Be Still

It’s been a little over two weeks since I have blogged.  I think I’m out of the honeymoon phase of this quarantine life.  I have spent a lot of time being quiet over the last two weeks.  I am finding myself being very introspective.  And.  I’m tired of talking about the quarantine life.  I just want normal to come back.  I’ve been a little anxious that what I once knew as normal will never be normal again.  Already words like quarantine, social distancing, physical distancing, pandemic, sheltering, Zoom and Google Duo have become a normal part of our conversations.  I just read about something called “chunking”, yeah, look it up, it involves our brains and processing enormous amounts of information.  It’s a real thing.  All this while celebrities try to console us with “We’re all in this together” from their million dollar homes and high-rise apartments, like they can even relate to middle income America!  We can’t go out, we can’t go to the beach (legally) and we can’t go to church.  So I guess I went dark after April 7th, my last post.  My heart wasn’t up for writing more encouragement.  My house arrest with my big guy, the love of my life, had ceased to feel like “fun”.  I mean, it’s not horrible, but 24/7 with a 6’4″ guy who loves to push my buttons (sometimes) has made me just get in the car a few times and drive around.  Not his fault, but mine, for allowing myself to let all of this press in and mess with me.

Then, it happened.  God stepped in….and told me to stop my pouting.  He brought me to a familiar verse….one that most of us know.  “Be still and know that I am God…”           Psalm 46:10.  I know you are smiling and nodding your head at the obvious meaning of these eight words.  But wait.  When I sat with my Bible in hand, staring at those words, I actually asked God “What the heck, God, I know this verse, I get it, you’ve orchestrated events that have forced us all to stop with the busy lives and slow down.”  But, in His patient and gentle way He deals with this hard headed child of His, He patted me on the head and spoke gently to my heart.

He showed me that He led me to this verse, not to tell me to stop going, going, going and not to show me that He was depriving me of “fellowshipping” with my peeps.  No, it isn’t about physical movement at all.  He wanted me to sit, and still my mind.  To stop thinking of something else to do around my home while quarantined.  To stop watching movies.  To stop texting my friends that I was over all this.  To stop mullygrubbing (yes, that is a real word).  To allow my mind to slow down and focus on Him.  Be still.  And know.  That I am God.  Yes, I knew this.  But I needed to breathe deeply, to experience rest, to listen to His voice, to read His Word, to worship Him.  And I am.  I have been quiet for eighteen days.  Yes, I have slowly worked on and finished a couple of projects.  I have slept until He got me up.  I have sat quietly on the couch and listened to worship music.  I have sat on the porch and just enjoyed the late afternoon breezes.  I have stopped myself when I begin the onslaught of self-condemning thoughts that often run around in my head.  I’ve thought a lot about what I need to write.  And I am waiting quietly for His answers, His guidance.  He has a plan for me.  Maybe I’ve been so busy, in my head, with trying to figure out the how, the why, and the when, that I have been unable to hear His voice.

So, I’m not saying this whole Coronavirus craziness is just for me.  But I am saying that I am learning in the midst of forced isolation to listen to His voice.  I haven’t figured it all out, yet.  But I know that I will continue to “Be still” and listen until it is clear what He wants me to do.

I still want to go to the beach, I still want to hang out with friends, I still want to hug people…..but I will take this time to understand what it means to “Be still.”

 

Out of the Heart – Continued Encouragement

Today I was reading through a study I have been doing for some time in Ephesians, when I read something that I know I have read plenty of times, but it echoed over and over in my mind.  The text referred back to verse in Luke 6:45 “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  Or basically the mouth speaks what the heart is full of…..I sat back against the couch and chewed on this thought.  A verse came to mind in Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?”    Our hearts are the epicenter of who we are.  We can change our looks, our location, and our language, but at some point the truth of who we are, which lies within our hearts will flow out of our mouths.  The truth will be known.

During this time in the world we live in, when we are quarantined, isolated, uncertain, the truth of who we are will be revealed in what flows out of our mouths.   Sometimes anxiousness will cause us to allow frustrations to escape through our words.  Sometimes we speak without thinking.  But it is then that the truth of what lies deep in our hearts will cause us to stop, ponder our words and realize we have spoken with harshness or anger.  It is then we step forward and apologize, ask forgiveness, and then ask God to forgive us and help us to think before we speak!  But I believe, also, that those that know of God, but don’t have a true relationship with Him, will be revealed by what proceeds from their mouths.  

