With four children six and under, one of the only “alone times” I get throughout the day is when I am in the bathroom, but even those moments are not always secure right? Think little fingers under the door and broken doorknobs from little ones thinking the door was just “stuck”—because Mama would never lock THEM out! Inconceivable. I’ll never forget the one time I was talking to the twins (rather, they were talking to me, A LOT). Needing a bathroom break, I walked into the bathroom and said, “OK, I need to lock the door right now for some privacy.” I was shocked when they both happily agreed with a “Yes Ma’am” but then they proceeded to COME INTO THE BATHROOM WITH ME and THEN one of them locked the door with all of us inside. They sat right down on the floor and just kept talking. Now I am not saying that my children are problems, y’all know I love them and this crazy life we have together. But as a metaphor, sometimes the very things we are trying to escape follow us into our time with God and when they do, there’s nothing to do but just lock the door and deal with them up close and personal!
Why do I always feel like I need to fix my stuff before I take it to Jesus? Because we are a culture of preparedness! Think about it–Be Prepared…it’s more than the credo of Boy Scouts. That is the motto of our souls as we research, skim through market reports, create contingency plans, and end up acting out of fear not faith. My whole job is centered around preparing students to enter the world with useful skills. But all this emphasis on preparedness leaves us ill-equipped for the surprises that tend to pop up and frustrated that our issues continue to follow us into our quiet spaces. We can’t get away.
I think that’s why Jesus’ emphasis is on being “alert” (not prepared) because He IS with us! He really, actually is. Here in our mess. Here right now in the hour before supper when everything goes to that very dark, sad place of hungry and tired children and husbands…perhaps?). He is in the hectic and frustrating moments at work, when we can’t get our head around a situation. He’s saying forget about your own ability to get ready for the hard things you’ll face…instead, look for me in it. Be alert. Be ready for the struggle. Be ready to run to me with “that thing” and rely on me and listen to me when the mess follows you and you can’t get the space you need to process them.
How often do I just need to STOP and listen for supernatural help form the Holy Spirit that goes beyond our own understanding–but we feel like if we just keep moving, keep talking we will deal with it. The very real truth is that He is actually, really here. In our pain. In our emptiness. In our loneliness. He is right here. Looking honestly at your heart right now, do you really believe that 100%?
‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’” Psalm 46:10
Sometimes I think “being still” is MUCH more difficult than “being obedient.” At least in being obedient you get to do something. In “being still” you are being asked to do nothing but trust. That’s harder.
Yesterday I was taking the kids to school. This time crunch is one of the major sources of stress in my day so I had strategically planned to leave so early that I would be in line ready to drop them off at 7:30. Doing that would give me enough time to get to work. Lunches were packed thanks to Rob—best husband ever), clothes and shoes were on, hair was fixed, and I was ready. We were out the door! YES!!! Success.
But then…(I know you have the “but then” moments too). BUT THEN…the seatbelt would NOT budge across their booster seats.
I spent a good five minutes wrestling with this seatbelt (which doesn’t seem long, but it was). Every time I pulled it, it would lock up and not stretch to clip in. I probably tried it about a hundred times thinking it was a fluke. Finally, I stopped. I prayed out loud for God to unlock this seatbelt. I felt SO stupid asking God for this, and also in front of my children because what if he didn’t answer me? Then I would be solely responsible for destroying their childlike faith over a malfunctioning seatbelt. I know is sounds trivial, but I was (literally) immobilized without this seatbelt working, which seems ironic. My last option was faith…and yes, I realize my first step should have been faith, but I’m working on that. So I prayed, and asked God to free the seatbelt.
In my heart, I felt that God was telling me I should give up, shut the door, and go sit in the driver seat. Initially I resisted this idea…who knows, maybe that next pull would actually work. I was like a gambling junkie at a slots machine…just one more time!!! Finally, I shut the back door and began to walk around the car—though I knew I would not go anywhere without my children being buckled up. When I opened the driver door I heard squeals of delight! It was working! The seatbelt stretched across and we were able to make it to school and work on time. Now I don’t know if there was a mechanism in the car that was being triggered by the door being opened or if an angel actually went into the car and fixed the problem. But what I do know, beyond a doubt, is that God told me to stop struggling and shut the door.
Shut. The. Door.
There was nothing I could do to fix this problem in my own strength—moving in that same trajectory of pulling and pulling over and over again. In fact, by letting it go, I released whatever lock was activated in that specific situation (whether spiritual or mechanical). My pulling and constant straining was only making the problem continue. When I obey God when he tells me to stop and rest, we are giving Him space to move miraculously in our lives and to see it as His hand working! What a gift! Why would we NOT want that? (Maybe we just don’t really think He is capable or cares enough to engage with us in “those sorts of things.”—more on this later)
Some of us just need to shut the door on the infuriating, frustrating, unsolvable problems we are facing right now. We need to shut the door long enough to let God solve the problem or let the problem solve itself. We need to leave it for a minute and regroup, take ourselves out of the crazy. Take the time to be quiet, listen to the Holy Spirit, wisdom of others, and scripture. An active prayerful rest.
Even Jesus did this to connect with His Father while on earth:
Mark 1:35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
Mark 6:31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.
No time to even eat…yes, I have been there! So here is the question…What are some things you REGULARLY need to take a break from and intentionally place in the lap of Jesus? Can you find a scripture that can help you in that moment? We will be talking later about ways that scripture and prayer can equip us to face these moments with grace and truth.
You have babies or toddlers? You can’t leave them for a meditative moment? I get that. Here’s how the conversation with my kiddos goes at my house sometimes:
Mama: “What?!!! You toasted the whole loaf of bread?”
Children: But Mama you TOLD us we could make our own breakfast while you got ready.”
Here’s where I want to learn to say (instead of what I actually said, which I really should not repeat here):
“OK, y’all, we can talk about who toasted the ENTIRE loaf of bread in a second…but for right now, you go to your room and you go to your room and no one talk to Mama for just a minute, I need a minute to pray.”
But to even do this, I need to be in a posture of listening, in a constant state of expectant readiness for God to encounter my everyday mess. How do you imagine this working out for you in your day to day? What are the recurring situations that you are asking Jesus to meet you in the middle of:
Take a minute and ask Jesus to meet you here and show you how to encounter these burdens with grace and peace, maintaining the rest and light-load lifestyle He offers us. I’m learning to take smaller more frequent trips to Jesus throughout the day, step out of the action physically or sometimes just mentally and drop my concerns in his lap for a minute. I’m ready to learn the discipline of resting so I can be interrupted by Jesus. I’m ready to keep Him so close that having Him talk to me is as natural as my child or husband speaking to me. But what exactly does it mean to “cast our cares on Him”? Why do we see Jesus tell us to trust Him over and over? And what is so wrong about carrying my own weight anyway? More on this later…