and how He had graciously granted times of JOY in the midst of those struggles!  I felt a surge of new confidence that any days ahead would be the same!

As I continued to walk, offering thanksgiving for the Lord’s faithfulness over the past year, and His promises given that very morning with which to step bravely into the new one, I wondered if He had anything new to reveal to my heart?

God’s Word encourages us to boldly ASK Him what we do not know.  And so I walked, and prayed, and asked Him what banner He might want me to stretch over this new season.  These are the thoughts that came…

Slow down.

Be still.

Treasure what is right in front of you without rushing past.

Your kids are growing older, both in high school now.  Your time with them is fleeting.  It’s ok to let go more than ever before and leave space for Me to work in their hearts.

Trust Me with the trials, some of which are still ongoing from last year, some will be new challenges ahead.

Embrace where I have placed you.

In love and faithfulness, simply seek My face and love and serve your family.

Since January, I have felt His “word” for me this year is “tucked away.”  He has been drawing my heart to more and more time alone with Him, to simply get lost in Who He is and trust that whatever emerges from that place is good and right.  So it was not surprising that the final thought that drifted across my heart was this:

It may already be August, but your “tucked away” year has only just begun.  Don’t be in a hurry to leave this season.  Be still and treasure (and guard!) this time.

My mind drifted back to our verses at the breakfast table and a sacrifice of PRAISE spilled freely from my heart:

You are the One who watches over us.

You are the One who lifts our heads, who draws our eyes from the dark, messy, tangled debris of any recent storm to the horizon and to HOPE rising, fresh each day with the sun – and it is dazzling!

You are the One who guides us, who blesses good planning and hard work with success.

Your plans are never shaken.

Your help is what sees us to any finish line.

We can only offer PRAISE and THANKSGIVING from deeply grateful hearts!

be still 1

The LORD is my strength and shield

I trust in Him with all my heart

He helps me and my heart is filled with JOY

I burst out in songs of thanksgiving

The LORD gives His people strength

He is a safe fortress for His anointed

The LORD blesses His people with PEACE

– Psalm 28:7-8, 29:11 –

 

 

 

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someday you will see

“You don’t know what I am doing right now, but one day you will.”

In many challenging times over many years, I have “stumbled” across this verse just when I needed reminding that Almighty God sees and knows a much bigger picture than I will ever understand!

It is a picture He has designed.  He knows each nuance intimately.  Every orchestrated movement is precise and perfectly timed.  His revealing of each new layer of His plan to my heart is perfectly planned as well.  And I’ll just be honest here… it is often a much longer wait than I, in my naivety, would prefer!

I find myself right back there… again.

I am waiting.  I am praying.  I have longings.  My heart is heavy with burdens for loved ones I see struggling – sometimes severely.

My mind races ahead and I think I am so clever to come up with some really wonderful solutions.  But He says, “be still.”

We have deep soul wrestling, my Lord and I.  He is so gracious to receive my rants, my tears, my questions, my premature excitement about the latest, greatest plan I have dreamt up.  And He faithfully asks me again and again, “are you willing to just trust Me?”

And so, in this place of grappling which are nudges from Him and which are impatient, flesh-fueled impulses to fix and resolve – and in a season of great uncertainty and mounting questions with few answers – I opened my First 5 app* (from Proverbs 31 Ministries) to read the passage and comments for the day – from John 13.

It is a well-known passage where the Lord Jesus stoops to wash His disciples’ feet.

Tucked away in an upper room together, Jesus’ closest followers are enjoying final hours with Him before He will fulfill the Father’s plan of redemption and ultimately leave them to return to the Father’s side as their risen, glorified Lord.

Jesus spends a lot of their time together teaching them as much as He can – as much as He knows they are able to receive from Him.  But in the tender moments recorded in John 13, He pauses those spoken lessons simply to serve them, to teach them how to care for one another as He cares for each of them.

They call Him Master and Teacher, yet He girds Himself with a towel and stoops to wash their feet.  One by one, He takes their feet in His hands and washes away the dirt and debris from the dusty roads, enabling them to experience His personal care and feel His touch, to meet His gaze and exchange thoughts without words – thoughts meant intimately for each of them, directly from His heart.  They have worked hard by His side, ministering to others, watching His steps and following close behind.  Now He stoops to renew and refresh them, individually and personally.

