Dear Heavenly Father,
You tell me that I should “Consider it all joy … when I encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of my faith produces endurance. And to let endurance have it’s perfect result…”(James 1:2-4) but it’s the endurance part that gets me or wait is the being joyful part? Lord you know what I need even when I am completely baffled. I will say thank you for my trials, not because I enjoy them or even because I am thankful at the moment but because I know eventually I will be extremely grateful for all of the trouble once it is done. You know that I am learning to trust you each day and through each trial. Thank you for loving me enough to not give up on me. Thank you for knowing that I don’t easily trust and that I am a giant work in progress. Lord bring this blog to someone who needs it, someone who is also fighting, someone who feels ready to give up and let it bless them and bring them closer to you.
I let go of His hand.
For the month of May I felt more stressed and disconnected from God than I ever have. Hence no blog post for the whole month of May and for that matter June. I know how it started but I certainly didn’t expect the outcome to be feeling disconnected and distant from God which for me is a very lonely place. Can I just say it feels good just to admit that and write it down!
It started with late night baseball games that turned into tired mornings of sleeping in and not reading. From there it rolled into setting aside my middle & high school FCA/FCS (Fellowship of Christian Athlete & Students) groups after school so I could coach track. And it ended with packing and moving our home of 11 years all in the month of May. Oh and sprinkle on a school trip to Washington D.C. the week before we moved, and that my friend was the perfect recipe for loneliness, disconnect and feeling lost.
I drifted away in pure innocence. It happened so slowly that I didn’t notice until it was too late. The things that got my attention were not bad things. Certainly watching my two young boys play baseball was not an unGodly thing. Nor was coaching track where I encouraged young athletes to see the strength in their bodies. Surely God didn’t bless our buying of property and the sale of our home just to see me refuse to pack up and move did He? And my gift of teaching is always on full display in Washington DC. So how did I drift away?
By mid-May I knew something was off. I wasn’t reaching for my bible or my prayer journal. Although I was still reading a daily study the words weren’t sinking into my soul only to come up later at the perfect time. I was just merely going through the motions. But it wasn’t till school was out for the summer and we had moved into the apartment completely that I had a moment to stop and assess what was happening to me.
I had chased the world and let go of God’s hand the way a child would chase a balloon and let go of their father’s hand. I let the day to day noises of children, family, cell phones and general busyness drown out God’s voice telling me to come, talk and sit with Him awhile so that I may rest in His shade and gather my strength for the moments and days to come. This reminded of a children’s book my Nan would read me as a child called the Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. In the book there is a boy and a tree. And the tree loved the boy and gave selflessly to the him only wanting a friendship in return but the boy chased the things of the world to satisfy himself. Each time the boy came back the tree was waiting to give again to the boy, without question or hesitation, hoping in return for a friendship. But the boy forgot where the source of all his gifts came from.
This reminds me of God, who loves me. Each time I let go of His hand to seek the world for what I believe I need He patiently waits for his daughter to grow tired and weary and wander back home to Him. He is always waiting with a warm embrace and a smile that says, “Don’t be afraid. I didn’t leave you, you just wandered away for a moment. I’m glad you heard my voice and turned back to find me.”
You see the things that took up my time were not bad things. My children, my gift of teaching, the building of our home are all tremendous blessings that He gave to me! But I neglected the SOURCE of those blessings. That neglect turned into feeling lost and lonely and for that I am blessed. As a mother I know that there are times when I have to let my children feel pain from their choices. Sometimes failure is the best teacher. God had to let me feel lost, lonely and disconnected for me to realize that it was because I had stopped seeking Him daily. I had stopped taking refuge in His word and drawing strength from our conversations.
So for the month of June I have read, prayed and held on like Jacob waiting to be blessed (Genesis 32:2-32). Blessed with what you might ask? Blessed with peace, blessed with purpose, blessed with a reassurance that I have only ever known by being in fellowship and relationship with Jesus. I have to fight everyday for it and that fighting looks a lot like standing still.
Everyday I fight my flesh and my free will. I fight the things that my flesh wants to do rather than the one to thing my soul screams for which is communion with Jesus. I fight the urge to look on Instagram or Pinterest. I fight the urge to clean, exercise or entertain my children. I fight the urge to do a multitude of things that keep me from standing still and seeking Christ. God doesn’t want my performance nor does He need it. He wants me and you. He wants our undivided attention so that He can equip us to live in the world with all its blessings and curses. He wasn’t us to stand still and let Him do the fighting for us. He wants all our stress, our worries and issues. He actually wants them!
I’ve had to learn my lesson the hard way, and I hate to say this but I know it won’t be the last time I have to learn this lesson. But each time I have to recenter and refocus on where my true joy and peace come from I pray it will get a little easier and my wandering a little less. Just like the boy in the book I pray that I always return to the true source of life.
The last pages in The Giving Tree read like this…
“I don’t need very much now,” said the boy. Just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.”
“Well,” said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.”
And the boy did. And the tree was happy” (Shel Silverstein, 1964).
God loves us and longs for a relationship with us all. He beckons to us each day in various ways to come and rest in His shade and gather our strength in Him. He sent His own flesh and blood, Jesus, to die so that we might have everlasting life and communion with Him again in the garden.
So my prayer for the last few months has been this,
Thank you for never giving up on me even when I walk away from you. Bind my wandering heart to thee. Help me to see and hear you in everything I do and in every person I encounter. Let me be a light for others out there in the darkness chasing their happiness in the world. Let them see Your light in me so that they my seek to find You and hear Your voice in the wilderness. Father even when it is hard, continue to teach and remind me where the source of ALL things flow. If I should wander too far Lord do what You need to do to bring me back into your presence. Lord I also pray this over my children. Let them never wander too far out of Your sight.
READ more FOR one OF my FAVORITE tools
One of the tools that I have used over the last year to keep God’s word on my mind are wristbands. Every year during VBS our church takes the children’s scripture handout and folds it up longways to create a paper bracelet ensuring it gets home to parents each night. Last year the Lord gave me a great idea!
I ordered paper admission bracelets from Amazon (click here for the link to the bands) and with a permanent marker wrote either a prayer or a piece of scripture on it that I wanted to remember. I love my cross bracelet and what it symbolizes but lets be honest after awhile it just becomes old hat, a piece of jewelry I always wear and don’t think much about. Even though I wore it (it recently fell off on a long run) everyday I rarely looked at it for remembrance of what God sacrificed for me. That’s where the admission bracelets are different.
Here are a few aspects of the admission bracelets that I love…
- they are water proof
- they don’t typically come off unless you cut them
- And the best part is … you can’t wear them forever
The longest I have worn one is a month. But why is that a good thing? Well because then I don’t run the risk of it becoming just another piece of jewelry!
Sometimes I need to meditate over a piece of scripture and other times I need to be in continual prayer over something and these bracelets are great for that. I can change them as often as needed. I’ve even worn two at one time, one for prayer and another for scripture.
I ordered purple to remind me that I am part of a royal kingdom because purple symbolizes royalty. I also ordered red to remind me that Jesus sacrificed His life for mine.
My children love these bracelets too! During the school year when my son was taking his state math tests I wrote scripture on his to encourage him and remind him that no matter what he belongs to God!
I also shared this idea with my FCS/FCA kids and the ran with it, so to speak, taking whole pages of bracelets and putting them in their bibles for when they needed a new one. I love seeing these bracelets put into action and it has been fun to read what they put on their bracelets.
Try them out for yourself! There are tons of different colors to chose from on Amazon and they usually ship very quickly.
Do you have a tip or trick that helps you to remember scripture or a prayer request? Please share by commenting on this post.