Sometimes we need to go through the wild spaces to better appreciate the rest we are called to. I’ve learned more through the trials and the hard spots than those seemingly easy moments in life. And while I suspect I am not alone in that revelation, I find rest is more difficult than being busy. Because it requires trust and faith and knowing that we are known.
But trusting God doesn’t feel as easy as it ought to be. I know that trusting God is the most fortuitous. I understand that faith is a journey my physical eyes can’t always see. I am aware that His promises are unfailing and His presence is the peace that secures my journey. Still, I find myself hesitating to say yes to all He has for me…especially when He calls me to rest, especially when it isn’t in my plan.
But God is a way-maker. He is a straight-path-maker. He is a peace-giver. And because He is exactly who he says He is, we can absolutely trust Him.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6
The past year has been a wandering sort of journey for me. While I knew that God’s presence was close and never far from me, I was covered by a cloud that shielded me. So often I spent time thinking about the Exodus the Israelites took into the wilderness and out. Like their journey I saw the shadow over my own as both His provision of shelter and a detour I followed all on my own. Ultimately, our exodus is meant to lead us to the promise of His rest.
When we wrestle against his mercy, we sometimes miss the grace He gives to make that happen…but we don’t have to.
Because sometimes He takes us on the alternate route and it is altogether a better itinerary than we could plan.
Since I believe every single word of His written Word, I know that for one lost and wandering sheep, He leaves the 99 in search of them. And because I know that He has not once forsaken me nor let me fall out of His grip, I am assured that my yesterday, today and tomorrow are the same in His unchanged Truth.
Perhaps the cloud was His provision of protection.
Perhaps the detour was a way to let me linger a little more in the valley.
Perhaps the journey meant more learning to lean and to trust than to just go blindly into the next thing.
I am still working those answers out… still looking close to His Word and listening intently to His voice for the wisdom to know them.
I know that the traveling was a quiet space in my soul. Not a dark-of-the-night kind of journey, but a waiting-in-the wonder sort of space. A sacred sealing of my soul in the knowing that no matter what, God has got me in a grace grip so full of mercy that it melts my hard heart and breaks the stony crags that keep me tripping over life as it comes.
Because grace is a maintaining sort of mercy.
It is a regulating hope that reaches us in the famines of life which extend beyond our preparation and bleed us empty of our own ability to provide. It is a lesson of faith that expects grace to keep us afloat. It means we look at our upturned hands and know that the only way to fill them is to lift them to the Provider of Life and wait in the dust till He moves.
And sometimes the waiting feels like forever.
But when extended trials meet us on the journey, we need to have grace for ourselves in the recovery. Recovery of any kind takes time. And when God is in the rescue the restoration can be slow.
Because grace is always an extension that applies to God’s timing and not our own.
It is a sowing sort of provision, one that reaps repeated offerings the moment we receive it. Sometimes the recovery requires a resting period. And rather than waiting in the dust, we find we are actually wading in grace.
But He gives more grace. -James 4:6
I didn’t realize that I had come out of the covering of that cloud till the light was shining in my eyes. And the thing is, I was not really sitting and waiting during the wandering, just sort of existing. Quietly, sometimes not so quietly, putting one foot in front of the other. Busy building on busy so that I didn’t have to think, so that I didn’t have to question the why, but just got through the day.
Sometimes we are just surviving in our faith. And maybe that is all we can do at the moment.
It is big faith to keep walking without looking at the circumstances. (2 Corinthians 5:7) But it can be tiring to keep walking without stopping to fill up.
We need to be filled up.
We need to operate from a place of rest in order to serve and to bless and to create and to grow.
Without the stirring of our souls that comes from the resting in the vice-grip of grace, we are like arid deserts without hope. The top-soil of our innermost place scattered and blown about in the winds of adversity without a moist rain of hope to hold us down.
We stop doing the things that fill us when we are being blown about. And somehow I don’t think that is what God means by, ” Be still” from Psalm 46:10. Because the words that follow are, “and know”. When we know that He is God, and we are known by Him, we can trust that He is able to do all those things that He says.
Even the shadows of His light bring us life.
We need to drink in the reality of WHO God is, even when we are in a state of unrest. When we are fighting the rested state that grace provides us, the kindness that waiting and knowing He is God kind of rest we miss the power of being fully reliant upon Him.
As we rest we need the remedy of His presence… maybe even His shadow cloud… to lead us to the light of His love in a time and in a manner that only God can manage and create.