It has taken me 59 years, but I am finally learning to “not” say what first comes to mind.  I haven’t perfected this skill yet, but I find myself thinking about what I am about to say, and deciding to just say nothing.   You may have already conquered this skill, but I have struggled with it my entire adult life.  I sometimes over share, I sometimes speak what comes to mind, and I sometimes say what truth is about a particular situation whether it is necessary or not.  And I confess I haven’t always asked God if I should say something before it is released from my mouth.  I have prayed and asked God to help me in this area and I realized a few months ago that I was thinking before I allowed something I was thinking to escape my lips.  I wanted to say “Hey, I was about to say something, but God said no and I didn’t!!!” But decided to keep it to myself! I want to walk in a way that honors God.  Whether in the middle of a pandemic or living in what used to be normal life.   I remember hearing a former music pastor tell the choir I was a part of, to ponder in our hearts our questions, as he was giving us instructions.  So I am trying to ponder my thoughts before I release them!  But I digress from the verse that I first shared.

During this time, when we have so much time, ponder what is in your heart.  Think about the words that flow from your mouth.  Do they honor God?  Are they uplifting?  Are they encouraging?  Are they loving?  Are they beneficial?  I want to encourage you to examine your heart. Determine whether He is the Lord of your heart, your thoughts, your life.  I am taking time to do the same.  We are spending time with family and possibly friends 24/7, which could be a stressful time, maybe we need to isolate to a quiet place (even if that means hiding in your closet) and allow Jesus to minister to our hearts and minds, and reveal what is in our hearts.

Love y’all.

 

Day 14 – Pandemic Encouragement

Isaiah 26:3-4 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,  because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

I don’t know about you, but I feel the need to escape the constant onslaught of COVID19 information.  I’m over this being the topic of conversation and media 24/7.  I want to sit with friends and drink coffee (or tea) and talk about something else….anything else!  I want to drive to the beach and enjoy the waves crashing on the beach.  I want to go to church!!!!

With the constant broadcasting of information and conflict over COVID19 social or physical distancing, statistics of state by state cases and deaths, and whether to have partial or complete quarantining, I have to wonder if there is anything else going on in the world!!!  Or is there something going on that we don’t know about.

At any rate, this morning I ran to scripture for encouragement and truth.  And there it was, the best wisdom possible….God’s Word telling me to let my mind stay on Him.  He is my everlasting rock.  He is trustworthy.  So simple, but so true.

I am choosing to take a step away from the constant blasting of pandemic information and to focus back on regular life. (Whatever that is right now).  I will let my mind be on His Word and His character.   I will let other things occupy my thoughts other than the uncertainty that is shaking our country.

Wherever you are right now, whatever you are doing, take a deep breath.  Read these words in Isaiah written way before 2020, but so applicable for us to cling to right now.  Allow His perfect peace to wash over you and spread through your spirit like a warm blanket.  Snuggle up in it and enjoy some time with Him.

Love y’all!

 

Day 13 of Encouragement During These Weird Times

Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“Nor anything else in all creation”.  Those words really jumped out at me today.  I’ve read these verses so many times.  They are familiar to you as well, I am sure.  I have always found comfort in the fact that nothing, absolutely nothing could separate me from my relationship with God.  Nothing I could so personally.  Nothing in this world.  No disease. No virus.

We live in a world of uncertainty.  More than ever we are all feeling that truth.  We have modified our lives to avoid contracting a man made disease that has been released on us like some modern weapon.  We are functioning in a new normal.  It changes almost daily.    But “it” still cannot separate us from the love of God.

We are more than conquerors.  Because no matter what happens neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God.  We do not have to fear anything today, nor anything to come.  We do not have to tremble at the powers that rule over us.  We can know the peace that He offers.

So today.  Today close your eyes and take a deep breath.   Breath in God’s love and release all the tension, doubts, fears, weariness, anxiousness and concerns.  Allow the love of God to wrap around you like a warm blanket.  Accept His love.  Be secure in His love.  He is walking through this with us.  Trust Him.

Love y’all.