Be still!

(On Mondays I plan to write posts that come from my reflections on my word/topic of focus for this year—which is stillness, rest, sabbath.)

Be still and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10a



I have often described myself as an ESFP with ADD. My friends may tell you I’m somewhat outgoing, seemingly scattered, and  often unfocused. Perception is pretty close to reality.

I don’t like the description of the Proverbs 31 woman or Peter’s instruction: You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God (1 Peter 3:4, NLT).

Gentle and quiet are two words few people associate with me.

In fact, if for some reason I am quiet, people ask me what’s wrong. When I’m in public, I don’t do quiet well.

As I have aged, however, I have found I enjoy being alone…and quiet. I can turn off the TV, sometimes even goe sans music—and just be still.

But my stillness, my quiet reveree, lacked something. Until recently when I began asking God to reveal my direction for 2018.

Several years abo, I started writing a Bible study and one of the chapters was on the command to keep sabbath. I found myself being drawn back again and again to  the books I had gathered on the topic and stuck on a corner of a bookshelf in my office.

Holding one of the books, I felt a strong resonning in my spirit. A loud “YES!” Resonated within me from head to toe.

Okay, God. I got it, but I don’t get it.

And the whisper came back, “You will.”

Then one of the devotions in the first week of the year reflected on how Elijah didn’t hear God in the storm or earthquake—but in the quiet whisper. And the whisper was a question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Sitting in my quiet family room, holding the small book, I sensed my eyes filling with tears…and I heard God whisper, “Tina, what are you doing here?”

I didn’t have an answer. Still don’t. But you better believe I’ve been thinking about it. Even created the meme at the top of this blog.

The question is one of those kinds that when you say it you can put emphasis on a different word and change the meaning: What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here?

After determining the direction, I felt compelled to be accountable. In the past I’ve lost interest and attention to my word/focus before I reached February. I might remember it later in the year—and have a few moments of guilt. I decided to not let that happen this year.

So every Monday I’m going to reflect on this with you, or at least with myself. I don’t know where it will go. Thankfully, I don’t have to…I’m just going to be obedient, and still, and listen for the whisper.

What are you doing here?

Nehemiah Devotion Chapter 2, Day 5

I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem.
(Nehemiah 2:12)

WP Neh Dev 2-5 walk at night

Nehemiah got to town and one might imagine him jumping in and getting to work. But that’s not what happened. Nehemiah takes his time. He walks around the rubble. And he tells no one about the plan God laid on his heart.

He spent time with the people. He probably heard their discouraging stories. He saw the overwhelming nature of the task.

God needed Nehemiah to take all of that in. It’s one thing to draw up a plan from a distance, but quite another to see what needs to be done close up and personally.

There were times in Jesus’ ministry when even though he knew the heart of God and what needed to be done, he pulled away from the crowd to be alone with his Father.

The more time I spend with Nehemiah, the more I see a man who leaned hard on God.

How’s your “leaning” going?

Advent 6: Now That We’re Listening

Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t break through the clouds with an angel chorus to get our attention with what he needs to say?

How cool is it that Zechariah, Joseph, Mary, and the Shepherds all got a direct and very specific message from God?!

But why not me God?

I mean, how much heartache, seemingly wasted time, problems, pain, and suffering could be avoided if instead “guessing” what it might be that God wants us to do, we had explicit direction.

I think it might be linked to that angel thing. Stay with me on this.

Every time an angel brought a message, the first thing they had to do was tell the recipient to not be afraid. Angels must not be those cutesy things we hang on our walls or put on our cards at Christmas. They must be scarey. It cold be their appearance–if you read about them in Isaiah, this makes sense. But it could also be that when angels brought a message from God, the people knew that something was going to be required of them. Life was going to change. And we all know how much we like that!

So we’ve made a pact to listen more this Advent season. Listen, believing that God has something to say. But how might he do it?

Hebrews 13:2 may give us some help with this. The writer admonishes us to offer hospitality to strangers because we never know when we might be welcoming an angel without knowing it.

Now those “strangers” may not knock on our door. They may be ringing the Salvation Army bell. They might be standing in the line in front of us at Walmart or the grocery. Perhaps they will sit next to us at church or the table near us at Denny’s. If we have our “God ears” (a concept developed by my friend Ginger Harrington–look up her stuff it’s really good!) we might just hear a word from God.

No fanfare or sparkly choir needed. Just open hears and an open heart. God has something to say–don’t miss it because it comes dressed as a stranger.

Balaam’s Ass

Text: Numbers 22

Just about every time that I’ve heard this story, the emphasis has been that if God can use a donkey to get his message across then certainly He can use “me” (the me being whoever was telling the story). But as I read the story today,I saw something very different. The focus seemed to shift from the cowering mule to the persistant angel.

Have you ever wondered what it takes for God to get through to us?  How many signals do we ignore? Or maybe a better question is why? What this account shows me, and so much of my life testifies to, is that God works in many ways, by many means, to get His message, His plan, across to me. The how of my missing may be more directly related to why. He is the hound of heaven, but I have become very good at tuning out the barking dog.

So I took some time to reflect on why I’ve been ignoring the barking dog.

I’m comfortable with the way things are.

I’m afraid.

I’m listening to something else.

I assume, or hope, the dog is barking for someone else.

I’ve come to accept the barking as just a part of life. Everybody has barking dogs, thy’re eveywhere, so what you going to do?

I am thankful as I have journey through this Lenten season that God has barked, spoken so clearly to me.  I started out the year thinking that I was going to focus on prayer.  While I have to a certain degree, it has been because my fear has driven me to it.  Having opportunity to teach a Suday School class where we discussed a book about pinpoint praying helped that focus as well. 

God hasn’t used a donkey to get through to me, unless you are considering my own metaphorical stubbornness.  He has however gotten my attention through some unusual things.  I heard him whisper that I had been worrying too much as I stepped on the scales every morning and saw the frustrating results of my emotional eating.  He answered my prayer about writing with a scholarship to  the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and then to me that it is time to stop dreaming and start doing.  For so long I have been praying about a particular issue that my husband has been struggling with for years and this past week during spiritual enrichment services the Spirit broke through.  And I felt God’s smile envelop me and assure me that he has heard my heart’s cry and not to worry because he’s been working in ways I cannot see because he loves my husband more than me.  I let him know that I’m okay with that.

I wish I could stay right here in this spiritual place, feeling encouraged and provided for.  I’d happily just pitch my tent and sit.  I hear him so well here.  But that thinking didn’t work for the disciples when they wanted to stay on the mountain.  So  I guess I’ll travel on, but I’m going to be listening harder.  No donkey’s going to have to get my message from God.

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