Rest – A Dwelling Place

Micah tuckered out
I was thinking about rest and how it’s the place of my true identity. It’s the place I was created to live in.
When I strive to be something or to prove something, I tend to get my identity from that. That’s not really a conscious thing, but true, nevertheless. If I am constantly condemning myself as not good enough, not there yet or not deserving of the love that God gives me, I will never have peace. Nor will I have true rest.
While I was washing the breakfast dishes the other day, I was thinking about the verse in Hebrews 4:11 about striving to enter into rest. I was thinking that we often miss this, getting caught up in the aspect of “not striving” because it’s a works mentality. Striving to enter into rest is not the same thing as that. Entering into rest is not about approval – works are.
Striving to enter into rest is one of those things that are absolutely worth the fight. If I can keep distractions and other things at bay, the place of rest will allow me to do and accomplish more than I ever could by striving in my own strength.
When in rest, I have peace but I also have a co-laboring partnership with the force of heaven to help me accomplish things. Of course, I don’t even have to accomplish anything if that is my desire.
My identity is that I am who God says I am and what I do or don’t do has no bearing on that. I am already approved by God so I might as well quit all the striving and simply be who I am, resting in the realization that this process is not always easy but is ALWAYS worth it.
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Returning to Your First Love

first love - take the risk

When Paul and I first met, the only thing we wanted to do was spend time together. Of course that wasn’t really possible, but we took every opportunity we could find to make it happen. When we couldn’t, I spent all the time we were apart thinking about him.

It’s amazing how consumed we were with each other – it was our first love. It was a time where everything else slid to the background and we became the forefront of everything we did or thought about.

When I was in the kitchen cooking, Paul joined me so we could still be together. I had an arm chair in the dining area that fit him perfectly. We would talk about our day but mostly we would simply share about our lives – our hopes and dreams, our disappointments, our victories and even our defeats. All the places in our hearts that hadn’t been shared came out into the open and were celebrated with love.

What was happening was, I was cooking and preparing a meal but my attention or my focus was on Paul. Spending time with him and being interested in his day and really, his whole life. The actual act of cooking was simply one of those things I did without all that much thought, and I wasn’t all that great of a cook back then either. That wasn’t the point. The time in the kitchen was about us spending time together while I multi-tasked and cooked meals but, the main thing going on was the soul or emotion connection; relationship.

We fit together like two clasped hands. I adored the ground he walked on. I was his biggest encourager and his was the same for me.

It was the best of times.

These kitchen conversations continued on after we were married. I began to take a huge interest in learning how to cook. I had no idea how people knew what spice or herb went with what. The only way I could figure it out was to try it. So I started growing and studying herbs. I began devouring cookbooks and trying every recipe that intrigued me.

But that was many years ago.

These days when I’m baking, I’m often somewhere else in my mind. I am physically there in my kitchen but my thoughts are miles away thinking about friends and conversations we’ve had or often, I am thinking about the person who will receive what I am currently baking.

Occasionally, I even have conversations with people who aren’t even in the room. More often than not if no one is physically in the room with me, I’m having conversations with God. We talk about many things. Sometimes it’s me praying and other times it’s not. When I interact with God like this, I am at complete rest; there is no anxiety or worry, I multi-task with ease. With my physical hands I am baking something but in my heart and mind or in my imagination, I am having a conversation with someone I can’t see with  my natural eyes – yet my conversation and communication is as if I can.

When I am in this place, I am at rest. I am comfortable knowing that what is transpiring is real and affects my relationship with God. It is just as real as when Paul is in the kitchen conversing with me – I’m enjoying first love with God.

While in this place of rest, everything that tries to remind me how bad some circumstance is or how dire a problem seems – falls to the wayside. I am in a bubble of protection and love. I am instead consumed with the One who has all of my attention and I believe it all comes down to this:

When Pau and I first loved, there was so much rest when we were together, even though in reality it was one of the toughest times of our lives. When we were together we were strengthened so that when we needed to be strong we would be because there was a history or testimony of a love that could not be shaken. There was a safe place to dwell in the midst of storms.