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. – Psalm 62:5
Sometimes when we are wandering we think we are restless for answers when really we are wrestling against the grace He has given us in it. The more we are vulnerable and honest and engaged in our journeys, whether we feel like we are on the right track or taking the scenic route, in Christ our destination is always sure.
And I am constantly learning that at the heart of obedience and blessing and experiencing His goodness, at the root of being able to say yes to God without reserve, and the core of flourishing despite the interruptions of life, is being intimately acquainted with resting In Him at all times.
In our wandering, he provides rest so we can find our way out in Him.
In our busyness, He provides rest so we can find our way through in Him.
In our trials, He provides rest so we can find our way over in Him.
It is no easy task to walk this earth and find peace. Inside of us it would seem something is at odds with the very rhythm of things, and we are forever restless, dissatisfied, frustrated and aching. We are so overcharged with desire that it is hard to come to simple rest.- Ronald Rolheiser
Sometimes our wandering feels like a famine. Like we are being deprived of the essence of what we think we need. But what if this extended famine we feel on our shadowed journeys is really brought to an end by the small graces, the infinitesimal minutiae that break off the bonds a fraction at a time, of healing and recovery so that what was lost will be both rescued and restored completely?
What if time really only matters to God (eternal) and not the world ( temporal)?
It is easy not to see clearly because we are consumed by what we think we may have lost or are not gaining. But.. what if the most basic essential need is not a rescue from the trial but a realization that the trial is a grace… the wandering is not merely being lost but being found in Him… the famine is not a curse but a journey away from the world into the very heart of God?
I realized the cloud began to shift when I began to really pray again. Not those every day prayers but the warrior ones. The prayers that build us word by word till the petitions we placate God for are His Word replicated back to Himself. There was a shifting, a healing, a breaking of my soul in a way that would never have been completed without the cloudy covering of unknown that sheltered me for so long. If that makes any sense at all... and truth be told, I needed to take that journey. I needed to see both sides of the wandering we can take. I think we all do.
What if we lend a hand towards grace where we are?
What if no matter where we are in the journey the concept of praying without ceasing is not a bargain with God but a an open door for God to move in and end our wandering in the extended famines we face?
What if we realize that for every soul alive He has already provided an escape into Grace’s Grip?
Into the dire circumstances…we have fresh awareness that all is not right.. and hasn’t been… but it is here- in the mess, amidst the losses, despair, darkness, and frightening possibilities, that God is marvelously at work in the most unlikely ways through the most unexpected agents.”- Carolyn Curtis James ( Finding God in the Margins)
Maybe our small yes, the steps we take one foot in front of the other, is really a part of our best yes. And the faith that keeps us seeking His goodness is the beginning of a recovery of hope from the extended famine of wandering in our wilderness places apart from the deep-healing rest-providing love of the Father. And maybe those cloudy journeys are really just an invitation to wait with Him, be covered, be held, be sought out, be still and be healed by grace.
Praying for rest in your journeys!
Announcement for the #GraceMoments Link Up:
Last week I was away at a conference and failed to meet you here at the #GraceMoments Community. I apologize for being absent. However, it clarified something I have been fighting against for months…a decision I was clearly not resting in.
With a heavy heart I am stepping away from the link up for a while. I am not sure how long, yet. It has been one of those areas where God has made it clear I have chosen to wander rather than rest in obedience. I want to thank you for being with me here so faithfully, for praying with me and for meeting me here to connect and to grow in grace together. I appreciate you so very much.
I will be taking a writing break here for a time but hope to be back at the end of the summer. Until then… with much love and grace abound to you.
IT’S YOUR TURN TO BE A GRACE COUNTER! SHARE YOUR GRACE MOMENT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW AND THEN COUNT GRACE WITH A FRIEND WITH COMMENT ON A BLOG OR TWO.
If you are a blogger, link up here with a post about finding grace moments in your life or one of your favorite inspiring and encouraging posts from this week. Share your thoughts in the comment section telling me about the #Grace Moments you experienced this week. *(only 1 post per link please)*
Take time to visit your neighbor next to you, and if you want visit a few more friends on the journey. We all need a little encouragement and affirmation as we travel together.
If you don’t have a blog, you can connect with me via my Journeys in Grace FB page by sharing a photo or a comment. Or you can join the party by sharing your images on Instagram with #Gracemoments hashtag.
Each week I will try visit as many of your amazing posts as I can.This is a safe place to sit and dwell in grace together, friends. I can’t wait to pour a cup of friendship with you and take in the grace moments you have to share. Don’t forget to leave a comment below, I love to hear from you.