Why has it taken me so long to post in the new year? I could blame it on all the transition around me, a post for another time, but the truth is I’ve simply been a bit stuck. Kind of in a funk. 2016 felt like such a big year for me, finally publishing my first book, being asked to speak on multiple occasions, and attending my first writer’s conference. Then 2017 rolled around, a blank canvas…and perhaps for the first time in my life I saw that empty calendar as a threat instead of a challenge.
Instead of my imagination soaring through endless possibilities I looked at my baby steps of “success” last year and wondered, “What if that was it? What if that was my season of living bold, my grand hurrah, and now God is saying, ‘Hey, Kid, really great effort back there. That was your season. So, yeeeaaah….I guess we’ll be in touch…(*awkward cough*)’ ”
I’m hearing and I’m reading a great blog here and an inspiring message there about going and doing what God wants and having spiritual goals and it all sounds so wonderful…but I’m wrestling. I’m not seeing the plan; I want to “go” but I feel a bit reckless without a map. I’m not so much afraid that I’m bringing my baggage from 2016 with me into the future, I’m afraid my best self is stuck back there. And I can yell pretty loud, but I’m just not sure I can get that me to follow me alllll the way to now.
And suddenly I’m keenly aware of everyone else around me who seems to be running wild and free with their dreams, like those pictures of jubilant youth scampering with abandon through open fields of wheat or daisies or…OK I’m not great with plant names I’ll just stop before I embarrass myself.
Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever have that suspicion that you’re missing out on something vague and distant that you don’t even know how to get to? Whether it’s weight loss or financial planning or a dream job or a more organized house…someone else has figured it out, but you’re not sure how to?
So where do you put your foot first? (Out of bed helps, anyway.)
And I feel like God is whispering into my stubbornness… “Come back to me…rest…just enjoy being with me, your first love. If you find your full satisfaction in ME then you’ll never have a reason to be dissatisfied. No circumstance or success or failure can define your significance because you are simply Mine. Be strong, and take heart, and wait on me. Just where do you think you’re running on your little hamster wheel? Remain in me, because outside of me you’ll only find striving with empty results, but even the little you do in me will bear fruit. I’m not finished with you yet…and whatever plans I have for you I will continue to accomplish. Do you trust me enough to stay close and obey?”
Wait. Remain. Rest. Although they’re not my favorite, my Christmas tree reminded me why I desperately need those words. See, my tree this year just wasn’t very full at the bottom. Lots of gaps. Awkward and off-putting. So I thought I’d just shove some of the extra branches we’d cut off into the tree stand to fill out the base. My husband suggested we twist tie them on to the other branches, which worked wonderfully…and I basked in my DIY tree-hack bliss. Until I noticed a few weeks later how my lower branches were looking a bit sparser than the others. Hm…
My hacked branches were no longer attached to the tree, no longer getting any water from the trunk. They were dying quickly and shedding needles at an upsetting rate. And yet this is the picture of what happens to me when I try to hop off the Vine and do my own thing, seek my own dream or glory apart from Him. When I become more focused on how significant my life and dreams appear than on the One who alone breathes life and significance into me…I fall apart.
But if I Rest. Wait. Remain. They don’t sound like the most productive words for the new year, but if everything we do, every dream we pursue, every passion we act boldly on flows out of those words…then watch out because the Kingdom is advancing. I believe God is not done with us yet!
Psalm 27:14: Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
John 15:4 NIV “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
Isaiah 30:15 “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“’In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.'”
Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”