How do you find rest? You return to your first love, of course. That is where the testimony lies. My first love with Paul is like my walk with Jesus – even more so because in Him I find rest. They are both my safe place.

When I’m going about my day to day endeavors and find myself getting frustrated because the car stalled or the recipe isn’t working out like I thought it would and yet those muffins have to get in the mail, I have to stop for a moment and breathe. I have to listen to my heart reminding me that it will work out – I need to return to my first love and let my focus be there, not on what isn’t going right.

When I was thinking about these things the other day, I realized this was a key I needed to engage more often. I’ve heard the phrase, “Return to your first love” many times but mostly swept it aside as one of those “spiritual” things that I didn’t understand. I would shrug it off and move on because I couldn’t figure out what it meant in context of my life or even in the context of things I was going through at a particular time.

“Return to your first love” I know it’s talking about that time when all of my focus was on Him and this new amazing love we shared; those giddy days of adoration and almost being oblivious to anything else – at least for me. But that was all I knew.

What I didn’t realize until just a few weeks ago was that “first love” was also the seat of my resting place. It’s a safe place to come and let worries and stress fall away. It’s the place where I can labor and not grow weary. It’s the place where I can walk out my calling and not fear the judgments of man. It’s also my lampstand and it’s my great reward.

”He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ (Rev. 2:7)

When I find myself in situations that aren’t in my control, read most of the time, I need to remember that I have the key to rest and the key to peace. I simply have to enter in and have a seat.

Picture credit: https://unsplash.com/@roy23

Seated in Heavenly Places

 

stone throne

I’ve been thinking about the verse in Ephesians 2:6 lately, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus“; so I went and read it again…

When I’ve read this scripture in the past, I always difficulty seeing myself seated in heaven; it always felt like a cold harsh place of judgment, a place to be avoided at all cost. Sometimes, if I tried really hard I could see myself seated there. I would be sitting on a dark limestone throne that was so cold I could feel it seeping into my bones. The room itself was really dark and bare. So dim in fact that most of the room was undistinguishable. There was no comfort or peace there, only a sense that I didn’t belong and if I got caught there, I would be punished.

This cold harsh heaven became a place to avoid. And because of that, I never imagined sitting up in heaven, which in turn made it difficult to get a heavenly perspective on my life.

Perspective is what changes when you get further away from something and generally is what’s meant by the phrase ‘get above it’, that and an understanding of our authority and power in Jesus. If I didn’t have a perspective change, there would be no sense of authority, power or particular wisdom to effect change in my life. All I basically had was head knowledge, of this scripture, knowing where I’m seated and declaring it all the time. What I lacked was a true vision or sense of what it afforded me, what it really meant.

This time, after I finished reading that verse again, I began to see an image from my childhood.

The image was one of freedom and joy, where a little girl was free to run and run and run, and dream big dreams until the sun went down and she had to go home. You see, as a child I practically lived outside. I climbed trees, made trails in the woods, built forts, picked flowers and played baseball whenever we could get enough people together. One of my favorite things to do was daydream. Boy could I get lost! I would often be found lying on my back under a tree staring up into the clouds and getting lost in my imagination. I wasn’t always seeing anything with my natural eyes. My “sight” was elsewhere. I daydreamed of my future family and what I would be doing with my life someday. Sometimes I was off on great adventures where I had the starring role and was greatly celebrated for my bravery and wisdom. It makes me smile just thinking back to some of those carefree times.

The image brought a smile to my face but at the same time it kind of made me sad. It seemed so different than where or how I was currently living.  Some days, where I lived was more like the sun had gone down and the adventures had stopped.  Wow! Why was that? I wasn’t using my imagination to see things differently. I wasn’t dreaming up answers to questions in my life. I was too close to everything. I needed a new perspective!

