A reminder that tomorrow we will commit to praying and fasting for God to bring marriage to those of us who desire it, to strengthen both men and women in their personal and relational lives, and to bring change within our hearts, minds, and spirits.
As I write today the wind blusters and howls outside like a tempest. The skies are blue, but the position of my home on a small body of water, combined with the narrow street corridors through the community creates the perfect environment for the wind to whip and howl as though it’s the middle of November. The relentless sound of the wind makes me antsy and nervous, and I have to consciously center myself and find the way towards peace and calm.
Today, however, I appreciate the wind because it brings me back to the importance of staying mindful and present in the midst of whatever storms life brings me and letting God be the source of my peace. I have always been someone quick to worry and fear. Only in my 30’s have I finally realized that worry and fear are my own attempts at maintaining an illusory control over things I have no control over whatsoever. If I can think my way out of a worst-case scenario possibility, then I’ll know what to do if and when that thing ever happens. I do offer myself grace, knowing that these coping mechanisms developed early in life in response to some very difficult circumstances. And yet it is not God’s best for me. In relying on my own illogical “worry-my-way-to-peace” rationale, I rob myself of the opportunity to grow in intimacy with Jesus through letting him to shoulder my burdens and walk next to me through the many things that make me afraid.
A moment ago God brought me a sweet image from early childhood: that of lying peacefully on my father’s chest as he rested, enjoying the easy rise and fall of his breathing, listening to his steady heartbeat. This is one of the most safe, secure memories I have as a young girl. And with that image came this verse:
“The beloved of the Lord rests in safety. The High God surrounds him all day long. The beloved rests between His shoulders.” Deuteronomy 33:12
The things we face in this life are painful and unpredictable. In this month alone I’ve watched a dear friend’s mother unexpectedly pass away, my own mother get screened for cancer and endure a kidney stone procedure, walked through a serious crisis with a client in my therapy practice, and feared that (as a single 36 year-old) I’ll continue facing these types of difficulties without a partner as the years pass. I know those of you reading this are in the midst of your own challenges and pain, perhaps wondering how to find rest on God’s shoulders. Here are a couple of things that have helped me recently on this journey:
1) Our job is to stay in the ‘here and now’: In Jesus’ words, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”. (Matthew 6:34). By doing what we can to stay present we have more space to invite Jesus in when things fall apart.
2) We are to practice radical trust and dependence: Resting securely involves trust. To really rest involves letting down our guard and believing that whomever’s in charge knows what they’re doing. Before we can rest on God’s shoulders, we need to internalize that He is for us, and always, always has our best interest at heart.
Easier said than done, yes. But each tiny step we make towards growing our ability to stay present and mindful, as well as risking in trust, also grows our chance to experience God as the safe harbor He is. And I don’t know what better way to face the storms and tempests of life than by finding rest in the God of the universe.