The Perfect Gift at the Perfect Time

 Desertion...whether real or perceived...whether intentional or not...feels just the same.

Last week I posted a picture I had painted and added the following caption: “Desertion – whether real or perceived…whether intentional or not…feels just the same.”  That may sound like I’m about to start whining but I’m not.  If you’ve read the “About Me” page, you know I am not wired like most of the people around me.  My brain chemistry allows me to experience wonderful moments of great creativity and passion and gives me both the desire and ability to express what is contained in the depths of my soul.   It also has the potential for dragging me into places from which it is very difficult to crawl out.  I spent the past couple of weeks trying to walk uphill on a slippery slope until I finally gave in and tumbled down into the dark.  It didn’t matter that I knew I had support from those who love me because my wiring, coupled with my circumstances, had overshadowed my knowledge with a feeling of loneliness I couldn’t seem to escape.

So often we get stuck in the midst of our difficulties.  It is human nature for us to falter and stumble in spite of what we know to be true.  For me, I know God is in control but when it comes down to it, I often don’t truly trust Him to take care of me.  We don’t have the ability to see down the road so we scramble, plan and try to rely on our own strength to work things out.  We can’t see ahead and know what God has in store for our lives but HE knows.  He knows the blessings He has in store for us even though we can’t imagine them.  He knows what exciting things He is going to bring to us down the road even though today our life may seem overshadowed with difficulty or depressive days.

As I reflected on these things, I was struck with the image of a father who has an incredible gift for his child and can’t wait for the child to unwrap it.

Giving gift

We can all relate to times when we can hardly wait to give something to someone because we know it is just the “perfect” gift.  It’s hard for us to have it in our possession and not give it to them prematurely because we know how much it will mean to them.  It’s hard to watch them have to wait and possibly even be sad as they think we have forgotten to get them something. Then I think of our Heavenly Father knowing the journey of our lives before we even take our first breath and knowing all He has in store for us.  As He watches the ebb and flow of our lives as His children, He sees the struggles we face but He knows what’s coming.  He feels our tears but He knows what’s coming.  In spite of how hard it may be to watch us succeed and fail, or learn the lessons we must, He knows what’s coming and He knows it is GREAT!  He has an incredible gift in store for us and can hardly wait for us to be able to unwrap it…when the time is right.  I imagine Him looking at us and thinking, “I know it’s difficult right now but if you could just see what is about to come into your world, you would be SO excited.  It is going to amaze you!”  And yet we spend so many of our days trying to just get through the things in our lives.  We struggle with our faith and often have difficulty believing God is even aware of how terrible we feel.  We forget He is always with us, guiding us to a place where He can share incredible blessings with us.  We think He has forgotten.  We forget how much He truly loves us.

And then it happens.

Blessing

We find ourselves with a blessing so great it seems almost miraculous.  We are stunned.  Our lives are changed.  We are thankful beyond words.  We are amazed.  We realize the struggles we have been dealing with were nothing more than layers of paper we had to unwrap in order to have such an incredible gift revealed to us.  What a wonderful moment for our Father when the time finally comes for us to receive what He had in store for us all along.  He gets to experience our sincere excitement and amazement at what He has done.  I can see Him sitting there, with love in His eyes asking “When are you going to understand that I am not only working everything together for your good, but to bring you to a place where I can give you amazing things?”  These are the moments when most of us are brought to our knees in gratitude, which causes us to realize how weak our faith has become, which then brings us to a place of humility where we remember again that God really IS control and will stop at nothing to give us an abundant life…no matter what it takes.

Sometimes I think that is the greater gift.

Blessings!

Silence Is Loud

Cayucos Sunset

Recently a friend shared with me that her hope for 2013 was “to be still and listen to God.” I found that to be a very interesting and revealing statement. At a time of year when people are busy engaging in new activities and commitments, it was unusual (and refreshing) to hear someone say she hoped simply to be still and listen. This time of year causes many of us to become more active. We take up a new exercise regimen or make changes to our diets. We start new adventures. We want to DO something.