 

wallup.net

The other day, as I was reading a post on Facebook, I saw something new; I saw this scripture in an entirely new light. Instead of sitting on a cold hard throne, I saw myself sitting atop a grassy knoll. Sitting beside me was my best friend. We were looking down toward the valley without a care in the world. Then we lay down on our backs and started looking at the clouds. They were big fluffy cumulus clouds, sailing high above our warm sunny place. I began to describe what I saw in the shapes of the clouds; a castle, a horse, a dog and yes, even a pirate ship!

Wherever I looked, I saw a new perspective; I saw things in a new light and I wasn’t feeling powerless to effect change any longer. The difference, I think was in the rest I was experiencing; I was at ease and was able to let my imagination run free. I was that little girl again!

You see, we were created to freely imagine things, be creative like our Father and to actually create the solutions to the situations going on around us in our lives, and the lives of others. We have the answer, if we will have eyes to see and ears to hear a new perspective that is available to us all.

Nothing had actually changed in my physical life when I was sitting on that hill. All the previous “issues” of life were still down in that valley but being at rest gave me new eyes to see. Patterns began to emerge that I had never seen before, and really isn’t that a great reason to live next to Jesus in the heavenly realms? I learned some things the other day. Here are a few of them:

While sitting in heavenly places (Eph 2:6) I discovered:

New perspectives – leave the mouse in the box vision behind and begin to soar like an eagle.

Things that are far away look smaller – stop glorifying how big the issues of life are and begin to see the true size they really are. For instance: if you hold a piece of paper the size of a credit card up close, all you see is the paper. Once you place that piece of paper further away, you begin to see all kinds of things around it and even beyond it. That’s because if we only focus on that one ‘problem’ thing, that is all we see. It becomes too big to see anything else.

The heavenly realm is a place of peace – When you allow yourself to be seated in heaven, peace will infiltrate your entire being. Those things that cause worry and distress fall to the wayside, thus allowing you to see from a new perspective, which brings me to the next thing I learned.

The heavenly realm is a place of rest – When I’m at rest, worry ceases to exist. I’m free to not only see solutions to issues in my life; I’m free to create them! I was made to create, just like my Father.

When I’m at rest, much is accomplished – Rest is not a taskmaster. No, rest is the fuel that empowers me to accomplish all the things I need to do within a given day. It empowers me to be at peace and walk in joy, even while doing mundane things. This rest comes from above.

When I’m at rest, time ceases to exist – I don’t know the physics about it but I do know this: When I’m at rest, I leave the constraints that time has on me and I can do things that would otherwise be impossible. Yes, there are still 24 hours in a day here on earth…….but who said I had to be constrained to one realm??

This is a place where my imagination and creativity can soar because God raised me up with Jesus and seated me with him in the heavenly realms!

Turn the page…

sleepy kitty

I’ve been on a bit of a journey of late. Albeit an unwelcome one, I did glean a few things from it. And that’s the point of a journey when it’s all said and done, right – to capture some elusive thing that wouldn’t have otherwise been discovered – at least maybe?

So here’s what happened:

On Thursday, as many of you know, I came down with a stomach virus and had to leave work early. I won’t go into all the gory details of driving home in rush hour traffic while throwing up. No, I won’t.  Once I got home, Paul sent out some prayer request on Facebook and as the faithful people you are, you responded in turn. Thank you, for those prayers.

By Friday morning I wasn’t much better which of course may have something to do with the fact I was up all night – maybe. My lack of energy and basically feeling sore all over forced me to be in bed all day, but I did sleep a lot.

When I got up on Saturday morning better – so much so, I thought I could go into work and at least stay for a good part of my shift. I was wrong – back to bed I went, after driving all the way there and back again.

By now, it’s Saturday mid-day, I’m in bed and going bonkers! I don’t feel bad enough to stay in bed but every time I get up I feel out of breath and woozy. My computer, which is a desktop, is in the other room and my phone just isn’t a great substitute for a keyboard for me. I just need something to do!

I went into the living room where we had moved the TV and tried my hand at flipping channels, but that didn’t even work. I somehow got confused about which auxiliary I was using or what channel I needed to be on or something. Either way, I couldn’t get it figured out and only ended up more frustrated; so I went back to bed and took another nap.

