Monday, June 02, 2008

Learning How to Abide

Today has been a weird day. Before I tell you about today, though, I need to mention last night. We had a great night at our worship gathering. We talked more about what it means to abide in Christ. Last week we had the opportunity to put into practice what we had read from The Practice of the Presence of God. We had some great conversation, and we had a great time of Lectio Divina and communion to end the night.

This morning I woke up in a funk. Without going into two much detail, I felt very anxious and worried. It wasn't really one thing. It's more that when this happens, everything becomes a bigger deal than it probably is. I immediately knew that God was trying to speak to me, and I recognized that this was probably God's pruning.

Last Wednesday, on the way to East Tennessee (more on that in another post), Mandy and I began listening to John Eldredge's new book, Walking with God. It seemed timely as I listened to it, but I don't think I caught some of what God wanted me to hear. Today, though, I was beginning to get desperate to hear from God, so I went back to this book. This time I heard God speaking to me. Here's an excerpt from the book:

This story actually begins back in June, with the first day of summer vacation. I’m sitting on the porch of our cabin listening to the rain on the tin roof and watching it fall on all my plans for the day. I cannot hike. I cannot do chores. I cannot fish. The mud is so deep, I cannot drive anywhere. I’m trapped. Pinned down. With myself and God. There is nothing I can do but pay attention to what surfaces inside of me when I cannot charge into the day. I am paying attention, my journal on my lap, and this is what I begin to write:

I am tweaked again.

Royally friggin’ tweaked.

I’m so tired and wrung, my body hurts from being tired.

Or hurts at the first chance to let down and be tired.

Granted, it has been a hard year. So much going on, so much required. But God is after something. As I journal, I feel like a prisoner writing his confession.

And I know why I’m tweaked.

I’m tweaked from pushing.

Pushing, pushing, always pushing.

This pushing is such a way of life for me, I barely know how to live otherwise. I’m always working on something. Trying to make life better for me or for someone else. It feels like I heave myself at life. Always looking for some way to improve things. I come up here to the ranch to rest, and in the first ten minutes of quiet, here is where my mind goes: I ought to teach Sam how to cast a fly rod. We ought to finish that back fence. I ought to work with the horses every day we are here. I could paint the door now. Better look at that topo map for my trip with Luke in August. Make a plan.

Jesus, have mercy.

This resonated so much with me. Pushing, pushing, always pushing. Striving, striving, always striving. Why do I strive? I think part of it is that I want my life to count. I want significance. I want to work hard, and I want my work to be both meaningful and productive. It probably has something to do with my line of work. In the past two years I have started a church and a business. I create all of the time. What happens when what I have created fails? These are fears, and they are deep within me.

As I was processing this, I heard the whisper, "Cease striving, and know that I am God." That's Scripture if you didn't know it (Psalm 46:10).

The day is almost over, and though there are still some of the fears within me, I have encountered God. He has made Himself known. I said this last night, but I think I believe it even more today. Abiding isn't the end goal. We abide so that God can show up in our times of desperation and bring the hope, healing and joy that we need.

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