Tuesday, July 26, 2016

the year of pause

I've left a year of pause, of quiet, of this weird in between where I've journeyed. I feel like there are portions of my life where I sit back and watch how things unfold, this slow releasing of the path in front of me, the looking of all directions before each step, seasons of pausing and seeing what each thing will take before making decisions. And then there are other portions of my life where I'm tripping over my own feet, rushing head first into an unknown without cause or care and just taking a whim on chances.
One of these is a calmer, introspective, maybe laid back approach. The other is adventurous, exciting, maybe more productive.
I'm not sure which I prefer, or which draws me more, it's the dichotomy of my personality. I love both and hate both. I see the other and want the calmness of pause, or the excitement of rashness.
But this year of pause, I've learned to lean into Jesus. I've learned that He is my truth and my guide. My reason and purpose. He's brought me through and taught me the importance of treating myself like I treat others. With much grace and much love. I've learned to forgive myself for things that I'd so quickly forgive others for, but rarely would allow myself the peace.
In January I was asked what I thought my purpose was, I had lost track of that in the swirl and shadows of the last half of 2015 and even the rush and tripping of the previous two or so years.
The question challenged me to my core. I had an answer. It was an old answer that I had cultivated pre-motherhood, pre-Illinois life. But I realized that maybe that answer wasn't the answer anymore. I'd strayed so much from my vision of what I thought God expected from me. I took inventory of me, my ministries, my relationships, and realized that I'd floated along. I wasn't sure what my next step was. God had closed so many doors.
Such started a journey that was unexpected, and as we are often surprised by, much sweeter and also harder than we think it might be.
God started stripping. Literally, stripping things away from me. He took so many figurative and physical things from me that at first I clung to with stubborn tenacity, and then deep hurt. But then came the sweetness. The alone times with Jesus where he showed me and opened my eyes to the community that starts with Him and flows out to others.
I was studying John 2 this week. And was drawn to the portion of Jesus first clearing out the Temple. A few things struck me in this as He went.
This was a public display. The temple was filled with Jews for Passover. When Jesus turned the tables of the coin exchangers He was making a very public display of the corruption He found going on around Him. He didn’t quietly ask them to pack up and leave. He was public and brave in His turning things around.
When questioned about His authority to do such a thing. He claims His power to overcome and how once the “temple” (Himself) is destroyed He will be raised. Often times God needs to destroy something to rebuild it better. Just as we break down muscles at the gym in order to have them heal stronger in rest, sometime our very lives or ideals or bodies need to be broken in order to come back and be better and stronger and to fulfill the purposes of God.
Lastly, the thing that struck me the most is that not even the disciples understand Jesus' reference at the time. Verse 22 says, "22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken." It takes the realization of the Resurrection for even those closest to Jesus to understand what He is talking about. Sometimes God asks, or takes, or gives us things that we don't understand. But just like the promises that the Resurrection holds of grace and salvation, God promises that these things will all work together for His glory and good. (Romans 8:28) We may not understand everything all at once. We may not understand how something that seems terrible can even be moved around to be good, but that's where faith comes in. I'm choosing in my faith to believe the Bible and see where God has me go. 
The verse I fall back on time and again is Isaiah 43:18-19
18 “Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
19 “Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.
It makes me excited for the new things. Excited to see how God will use me when I choose to serve Him.