When I woke up, I discovered that I’m starving! That’s a sign of getting better, right? Food wasn’t making me nauseous anymore so naturally, Paul and I decided to go out and get some food for an early mother’s day dinner. We had a great time, I was feeling a lot better and of course the company was the best. The food on the other hand was a stupid (for me) mistake – I ordered pizza. Yes, see what I mean?

By the time I got back home I was already feeling very sore in my stomach and had indigestion to boot. Needless to say, I was up all night again. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid. (Not me, but my choices!)

And then it was Sunday, Mother’s Day…and where am I? You guessed it; I’m in bed having a great big pity party because I can’t do anything except stay in bed. I can’t even have coffee…again!

Did I mention somewhere the fact that I never get sick? It’s true, I almost never get sick and maybe that’s why this was such a difficult time. Or, I don’t know, maybe a tough strain of virus!?

But, to explain, this post isn’t to depress you. No, it’s to tell you what I learned from all this. (Smile)

  1. I hate being sick!
  2. I’m a terrible patient!
  3. I don’t do well without food! (It makes me hangry!)
  4. I’m grumpy
  5. No coffee??? I can’t even…
  6. I develop ADD when I have to stay in bed. (Aka, I am so restless!)
  7. I am more stubborn than I knew. (Okay, some people already know this)

But what I did learn was that I really can rest. It’s a work, for sure and maybe that’s what is meant by, “Strive to enter into His rest”, but I did manage to do it. I also learned that listening to Wisdom and not being impatient early in the game is much better than realizing it later and paying dire consequences. (At least in this case)

During those times of restlessness I was whining to God and having a big ole pity party. (I can’t even begin to call it prayer because it wasn’t.) I felt so left out of everything; all alone. I even began to entertain lies about not doing enough, not writing enough, not whatever enough! I was getting really sad and depressed for a while there! Yes, of course I realized those were lies I was listening to but sometimes, I find myself there in the midst of them anyway.

Eventually, God interrupted those voices and I plainly heard Him say, “You don’t need to do anything; you are enough exactly as you are. You are loved right now, right where you are; even in bed being sick. I love you.”

The lies left immediately. I let out a big sigh and had a few tears. He is so good. He was with me the entire time and when I quit listening to lies, I heard him and felt Him near. He didn’t need me to do anything or be anything. He simply wanted me to rest and feel how loved I am. And really, is there a better gift than that?

One more thing I need to mention. I also learned that even in the midst of suffering, I am a very blessed woman.  I was in a warm/cool home of my own, not out on the street. I had many loving friends and family members praying for me. I had a sweet wonderful husband who was always available for any need I had and I even had a sweet kitty by my side the whole time demonstrating what peace and rest was all about. (First world blessings, I say)

I am alive and doing fine, thank you very much. Turn the page…

 

Picture found here: http://www.petpictures.xyz

Take Time for JOY

Be sure to take time for joy today. You know, those little moments that make you smile in the midst of mundane things. Seek joy out; it’s the cherry on top of your day.

I came into my office to check my email and yes, my Facebook notifications when suddenly Micah jumped up on my desk to join me. He was fairly damp from being outside in the rain so I began to give him a little rub down to get some of the excess moisture off his coat. He immediately began to purr and my heart melted. I scooped him up in my arms like a little baby, which is one of his favorite things, and he began to purr even louder. Within less than a minute, he was sound asleep. Seeing this, I felt joy rising up in me. My computer could wait!

Micah joy

The picture of this little baby kitty trusting me so much that he could completely abandon himself in rest, without a care in the world is a big deal.  It speaks of his relationship with me and how our experiences together have taught him that he can trust me to keep him safe. It’s also taught him that he’s loved unconditionally.