The Lord Jesus comes to Peter and he can barely contain himself.  “NO, Lord!  Why are You doing this?!”  It seems as if Peter has his own grand ideas and is outraged that the One he knows to be the true Messiah should take on such a task.  I wonder if he even feels honorable in refusing to let this scene continue.  In his own judgment of the situation, he misses the beauty of these intimate encounters.

And right there in the middle of this passage, where I had completely forgotten it originated, were those exact same words I have pondered so often, “You don’t know what I am doing now, but one day you will.”  Yes, much as I have always thought, the Lord Jesus was thinking and acting upon a much bigger picture than Peter could realize.  But finding those words in the middle of this scene shifted my perspective!

A new train of thought began to roll across my heart…

Those heavy burdens, those severe struggles, those painful moments, those swirling questions…  Those are the times when I am tempted to think the Lord is off somewhere else, busy attending to the plan I can’t see just yet, and asking for me to trust Him with the right time to circle back to me and fill me in.

“You don’t know what I am doing right now, but one day you will.”

But seeing these words in the setting of John 13, I hear His gentle voice to my heart, flipping the script.  Could the Holy Spirit be tuning my heart to see that it is in those times that the Lord Jesus is actually stooping closer than ever – to tenderly and intimately care for me?  For my loved ones?  That He is removing the dirt and debris of the journey?  That He is renewing and refreshing and preparing me for what lies ahead?

When the days and weeks seem long and hard, do I tuck further away with Him to let Him touch me, cleanse me, teach me… and ask me again to simply trust Him?

Do I trust the work He is doing in the hearts of my loved ones in their own struggles?  Am I willing to understand that what He is accomplishing through their own wrestling is truly precious and tender and intimate between each of them and the Savior?  A tremendous gift from Him that I would never want them to miss?

Do I believe that He is big enough, strong enough and tender enough to walk me and those around me through any and every circumstance, joyous or painful?  Am I willing to rest – really rest in the knowing that His Father’s plan is my Father’s plan too – and it is exactly purposeful and right on time – but that He never asks me to do the waiting alone?  Do I look for the ways that He stoops to serve me and care for me… especially when I couldn’t possibly understand what He is doing?

There may be many steps along the way that don’t make sense to me, that are difficult, confusing, painful, grueling even.  But it is all part of the journey that draws me ever closer to the Savior, in step with Him as He fulfills the Father’s plans.  At any cost, He trusted the Father.  He obeyed.  He rejoiced to see the plan completed.

And so will we.

One day… it will all make sense.  One day the current struggles will be past.  One day the tears will flow as we see with clearer vision exactly what He has been working on all along.  One day we will know with certainty the ways He has been tenderly caring for us in the midst of the trial.  One day we will see the love with which He has been drawing our hearts to know and trust Him more.  One day we will acknowledge the grace with which He has welcomed us to have a part in fulfilling the Father’s plan – right along side of Him!

One day we will say with full assurance – as for God, His way is perfect!

There are many things we do not understand now.

But one day we will.

And in the space between – the place of not-knowing – this is where He comes closest, to personally care for us!  He will hold us, and carry us, until it all makes sense…. and beyond.

This is our Savior – He “encircles us, instructs us, keeps us as the apple of His eye… as an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, so the Lord alone leads us.”  Deuteronomy 32:10-12

And so for now, I thank Him that He is faithful to stoop, to love, to care, and to teach.  Right now, while the answers may still be a long way off and some days, life is just hard, I will ask Him for eyes and a heart to see the ways He is ministering to me and my loved ones and adore Him in return.

For now, I will continue to say with Job, “yet will I trust Him!”

I may not know what He is doing right now – but someday I will see!

Read more here:   John 13:1-17 – Psalm 18:30 – Job 13:15

you will know alternate

* The First 5 app from Proverbs 31 Ministries is FREE!  (intended to ground the first 5 minutes of your day in scriptural truth!)  Download it to enjoy a daily Bible study complete with scripture readings, devotional comments, and application questions to ponder.  Through the app, you can also join in dialogue with other readers… and hear news about other resources and events available through Proverbs 31 Ministries.