My head hit the pillow with an extra dose of weariness that day. There was a part of my mind that just wanted to stop altogether. “If I could just give myself a break,” I thought. But yet in the very next breathe I uttered, “Are you sure about that God?” My mind vacillated between doubt and confusion, weighing the past and present, and was super injected by fear.
This all happened on my search for a focused word for 2016. God kept speaking the word “remain” over and over to me. Instead of feeling peace about it and receiving it as an exciting leg of this joy filled journey, I took in the fear of remaining stuck where I currently grew past, which was fueled by insecurity and doubt. I didn’t want to stay there, in the land of confusion!
Our talks (between me and the Holy Spirit) quickly turned to arguments, or rather, like whining and complaining. Never a good idea to start your conversation with God by wearing the captain’s hat in the complaint department! We worked on it for days. God suggested, I rejected.
“Are you sure about that word for me God? I’ve changed so much from who I was.” I said.
God said, “Remain.”
Every time I thought about all the changes from my past, I was worried about the remaining, thinking I would get stuck there. And then fear came in and I didn’t want to stay stuck in that either. (Now saying this back to you, I realize this is all irrational thinking!) The changes that have come due to the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit have brought such healing and freedom in my life. I can’t imagine being stuck in my own personal prison again.
I didn’t want to remain in that place – bound, burdened, and full of doubt. I couldn’t stay there…I wouldn’t stay there…I was determined to change God’s mind. And then something beautiful happened.
As I was talking to my missionary friend Mitch, God sent some encouragement through him. Next, I cried on the phone to my friend Lori, and she prayed with me and then I went for a run. While running down the county road, I saw a ditch full of mud and immediately felt the “stuck” feeling creep back into my soul. But God reminded me to keep my eyes on the end of the road, and I whizzed right past it. God was, without a shadow of a doubt, in all those conversations, as He helped dry my tears, and gave comfort my mind. Immediately, the confusion was gone and I had a peace in the receiving of God’s word.
I hit the pillow hard that night with exhaustion from wrestling my will with God’s plan.
Fast forward to 3 a.m. the next day and I’m wide awake, and the Lord visits my bedside and asked, “Are you ready to learn how to remain in Me?” I went in for my last ditch effort with God. (Please don’t judge me, but learn from this story!) I simply said, “If you give me an acronym for the word Remain, I’ll accept it.” He said, “Go get your pen and pad of paper.” (He meant business!)
With blurry eyes through tears….I started writing immediately. It came in an instant and the words were just what I needed to hear. I didn’t stumble over them nor pretend like I was hard of hearing at this point. God is patient in the ways He deals with us. We could all learn a lesson from Him about his slowness of anger! I wrote….
And there it was….full understanding of why this word was so important to know this year. As I abide in Him, I will remain in my identity and purpose for my life. As I abide, remain connected, and am intentionally faithful, and obedient in what He has asked, I will remain in intimate fellowship with the Great Shepherd.
I thought back to the time in the summer of last year where I practically memorized John 15, and couldn’t get past that section of teaching for two months. I kept reading it over and over and over. Finally God moved me on to learn more about love, and how to give it without condition. (Those lessons are for a whole another coffee date…or two!)
Ps 23:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.” We often think about how God supplies our needs and have that promise in Philippians 4:19 for His supply that He has already provided in Christ Jesus. That is a good promise to stand on. The Lord won’t call you anything where His grace won’t sustain you. I sense the writing of David in this Psalm however was in a time of searching for direction. He had a vision of peace and contentment and I sense he was writing about what he saw regarding his relationship with God.
The Lord not only takes care of your needs before you know them, but He also makes provisions for your wants and desires. When your desires line up with His desires, it’s for sure those are supplied. If you are looking to grow in your relationship with God, please accept this journey however it looks. We all need to grow in our faith, and it’s not a good idea to remain stuck in a place of stubbornness, pleasing self-will and fear coupled with doubt.
Take my word for it, gratitude paves the way to those green pastures of peace that we all want. And as we enter His rest, we have everything we can ask for or imagine if we just remain in relationship with God and by living intentionally through trusting by faith. As we are remain anchored by His love, we abide in His grace and mercy.
The journey for today and this year is to have joy in this and to walk in intimate fellowship with Jesus every minute of the day. Why is this so important to know now? This is only a foretaste because the best is yet to come!