In our culture, we have reached a point where if we aren’t continually running at a frantic pace we think it somehow means we are lazy. We work ourselves to death at our jobs and at home. We spread ourselves far too thin because we just can’t say “no.” We take on projects – very worthy projects – even when we know we don’t actually have the energy to give them the focus they deserve. In those rare times we find ourselves just sitting down and relaxing, it is only moments before our minds are jumping to the next thing we need to do or accomplish. I have suffered from this way of thinking most of my life. My husband tells me all the time, “You just can’t sit down and relax for even a moment!” I hate to admit he’s right but he is. (I also hate that I just gave him ammunition for the next time I refuse to slow down!)

As believers, we do the same thing with our service to God. We think the more we do, the more pleasing we are to our heavenly Father. Nothing could be further from the truth. He doesn’t want us to be running about frantically trying to serve Him any more than we want to be doing it. He simply wants us to trust Him to take care of us. He wants us to rest in Him. He wants us to “be still and listen” to the still, small voice within that is continually guiding us down the path we should be on. When it is time for us to act, we will know it. Purposeful action is much different than taking action just so we can avoid the silence or being still.

Three Rivers

Stillness and silence are uncomfortable for most of us. Even in our conversations, we feel strange when there is a longer than normal pause between topics. We will talk about almost anything to avoid the sound of crickets chirping! No matter what area of our life it may be, silence feels awkward and we do all kinds of things with one purpose in mind – to get rid of it. Sometimes, when I am still and quiet, I don’t like what I hear. When I am still and quiet, it isn’t long before the stillness brings reflection and reflection can be painful. It is sometimes difficult but it can also be a catalyst for change or reveal our true direction.

I have to be honest with you, there have been many times in my life when I have engaged in activities (no matter how honorable the cause) because I thought no one else would step up to the plate. I’ve been in churches and community organizations where it seemed everyone was content in letting one or two people do all the work. Many of you can relate to this type of struggle. If I am really honest, I must say I have found it difficult at times to let go of the reins because I feared the resulting effect would be that nothing gets accomplished. Do you know what this says about me? It says I struggle trusting that others are as committed as I am. It says I believe no one could have a better idea than I do. It says I think I am so valuable that without me this project, church, friendship, or family will crumble. When I finally realized how arrogant this mindset is, it was difficult to swallow. I can assure you it did not go down easy!

It is a fine line we must walk. There is a delicate balance between the things we do and the reasons we do them. Too much activity and busyness in our life will drain us of peace, sanity and contentment. On the other hand, too much rest will drain us of our passion and sense of purpose. I’m a firm believer in leaping when it is time to leap but the only way we will know it is time to act is if we have been quiet, still and reflective. It is only when we have listened to the voice within that we can be sure we are ready to leap. Only then do we know which direction to leap and only then do we truly have the strength. It is important to realize that being able to act and leap comes first from a place where we have been able to let go, rest and listen.

So my friend who said she hoped to be still and listen in 2013 was a great reminder of how important it is to slow down in life. It is crucial we learn to rebel against the pace dictated to us by our society AND by ourselves! It is good to rest. It is good to take care of yourself not only physically but in every other way as well. It isn’t selfish and it isn’t lazy to do so! When we constantly focus on the next thing we need to accomplish, we are losing the blessing of THIS moment! This moment is all we have. It sounds cliché but yesterday really is gone and tomorrow may never come. There is no guarantee of even your next breath so slow down and enjoy it. Once it’s gone, you cannot get it back.

Open Arms

It is good for us to step back and let go of the control we often grasp at in life. When I am able to let go of trying to fulfill everyone else’s calling, then I am free to fully embrace and fulfill my own. And when find ourselves feeling like we have to “save” every project or organization we are involved in, it might be time to put on the brakes and get quiet for a little while. You might be surprised at who steps up from the shadows when you are willing to step out of the spotlight.

Blessings