Even as much as this picture illustrates how he sees and responds to me, I think it also speaks of my relationship towards him. He knows I will stop what I’m doing to give him attention, even if it’s to let him take a little nap in my arms. When he comes to me, with all the trust of a child, it melts my heart and always brings a smile to my face and joy rises up. It’s a great feeling. I know that he trusts me and not only that, he expects me to stop what I’m doing and turn my attention to him and his needs. I always know what he wants and do my best to give it to him. The saying in our house is this: It’s not spoiling unless you keep it up! We love to spoil each other and even our pets. Spoiling as is commonly known is not considered a good thing. I happen to disagree; spoiling is about loving extravagantly and loving often. Micah is spoiled and of course I will keep spoiling him because it’s one of my favorite things to do.

My little 5 minute respite with Micah earlier brought me a great measure of joy and knowing that there is more to come, makes this day one of great expectation; the possibilities are huge!

I believe this is a picture of our relationship with God. He loves to stop what He’s doing and scoop us up in his arms and let us rest there, for as long as we are willing to stay. He wants our trust in Him to be complete.

So once again I would admonish you to take time for joy today. When we allow Joy to come, rest arrives too. Our eyes look to the beauty all around us and the cares of the day fall away; even for a moment!

Be in Joy!

Time keeps on slipping, into the future (Steve Miller)

Time slipps on by

In all the busyness of life, I sometimes feel like I’ve missed out on things or should have been a part of some things but there didn’t seem to be enough time. I have no desire to live in regret but I do have desire to connect with people and to be able to have time to accomplish all the things I set out to do. So I don’t live in regret but I sometimes do live in puzzlement over the aspect of time occasionally. I mean, we’re all given the same 24 hours each day right? So why does it sometimes it feels like I have fewer hours than that? If you were to look at my ‘to do’ list and what actually got done, this would seem to be the case. I know, I know; I need to prioritize my time better. And some days, I do.

But then there are the times when all these thoughts melt away. They melt away when I turn my focus from regret of things that haven’t gotten done and turn it to my Father instead, He will tell my soul that all is well. There’s a peace that comes while with Him and with it is assurance that there is time, more than enough time. And, I haven’t really missed anything at all.

All the while I’m interacting with God; time loses meaning. It no longer has a pull on me.  So I often I wonder where does all the time go, I mean really, where is it?!  When I’m out and about doing life it seems like there is a huge hole in my bucket and time slips away, almost without me noticing it. Time was a thing created for us here on earth and when I blink, it’s gone or so it feels. Where does it end up? Is there a black hole in the spirit realm just teaming with all the lost time? Maybe it’s looping back around into eternity to be spent then.

Another occasion this ‘slippage ’ of time seems to happen is when I have an event scheduled weeks or months out; sometime out in the future where I can’t really grab a hold of it.  I plan and get organized for the event (as much as I know how to prepare), but it seems that there is only so much I can do since it’s so far away.  What the event is doesn’t really matter. It could be that someone ordered dozens of pies for a wedding or simply friends coming to visit.

Suddenly this event that was way off in the distance is here, it’s right now. So, how does this happen? Where did all the time in between go? What happened to that period of time where I could anticipate the arrival, get more things done in advance? Where’s the middle time? Why didn’t I see time departing and the event approaching? So many mysteries; or are they just silly questions?

I guess I need to investigate this loss of middle time, it’s just a mystery to me how this can happen. I love suddenlies but not so much in this context. What this feels like is one minute I had all the time I needed to get ready and prepare but suddenly everything needs to be done, TODAY, right now! It’s here! The day that was so distant has arrived.

Am I the only one this happens to? Is it just me that gets so caught up in the day to day living and life stuff that I can’t even see the train coming at me? Yes, that was a little melodramatic, I know but even though the suddenly of the event being here is great and brings with it much expectation, it often feels like I have been blindsided by it. How could this have happened to me again?

So what I’m left with is running around finding the ducks I left lying about, here and there and spend all the remaining time left trying to get them all in a row!

Epilogue

My times are in his hands and if I don’t sweat the small stuff all will be well. And you know what? It always turns out well.  So, where ever that middle time went, I suppose I will never know. But one thing I do know is that most of the time when I’m blindsided by the arrival of an ‘event’, I’m the only one who knows it. So I hear ringing in my head: Let it go, let it go, let it go……..enjoy the day; it is sufficient for my needs.

It is well. Yes indeed